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Police Power, Racial Terror, and the Violence of Reform

Ongoing protests against racist police violence amid a global pandemic are leading to important debates about the role and function of the police in our society. Many protestors are calling for policy changes that demand the defunding of the police in favor of more robust social programs and wider access to public goods.

In his presentation, Wall places police power within a wider context of historical cycles of violence and reform and the current legitimacy crisis of US policing. He examines how police power is inseparable from the structures that govern and reproduce racial capitalist society. What emerges from this discussion is an argument about how typical liberal reforms are not only destined to fail but further entrench and normalize racist state violence. Reform, then, becomes the “pie in the sky” while abolition and its related demand to defund police becomes the most logical, practical, and necessary response to the contemporary police crisis.

This presentation is part of the College Conversations: Allyship & Antiracism series which features faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences whose research focuses on identifying racism, how to become an effective antiracist, and other topics related to allyship and antiracism.

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Thursday, July 16 at 5:30pm to 6:30pm

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