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Welcome to the Frontlines: Beyond Violence and Nonviolence

Over the past two weeks, the US has seen some of the largest, most militant protests and riots in decades. The now nationwide movement began in Minneapolis following the police murder of George Floyd. The anger that followed led to mass demonstrations, confrontations with the police, arson and looting, mourning and rebellion that spread across the country within a matter of hours. The Minneapolis Third Precinct station house, where the murderers had worked, was burned to the ground, and police cars were set aflame from New York to LA in the most widespread damage to the punitive edifices of the US state seen in this century, fueled by decades of anger at racist policing and the ceaseless stream of police murders of Black people. Now, even the reform-oriented electoral left is seriously discussing a softened version of police abolition on a national level, re-imagined as “defunding,” and the Minneapolis City Council has pledged to “disband” the city’s police department. Not long ago, such a demand would have been considered utopian.

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