Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021


In the wake of the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others there has been increased discussion regarding the scope and scale of policing in the United States. The defund the police movement has gained a substantial amount of traction in recent months as country wide protests and unrest has sparked the conversation of whether the police are fulfilling the sworn duties and more broadly what the public expect of the police. While individuals increasingly debate the merits of defunding and abolishing the police, what is less clear is whether people support the police abolition movement in the U.S. and the justifications for their views. An op-ed in the New York Times arguing that the U.S. should abolish the police provides an opportunity to better understand public opinion regarding this issue. A content analysis of almost 2,000 reader comments revealed that while some readers were supportive of the abolish movement in part due to the racist historical legacy of law enforcement, many others felt the proposal was radical and would have a series of negative consequences. In addition to those calling for reimaging how the police and to reconsider the types of incidents they handle; a common refrain from readers was the notion that crime would increase. Lastly, others worried the framing and focus on police abolition was unnecessarily divisive and would undermine what they consider more realistic reforms.