Slave Patrols & Civil Servants

“The first signature of the police is slave patrols: the requirement of black social death for white civil society, and the indiscriminate racist police violence that continues today. The second signature is the management of civil society. Starting from two different contexts—the antebellum American South and industrializing Britain—these signatures carry through to the present until they combine in the dual function of the modern police: management and exclusion; contingent violence against transgressors, and absolute violence against racialized bodies. The techniques required by these motives bleed into one another, while the originary split remains. We see this in the everyday harassing and targeting of black bodies (in police shootings, stop and frisk policies, and more), as much as in the friendly police presence accompanying the recent Women’s Marches across the country.”



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