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Pacifying Disruptive Subjects

Police Violence and Anti-Fracking Protests

Will Jackson, Helen Monk and Joanna Gilmore

This article considers the policing of protests against “fracking” at Barton Moss, Salford, Greater Manchester between November 2013 and April 2014. The article seeks to make sense of the policing response to the protest camp established at the Barton Moss site and to consider what the policing of anti-fracking protests reveals about state responses to resistance in the current era. The article begins by sketching out the background to fracking in the UK and to the specific protest at Barton Moss. It then provides some detail about the nature of policing experienced at the camp during its five-month operation before considering how the policing of anti-fracking protests—and protest policing more generally—need to be considered in relation to the general function of police. To do this we draw upon the concept of pacification to consider both the destructive and productive effects of the exercise of police power and suggest that this concept, and the reorientation of critical policing studies that it demands, are essential for understanding police and state violence in contemporary liberal democracies.

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"Eyes, Ears, and Wheels"

Policing Partnerships in Nairobi, Kenya

Francesco Colona and Tessa Diphoorn

Research on policing in Africa has provided tremendous insight into how non-state actors, such as gangs, vigilantes, private security companies, and community initiatives, increasingly provide security for urban dwellers across the continent. Consequently, the state has been categorized as one order among many whose authority is co-constituted through relations with other actors. Drawing on our ethnographic fieldwork in the past two years, we highlight how the state police dominates security arrangements in Nairobi and asserts itself not just as one order among many. We show how, in various policing partnerships between police, private security companies, and residents’ associations, the state police acts as a coagulating agent of such practices. In order to elucidate this relationship, we utilize the “junior partner” model from the criminology literature and expand based on the community policing initiatives that in Nairobi act as the “eyes, ears, and wheels” of the police.

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Foucault

Critical Theory of the Police in a Neoliberal Age

Andrew Johnson

In Discipline and Punish the police is a state institution isomorphic with the prison. In his Collège de France lectures, Foucault unearths a 'secret history of the police' where greater attention is paid to public health, social welfare and regulating the marketplace than investigating and arresting criminals. This broad overview of Foucault's writings on the police exhibits a 'splintering-effect' in his modalities of power. To resolve this apparent contradiction, a nominalist reading that conflates Foucault's divergent paradigms of power results in a more multifaceted history and a ubiquitous mode of power with diverse and precise techniques. There are strengths and weaknesses in Foucault's theory when applied to modern neoliberal police. Foucault should not be employed for one-dimensional criticisms of modern police or as an analytical cure-all.

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Barbara Thériault

How does one deal with diversity in an organization known to be hostile to it? Drawing on a Weberian perspective I present in this article one case occurring in actual historical practice: that of Inspector Bobkowski, a teacher, chief of the political education unit at the Berlin police academy and training center, and a hobby historian. With an eye to the case at hand as well as other efforts to deal with difference under the Weimar Republic encountered during my fieldwork, I attempt to uncover the motives underlying the action of officers who contributed to the promotion of diversity within the police force in Germany. Inquiring into their motives enables me to construct an ideal type of a “carrier of diversity,” which, I argue, shares affinities with a liberal agenda of civic equality.

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Just War

The Metaphysics of Police Vigilantism in India

Beatrice Jauregui

This article describes and explains “police vigilantism” as a mode of authoritative extralegal coercion performed by public police officials conceived as doing their duty to realize justice in the world. Based on ethnographic observations, interviews, and content analysis of news and entertainment media as well as official government reports, this essay examines a specific form of police vigilantism in contemporary India known as “encounter killings”. Demonstrating that encounter killings are widely constituted as a form of ritual purification and social defense by self-sacrificing police, it theorizes a metaphysics of police vigilantism in India that combines generalized experiences of insecurity with shared cosmologies of just war. Comparing this metaphysics with justifications of state violence in other Global South contexts, this study sheds light on how such violence may be legitimated through the conceptual inextricability of law and war as embodied in a uniquely constituted human figure: the police vigilante.

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Ex Aqua

The Mediterranean Basin, Africans on the Move, and the Politics of Policing

P. Khalil Saucier and Tryon P. Woods

Within the annals of black studies, analyses of state power begin with a well-trod premise that policing is not a response to criminal behaviour; nor is it an extension of a criminal justice apparatus whose operations can be accounted for by political economy alone. Rather, the police power is foremost a cultural phenomenon irreducible to materialist conceptions of social control in a capitalist world system. More to the point, policing is a methodology for social organisation premised on antiblack sexual violence. We consider several recent events of state power in the Mediterranean basin – as in the Lampedusa boat victims – in order to ascertain the erotic authority governing the police power of state and civil society. By using the Lampedusa case and others, we highlight that police power in the Mediterranean is more than the interpersonal and the event, but instead manifests as a methodology of violence by the state and its regimes, as history, as legacy. The policing and murder of hundreds of Africans in the Mediterranean we contend are not single and episodic events or moments in time, but are situated in the accumulated violence against black people globally. Without an analysis of antiblackness in relation to policing as methodology, events such as Lampedusa can be seen and understood as moments of exception (i.e. bad FRONTEX policy) rather than a practice that fully follows racial slavery. Without understanding policing from this standpoint, the political reaction to Lampedusa and other events has the danger of promoting 'reform' and 'revision' rather than a more radical vision: a future where black lives matter.

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A State of Force

The Repressive Policing of Contention in Queensland under Frederic Urquhart

Paul Bleakley

Australian history is littered with examples of situations in which police have engaged in the use of force—in some cases, disproportionate violence—to maintain order and stability. In addition to this effort to control the population and ensure social order, extreme use of force was a key factor in repressing civil dissent and preventing marginalized communities from exercising their voice within the social discourse. Former Queensland Police Commissioner Frederic Urquhart was at the forefront of several high-profile examples of police enforcing social control during his tenure with the Queensland police, including the punitive expeditions of the Native Mounted Police Force, the civil disorder of the 1912 general strike, and the chaos associated with the 1919 Red Flag riots. In developing an appreciation for Urquhart’s behavior and motivations, it can be seen that the Queensland police have always served as a body dedicated to ensuring conformity through any means necessary.

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"The Riots Were Where the Police Were

Deconstructing the Pendelton Riot

Bob Jeffery and Waqas Tufail

This article explores the social dynamics in the city of Salford at the time of the Pendleton riot, which took place amidst the four days of national rioting that began with the killing of Mark Duggan in Tottenham by the Metropolitan Police Service. Attempting to counter what we see as a dominant narrative of the riots as 'shopping with violence', this article explores the development of the significant disorder in Salford through a triangulation of accounts, including an extensive review of journalistic accounts, alongside interviews from a dozen people who witnessed the riots as police officers, residents and spectators. Beginning with an overview of the events of August 9th 2011, we argue that the deployment of officers in riots gear in the vicinity of Salford Precinct proved provocative, and created a focal point for the widespread antagonism felt towards the police. Furthermore, we suggest that an understanding of local contextual factors is critical both in terms of answering the question ‘why Salford?’, but also in terms of explaining the ferocity of the violence targeted towards officers of Greater Manchester Police (in contrast to the focus on looting in nearby Manchester city-centre). Interpreting the riots as a response to punitive policing policies that have accompanied state-directed policies of large-scale gentrification, we highlight the degree to which the 'contestations over space' that characterized the riot pointed to an underlying politics of resistance (despite lacking 'formal' political articulation).

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Shutting Down Protest

Policing, International Summitry, and the G20 Experiment in Brisbane

Binoy Kampmark

This article considers social control mechanisms that targeted public protest at a particular summit, the Brisbane G20, first by examining the management of previous gatherings (Miami and Toronto), and then by looking at the more specific, nuanced techniques deployed in Brisbane in 2014. Despite its violence, the Toronto G20 added a few legal and policing innovations, including designated free speech zones, controlled areas of movement, and, albeit unsuccessfully, the extensive use of public relations. The lessons of Toronto were directly incorporated into the security architecture of Brisbane’s policing and social control effort. Brisbane witnessed one of the more successful efforts at limiting and arguably shutting down social protest in its entirety. Protest narratives were fastidiously managed and shaped by the Queensland Police Service and affiliated agencies. As a response, alternative protest techniques, including counter-summits, were ostensibly fashioned to circumvent such a restrictive security architecture, but were marginalized in doing so.

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Sandbags, Strikes, and Scandals

Public Disorder and Problematic Policing in Occupied Roubaix during World War I

James E. Connolly

In spring 1915, the delicate issue of French factory workers fabricating sandbags for the German army led to various breaches of public order in occupied Roubaix. These workers were criticized and physically assaulted by their occupied compatriots. At roughly the same time, many such workers refused to continue working for the German military authority. This unrest continued for months, putting the French administration, especially the local police force, in a difficult situation: these civil servants sought to restore public order and avoid punishments for the population, but did not want to encourage working for the Germans. Scandals involving policemen further undermined this challenging task. This article examines and explains these understudied events in detail, considering the nature of public disorder, the narrative of the “sandbag affair,” and the problems faced by the police. This allows for an insight into occupied life, especially the primacy of public perception and judgment.