Monday, August 26, 2019

Balto, "Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power (July 2019), by Simon Balto (University of Iowa). A description from the Press:
In July 1919, an explosive race riot forever changed Chicago. For years, black southerners had been leaving the South as part of the Great Migration. Their arrival in Chicago drew the ire and scorn of many local whites, including members of the city’s political leadership and police department, who generally sympathized with white Chicagoans and viewed black migrants as a problem population. During Chicago’s Red Summer riot, patterns of extraordinary brutality, negligence, and discriminatory policing emerged to shocking effect. Those patterns shifted in subsequent decades, but the overall realities of a racially discriminatory police system persisted.

In this history of Chicago from 1919 to the rise and fall of Black Power in the 1960s and 1970s, Simon Balto narrates the evolution of racially repressive policing in black neighborhoods as well as how black citizen-activists challenged that repression. Balto demonstrates that punitive practices by and inadequate protection from the police were central to black Chicagoans’ lives long before the late-century "wars" on crime and drugs. By exploring the deeper origins of this toxic system, Balto reveals how modern mass incarceration, built upon racialized police practices, emerged as a fully formed machine of profoundly antiblack subjugation.
A few blurbs:
"Simon Balto’s study of twentieth-century black Chicago provides new insights into the historical roots of police abuse in black communities while challenging scholarship that posits the mid-twentieth century as a turning point for deteriorating relationships between the police and black Americans. This beautifully written history is a model of clarity and moral passion."--Beryl Satter
"The last several years have seen important histories written about the rise of mass incarceration in the United States, but what has been missing are studies that deepen our understanding of American policing. Simon Balto offers a much-needed history of policing in Chicago, clearly articulating the connection between the Chicago Police Department’s record of racism and abuse and its contemporary crisis of police brutality."--Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
More information is available here. You can learn more about the book over at New Books Network, where they recently posted an interview with Professor Balto.

-- Karen Tani