Police Control Over Black Bodies in the USA

Police Control Over Black Bodies in the USA

“This summer in Ferguson and Staten Island we have seen that dominion [the police] employed to the maximum ends—destruction of the body. This is neither new nor extraordinary. It does not matter if the destruction of your body was an overreaction. It does not matter if the destruction of your body resulted from a misunderstanding. It does not matter if the destruction of your body springs from foolish policy. …The destroyers of your body will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions.

It will not do to point out the rarity of the destruction of your body by the people whom you pay to protect it. As Gene Demby has noted, destruction is merely the superlative form of a dominion whose prerogatives include friskings, detainings, beatings, and humiliations. All of this is common to black people. All of this is old for black people. No one is held accountable. The body of Michael Brown was left in the middle of the street for four hours. It can not be expected that anyone will be held accountable…

the body count that led us to our present tenuous democratic moment does not elevate us above the community of nations, but installs us uncomfortably within its ranks.” Ta-Nehisi Coates.

The Atantic: http://buff.ly/VGW2Ok #sociology #socialscience #ferguson #michaelbrown

2 thoughts on “Police Control Over Black Bodies in the USA

  1. Hi Ferrari Emiliano Thanks for your comment. It’s useful that this news is travelling all around the world as this social injustice deserves international attention. I think  you’re saying that police should be clearly identifiable via their uniforms. While the police showed up in Ferguson in military gear early in the protests, the issue of identification is not so much the problem. It’s really about addressing police bias and police brutality, especially towards minorities who bear the brunt of stereotype-fuelled policing. Plenty of research shows that police engage in biased decision-making when working out how to settle disputes, arrests and when to shoot. Police who work in areas with relatively high Black populations are more likely to decide to use their weapon on Black rather than White citizens.

    The problem is poor training. The conventional emphasis of policing is to rely on gut instincts and experience, but if those are guided by racial stereotypes then poor decision-making follows. A community policing approach, where police officers are trained to work day-to-day with communities to address everyday living conditions and issues, not just when called to disputes, is the only way to improve outcomes. Systemic racism also needs to be addressed, both within the police force and the criminal justice system, as well as socio-economics. I have a post to address these issues (I reshared here http://goo.gl/lNSGYc).


  2. Thanks Ferrari Emiliano. As to whether there is public interest on police training, there is no other way to achieve change. Research consistently shows that much of police training is inadequate, especially in dealing with vulnerable populations, minorities, at-risk and disadvantaged social groups. Peter Moskos’ sociology study probably best exemplifies this point. He’s a sociologist who became a police officer and published his ethnographic insights about his experience policing in Baltimore for one  year. He shows that the training police receive does not prepare them for the realities of the job. He also shows the process of distrust that builds up between new cadets and the communities they police.

    You also see the lack of respect new police officers build up for Black people as their jobs depends upon making arrests and de-humanising poor Black youth, rather than on solving community problems. The more arrests they make, preferably on drug charges, the more funding their departments get. Moskos is confident that the police and criminal justice system can be reformed through legislation, especially by ending its obsession with the so-called “war on drugs,” which has been spectacular failure. I highly recommend his book, Cop in the Hood. 


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