Policing, Justice, and the Radical Imagination

RHR Issue 137 cover image

CLICK HERE for the table of contents and links to full text.

This issue collects scholarship and activist work that challenges the assumption that police are necessary by examining instances of social peace without formal, institutionalized police.

Tom Lambert reconstructs how local communities in tenth-century England carried out legal interdictions while tempering violent retributive justice. Luke A. Fidler considers how public sculpture imposed order by displaying scenes of punitive captivity in the medieval Anglo-Saxon world. Gagan Preet Singh examines why victims of cattle-theft in colonial north India avoided the police, relying instead on communal justice. Alex Winder investigates the ways Palestinians refused to engage with police and created anticolonial justice systems during the 1936 revolt and the First Intifada. Toby Beauchamp examines how the US National Park ranger legitimized colonial land seizure, while imagining anti-authoritarian protection in twentieth-century conservation politics. Yumi Lee reads Toni Morrison’s Home as a parable for reparative care and communal justice in the intertwined context of US racist policing and the “police action” of the Korean War.

The Policing in Chicago Research Group, an activist-scholar collective, reflects on their movement-based research for abolitionist organizers. Andreia Beatriz Silva dos Santos and Fábio Nascimento-Mandingo discuss with Amy Chazkel the long trajectory of anti-Black policing in Brazil and consider how to think beyond the politics of public security.\

Micol Seigel reflects on how queer, Afro-descended activists and the PCC, an organization that started in São Paulo’s prisons, leverage historical memory to create spaces of refuge from state violence. Samuel Fury Childs Daly surveys twentieth-century Nigeria to show how deeply police are embedded in society, thwarting imagining a world without them despite their unpopularity. Cho-kiu Li and Kin-long Tong examine how Hong Kong protestors built “Harcourt Village” in the face of police brutality during the 2014 Umbrella Movement and explore how community safety remains a core strategy in the 2019 Anti-Extradition Movement.

Curated Spaces
Project NIA, an organization dedicated to “participatory community justice,” shares “Restorative Posters” to inspire people to use transformative justice principles.