Reviews for Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States, by Joe Macaré, Alana Yu-Lan Price, Alicia Garza, Maya Schenwar
A must read.
I recently read The End of Policing which offers a stark, impersonal look at the big, overarching problems of policing. WDYS, however, presents some of the more specific (and therefore overlooked) issues and the people impacted by them. For instance, one article focuses on the impacts of the carceral system on pregnant women. Another uncovers the historical and current use of torture by ALL US police forces. One of my favorites looks at the fraught relationship between Black and Native Americans in their fight for social justice.
The book is divided into 2 parts: the first half covering specific ways in which police have failed to serve and protect different populations, the second about different movements and methods to resist these forces and build alternatives. The second half especially gave me some avenues for further research. The book and its articles are now at least 4 years old (many were written in response to the shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent Ferguson protests). I'm curious how some of the specific organizations mentioned have fared since and if they offer viable, sustainable models going forward.
One point brought up several times in different articles is the purpose of police in all their forms being to protect the interests and preservation of the state. Our state (aka America) was built and shaped for and by white, hetero, cis, wealthy, Christian men. You don't have to meet all these criteria to benefit from the state nor do you have to lack all of them to be oppressed by it. Addressing policing is important, but we ultimately have to address the state, its laws, and those who wield power over them.
While most of the content wasn't necessarily new to me, I did appreciate it regardless, especially the chapter/essay on how pregnant people are treated by cops and the prison system.
If you're interested in reading it, please take heed of the trigger/content warnings.
Here is a full review on my blog! ✨
Graphic: Medical trauma, Police brutality, Racism, and TortureThe racism includes anti-Black, anti-Brown, and anti-Indigenous racism. The medical trauma is more like medical neglect, but I can see it going either way. The torture includes descriptions of torture and torture devices, both historically and currently.
(My rating is 3.375 of 5, averaged from ratings of the sixteen individual essays).
I’m new to the concepts of defunding and/or abolishing policing, and this book was a decent introduction to the thinking behind such strategies, as well as potential practical methods for eventually accomplishing safer communities (by removing the harm/violence of policing)
Some essays were more worth my time than others; my favorite amongst them — the only one I awarded five stars — was “Say Her Name: What It Means To Center Black Women’s Experiences Of Police Violence”, by Andrea J. Ritchie.
(I have published a longer review on my website, including mini-reviews of individual essays.)
Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect is exactly the type of education, insightful, hard-hitting material that should be compulsory reading for all seeking to understand #BlackLivesMatter and the importance of its success. As difficult as it is to ponder the deeply tragic, unavoidable death and harm inflicted upon people by police, it is essential to explore in these times.
Though I am not a citizen of the USA, I think a deeper understanding of the pervasive nature of racism and xenophobia, particularly within institutions of power, is essential education for those who claim to be anti-racist. Through the resilience, dignity, vulnerability and doubtless sacrifice of these artists, activists and journalists, we come face-to-face with the reality of policing for people of colour. That reality is one of violence against the body, violence against the psyche - a never ending continuation of the victimization of people of colour and indigenous people in the US and beyond.
I am grateful for the opportunity to further my understanding of the issues of violence and racism within policing, but also for broadening and deepening my understanding of alternatives to police forces. Overall, a thought provoking, diverse range of opinions and insights which should be essential reading for anyone invested in understanding The Who, what, why of #BlackLivesMatter.