Black Lives Matter Syllabus Project

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, Week 5: Meg Stalcup and Charles Hahn on Technology, Surveillance, and Security

The editors of Anthropoliteia are happy to present the latest entry in on 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, Meg Stalcup and Charles Hahn discuss technology, surveillance, and security in their article “Cops, Cameras and the Policing of Ethics“.
Screen grab from post by SPDbodywornvideo CC BY-SA 4.0 2015 by Meg Stalcup

Screen grab from post by SPDbodywornvideo CC BY-SA 4.0 2015 by Meg Stalcup

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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: 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 with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!

#Ferguson & Elsewhere, Pedagogy

Anthropoliteia reacts to #Ferguson

It’s hard to know what exactly to say, to think, to feel or how to react at a time like this; even as a scholar of police.  Which is not to say that everything in the case is terribly ambiguous.  Quite the opposite: another young black man has been the victim of a deadly and unaccountable state violence in front of our very eyes.  I suppose the disorientation lay in how to move forward, and for that I have no strong answers.

Embed from Getty Images

Having said that, several of us at Anthropolitiea have been active on Twitter, I imagine in an effort to make sense of exactly that existential question. This is not dissimilar to my own reaction during and after the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman affair.  Below are some of our thoughts, as we form them:

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DragNet: May 16 – 31, 2014

militarization of US police

“An armored military assault vehicle was donated to the department by the US military, fueling discussions about whether there should be (or is) a separation of US police and US military.”

The U.S. isn’t the only country experiencing a stark growth in prison populations. While true that the US has the highest proportion of its citizens behind bars, Brazil and China are among other countries recording higher prison population numbers. In honor of the 40th anniversary of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975) the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History will be hosting a global conference for social sciences and humanities researchers to discuss the rising role of the prison in the modern age.

A supposedly “shifting” image of the typical heroin user in the 21st century strikingly resembles the rich, white, socialite users of 1880s Boston. A feature by Adam Rathge appeared in Points Blog; chronicling the shift of opiate usage by race and social class during this time frame. Special attention is paid to the impact of state legislation and local law enforcement initiatives prior to the passing of official federal mandates. In other opiate-related news, the question as to whether heroin use should be pursued as a crime versus an illness is being debated in states such as Rhode Island. With this past January seeing a more than doubled rate of lethal heroin overdoses, the state is pushing to equip officers with Narcan to better prevent heroin-related deaths. Read the interview with the state’s Director of Health, Dr. Michael Fine, for details.

$6.2 billion (to most of us) is quite a large sum of money. This is precisely the amount allocated to US police departments by the 41 million speeding tickets issued in any given year. What would happen to law enforcement budgets if cars were (almost magically) able to “drive themselves”? Google’s driverless cars are raising precisely this question among law enforcement officials and civilians alike.

Have you suddenly started noticing people talking a lot about Netflix’s newest series, Orange is the New Black? Even without being caught up, you can still enjoy a roundtable discussion inspired by the show that was hosted by the folks at Public Books.

Is live monitoring of surveillance cameras the way to ensure “effective panopticism”? Syracuse Chief of Police Frank Fowler seems to think so. Earlier in May, Fowler proposed that officers should evolve from their current, reactive use of cameras to respond to crimes that have already committed. Fowler argues that live monitoring of surveillance feeds by officers will convert cameras into a proactive policing tool.

If you’re planning a summer vacation that requires a considerable amount of time in the car, plug into NPR News’ RSS feed we shared last month. A myriad of police-related podcasts are featured, and are sure to make the ride feel faster. In case you exhaust that list, we recommend Archipelago’s feature on policing in downtown Oakland. Listen to Bryan Finoki, Nick Sowers and Javier Arbona as they explore the hyper-policed areas of the former Occupy movement.

Originally published 35 years ago, Policing the Crisis regained the spotlight in our Book Reviews section in May. Merijn Oudenampsen discusses how the book’s message has evolved since its first publication and applies its take-aways to the current climate of Dutch politics.

Speaking of anniversaries, 2014 also marks 10 years since Jacque’s Derrida’s passing. Anthropoliteia circulated information about an upcoming gathering of Derridian legal scholars organized by Critical Legal Thinking. Speakers include Aggie Hirst and Cathering Kellogg.

In other news, Hamtramck, MI police inspired mixed emotions upon the debut of its newest “addition”. An armored military assault vehicle was donated to the department by the US military, fueling discussions about whether there should be (or is) a separation of US police and US military.

Macedonian police also made headlines in May, with ethnic rioting in Skopje provoking criticisms about excessive use of force. Thanks to Tweeter Chris Diming, who provided an additional post from the Independent Balkan News Agency.

Do anthropologists belong in police departments? Anthropoliteia’s newest regular feature –Practicum– debuted with a post from our new author Jennie Simpson. Tune in to read Jennie’s reflections and experiences about what its like to be a social scientist working for/with departments.


What's going on in Ukraine?

What’s going on in Ukraine?

One thing I’m a bit embarrassed by is how paltry our coverage of the events in Ukraine have been over the past few weeks.  I’m sure I’m not alone in watching from afar and being fascinated with what is happening, but I have no special expertise in the region.  Does anyone from our readership?

One thing that’s fascinated me in particular is how quickly the state of policing shifted, and what this potentially means for how we think about such things as “police,” “state,” “violence,” and “democracy.”  You know, all those classic elements of Police Studies that draw on Weber.

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In the spirit of continuing our discussion of the British “riots”, Jonathan Simon has an interesting post that I think echoes many of the things that came up in our own discussion.  Here’s one particularly cogent nut he offers up in describing the importation of American criminal justice techniques to Britain over the past decade:

“….[C]hronic overuse of criminal justice as a ready made tool for addressing social insecurity under Neo-liberal economic assumptions has led to collapse of both deterrence and legitimacy.”

Now there’s a thesis.  Thoughts?

Following up on the British “riots”: Jonathan Simon on GTC