The Bombs Explode at Home: The Political Economy of Police Violence
Jordan T. Camp
Responding to a massive buildup of military forces at home and abroad, Dr. Martin Luther King observed in 1967, “The bombs in Vietnam explode at home.” Amidst growing resistance to the U.S. imperialist war in Vietnam and a wave of urban uprisings against police violence, King had come to the inescapable conclusion that overcoming racism would require attacking its roots in the political economy of capitalism and imperialism. Taking King’s insights seriously, this presentation analyzes the political economy of policing violence in the U.S., a carceral–warfare state that kills black and Indigenous people at disproportionate rates. At the same time, it will suggest how uprisings from Ferguson to Baltimore to Standing Rock highlight the unfinished business of freedom struggles today.
Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color
Andrea J. Ritchie
Police killings of black women and women of color, while less frequent than those targeting black men, nevertheless have a great deal to teach us about the scope, forms, and contexts of police violence in the United States and the strategies necessary to reduce death by policing. Additionally, current policing paradigms and practices can be fatal even if death does not come directly at the hands of police, pointing to additional areas of potential intervention. Finally, setting fatal police interactions as the gold standard for police violence obscures and elides multiple forms of police violence that have the effect of diminishing life chances which therefore must also be addressed.
Criminalizing Muslims: The Surveillance-Industrial Complex and the Possibilities for Joint Struggle
This presentation maps the criminalization of persons perceived to be Muslim through an analysis of the surveillance industrial complex. It will address the mutual relationality between militarism and economic neo-liberalism in the policing of Arabs/Muslims/South Asians in the United States. It will additionally explore the possibilities for solidarity with “Muslims” that are grounded in anti-imperialism, intersectionality, and decolonization.
Reckoning with Histories of Violence in a Hive of Border Policing
Monica Muñoz Martinez
Between 1910 and 1920, vigilantes and law enforcement, including the renowned Texas Rangers, killed Mexican residents with impunity, the full extent of the violence known only to the relatives of the victims. The failure to remember this history enables the perpetuation of violent border policing. As we reflect on the centennial of this period, anti-immigrant sentiment is shaping public policy and clouding public conversations. Martinez will discuss the limits and possibilities of reckoning with histories of state-sanctioned racial violence in the midst of ongoing violent border policing.
City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771–1965
Kelly Lytle Hernandez
Los Angeles incarcerates more people than any other city in the United States, which imprisons more people than any other nation on Earth. This talk explains how the City of Angels became the capital city of the world’s leading incarcerator. Marshaling more than two centuries of evidence, historian Kelly Lytle Hernández unmasks how histories of native elimination, immigrant exclusion, and black disappearance drove the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles. In this telling, which spans from the Spanish colonial era to the outbreak of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Hernández documents the persistent historical bond between the racial fantasies of conquest, namely its settler-colonial form, and the eliminatory capacities of incarceration. This talk is also a chronicle of resilience and rebellion, documenting how targeted peoples and communities have always fought back. They busted out of jail, forced Supreme Court rulings, advanced revolution across bars and borders, and, as in the summer of 1965, set fire to the belly of the city. With these acts, those who fought the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles altered the course of history in the city, the borderlands, and beyond. The dynamics of conquest thus met deep reservoirs of rebellion as Los Angeles became the City of Inmates, the nation’s carceral core.
America’s ‘Boat People’: Anti-Black Racism and the Place of the Caribbean in U.S. Migration Deterrence Practices
Jenna M. Loyd
In December 1994, the government of Panama told the United States that it would no longer permit the U.S. to use Howard Air Force Base to process Cuban asylum seekers intercepted at sea. Howard Air Force Base and Guantánamo Bay Naval Base occupied the center of a carceral archipelago of military and civilian spaces planned, and in some cases established, as “safe havens” for Haitian and Cuban asylum seekers across the Caribbean in the early- to mid-1990s. Despite important scholarship recollecting this Caribbean chapter of U.S. border enforcement, the role that deterrence operations in the Caribbean played in the rise of contemporary US detention and deterrence policies remains less well known. This talk aims to resituate deterrence in the Caribbean and anti-black racism in accounts for the U.S. migration detention and deterrence regime.
Disappearance by Policing in the Arizona Desert
Southern Arizona has been an over-policed geography since at least the early 2000s when federal enforcement policies took effect. The militarization of border enforcement and the criminalization of immigrants, migrants, and people of color in the region has led not only to thousands of deaths, but also thousands of disappearances. This paper follows the story of one woman, Nancy. It will trace the timeline of events that led to Nancy’s disappearance and erasure in one of the most heavily surveilled landscapes in the world. Ultimately it was Nancy’s family and a small community of Arizona-based humanitarians who found her and made her and her story knowable, visible, and publicly grievable.
A Cemetery Without Crosses: State Violence and Migrant Death Along Central American Transit Routes
This talk examines the production of state violence and death along Central American transit routes in southern Mexico. Since the late 1980s, Mexico’s interior has increasingly become the site of a diffused migration enforcement strategy through roadside checkpoints, surveillance technologies, vehicle patrols, raids, and detention facilities. As unauthorized racialized and gendered others, Central American migrants become the hunted prey of Mexico’s security regime as well as organized criminal groups, which are increasingly intertwined. Close attention to the dynamics of the state–criminal–migrant nexus illuminates how clandestine migrant journeys become sites of profit, power, and impunity.
Permanent Injury Beyond Medical Intervention: Disguising Death in U.S. Immigrant Detention
Beatriz Aldana Marquez, John M. Eason, Amorette T. Young, and Kay Varela
Between 2003-2015 over 150 deaths occurred across public and private Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities. Despite these fatal conditions, immigrant detention facilities routinely pass federal audits and are rarely held accountable for their deficiencies. We analyze qualitative and quantitative data obtained through Freedom of Information Request that include 5 years of data (2008-2012) across 116 of the largest ICE detention facilities. Looking specifically at 106 immigration detention contracts and 181 office of detention oversight audits, we conclude that ICE creates a framework of obscurity around troubling conditions to disavow the agency from responsibility for administrative detainee’s deaths and poor health. These frames also allow ICE to reinforce the legitimacy of the immigrant detention network despite the awful conditions creating a potential human rights crisis. Our analysis also demonstrates how immigration detention facilities fortify structural legitimacy to continue intergovernmental service agreement with providers despite poor performance reviews.
This is War: The California Department of Corrections Attempt to Annihilate Adversaries
In 1989, Pelican Bay State Prison and its Security Housing Units (SHU) were built to hold in extreme isolation those the California Department of Corrections (CDC) deemed “the worst of the worst.” In 2005, out of the 44 prisoners who committed suicide in CDC prisons, 70% of them were in solitary confinement. The CDC used these extreme forms of isolation to eradicate dissent or render prisoners insane to the point of self-destruction. In a refusal to cede, men in Pelican Bay SHU launched hunger strikes. Many committed participants had spent 20 to 45 years incarcerated and had already accepted that one way or another they would die in the SHU. It was only a matter of how. Alas, the California prisoner hunger strikes were a struggle to live differently, but also a way to die. As representative Todd Ashker exclaimed, “If necessary we’ll resume and go all the way, starve to death. This is a war.”
The End of Policing
Alex S. Vitale
Recent years have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression—most dramatically in Ferguson, Missouri, where long-held grievances erupted in violent demonstrations following the police killing of Michael Brown. Among activists, journalists, and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. In his book, The End Policing, Vitale argues that these reforms will not produce results, either alone or in combination. The core of the problem must be addressed: the nature of modern policing itself. “Broken windows” practices, the militarization of law enforcement, and the dramatic expansion of the police’s role over the last forty years have created a mandate for officers that must be rolled back. Indeed, the expansion of police authority is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice—even public safety.
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