Black Lives Matter Syllabus Project, Features, Pedagogy

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus, Week 21: Maurice Magaña on Seeing Race and Citizenship in the U.S. through Ava Duvernay’s 13th

The editors of Anthropoliteia are happy to continue an ongoing series The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, which will mobilize anthropological work as a pedagogical exercise addressing the confluence of race, policing and justice. You can see a growing bibliography of resources via our Mendeley feed.  In this entry,  Maurice Magaña discusses seeing race and citizenship through Ava DuVernay’s documentary film, “13th.” 

13th

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#Ferguson & Elsewhere

Mitch Henriquez: Death by cop in the epicenter of global justice – and the virtues of (hashtag) activism

The Editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome Paul Mutsaers with the latest entry in our ongoing Forum, #Ferguson and Elsewhere

 

He had come to the Netherlands for a family visit, the Aruban Mitch Henriquez. On Saturday the 27th of June he enjoyed a UB40 concert at Night at the Park in The Hague. Ostensibly, he had shouted that he had a “gun” in his pocket, which according to some bystanders was a joke: in a Caribbean context “gun” can refer to an impressive penis. The police responded and attempted to bring him into custody and later declared that he had resisted his arrest. Preliminary results from the autopsy now indicate that Henriquez died of asphyxiation after being held in a chokehold and being crushed by five white officers who sat on his body. The national department of criminal investigation has now ruled out that he had a gun. Nor had he used drugs or too much alcohol, according to the toxicology report.

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DragNet

DragNet: April 20 – May 3, 2015

"I think you have to have a shared collective memory of the past to recognize another human being," writes Lawrence Jackson. His post, On Becoming More Human, examines the recent protests against police violence in Baltimore from his perspective as an African American man.

“I think you have to have a shared collective memory of the past to recognize another human being,” writes Lawrence Jackson. His post, On Becoming More Human, examines the recent protests against police violence in Baltimore from his perspective as an African American man.

I was happy to see Illana Feldman’s new book, Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza Under Egyptian Rule, make the rounds on our twitter feed last month. In it, my former Anthropology professor at George Washington University discusses the topics of surveillance, control and police violence in Gaza during the period of Egyptian rule. Disclaimer: you’ll want to block off a few hours to tap into this one…it’s addictive from the start!

“I think you have to have a shared collective memory of the past to recognize another human being,” writes Lawrence Jackson for n plus one magazine. His post, On Becoming More Human, examines the recent protests against police violence in Baltimore from his perspective as an African American man. Jackson is a professor of African American Studies and English at Emory University, and is the author of the 2012 memoir, My Father’s Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War. His post undoubtedly earns my vote for “best of the month”- if you have time for one (and only one) read today, this is it.

Those interested in coverage about the tragic police-related death of Freddie Gray shouldn’t miss NPR’s Weekend Edition that we shared late last month. In it, Scott Simon recounts his experience walking among the residents of West Baltimore in the wake of police protests. As the title attests, to many West Baltimoreans, the “largest gang is, in fact, the police.” We also recommend Ta-Nehisi Coates’ post, Nonviolence as Compliance, which was featured via The Atlantic.

What does the concept of “touch” mean, in a policing context? Mark Greif reflects on this question and more in his post, Seeing Through Police. He discusses the “rules” of police-citizen contact (i.e.- they touch you, you keep your hands to yourself), its many functions (intimidation, reassurance, “traffic direction”) and forms (hands vs. batons). What’s perhaps most intriguing about this post is its dual -and rather empathetic- consideration of police as police, and police as people. At the same time, it presents a critical and well-balanced portrait of modern police practices.

Finally, we are pleased to offer continuing coverage of the American Anthropological Association’s developing initiatives regarding police brutality. AAA recently announced they’ll be offering a working group to monitor racialized police brutality and extrajudicial violence. Co-chairs include David Simmons, Marla Frederick and Shalini Shankar. You can view the Working Group charge here.

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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DragNet

DragNet: April 6 – 19, 2015

In an unusual demonstration against Denver police, supporters of Jessie Hernandez have allegedly been expressing their discontent by stealing cars. Hernandez was fatally shot by police in January.

In an unusual demonstration against Denver police, supporters of Jessie Hernandez have allegedly been expressing their discontent by stealing cars. Hernandez was fatally shot by police in January.

The police-involved killing of Walter Scott dominates policing news by far this month. Video footage, shot with the cell phone of a bystander who witnessed the event, seems to offer key (and yet incomplete) evidence of how the shooting evolved. Scott had apparently been stopped during a “routine traffic stop” for a broken tail-light. Although the video recording did not capture the full nature of the altercation, it did capture the officer proceeding to shoot Scott in the back while he was running more than 20 feet away from the officer.

Edward Bryant II, head of North Charleston’s NAACP chapter was among those interviewed about the incident by Martin Kaste on NPR’s Morning Edition. While addressing the moment of the film that captured the officer “dropping something” -perhaps the very Taser Scott was charged with stealing- Bryant says that it “reflects something very distasteful…like it’s already been practiced. It’s been already done.” Among organizations taking a stance against the continuation of racialized police violence is the American Anthropological Association, who’s post we shared via Jeff Martin. Stay tuned for their specific initiatives regarding policing culture, which are to be listed soon.

All Things Considered also joined the law enforcement culture conversation, with Audie Cornish’s interview with Seth Stoughton. Stoughton is an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina’s School of Law. He suggests the paradign of policing in American is is need of a major makeover; suggesting the current “warrior mindset” should be exchanged for one that is conducive to a “guardian” role.
A 73-year-old undercover Tulsa reserve deputy sheriff who fatally shot an unarmed black man during an undercover operation gone wrong turned himself in on Tuesday last week. He allegedly mistook his gun for his taser; fatally wounding the unarmed man. Robert Bates has been charged with second degree manslaughter involving culpable negligence. He was released on $25,000 bail and is awaiting trial, according to Lindsey Bever and Sarah Larimer of the Washington Post.
In an unusual demonstration against the Denver police, supporters of Jessie Hernandez have allegedly been expressing their discontent by stealing cars. As reported by Michael Roberts for Westword, Hernandez was fatally shot by police back in January after two officers responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle. According to one source, 126 vehicles have been stolen in the area since the beginning of the year, which is nearly double the amount recorded for the same period last year.

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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DragNet

DragNet: March 23 – April 5, 2015

chicago gangs

“What would it take for today’s gang members to bring peace to the neighborhood?” writes Laurence Ralph in his post for Anthropoliteia last month. Ralph recounts the story of his friendship with an elderly member of one of Chicago’s most notorious gangs, The Divine Knights. But the story reveals the little known history of the gang, as well as a strikingly “tender” side of the group previously known only among local community members.

To record, or not to record; that is the question! Last month, we shared Carlos Miller’s post for Photography is Not a Crime. According to legislators in Texas, members of the general public should not be allowed to film or record officers by law. But a policy being proposed by a political duo in Colorado begs to differ. Joe Salazar and Daneya Esgar have teamed up to co-sponsor a bill that would award up to $15,000 (plus attorney fees) to citizens who have cameras or recording devices confiscated by officers without a warrant. You can read a copy of the proposed bill here and decide for yourself.

The small town of Madison, Wisconsin is putting a whole new spin on the meaning of “officer next door” in an attempt to foster peaceful interactions between police and local community members. Melissa Block hosts this episode of All Thing Considered for NPR and details how officers and neighborhood residents have reacted to the police department literally moving in next store to high crime areas. The key to the community initiative’s success apparently lies in its exposure of officers and citizens to one another in everyday contexts- both good and bad.

If you, like me, have been amazed to discover how very impossible it is to obtain even the slightest estimates about lethal use of force by police for any given year, you’ve got to read Tom McCarthy’s post for The Guardian ASAP. Finally, we learn why there are no reliable estimates about police-related homicides: it was too difficult, so “we just gave up”. (Yeah, I’m not buying it either!) Although the Bureau of Justice Statistics arguably places a number on all kinds of similar measures, they’re reporting difficulties assessing lethal use of force nation-wide. Among other stumbling blocks are incomplete or never-filed reports (from departments such as NYPD) and inconsistent reporting. Now it’s time to play the waiting game to see if Obama’s newly created Policing Task Force will follow through with his request for “more” (or any?) data…

“What would it take for today’s gang members to bring peace to the neighborhood?” writes Laurence Ralph in his post for Anthropoliteia last month. Not that we need to remind you, but the newest Tip of the Cap feature is up and hungry for your feedback. Ralph recounts the story of his friendship with an elderly member of one of Chicago’s most notorious gangs, The Divine Knights. But the story reveals the little known history of the gang, as well as a strikingly “tender” side of the group previously known only among local community members. Laurence Ralph is an Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies as well as Anthropology at Harvard University. If you leave the post wanting more, be sure to check out his book, “Renegade Dreams: Living Through Injury in Gangland Chicago“.

To end on a fun note (and just because I’m feeling random), treat yourself to browsing through Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty’s eclectic collection of bizarre Soviet Police posters from back in the day. Among my own personal favorites are, “concerned looking smoking guy” and “Gee! My facial angle looks great in this lighting!“. If you’re also the kind of person that likes a healthy amount of “crazy crap” on your walls, you’ll thank me for including a link that can hook you up with your next police-inspired addition.

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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DragNet

DragNet: January 26 – February 8, 2015

"I see how challenging the tour is to my class…they describe their discomfort of being the observers in what many liken to a human zoo," writes Ieva Jusionyte in my favorite post of the month.

“I see how challenging the tour is to my class…they describe their discomfort of being the observers in what many liken to a human zoo,” writes Ieva Jusionyte in my favorite post of the month.

It might be time for New York City’s Bill de Blasio to compare policing notes with Rafael Correa, writes Greg Grandin for The Nation. Ecuador’s president not only faced similar police-related challenges back in 2010, but managed to come out stronger than ever. Stay tuned to Anthropoliteia’s twitter feed for ongoing coverage of the NYPD-de Blasio fiasco.

What’s in a case study? The possibility that it is just that- a single set of potential results. Although police departments across the US are quickly adopting body-worn cameras, the results obtained by Rialto, CA’s pilot study are coming under scrutiny. New questions of interest include whether the verbal warnings (“You’re being recorded”) given by officers are the source of reduced citations, and whether any observed reductions in offenses will fade over time.

“I see how challenging the tour is to my class…they describe their discomfort of being the observers in what many liken to a human zoo,” writes Ieva Jusionyte in my favorite post of the month. Jusionyte demonstrates how the often “bland” classroom topics of theory and the criminal justice system take on new meanings when studied in the up-close-and-personal context of Florida State Prison. Jusionyte is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida.

Our loyal readers will recognize this familiar question posed by Dylan Kerrigan: Do police agencies need anthropologists? Kerrigan discussed issues raised by Anthropoliteia’s Jennie Simpson in his post for The Guardian Trinidad & Tobago last month. Perhaps a new question to ask is whether or not police agencies are ready to face “the cultural dynamics obstructing their innovation”.

Anthropoliteia was pleased to feature a “rebuttal” to the police-anthropologist question. Professor Wilson Pena-Pinzon’s post, “A Response to ‘Do Police Departments Need Anthropologists?'”, examines the flip-side of the police-anthropology coin by approaching it from a cross-cultural perspective. Pena-Pinzon is a professor and researcher for the Department of Anthropology at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the Escuela Colombiana de Carreras Industriales.

Finally, be sure to check out Anthropoliteia’s YouTube channel for new episodes in our interview series. Dr. A. Lynn Bolles sits with us to discuss police racism, violence and the actions of the 2014 AAA Meetings. Dr. Bolles is an affiliate faculty in the University of Maryland’s Anthropology, African American Studies, American Studies, Comparative Literature AND Latin American Studies departments (phew!).

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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#Ferguson & Elsewhere, Interrogations

A. Lynn Bolles on Political Action at the 2014 American Anthropological Association Meeting

Here at Anthropoliteia we’re always looking for new ways to explore new technologies to broaden the discussion on police, security, law and punishment from global and anthropological perspectives.  In this vein, the Editors are happy to announce a new (semi) regular series of video conversations that we’re calling Interrogations.  Although the series will be edited by Kristen Drybread and Johanna Rohmer, this first episode was moderated by our General Editor, Kevin Karpiak.

This first conversation consists of a discussion with Dr. A. Lynn Bolles that begins with the events leading up to and occurring at the 2014 American Anthropological Association Meetings in Washington D.C. but traverses other issues in the anthropology of policing, including the specific challenges and opportunities anthropologists face in their intersecting roles as scholars, educators, and political subjects.

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