Criminalizing the Hustle: Policing Poor People’s Survival Strategies from Eric Garner to Alton Sterling

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“‘Over the past few decades cities have turned to policing to fulfill two functions: to surveil and discipline black populations hardest hit by economic shifts and to collect revenue in the form of fines,’ emails Lester Spence, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and the author of ‘Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics.’ ‘The black men most likely to be left out of the formal economy — who have to engage in various illegal hustles to make ends meet — are far more likely to suffer from police violence than other black men.’…
 
The contemporary era of policing and mass incarceration emerged precisely to confront black people with limited or no access to formal work. As the sociologist Loïc Wacquant puts it, ‘in the wake of the race riots of the 1960s, the police, courts, and prison have been deployed to contain the urban dislocations wrought by economic deregulation and the implosion of the ghetto as ethnoracial container, and to impose the discipline of insecure employment at the bottom of the polarizing class structure.’
 
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