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Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter

A New York Public Library pick for "A Reading List of America" 

Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It’s a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over—to deadly effect.

With contributions from #BlackLivesMatter cofounder Patrisse Cullors, Ferguson activist and Law Professor Justin Hansford, Director of New York–based Communities United for Police Reform Joo-Hyun Kang, poet Martín Espada, and journalist Anjali Kamat, as well as articles from leading scholars Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Robin D. G. Kelley, Naomi Murakawa, Vijay Prashad, and more, Policing the Planet describes ongoing struggles from New York to Baltimore to Los Angeles, London, San Juan, San Salvador, and beyond.

Reviews

  • “A major work…As someone who certainly admires the work of these scholars, I couldn’t think of a more compelling and timely work such as this. I am pleased to not only be in community with these amazing people but to listen and learn from them…Policing the Planet comes at an incredibly important time.”
  • “This book is the best analytical and political response we have to the historic rebellions in Ferguson! Don’t miss it.”
  • “We owe Jordan Camp and Christina Heatherton a great expression of gratitude for this brilliant and provocative collection of voices that compels us to see the Black Lives Matter Movement in the larger context of twenty-first-century racial capitalism and the growing carceral state.”
  • “When this series of essays addressing contemporary activism's biggest movement hits stands in May, we'll be ready. A variety of contributors, including anti-police brutality and militarization activists from around the country and world, promise to make Policing the Planet a definitive work for anybody confused about exactly what structural law enforcement powers lead to our current racial justice climate.”
  • “Through compiling so many critical voices in one place, Camp and Heatherton have created a much-needed guidebook of resistance to our planet’s police state and the structures of urban governance that feed it.”
  • “This broad collection of sharp commentary from activists, academics, and artists situates recent struggles right where they belong — in opposition to an increasingly global regime of police abuse.”
  • “A probing collection of essays and interviews.”
  • “This was just what I needed to read myself, because I’ve been trying to find a word to use against the police. There have been so many words, like pigs and so on, but I wanted to represent the savagery that I was seeing used against civilian populations by the police.”
  • Policing the Planet is an important intervention to a key issue at a crucial time.”
  • “This book reminds us that policing is not exhausted by the afterlives of slavery. What’s notable about “broken windows” is the remarkable number of avenues that it can intervene in, the tremendous range of its reach. Where the diverse array of forces loosely organized under the banner of Black Lives Matter have reposed questions of black particularity and universal emancipation, these essays can help us locate those discussions on a global and historical level…As we take stock of the coordinates of revolutionary strategy today, this collection provides an indispensable resource.”
  • “An incredible anthology tracing the bloody history of broken-windows policing and its implications for city life in general.”

Blog

  • Facing Trump, Building the Future

    This essay by George Ciccariello-Maher was written for arranca! issue #51 (forthcoming), to provide an overview for a German-speaking audience on the dynamics behind Trump's election and the resistance to his presidency.  



    With the election of Trump, the tempo of our collective disaster has shifted dramatically. Rather than the slow-rolling nightmare of Clintonite neoliberalism, for which Obama was more continuity than respite, this nightmare has suddenly shifted into high-gear with each new day bringing — via a string of brutal executive orders — a new hell to ponder, lament, and resist.

    How did we get here? The debates are seemingly interminable and inevitably self-serving.

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  • The Landing: Fascists without Fascism

    This post first appeared at Research & Destroy.



    We can imagine a person slowly becoming aware that he is the subject of catastrophe. The form of consciousness might be likened to someone peering out the window of a plane. They have been aboard for a long time, years, decades. From cruising altitude the landscape below scrolls past evenly, somewhat abstracted. The stabilizing mechanisms of eye and brain smooth the scene. Perhaps they are somewhere above the upper midwest. Their knowledge of the miseries that have seized flyover country hovers at the periphery of a becalmed boredom. Steady hum of the jet engines, sense of stillness. Borne by prevailing winds the first balloonists detected no wind whatsoever. So this flight. Though the passengers will never travel faster than this they scarcely feel any motion at all.

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  • Forced Labor and Progress

    Published as part of Verso's Haymarket Series in 1996, Alex Lichtenstein's Twice the Work of Free Labor: The Political Economy of Convict Labor in the New South was the first book-length history of the convict-lease and chain gang systems of penal servitude in the Southern United States. Focusing on Georgia in the years between Reconstruction and the Great Depression, Lichtenstein traces the interwoven development of the region's notoriously brutal carceral forms and it's industrial and commercial expansion. "The postbellum history of Georgia's penal system," Lichenstein writes, "offers a clear illustration of how convict labor helped forge the peculiar New South 'Bourbon' political alliance, by accommodating the labor needs of an emerging class of industrialists without eroding the racial domination essential to planters."

    In the text below, the book's epilogue, Lichtenstein expands on his findings in a broader historical consideration of the relation between coerced labor and economic development.
       


    A Georgia road gang in Rockdale County in 1909, shortly after the state abolished convict leasing. (Vanishing Georgia Collection, Georgia Department of Archives and History).

    “There is no document of civilization that is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” –Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History”1

    Diverse forms of forced labor have been found in many societies, under many conditions. Slavery and penal labor both existed in the ancient world. Serfdom shaped much of the character of premodern European social relations, and persisted well into the nineteenth century in Eastern Europe and Russia. As European societies shook off the last vestiges of feudalism, forced labor was carried to the New World, in a vast arc encompassing both the highlands and plantations of the Americas. In colonial Africa as well, European domination brought with it forms of coercive labor new to a continent that had long known indigenous slavery; and labor relations in industrialized South Africa under apartheid were clearly shaped by colonial strategies of labor extraction up until yesterday. Finally, Stalin's Gulag, and the Nazi labor and extermination camps, stand as horrific examples of forced labor in the modern world.

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