Maybe ‘8 couldn’t wait,’ but it’s far from enough Atlanta Police reform

Add this share

Spearheaded byLGBTQ Councilmember Antonio Brown, Atlanta City Council has unanimously backed,and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has seen to enacting, the remaining law enforcement policiesit lacked from the8 Can’t Waitviral campaignyou probably saw in your Instagram stories amid recent global outrage and activism. The proposals assert that decreasing the use of force can decrease police killings.

Simple enough, right? Sort of like how wine and dark chocolate can reduce cholesterol — the science is solid, but one basic principle probably won’t fix America’s heart problems.

8 Can’t Waitreforms sound obvious, and in an episode of Q Convresations, even Councilmember Brown wished they did more. The policies alsofall way short of the original tenCampaign Zero— “zero” as in zero lives lost to police — proposals that ranged from de-militarization of police to decriminalizing non-violent and “moral” offenses. With APD’s budget going nowhere and abolition deemed too extreme, is anything actually going to actually change?

Black Lives Matter — the bare-minimum belief that black people have the same right to life, liberty and happiness as every other American — has reached new heights in the public consciousness. Campaign Zero has normalized vital, life-saving police reform policies like body cameras, community policing, and police accountability, but there’s a long way to go.

With a stream of new footage and new collective trauma with each police killing, changes shouldn’t have to wait. My concern lies with the toxic normalization of citizen fatalities at the hands of police, and the assertion that it is an inevitability.

When you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Training police to believe that any interaction with citizens could become lethal results in citizens who believe that any interaction with police can become life-threatening.

The role of the police in America deserves questioning, especiallywhen considering its funding. Just because police are doing what they're told doesn't mean they're doing something right and are not culpable if they aren’t.

The question cannot be how to reduce police killings but, “How do we eliminate them?”

Now8 Can’t Waithas a direct response from8 To Abolition. Its demands stretch further than even Campaign Zero’s idealistic initial policies. They assertthat8 Can’t Waitis “dangerous and irresponsible, offering a slate of reforms that have already been tried and failed,” going further to say they mislead the public and ignore the actual needs of criminalized communities.

Assuming that police killings are inevitable is defeatist, unproductive thinking. We need to widen our imagination to what’s possible. The militarization of the police, especially in contrast to healthcare workers in the pandemic, is why “Defund the Police” makes so much sense. You never hear about cops raising money for tear gas the way public school teachers collect box tops for basic school supplies.

Once it’s believed that there’s no acceptable ratio of citizens killed by police in a civilized world, the paradigm shifts. If we wish to live in a world of radical nonviolence, we must imagine a world without police brutality or mass incarceration and shape it with input from the people it affects.

In many cases, that world simply looks like a suburb, where community needs are addressed and met through a well-funded, community-led infrastructure of education, youth programs, healthcare and housing. Crime is low not because the people are better, but because patterns of poverty and injustice that cause it are addressed.

Police will never be the way to end crime, so why is Atlanta giving a third of its total budget to the police department? On both sides of the aisle, the state acts as if it has the right to injure or kill citizens that it’s not also willing to medically insure.

My plea is simple: imagine better.

Visit and

Tyler Scruggs is a writer, musician, and millennial swashbuckler in Atlanta navigating the digital frontier through love songs for your Zune. Twitter@TylerScruggsor Instagram@Scruggernaut

This column appeared in Q ATLus magazine. Read the full issue online here:

Pick up each new edition of Q ATLus at LGBTQ and allied venues around Atlanta.


Georgia Tech to pay family of slain LGBTQ student $1 million

The family of Georgia Tech Pride Alliance president Scout Schultz, slain by campus police in 2017, settled with the university this week. Tech officials...

The best LGBTQ things to do in Atlanta this weekend

How do you homo holiday? With concerts, toys, college football and DILFS? Check, check, check and um… check! Gay Atlanta rolls out its first...

Bakhtiari, Waites, Kamau wins make LGBTQ Atlanta history

Atlanta gets three openly LGBTQ City Council members in the New Year after Liliana Bakhtiari and Keisha Waites won their Tuesday runoffs. In South...

15 local LGBTQ nonprofits need the gift that keeps giving all year

While you’re busy making a list and checking it twice, remember queer causes making life better year-round for local LGBTQs, and they need your gift that actually keeps giving.

Swinging Richards to close permanently in January

After a three-decade run and a legendary international reputation, gay Atlanta's only all-male all-nude bar announced Monday that its doors will shutter permanently on...