To explain the cultural logic associated with the appalling shooting death of African American Oscar Grant, on January 1, 2009, we must break free of the ‘crime and punishment’ paradigm in order to reckon with extra-punitive function of American policing. Similar to Grant, recent upsurges in black death and macro-violence related to policing results from the crisis of the legal system as device for caste control and the correlative need for a substitute apparatus for the management of dispossessed and dishonored groups. This article removes policing, and the shooting of Oscar Grant, from the intellectual phenominalization of uncommon occurrences with police encounters and places it, instead, within a historical-cultural framework of American institutions that have shouldered the task of defining, confining, and controlling African American’s legal identity alongside Slavery, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights. In the post-Civil Rights era, the vestiges of policing black bodies alongside the rhetoric of law and order are linked by a triple relationship of race, policing, and the law spawning a legal continuum that entraps a population of younger black men rejected by American mainstream cultural values. The resulting mesh not only perpetuates socioeconomic marginality and symbolically taints the value of policing a black sub-proletariat; it also plays a pivotal role in remaking ‘race’ and redefining the 'citizenry' vis-à-vis the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps more importantly, modern policing re-constructs and reproduces a hyper-policed Black people in the post-Civil Rights era.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/donald_tibbs/6/