#Ferguson & Elsewhere, Dossiers

The Lost Space of Dissent: Amidst Charleston’s Unity

The Editors of Anthropoliteia welcome Bradley Dunseith with a report from Charleston, South Carolina

Knights of Columbus hall in Charleston, South Carolina. June 2015. Photo by Bradley Dunseith CC BY-NC-PSA 4.0

As I walked towards the Mother Emmanuel Church I found myself counting every step I took, part of me didn’t want to arrive. On June 19th I took a morning bus to Charleston, South Carolina, two days after a self-described white supremacist walked into the historic black church of AME Mother Emmanuel and, after sitting in for an hour of bible study, murdered nine black churchgoers. Reverend and Senator Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Reverend and Doctor Daniel L Simmons Sr., Ethel Lance, Myra Thompson, and Susie Jackson were gunned down on the evening of June 17, 2015. The shooter was able to reload five times during the attack, prompting gun rights activists and some black faith communities to argue that having a firearm within the church’s premise could have prevented the attack, while President Obama spoke in the immediate aftermath, saying that “once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”

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Dossiers, From the Field

Economies of Security and Care in Catalonia, Spain

The editors of Anthropoliteia welcome Johanna Römer with a Dossier in our From the Field section.

Police Marcha Dignidad

Police presence at the Marcha por la Dignidad. Photo courtesy of Lee Douglas.

 

“The history of prisons in Spain?” a Catalan prison guard asked me, a man in his mid-forties, his hands resting on a heavy leather belt. “Everything has already been written. Our vocabulary, our forms of punishment – even the word cell itself, all come from Catholic and monastic practices.”

He turned to face the thick glass wall of the bunker.

“I spent years teaching…in law enforcement, in the private sector, and now I just want to be here, with these guys [inmates], where I can have peace and quiet,” he said, nodding towards a small group of men talking softly around a checked tablecloth whose color was imperceptible through the glass.

“Look at that. No one makes problems.”

While monitoring the inmates through the glass, the guard narrated other stories of prison work; but his last seemingly unremarkable comment, “no one makes problems,” stayed with me.

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Commentary & Forums, Dossiers, From the Field, Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond

The Brazilian Military, Public Security, and Rio de Janeiro’s “Pacification”

The editors of Anthropoliteia welcome Stephanie Savell with the latest entry in our forum Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond.
Army soldier addresses resident of Complexo do Alemão. Photo: Bruno Itan.

Army soldier addresses resident of Complexo do Alemão. Photo: Bruno Itan.

The Brazilian army and marines have in recent years played a more visible role in the provision of public security in Rio de Janeiro. The army currently occupies the sprawling set of informal neighborhoods, or favelas, known as Complexo da Maré, a “temporary solution” timed to accompany World Cup events in the city. The occupation, intended to repress the local control of drug trafficking gangs, will be followed by the installation of more permanent “Police Pacifying Units,” or “UPPs,” as part of Rio’s favela “pacification” program.

Between 2011 and 2012, the armed forces similarly occupied the favela Complexo do Alemão, where I lived for a year conducting ethnographic research (2013-2014). Here, based on that research, I examine the significance of the army’s participation in public security.

Many insiders and keen observers of security in Rio were quick to tell me that the army’s deployment in police pacification is not a trend – Alemão was unique, they said. But in addition to the current deployment in Maré, there are other indications to the contrary. In recent years, the constitutional clause, Garantia da Lei e da Ordem (GLO), or “Guarantee of Law and Order,” which allows for the use of the military in public security operations, has been continuously elaborated and refined. Under former President Lula’s administration, and now under Dilma Rousseff, the military has been used for an increasing number of situations, from pacification to oil auctions to the Pope’s visit and the World Cup. These are not isolated events; they invite us to question the military’s provision of public security and how it is understood, especially by security forces and by the urban poor whose neighborhoods the military patrols. Continue reading

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Dossiers

Views of Venezuelan Protests, Pt. 4: Looking at The “Collaboration” Between the Police and the Collectives

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome a special guest post, the fourth in a series from Rebecca Hanson on recent political developments in Venezuela. 

 

A water tower in Catia with Hugo Chávez's face on one side and the face of Lina Ron (founder of the Venezuelan Popular Union party and symbol of La Piedrita, another well known collective) on the other © Richard Snyder 2014

A water tower in Catia with Hugo Chávez’s face on one side and the face of Lina Ron (founder of the Venezuelan Popular Union party and symbol of La Piedrita, another well known collective) on the other © Richard Snyder 2014

In my last post I looked at the security force that is playing the most active role in policing the protests: the National Guard. While police officers overwhelmingly support the National Guard’s participation, there is second group that the police identify as “policing the protests” whose presence they do not condone: the collectives.

The collectives’ relationship to the state and state security forces has garnered much attention in the press since the protests began.  Providing little evidence, recent news reports (the Wall Street Journal , the BBC, and AlJazeera to name a few) have suggested that the police are working alongside and in collaboration with the collectives to repress protestors.  And this past week Human Rights Watch, though avoiding the term “collective,” published a report suggesting that the police and “armed pro-government groups” were in collusion with one another.

But National Bolivarian Police (PNB) officers describe this relationship quite differently, reporting that they must compete with the collectives for territorial control, access to arms, and even state protection.  For them, their relationship to the collectives is one structured by competition, not collaboration. In fact, since the Metropolitan Police in Caracas sided with the opposition in the 2002 coup against Chávez, officers feel that the government trusts the collectives–ideologically aligned with the Bolivarian Revolution–more than the police to work the protests. Though the police as an institution is often defined by its ability to legitimately deploy force in order to protect the state’s interests, officers perceive the collectives as primarily designated by the state to fulfill this function.

In this post, I provide a brief summary of the collectives’ history and then describe how police officers talk about their relationship to the collectives. Continue reading

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Dossiers

Ethnic Profiling as a Societal Institution in the Netherlands

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome this special “Dossier” from our own Paul Mutsaers

Psychologism and profiling ‘the other’

It is common knowledge in the sociology of police that law enforcers do not merely apply legal maxims but ‘employ discretion in invoking the law’, as Egon Bittner already put it in 1970 in The Functions of the Police in Modern Society. There is often not much consistency in the application of the law as beat officers have a large leeway when they operate in the blind spot of their desk superiors, that is, on the street. While on the beat, policing may be turned into a mechanism of social ordering that has the potential to significantly alter the life prospects of those who are encountered. When roaming in the districts, containing a demonstration, responding to an emergency call, mediating a conflict, investigating a homicide, or containing a riot, the police are actually (re)producing social hierarchies and differences in the settings in which they operate. Continue reading

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Dossiers

Views of Venezuelan Protests, Pt. 3: Who is Policing the Protests? A Perspective from Venezuela’s National Bolivarian Police

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome a special guest post, the third in a series from Rebecca Hanson on recent political developments in Venezuela. 
Embed from Getty Images

“It is better to think of the police as providing support to the National Guard in the protests [as opposed to the other way around].  The National Guard has more experience and more training…and they aren’t restricted [in their use of force] like us…We can’t even defend ourselves.”  –National Police officer-in-training

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Dossiers

Order by the Books: Suicide crime scene investigations in southern Mexico

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome a special guest post from Beatriz Reyes-Foster as part of our series of anthropological reports From the Field

Abstract

The complex and contested relationship between representatives of a Mexican law enforcement agency and the citizenry it claims to protect is visible in the documents it produces. Ethnographic material further deepens our understanding of the ways in which law enforcement agents and common citizens form relationships based on negotiation and distrust.

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