Professor Imani Perry Looks At Police Violence Through Lens Of History

Historians in the News
tags: African American history, Police



The country is watching as events unfold in Minnesota. The police killing of Daunte Wright occurred miles from where Derek Chauvin is on trial for killing George Floyd.

Imani Perry, professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, says during the course of U.S. history, Americans have been in this situation many times before, witnessing excessive violence against Black, Brown and poor people with little to no action toward real change or reform.

She says it’s crucial to bring the conversations of the past into the present as activists and political leaders take on the idea of police reform.

In a recent tweet, Perry points out that Black newspapers in the early 20th century were discussing problems with policing in the U.S. The conversation has been happening over and over again for more than 100 years, she says.

In some ways, she says police violence has “become even more egregious.” Protests used to erupt over a particular incident of police brutality. Now, we’re responding differently, she says, where widespread protests are sparked by police killings.

And as she notes in her tweet, lynching was done by white mobs, while policing today is “an agent of the state, with the authority of the state, killing people without any process.”

Read entire article at WBUR

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