Following George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis PD officers in May, and the violent treatment of subsequent protests by police departments across America, the left's attention has refocused on the police. Several years after the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA, new demands have begun to crystalise in response to this moment. Calls to defund and abolish the police have grown louder, replacing earlier appeals to reform. More and more people are asking questions about the funciton and history of the police in our societies. While a wealth of informative and radical writing exists on the American situation, analysis of other countries' police records is often harder to come by.
This week on the Verso Blog, we bring you reports on the past and present roles of the police in five different countries: Brazil, Kenya, France, South Africa and India. The goal of the series is to contextualise what is particular to each country, as well as to suggest international points of comparison. Across the countries, themes emerge, such as the legacies of colonialism, the harsh imposition of lockdown controls during the Covid-19 pandemic, endemic racism, and the criminalisation of the poor. Police forces may operate locally, but the violent institution of the police is a global problem. The struggle for justice must be global too.
The series starts with a report on the situation in Brazil. Check back each day for a new instalment.
PART 1: Policing Bolsonaro's Brazil, by Alex Hochuli
PART 2: Police Violence and the Criminalization of the Poor in Kenya by Esther Waigumo Njoki & Gacheke Gachihi
PART 3: Racism in a Country Without Race by Hassina Mechaï
PART 4: The Class Character of Police Violence in South Africa by William Shoki
PART 5: The Particularities of Indian Police Violence by Anon