Disarm, Defund, Dismantle

Disarm, Defund, Dismantle

Police Abolition in Canada

Edited by Shiri Pasternak, Kevin Walby and Abby Stadnyk


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Canadian laws are just, the police uphold the rule of law and treat everyone equally, and without the police, communities would descend into chaos and disorder. These entrenched myths, rooted in settler-colonial logic, work to obscure a hard truth: the police do not keep us safe.

This edited collection brings together writing from a range of activists and scholars, whose words are rooted in experience and solidarity with those putting their lives on the line to fight for police abolition in Canada. Together, they imagine a different world—one in which police power is eroded and dissolved forever, one in which it is possible to respond to distress and harm with assistance and care.

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“Both a powerful indictment of a criminal legal system that was never meant to protect us and a vision for safety rooted in empowerment, care, and solidarity.”

– Alex S. Vitale, author of The End of Policing

“The essays collected here clearly demonstrate how abolition as a political project requires we pay attention to our local scenes, because carceral practices are configured for their specific geo-political impact. These essays bring Canada forcefully into the international debate, conversation, scholarship, and activism on abolition politics today.”

– Rinaldo Walcott, author of On Property: Policing, Prisons, and the Call for Abolition

“All across the globe, poor communities are struggling against police power and for something radically different, but most abolitionist literature remains US-centric. Disarm, Defund, Dismantle corrects this deficit by fusing abolition to decolonization, bringing together the diagnosis, strategy, and on-the-ground experiences needed to dismantle Canada’s settler-police state.”

– Geo Maher, author of A World Without Police: How Strong Communities Make Cops Obsolete

“This timely and important volume of essays pulls together a thrilling range of scholars and activists to interrogate the interconnection of various mechanisms of control, containment, and colonialism in the country known as Canada. Disarm, Defund, Dismantle catalyzes a series of urgent questions and debates, never losing sight of the lived stakes of these issues, nor of the transformational imperatives of abolitionist visioning and organizing.”

– Brett Story, documentary filmmaker and director of The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

Disarm, Defund, Dismantle confronts the power of police head-on. The editors of this brilliant collection introduce us to a new generation of Canadian and Indigenous artists, scholars, and organizers who, in chapter after beautiful chapter, teach us that police abolition is a practice. Think of it like a roadmap, one that leads us beyond police to a just and caring world.”

– David Correia, author of Police: A Field Guide

Disarm, Defund, Dismantle offers an expansive view of police abolitionist thought and practice, pooling together powerful writers with clear perspectives. The examples and real-life descriptions capture the spirit of a generation of people seeking a new world.”

– Luis Fernandez, author of Policing Dissent, Shutting Down the Streets, and Alternatives to Policing

Disarm, Defund, Dismantle is a crucial resource for our perilous times. This powerful collection illuminates the structuring forces of police violence and carceral regimes. From centuries of resistance to enslavement and colonial erasure, it also affirms abolition’s long sweep and broad scope. The essays elevate the voices of Indigenous, Black, queer, trans, undocumented, disabled, migrant, poor, and working-class communities to demonstrate how networks of care are being built. Such expansive and intimate scales of solidarity, the authors argue, are necessary for actualizing global abolitionist futures.”

– Christina Heatherton, co-editor of Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter

“In this important volume we learn that the struggle to abolish police power is militant, international, and intimately connected to Black- and Indigenous-led struggles for freedom. This contribution is vital to our collective effort to build a world free from relations of domination. Read it; share it; use it!”

– Meghan G. McDowell, abolitionist educator and organizer

“What worlds might we build in the ashes of the racial settler police order? This collection doesn’t just dare to imagine answers; it is already building them. These stunning essays are salves and weapons; they dance and they rage, showing us roadmaps towards abolitionist visions rooted in radical study, deep care, and joyful revolt.”

– Charmaine Chua, assistant professor, department of global studies, University of California, Santa Barbara


Shiri Pasternak, Abby Stadnyk, and Kevin Walby
Chapter 1: "Uphold the Right": Police, Conservatism, and White Supremacy
Jeffrey Monaghan
Chapter 2: A History of Toronto Activism against Anti-Blackness
Ruth Nortey
Chapter 3: Police Use of Force in Canada: Dispelling the Myth of Difference
Julius Haag
Chapter 5: Against the Social Harms of Policing
Kevin Walby
Chapter 4: Defund to Abolish: A 400-Year Struggle against Policing in Montreal
Defund the Police Coalition (Montreal)
Chapter 6: Let’s Talk about Police in Our Unions: An Abolitionist Approach to Decent Work for All
Ryan Hayes
Chapter 7: We Keep Each Other Safe: Organizing for Prison Abolition during a Pandemic
Jessica Evans, Alannah Fricker, and Rajean Hoilett
Chapter 8: Canada Is a Bad Company: Police as Colonial Mercenaries for State and Capital
Shiri Pasternak
Chapter 9: A Brief Introduction to Anti-colonial Abolition
Free Lands Free Peoples
Chapter 10: Grassroots Justices: Lessons from Communities of Murdered and Disappeared Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit+ People
Vicki Chartrand
Chapter 11: Narratives on Carceral Abolition
Tami Starlight, Moka Dawkins, and Anonymous as told to the P4W Memorial Collective
Chapter 12: Sex Worker Justice—By Us, For Us: Toronto Sex Workers Resisting Carceral Violence
Ellie Ade Kur and Jenny Duffy on behalf of Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project
Chapter 13: DIY Defunding the Police: How Winnipeg Sex Workers Stopped the Police from Taking Drivers’ Money
Sex Workers of Winnipeg Action Coalition
Chapter 14: Rights Not Rescue: Defending Migrant Sex Workers from Policing
Elene Lam and Chanelle Gallant
Chapter 15: No Police at Overdoses
nicole marie burton and Hugh D. A. Goldring
Chapter 16: Troubling Police and Social Work Collaborations
Ann De Shalit, Adrian Guta, Camisha Sibblis, Emily van der Meulen, and Jijian Voronka
Chapter 17: Abolishing Carceral Social Work
Edward Hon-Sing Wong, MJ Rwigema, Nicole Penak, and Craig Fortier
Chapter 18: We Are Like Waves
Kikélola Roach
Chapter 19: Police Abolition / Black Revolt
Robyn Maynard