David Correia and Tyler Wall, Policing: A Field Guide.

AuthorShanahan, Jarrod

David Correia and Tyler Wall, Policing: A Field Guide (Verso, 2018)

IN LATE 2014, NEW YORK CITY POLICE AND THEIR SUPPORTERS RALLIED outside City Hall at the height of the antipolicing movement commonly known as Black Lives Matter. A week prior, numerous NBA players donned t-shirts bearing Eric Garner's last words as he was choked by a gang of New York cops: "I can't breathe." No doubt emboldened by the nonindictment of Garner's murderer, Daniel Pantaleo, the assembled cops sported hoodies reading, in identical font: "I CAN BREATHE" (Ng et al. 2014, emphasis added). Their mostly white ranks menaced the largely nonwhite Black Lives Matter demonstrators by chanting the ominous imperative: "Don't resist arrest!" Invoking the perfunctory command to "stop resisting" which accompanies escalations of police violence unto death, the message was simple: do what we say, or else we are free to murder you.

Such an honest embrace of the racialized violence at the heart of US law and order calls to mind Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi's (1975) conception of "point zero": the point at which illusion becomes impossible to sustain. As of writing, the United States is rocked by a sustained rebellion far outpacing the movement of 2014 in scope, militancy, and the emphatic rejction of US policing and the white supremacist social order it upholds. The spark was yet another murder by chokehold, that of George Floyd in Minneapolis. COVID-19 has underscored the consequences of declining living standards, vanishing public services, and the outright abandonment of many working-class communities, disproportionaely those of of color. Floyd's murder and the ensuing rebellion have called attention to the counterpart of this divestment--a dramatically expanded regime of policing and prisons which guzzles public spending while managing social problems with guns, clubs, and cages. Thus, in a moment of great waste and suffering, the spectacle of a man slowly choked to death by state violence has provoked the militant rejection of the entire social order, beginning with the armed agents who work daily to keep it in place (Shanahan & Kurti 2020). The very site of the 2014 "I CAN BREATHE" demonstration is at present home to a sustained antipolice occupation which has been met with police violence and intimidation that proves the points of the brutalized better than any argument they could muster (Offenhartz & Hogan 2020). Violence against protesters in New York is part of a...

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