The Advancement Project presents a panel discussion with Professor and author Alex Vitale, Justice Project Director Thomas Harvey, and attorney Derecka Purnell.
The problem is not overpolicing, it is policing itself
Recent years have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression. Among activists, journalists and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. Unfortunately, these reforms will not produce results, either alone or in combination. The core of the problem must be addressed: the nature of modern policing itself.
This book attempts to spark public discussion by revealing the tainted origins of modern policing as a tool of social control. It shows how the expansion of police authority is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice— even public safety. Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Alex Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve.
In contrast, there are places where the robust implementation of policing alternatives—such as legalization, restorative justice, and harm reduction—has led to a decrease in crime, spending, and injustice. The best solution to bad policing may be an end to policing.
Alex S. Vitale is Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College. His writings about policing have appeared in the New York Times, New York Daily News, USA Today, the Nation, and Vice News. He has made appearances on NPR and NY1.
Before joining Advancement Project as Justice Project Director, Thomas B. Harvey served as the National Director of Strategic Partnerships and Advocacy for The Bail Project and as ArchCity Defenders’ first executive director, which he co-founded in 2009.
Thomas built a civil rights litigation unit that worked with organizers and partners on campaigns including federal and state class action impact litigation on debtors’ prisons, cash bail, police misconduct and the illegal use of chemical munitions during protests following the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO. Thomas is the lead author of ArchCity’s 2014 paper on St. Louis County’s municipal court system which served as the template for the Justice Department’s findings in Ferguson. His writings sparked a national conversation about the way police and local courts work in concert to criminalize Black lives and destroy public confidence in the justice system and government.
Thomas also authored a chapter on police abolition in Cambridge’s Handbook on Policing in the United States and a chapter of Ferguson Fault Lines detailing the systemic racism, for-profit policing, and unconstitutional procedures and practices in St. Louis’ municipal courts. Thomas is an executive member of the Future of Justice Policy, an advisory board member of the Misdemeanor Justice Project, 2016 Trial Lawyer of the Year, and a 2015 Harvard Law Wasserstein Fellow. Thomas helped organize the historic Law4BlackLives convening in Harlem’s Riverside Cathedral and his work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Democracy Now, MSNBC, and National Public Radio.
Derecka Purnell is a lawyer, writer and abolitionist based in D.C. A proud St. Louis native, she is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and was a 2017 Skadden Fellow at the Advancement Project’s National Office.
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This event is FREE and open to all