† Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.
#Ferguson, Spectacle and Script
by nancy a heitzeg
“…of what are the police the avant-garde? They prowl, categorizing and profiling, often turning those profiles into murder violence without (serious) fear of being called to account, all the while claiming impunity. What jars the imagination is not the fact of impunity itself, but the realization that they are simply people working a job…This spectacular evil is encased in a more inarticulable evil of banality, namely, that the state assigns certain individuals to (well-paying) jobs as hunters of human beings, a furtive protocol for which this shooting is simply the effect.”
~ The Avant-garde of White Supremacy, Martinot and Sexton
Those of us who were there (both literally and virtually ) knew immediately just what it was. We were alerted early on by The Man with Sign, Mike Brown’s family bearing witness on cardboard to the police execution of his son. Were there any doubts, these were to be dispelled soon enough, in the grindingly impossible more than 4 hours that they left, as a strange-fruit warning, The Body in the Street.
There it was at the essence – a Spectacle Lynching by agents of the law, revealing in the excessive response the core of policing, organized state violence in the service of white supremacy, a thin-blue line standing for only the protection of “orderly “whiteness” as property, both tangible and otherwise. A thin-blue line standing too against Blackness, “the map of gratuitous violence, and a program of complete disorder,” dangerous and disposable.
This time the curtain was pulled completely away. The Spectacular revealing, this time, the Banality. What it Was.
We saw The Body in the Street. Uncovered.