Voluntary Chapter Police Exclusion

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Affected Items & Short Rationale

  • R1

    • Local chapters should be able to ban law enforcement officers from becoming members or participating in the organization, so they can create safer organizing spaces for oppressed and persecuted comrades.

Why Is Build Endorsing R1?

  • This resolution gives the power to the Locals. Local chapters should be granted the flexibility to decide whether an especially hostile group should be allowed to participate in their spaces as members. 

  • We can’t build any kind of working class movement that includes the cops.

    • Police are not workers. They are the enforcers of the ruling class; they produce nothing of value that benefits the larger society and actively work against our goals as an organization.

    • Police make us actively less safe in our organizing spaces. They serve a specific role to hinder, control, and undermine social movements. That is part of their job, and that job doesn’t end for them just because they’re off the clock.

    • We have to make it clear, to everyone, that we do not believe that cops have any place in a socialist future. There are many ways to build towards this goal, the most important of which is to support the abolition of police and prisons in our political work. This proposal supports that larger objective.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Concern: Aren’t police officers workers like any other? I understand that police brutality is an issue, but we can’t just exclude them from the labor movement, can we?

Answer: No, police officers are not workers. The role of police in society is two-fold: (a.) to protect private property owned by the capitalist class, and (b.) to maintain the existing power relations that undergird our society, including not only capitalist class relations, but also white supremacy, ableism, cisheteropatriarchy, and other systems of domination.

Concern: Isn’t this a slippery-slope to excluding many different types of employment besides police officers? Doesn’t their ideology matter more?

Answer: No, this resolution gives Locals broad scope to determine how they’d like to write police exclusions language in their bylaws on terms that makes sense for their particular local contexts. Further, the police are dangerous because of their role in our capitalist society. This supersedes what they claim to believe as individuals. 

Concern: Why does this issue matter for us? Are police trying to join DSA in large numbers?

Answer: Not as far as we know. However, to the extent that any police officer joins the organization, they actively make every single DSA member less safe. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that people who uphold the carceral state (including police) find DSA welcoming enough to participate openly for potentially high profile positions; for example, a police officer who works in a prison ran to be a delegate at the 2019 NYC Local Convention in the Queens branch. We need to demonstrate that we don’t believe police officers have a part to play in organizing the working class, to all oppressed people that we stand in solidarity with.

Concern: This won’t do anything to keep out undercover cops, so why bother?

Answer: This proposal is not meant to address the issue of undercover operatives in DSA. Members should expect that DSA spaces may be under various forms of surveillance, and practice good operational security to the best of their ability. However, there are currently no barriers for police officers to participate openly, or even hold elected office in DSA. This proposal allows Locals to establish such a barrier in solidarity with comrades who are oppressed and persecuted, and as an extension of our collective abolitionist perspective.