In this study of police brutality in New York City, Marilynn Johnson explores the changing patterns of police use of force over the past 160 years, including streat beatings, organized violence against protestors, and the notorious third degree. She argues that the idea of police brutality-what exactly it is, who its victims are, and why it occurs ...
In this study of police brutality in New York City, Marilynn Johnson explores the changing patterns of police use of force over the past 160 years, including streat beatings, organized violence against protestors, and the notorious third degree. She argues that the idea of police brutality-what exactly it is, who its victims are, and why it occurs-is historically constructed. In the late nineteenth century police brutality was understood as an outgrowth of the moral and political corruption of Tammany Hall; in the heavy immigration years of the early twentieth century it was redefined as a racial/ethnic issue; and during Prohibition police violence was connected to police corruption related to the underground liquor trade and the'war on crime' the federal government declared in response. Providing a history of police brutality up to the present day, "Street Justice" emphasizes the understandings brought to the subject by its victims, and reveals a long and disturbing history of police misconduct against minorities. But Johnson also argues that the culture of policing can be changed when enough political pressure is brought to bear on the problem.
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Publishers Weekly, 2003-10-27 This fascinating, highly detailed historical survey, beginning with the NYPD's founding in 1845, reads like a true crime page-turner. Covering the horrifying examples of brutality from "clubbing" in the late 19th century-"the routine bludgeoning of citizens by patrolmen armed with nightsticks or blackjacks,"-to the backroom torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in 1997, as well as reviewing the numerous citizen and governmental attempts to curb police violence, Johnson (The Second Gold Rush: Oakland and the East Bay in World War II) definitively supports her main argument: "Police brutality is not a timeless, static phenomenon, nor has there been a linear progression toward more professional, less violent police behavior." Throughout, she provides a sensitive and insightful look at the range of social, political and economic changes that have affected how police brutality has been repeatedly redefined, and she illuminates key historic eras, such as her explanation of how the common abuse of Jews and African-Americans in the 1910s "laid the groundwork for the black-Jewish alliance" of the '30s and '40s. She also deftly provides numerous explanations of interesting facts related to police behavior, such as how the interrogation term "the third degree" was derived from the grueling initiation rites of 19th-century Freemasonry. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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