Street Justice by Marilynn S. Johnson
A History of Police Violence in New York City

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In this study of police brutality in New York City, Marilynn Johnson explores the changing patterns of police use of force over the past 160 years, including streat beatings, organized violence against protestors, and the notorious third degree. She argues that the idea of police brutality-what exactly it is, who its victims are, and why it occurs-is historically constructed. In the late nineteenth century police brutality was understood as an outgrowth of the moral and political corruption of Tammany Hall; in the heavy immigration years of the early twentieth century it was redefined as a racial/ethnic issue; and during Prohibition police violence was connected to police corruption related to the underground liquor trade and the'war on crime' the federal government declared in response.

Providing a history of police brutality up to the present day, Street Justice emphasizes the understandings brought to the subject by its victims, and reveals a long and disturbing history of police misconduct against minorities. But Johnson also argues that the culture of policing can be changed when enough political pressure is brought to bear on the problem.

About Marilynn S. Johnson

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Marilynn S. Johnson is associate professor of history at Boston College and the author of The Second Gold Rush: Oakland and the East Bay in World War II.
Published November 15, 2003 by Beacon Press. 384 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Project MUSE

Beginning with the outrage over clubbing that helped provoke a major political scandal in the late nineteenth century, Johnson takes us through the corruption-saturated era when the police were little more than Tammany Hall's security and collection agency, the race and religion-influenced police...

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