Resistance to the carceral state has always been at the forefront of Leftist agendas. More specifically, the exercise of weaponized violence calls to question the role that the police play in constructing an “American” cultural identity. This panel raises key questions: what spaces and places do, and will, policing/law enforcement agencies occupy in an ongoing process of building a new global Left, as their material and cultural reach and ramifications continue to escalate and accelerate exponentially? Why/ do we need law enforcement? How do we begin to understand social imperatives of policing beyond the work of local enforcement agencies, but also an act culturally embedded into quotidian American life? How do oppositional communities connect across differently resourced and governed spaces to work with or within what some consider protracted, multifaceted genocide?
This discussion features dialogue between activist-scholars across disciplines engaging attendees around discourses of prison and policing reform, abolition, and restorative justice- and the obstacles and promises of inhabiting and contributing toward each. Drawing from works in digital humanities, communication, critical race/ethnic studies, and community activism, this panel seeks to critically examine the stakes of addressing policing in the New World, and what this may look like among different spaces that comprise the global Left.
Kim Clark, Art Culture Movement, FREE! Families Rally for Emancipation and Empowerment will share a ten-minute clip from a 2018 public access TV program entitled No Place for Police (produced collaboratively by Clark and Jones), which highlights challenges with policing and police violence in schools, and will engage more broadly in interrogating what the proper place of police is in our local communities, and how this points toward possibilities for radical transnational (or broader) solidarities.
Aundrey Jones, UC San Diego, Ethnic Studies, Pillars of the Community, All of Us or None: will cover a broad history of carceral resistance in Southern California. Looking at different collectives of Left organizing as it relates specifically to Black/Brown people in Los Angeles since WWII, and how these communities have constructed meanings of life and struggle while living under the precarious auspices of carceral Los Angeles.
Kathie Cheng, Stolen Lives Project, will discuss ways the Stolen Lives Project has been documenting those killed by U.S. law enforcement since 1996. How does this work counter normalized narratives which justify police/state violence by providing stories and data that challenge and reframe rarely adequately investigated or made known circumstances surrounding the deaths of their victims? Through these narratives, the SLP illustrates how police brutality is normalized and constructed as expected and acceptable through mainstream media’s tarnishing of victim reputations, despite being categorization as a negative phenomenon.
Kerry Keith will examine covert and overt policing and surveillance strategies operationalized after one is released from prison. Troubling the watch tactics imposed through parole, often a site for reformist action, is instead examined as a direct continuation of policed behavioral expectations designed to re-criminate rather than rehabilitate, revealing socio-cultural agnosia which endangers anti-incarceration movements. Keith draws on systems that counter parole’s watch, speculating on possibilities of a non-policed release from prison.