Saint Leo University Investigate Methods of Violence Discussion Seigel, M. (2018). Violence work: Policing and power. Race and Class, 59(4), 15-33. doi:10.

Saint Leo University Investigate Methods of Violence Discussion Seigel, M. (2018). Violence work: Policing and power. Race and Class, 59(4), 15-33. doi:10.1177/0306396817752617A PDF Copy of this article is attached.Discuss your thoughts on the information that has been posted by your professor and discuss its relevance and implications to the field of criminal justice. Your remarks can be opinion, but they must be based on your experience, research, and/or prior learning. Use this exercise to converse with your fellow colleagues about issues that are important to the field of criminal justice. Of interest is a dialogue of opinions, thoughts, and comments. Be sure to discuss both sides of the issue as noted in the actual question posting. 600-words APA format. For this assignment DO NOT allow this article to pull you down into the weeds, you have to stay above and view the overall big picture and theme of the research. Violence, policing and power all have a process, sequential actions or pre-determined orderly steps taken to achieve a particular outcome or end product. With this concept in mind and the author’s research discuss your perspective on the following questions:

Within the last ten years how have federal, state and local governments taken advantage of policing, power and violence? Identify various situational processes you have observed or experienced.
Within the last ten years how have private entities, community groups and political activists taken advantage of policing, power and violence? Identify various situational processes you have observed or experienced. 752617
RAC0010.1177/0306396817752617Race & ClassSeigel
Los Angeles,
New Delhi,
Washington DC,
Violence work: policing and power
Micol Seigel
Abstract: Present ad hoc outcries about police excesses such as shootings of young
black men on the streets and mass incarceration miss the point about the nature
and role of the police, argues the author. Coining her own counter-category,
‘violence work’, she shows how the police carry out violence work for the state;
policing being the quintessential translation of state power. In a considered
argument taking in the history of colonial policing, the development of racial
capitalism and US foreign intervention, the article discusses a number of fallacies
about policing: that it is civilian and distinguishable from the military; that it
is a public service rather than a private endeavour; and that it is locally based
and municipally controlled. Policing is in fact the human-scale expression of the
state. She discusses a number of state theorists from Adam Smith, to Poulantzas,
Foucault, Agamben and Hall and contemplates the role of the state to the market.
The piece lifts the assumptions about public safety, state/private sector, place and
scale to reveal the ideological landscape that legitimates state-market violence.
Keywords: mass criminalisation and neoliberalism, Movement for Black Lives,
police-military collaboration, private v public policing, race as a technology of
rule, racial capitalism, state-market violence, ‘violence work’
Micol Seigel is associate professor of American Studies and History at Indiana University,
Bloomington, and in 2017–2018, a visiting scholar at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in
American History at Harvard University. She teaches and studies policing, prisons and race in the
Americas; her book on the nature of police work and the assumptions that underlie its legitimacy in
a democracy, Violence Work: State Power and the Limits of Police, will be published in August 2018 by
Duke University Press, which also published her first book, Uneven Encounters: making race and nation
in Brazil and the United States (2009). Micol is a long-time member of Critical Resistance, a founding
member of Decarcerate Monroe County, and an Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program instructor.
Race & Class
Copyright © 2018 Institute of Race Relations, Vol. 59(4): 15­–33
Race & Class 59(4)
When four agents of Blackwater USA were killed in Fallujah in 2004 and their
bodies displayed on a bridge over the Euphrates River, Americans expressed outrage. Newspapers called the deaths ‘slayings’ and termed the hangings ‘savagery
… sheer bestial violence’.1 In addition to the predictably Orientalist outcry against
the ‘barbarity’ of the ‘terrorists’, outrage was also directed at the private contractor Blackwater, echoing the outrage directed at Halliburton for its war profiteering in the rebuilding of occupied Iraq.2
The critique of private military companies yearns for a simpler era when war
was purely military, uncorrupted by private, for-profit operations. It shares much
with the amnesia around the militarisation of policing, highlighted in 2014 in
Ferguson, Missouri, where police in combat gear added insult to the injury of
their murder of young Michael Brown. As if US police were less racist or murderous before 2001, the coverage of this scandal placed Homeland Security at the
bases of the military excesses of domestic police. Experts decrying events in
Ferguson called the problem at best ‘decades’ old, pinning ‘the security-über-alles
fixation’ on 9/11.3 The projection of a purely civilian policing balances the imagining of a purely military warfighting machine, together reinforcing the framework that legitimises state violence. The categories of public, private, civilian and
military are crucial to this legitimisation, validating state violence along its terrible continuum from public armies to private companies, soldiers to police, shifting to evade controversy, regulation, and opposition. The endorsement protestors
lend to the object of their protest is particularly unfortunate in relation to the
police, because protestors have both power and, right now, opportunity. Power
because consent is absolutely vital to policing; opportunity because controversy
around the police is currently so intense, the revival of conflict in St Louis in the
fall of 2017 salting wounds still open to the bone. The dedicated and insightful
Movement for Black Lives collaborates with a burgeoning body of activist scholarship on policing.4 Together they redouble the urgency of old questions: why are
police in modern democratic nations so devastatingly lethal? Why have the best
attempts failed to mitigate their abuses?
Policing is so difficult to grasp and reform because its legitimacy is defended
by powerful political arguments. These arguments shield policing from challenge, obscuring its raw, ugly essence, the violence it inflicts in the interests of
capital. Racism also morphs in the face of these effective arguments, appearing to
be an incidental error or the fault of individual people or a throwback that time
will soon resolve, instead of what it really is, the fundamental technology of differentiation inextricable from the work of contemporary states. To pull policing
and its labour into focus − to reveal police work as the brick-level labour of racial
capitalism − I suggest a counter-category: ‘violence work’.
Might violence work as a concept help dispell the arguments that legitimise policing? To take up this question, this article first works through some of those arguments, focusing in particular on the claims that police are civilian and public. The
question of what it means to be public then moves the discussion over to the realm
Seigel: Violence work: policing and power
of state theory, to contemplate the relationship of state to market. This thinkingthrough highlights the tremendous value of the concept of racial capitalism for
clarifying the workings of race. It also targets the heart of the problem, the relationship of police to state power. With those buttresses in place, the logic of the concept
of violence work then springs into focus. Then does the work of policing, stripped
of its feathers of myth, divested of its ideological buffers, become available for those
of us willing to face it with sober senses, to dream of the world we want.
Police mythologies
The arguments that legitimise the police are diverse. There are those that rely on
a dichotomy between good and bad police (police are independent of the market
except when corrupt, police are benign when behaving themselves), and others
that back the populace into postures of grateful deference (police are public servants; their work is terribly dangerous). These self-evident alibis for superficial
reform are individualising denials (the former) or saviour fantasies (the latter).
Plus, they’re inaccurate: police work is not actually very dangerous. Federal occupational health statistics show US police work to be relatively safe, nowhere near
the top three fatality-prone occupations: agriculture, transportation and mining.
Police aren’t even the occupation most at risk of violent death. That honour falls
to ‘first-line supervisors of retail sales workers’.5
Other arguments, more potent because more complex, revolve around concepts of safety or security (police keep us ‘safe’ or are anchors of public ‘security’),
or take the concepts of legality and its inverse, criminality, as transparent (police
uphold the law, police fight crime). Interestingly, if you ask what really makes
people feel safe, very few will list ‘police’ among the answers.6 Political theorists
have begun to follow this logic through to deconstruct the trope of ‘security’.7
The contention that police fight crime is probably their most important legitimising claim. Yet what is crime? The concept has sustained intense scrutiny from
critical criminologists. They have pointed out that crime − and law, which defines
crime − are deeply contingent, reflecting the biases of their time, and they challenge the equation of ‘harm’ and ‘crime’ by pointing out the intense harm inflicted
by actions never designated crime such as war, pollution, or systemic medical
neglect.8 These challenges render ‘crime’ conceptually incoherent. It certainly
survives as a category of experience for participants or police, but critical thinkers
cannot maintain it as a category of analysis.
Even as a category of experience, however, crime is not the mainstay of police
work. Police actually spend quite a small amount of their time on what they call
crime. As researchers and practitioners alike acknowledge, crime-related tasks
are a tiny portion of police officers’ daily labour.9 There is a mass of research
showing that:
criminal law enforcement is something that most police officers do with the
frequency located somewhere between virtually never and very rarely. … less
Race & Class 59(4)
than a third of time spent on duty is on crime-related work; that the percentage
of police effort devoted to traditional criminal law matters probably does not
exceed 10 per cent.10
Indeed, the infrequency with which police confront ‘crime’ shows how easily
police forces could be diminished. The other things police do could—and
should—be done by others: social workers, Emergency Medical Technicians, firefighters, traffic directors, counsellors, neighbourhood associations, friends, and
so on. That, not so incidentally, is the core of a practical, stepwise process of
police abolition: begin to give to nonviolent agencies, piece by piece, the tasks
currently allotted to men and women in blue.
Many of the arguments legitimising police have been eloquently challenged by
careful and critical thinkers, while others are less frequently discussed, perhaps
because it is harder to see them as arguments. Three of these lurk within the
widespread notion that police work is primarily civilian, performed by government employees at the local level. Looking closely at this uncontroversial statement reveals what Roland Barthes called mythologies, claims presented as natural
but are actually deeply ideological.11 First myth: police are civilian, not military.
Second: they are public, not private, that is, state (government) rather than market agents. Third: they are local; they work for municipal or state bodies, never
leaving national territory. Simple as these notions may appear, they are actually
pointed political arguments, crying out for response.
Two of these arguments are adamantly defended: the claims that police are
civilian, and that they are public. Such claims are prescriptive and normative;
many people believe that police should be public and civilian. Charges of police
militarisation or privatisation can be serious political challenges. Notably, such
challenges recognise that in many cases they actually are private and/or military,
but see these as dangerous aberrations. Less controversial is the sense of police
geography (scale and territory), often taken for granted, as in the virtually unquestioned notion that police are local.
These three borders delimit police work so as to legitimise police power. Police
authority is justified when this trio of boundaries is granted. That assumption, so
valuable to police legitimacy, functions best when allowed to remain invisible
and unquestioned. We must therefore spotlight and interrogate it.
For police regularly cross whatever lines we think separate civilian from military spheres, doggedly protect private interests or work for market employers,
travel abroad and operate at all scales of government up to the federal level, as
we will explore.12 Revealing the borders of policing as fictions, however, is not
sufficient to counter the work they do to legitimise police. The borders of policing
are fortified with all kinds of material and affective investments. They anchor the
very belief in the democratic character of government, a belief most earnestly
desired. This works differently in kingdoms, companies, or in countries with
explicitly paramilitary police such as gendarmeries or constabularies, but in the
US, the popular myths that police are not for sale and of police vs military
Seigel: Violence work: policing and power
mission, place, and lethality secure (some) citizens’ consent to be policed. In this
they are like national borders, which, as the field of border studies has affirmed,
still exert tremendous force even as all sorts of crossings and mixtures show them
to be more fluid than traditional political definitions allow. To look squarely at
the hegemonic arguments advanced about the borders of policing can reveal how
the popular notion of police achieves legitimacy − and lends the same to the idea
of the state, I will go on to argue − by contrasting itself to concepts defined as
outside it.
Defending police as civilian
A great range of people, from champions of the police defending their mission to
protestors furious over ‘militarisation’ to neighbours yearning for the benevolent
protector of childhood dreams, argue for the civilian nature of policing. This
laborious rhetorical lifting actually reveals the opposite, pointing to the great
effort required to insist, against all evidence to the contrary, upon the civilian
status of the police.
The first barrier to such status is that it doesn’t exist: there is no logical way to
draw a clean line separating military from civilian spheres. The distinction is a
vanishing horizon, retreating the closer one approaches. Popularly, it relies on
differentia of mission (military attack, police protect), place (the military works
abroad, police at home) or intensity (military action is more lethal). None of these
is a bright divider; all fail to capture what police and armed forces actually do.
Scholarly definitions shrug that military means associated with war while civilian is everything else.13 Yet war and its preparations affect every facet of national
life, even during peacetime.14 The section of the Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians doesn’t define civilian in the abstract, and gives a simple definition of civilians, plural, as non-combatants.15 Despite the lack of definition of
these terms, criminal justice scholars of police take their object to be civilian,
happy to ‘assume that studying the police and military is a mutually exclusive
undertaking’.16 This is equally true for scholars of the military, who also largely
accept the integrity of these categories as given.17 Like obscenity, the distinction
relies on the recognition of the obvious, that classic ‘function of power’.18 Thus
does Anthony Giddens call the military-civilian distinction ‘flimsy’, ‘rarely clearcut’ and ‘usually full of tension’.19
Yet US soldiers and cops have never been distinct. Since the Republic, when
the Navy and Marines formed constabulary forces to combat piracy, banditry,
and smuggling, ‘overlapping police and military tasks’ have been routine.20 From
the mid-nineteenth-century, US urban police embraced a military organisational
model, even choosing military commanders for their leaders.21 As commissioner
of the New York City police, Theodore Roosevelt ‘made little distinction between
military and law-enforcement functions’, contending that ‘many of the principles
… which obtain in the army applied equally to the administration of a police
department.22 Blurred lines extend into twentieth-century organisations such as
Race & Class 59(4)
the Border Patrol, whose roots in the Texas Rangers confirm its paramilitary character, or the National Guard.23
Police and soldiers have worked together outside of US territory as well. Police
swelled US war-fighting capacity in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
Indian Wars, the Spanish-American clashes of 1898, the world wars, and on.24
The Indian Wars, in some views ‘more a prolonged series of police operations
than actual wars’,25 involved the military under the civilian direction of Congress
and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, their personnel in many cases then shifted to the
overseas fronts of 1898. Over the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries,
US police expanded their global reach by travelling overseas in pursuit of fugitives and then to provide foreign police assistance, their power growing in direct
relation to US global might.26 In all these cases, police took their strategies and
objects to theatres of war − the opposite of the trajectory imagined as ‘militarisation’. Even in the case of the Vietnam War, one of the conflicts most blamed for
‘militarisation’, there was no simple army-to-police trail: weaponry was developed for both foreign and domestic use, particularly as the war seemed likely to
end, and by companies that had developed in domestic markets.27 Today, policemilitary collaborations and exchange sustain the war on terror, Abu Ghraib’s
‘military police’ but one sore thumb of an example, and police as a matter of
course train at military bases in sniper skills, SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics)
team work, and weapons use.28
If US police often feel their mission to be pro-active attack (a ‘war on crime’),
it is partly because of this cohabitation. Police and military are often in the same
places, pursuing the same goals, applying the same lethal means. Following the
suppression of rebels in the Philippines after 1898, for example, US police ‘came
home to turn the same lens on America, seeing its ethnic communities not as
fellow citizens but as internal colonies requiring coercive controls’.29
Domestically, the brunt of this mission miscegenation falls on AfricanAmericans, disproportionately sighted in police crosshairs. Conflating them
fully with targets abroad, police in Black areas ‘view each person on the streets
as a potential criminal or enemy’.30
The fiction of separate military and civilian spheres feeds off a fantasy of a
civilian police, and feeds that fantasy in return. In fact, police and military are and
have always been, in fundamental ways, inseparable. Twin vehicles of state violence, police and military rub up against each other in productive friction.
‘Speculating that the police could be anything but paramilitary denies the existence of the inherent bond – historically, politically, and sociologically – between
the police and military.’31 This is not an accusation of corruption that calls for
reform but an observation about form itself: policing is the quintessential translation of state power.
When police-inflicted violence rises, it is not ‘militarisation’ but the conjoined
evolution of police and military forces that extends the killing fields. Protesting
against police militarisation doesn’t just miss this major target but strengthens it,
Seigel: Violence work: policing and power
granting the categories with which the state cordons off its violence from challenge. The lethality of domestic and foreign violence workers evolves together,
their labours of mortal containment indebted to each other for material support
and ideological justification.
Defending the public police
Like the category ‘civilian’, the category ‘public’ awards state violence an alibi.
It works through tautology, via the assumption that when we are talking about
‘police’, we mean only and ever the uniformed public police. The simplest way
to make sure the police’s public status is never compromised is to allow the
blue-clad officer of the peace to serve as definitional end point. This common
sense, as Gramsci taught us, produces a great fog. In Bittner’s words: ‘When
people are called upon to explain on w…
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