Police response to UCD event + blogs on police

I will add more resources here shortly but to kick things off:


Two articles from police discussing the recent incident at UCD:

NY Times article on pepper spray use including former FBI officer that developed pepper spray into policing weapon in the 1980s – and his disagreement with how it is used in practice today.

Article in Atlantic Monthly from a former University police officer reflecting on some of the ways in which police respond and why.


Two blogs that focus on policing and crime:

Anthropolitea is a blog spot that considers policing and security issues from an anthropological perspective; contributors are all from the field of the anthropology of police. It is not always up-to-date as contributors are all quite busy but should have some new things up there soon and if you would like to get involved with this project please contact Michelle.

Governing Through Crime is a blog from Jonathan Simon at UC Berkeley.
It is updated frequently and a great resource. Looks like the most recent post focuses on UCB and UCD protests.




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3 responses to “Police response to UCD event + blogs on police

  1. 2 Thoughts After Reading Online Comments in Response to News of November 18 Events (comments on news cites, not on these blogs):
    The image of a police officer spraying students in a seemingly calm, banal manner struck many who viewed this as a sign of madness: how could someone spray another person with a noxious chemical, yet appear to be doing so with no more thought or care than someone spray painting a wall or spraying weedkiller on a lawn? What kind of institution had made this, for a moment seem normal and possible to some? That’s a question that many people posed in one form or another online in the days after 18 of November video appeared online. Yet what I noticed in the comments section on many of the news websites and blogs that reported on these events were comments by a bunch of people who seemed to be neither in the ‘we are outraged at the police’ nor the ‘should have shot them radicals’ camp. Rather, at least some of these people spoke about their own experiences with police training (keeping in mind, this is the internet, where there are many more secret agent and government assassins than seem likely). Specifically, some spoke of how most viewers misunderstood the November 18 images: they did not understand that, as several commentators at various sites wrote, that there’s a set of progressive bodily movements (or lack of movements) that escalate the threat protestors pose: what seems to many like someone dousing a toxic, noxious chemical on a group of peaceful kids sitting on a lawn is actually something else entirely. Two things struck me about these descriptions/defenses (has anyone else seen?). First, that protestors’ bodies speak dangers that only a trained eye can identify. “The presence of a uniformed police officer,” “a verbal command,” and “a light touch” are all cited as signs that those who do not react to these and move away pose at each progressive ‘escalation’ (in the police’s eyes) more and more a disordered situation that the use of force is needed to resolve. Second, I noticed that with each of the technocratic, for lack of a better word, defenses of these acts that I read, the language of strategy and purposiveness was deployed. Every move protestors or police made, every moment of the video, was assigned a clear rationale. I wonder if these ‘rationales’ were just assigned by viewers after seeing the videos? Or, if the police violence itself was understood by those carrying it out as reasonable and sensible and not at all interesting. If one or another rule was broken, this individuates responsibility solely to the police on the quad that day. But suppose no rule was broken, and this is reasonable in the eyes of the university (or its administrators and police, anyway)? I think attending to why people are looking and perhaps hoping to see that a law or policing code or campus rule was broken poses a significant question about everyone’s hopes for what the university is and isn’t. Anyway those are just two initial thoughts. I don’t know much about any of this, so I hope Michelle and others who do might share a reading that we might construct a question from. Does anyone think reading or talking about risk, which Giddens calls a “moral climate of politics” (Giddens 2002, p. 29) makes sense in the context of UCD policing? It’s something that campus powers cited immediately after in defense, e.g. the risk to public health of people who are camping, risk to the police… and something protestors afterward cited – Nathan Brown saying that the Chancellor ‘constitutes the primary risk to the health and safety of the campus community’ (in somewhat of a parody of the admin’s own discourse of risk, of course).

  2. … Also: maybe Jonathan Simon might want to come up for Mon’s Wksp? Or, maybe it’s just relevant to ask if admin are governing through crime? Not sure politicians who construct risky subjects out of marginalized and minority communities are doing the same thing as admin’s on campuses. Anyone have thoughts on the Governing Through-Crime – UC governing connection?

  3. From the Simon blog Michelle linked us to:

    “The gist of the argument behind this blog, and the book, Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear,is that political leaders facing a chronic legitimacy deficit since the late 1960s have frequently used protecting citizens from crime as the least problematic way of justifying the exercise of power.

    In Oakland this played out in almost comic precision. Hemmoraging legitimacy after first clearing the plaza in a violent police sweep and then letting the Occupy encampment be reestablished Mayor Jean Quan seemed paralyzed with indecision about what to do about the camp until a murder on the periphery of the encampment last week gave her a crime cover. Having supported the goals of the occupation and accepted encampment as a protest tactic the Mayor now found an imperative requiring the preventive clearing of the site (read the full story in the SFChron here):

    “The encampment became a place where we had repeated violence and, this week, a murder. We had to bring the camp to an end before more people were hurt.”

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