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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#Ferguson & Elsewhere

Policing as a Well-Protected Craft

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome Peter K. Manning with the latest entry in our developing forum #Ferguson & Elsewhere
Embed from Getty Images

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#Ferguson & Elsewhere, Commentary & Forums

Blue on black violence and original crime: a view from Oakland, California

Oakland protest against murder of Oscar Grant. Image courtesy of Voice of Detroit

 

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome Brad Erickson with the latest entry in our developing Forum #Ferguson & Elsewhere

 The police killing of an unarmed, 18-year old African American, Michael Brown, and the hyper-militarized response to public protest in Ferguson, Missouri, has prompted wide-ranging national discourse following several threads. The first, exemplified by the #BlackTwitter phenomenon, emphasizes the pattern of extrajudicial killings of black people by police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes as the continuing exercise of racial domination in the United States. The second is the attempt to cast Michael Brown and other black victims as threatening criminals in order to justify their killings and deny the salience of racism. A third major theme is the militarization of police, a growing trend since the introduction of SWAT teams in the 1970s, now pushed into high gear through the federal distribution of idle war materiel including armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and machine guns. This militarization is often linked to a decline in civil liberties and violations of due process. Some commentators locate these trends in the contexts of the rise of a surveillance state, the crisis of inequality and the demise of democracy orchestrated by wealthy elites.

I would like to reflect on these trends via the perspectives of people deeply impacted by them. In 2013, I carried out an evaluation of Oakland’s community policing program, and also tracked the effectiveness of family support services in Oakland’s lowest performing middle schools. For the first project I interviewed Oakland police personnel including captains, sergeants, lieutenants, problem solving officers (PSOs—assigned to work with specific neighborhoods), and crime reduction team officers (CRTs—largely focused on gang activity). For the second project, I observed and interviewed parents and children, teachers, principals, school counselors, and a variety of school-based service providers including nurses, counselors, mental health professionals, legal advisors, food bank and community gardens personnel, and Teach for America volunteers.

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