Three upcoming events focusing on mass incarceration and policing
While we have a lot of great events coming up in September, including the Radical Bookfair, we thought it'd be a good idea to specifically highlight three events we have coming up in October and November that focus on different aspects of our exceptionally problematic criminal "justice" system. The police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson is, sadly, not an exceptional case—and we thought bringing authors to town who could address some of the larger questions around the systemic dysfunction and structural racism in the American systems of policing and incarceration would be a helpful contribution we could make as a bookstore.
The first event in the series will feature a talk by Vesla Weaver, co-author of Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control, just published this summer by University of Chicago Press. In the book, Weaver and her co-author offer a comprehensive account of the effects of a historically unprecendented "network of institutions dedicated solely to the control and confinement of its citizens." In the aggregate, these institutions undermine the possibility of democracy by condemning those on the wrong side of race and class lines to second class citizenship, forced to live in a "state within a state" where the rights and rules enjoyed by more privileged citizens disappear. (Wednesday, October 8th, 7:30PM)
The second event focuses on the accelerating militarization of the police in the United States. Fueled with surplus equipment from America's wars abroad, local police are increasingly framing the populations they ostensibly "protect and serve" as enemy populations to be controlled and confronted. Kara Dansky, Senior Counsel at the ACLU Center for Justice, and author of the sadly-all-too-timely new report "War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing," will visit the store for a talk on the pervasive trend towards militarized police departments. While the images from Ferguson show the terrifying impact this trend can have on the possibility of dissent in public space, Dansky, through an analysis of more than 800 local SWAT raids, tracks the ways in which this development impacts the communities framed as the enemy in the drug war every day. (Thursday, October 16th, 7:30PM)
Finally, the last event in the series provides a provocative historical reinterpretation of the genesis of America's carceral state. Naomi Murakawa's new book The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America digs beyond the common narrative which locates the rise of racialized mass incarceration in the "tough on crime" law and order conservative backlash against populations of color starting in the 1960s and accelerating in the 1980s. For liberals, this is a comforting narrative, but Murakawa's groundbreaking historical analysis reveals a far more troubling story, one which implicates liberalism itself in the origins of our grotesquely discriminatory and disproportionately large federal penal system. We're looking forward to what promises to be a talk that poses an exceptionally important challenge to received wisdom! (Thursday November 13, 7:30PM)