DragNet: November 18 – December 1, 2014

Although we here at Anthropoliteia don't have any “existential answers" about how to process the recent events in Ferguson, we hope to provide a safe space for readers to reflect about and share their reactions.

Although we here at Anthropoliteia don’t have any “existential answers” about how to process the recent events in Ferguson, we hope to provide a safe space for readers to reflect about and share their reactions.

A lot has transpired over the past few weeks. You’d be hard-pressed to locate someone who doesn’t agree that the criminal justice system in the US has some changes to make. Might “traditional justice” be a step in the right direction? We shared the DOJ’s report on the use of traditional Native American justice interventions to manage criminal behavior. Find it here and learn how harmony, peace for victims and communities are blended with offender accountability.

Smartphone users aren’t the only ones who should start looking up. According to Upward Anthropology Research Community, anthropology as a discipline needs to make a habit of this as well. The tragic events that continue to unfold in Ferguson reveal the need for anthropologists to look inward (to acknowledge the field’s racially charged past) and upward (to transcend the role of individuals upholding racist practices) in order to identify how racism is structurally engrained and perpetuated.

“With fear-mongering and threats of violence from state officials and mainstream media, who needs the Klan?” asks Vincent Warren shortly before Darren Wilson managed to evade indictment for shooting Michael Brown. In his post, Beyond the Indictments: Black and Brown Deaths at the Hands of Police are a Crisis Boiling Over, Warren eerily foreshadows the aftermath of this singular moment in the Ferguson story and what message it conveys to black Americans.

Did “the shine” in Michael Brown’s eyes cause Darren Wilson to pull the trigger (multiple times)? Was it Brown’s “hulk-like” stature (coming in 1 inch shorter than Wilson)? View Anthropoliteia’s stream of twitter reflections we originally shared as the indictment trial of Darren Wilson unfolded. Although we don’t have any “existential solutions” or answers about how to process these recent events, we hope to provide a safe space for readers to reflect about and share their reactions.

Clearly, the justice system in the US needs to change. And Dr. Monica Heller, president of The American Anthropological Association, knows it. After the grand jury’s decision not to criminally indict Darren Wilson, Dr. Heller called for continuing public discussions about persisting racial inequalities. Anthropoliteia sincerely appreciates the shout out on AAA’s site for our own Meg Stalcup, who has (among others) been providing ongoing Ferguson coverage.

Being an anthropological scholar of policing studying in the criminal justice field isn’t easy (especially this year). It doesn’t help that statistics regarding police related homicides are so difficult to come by. Earlier this month, we shared Rueben Fischer-Baum and Al Johri’s post in FiveThirtyEight that shares my commiseration of this fact. According to the post, recent attempts to track homicides by police (like the Facebook page found here) have generated numbers upwards of 1,000 per year or roughly 3 police related homicides per day. Compared to “official” measures that are issued sporadically every few years, this is an increase of nearly 600 homicides per year.

To end on a lighter note, remember that Anthropoliteia’s “Tweetup” is going down in t-minus 3 days! Feel free to join and share your thoughts!

Did I miss something? No worries- it does happen on occasion. If you have any suggestions for DragNet, or if you want to call attention to a specific blog or article, send an email to anthropoliteia@gmail.com with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!


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