Mumia: The Perils of Reform

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo promised reforms and have brought continued police brutality and murders. (Photo: Star Tribune)


For years — indeed, for decades — we have seen the mirage of reform being presented by neoliberal leaders and their media tools, only to awake too late to ghoulish nightmares of shattered promises and hopes betrayed. For reform is betrayal, a devil’s bargain of better days to come — that only brings worse days. Today, the nation shocked by the savagery of George Floyd’s curbside execution for all the world to see.

Just five years ago, politicians claiming themselves progressive, sold illusions of police body cameras as some kind of solution. But George Floyd, not to mention Rayshard Brooks, put the nail in that coffin. For it meant nothing when it came to changing cop behavior.

Today’s reformers in Congress promise much, but they can and will deliver little but new illusions. Reforms are but reformulations of old promises, of old wine in new bottles, of things to come that never make it. For that is the nature of capitalist society: new items to sell that ended up producing new problems.

New days need new ways of thinking. They need creativity. They need deep change that truly transforms. Not discussions, but relationships. And who will dare say that this miserable present is awash in outright oppression — not the lie of service, but truly repression, suppression, and oppression. New oppressive systems can only bring more of the same. 

To quote Dr. Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther Party: “We want freedom, not another reform.”

Audio available here.

This commentary was originally published at and recorded by Noelle Hanrahan.

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SPONSORED By THE MOBILIZATION TO FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL & THE INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL. CO-SPONSORS: Courage Foundation/Assange & Middle East Children’s Alliance, Arab Resource Organizing Center. HEAR Alice Walker, prize-winning novelist; Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers; Jamal Jr, Mumia’s grandson; Chris Hedges, prize-winning journalist