Environmental justice (EJ) activists have long worked with abolitionists in their communities, critiquing the ways policing, prisons, and pollution are entangled and racially constituted. Yet, much EJ scholarship reflects a liberal Western focus on a more equal distribution of harms, rather than challenging the underlying systems of exploitation these harms rest upon. This article argues that policing facilitates environmentally unjust developments that are inherently harmful to nature and society. Policing helps enforce a social order rooted in the ‘securing’ of property, hierarchy, and human-nature exploitation. Examining the colonial continuities of policing, we argue that EJ must challenge the assumed necessity of policing, overcome the mythology of the state as ‘arbiter of justice’, and work to create social conditions in which policing is unnecessary. This will help open space to question other related harmful hegemonic principles. Policing drives environmental injustice, so EJ must embrace abolition.
Volume 53 Number 4
Published: December 7, 2022