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Violence at the Urban Margins$
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Javier Auyero, Philippe Bourgois, and Nancy Scheper-Hughes

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190221447

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190221447.001.0001

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When the Police Knock Your Door In

When the Police Knock Your Door In

(p.212) Chapter 9 When the Police Knock Your Door In
Violence at the Urban Margins

Alice Goffman

Oxford University Press

The unique rise in US imprisonment over the past forty years is disproportionately borne by Black young men with little schooling. In poorer Black neighborhoods, historically high incarceration rates are accompanied by more hidden systems of policing and surveillance. Police helicopters circle overhead; cameras monitor people on the streets; and the police routinely stop, search, and arrest people. Drawing on six years of fieldwork in Philadelphia, this chapter takes the perspective of partners and family members who come under significant police pressure to inform. As the police raid women’s houses, threaten to arrest them, evict them, and take their children, women must decide between their own safety and the freedom of the men they love. As with other chapters, we see how violence—in this case, pervasive police violence—is tearing at the fabric of everyday life. But women also withstand police pressure and work to rebuild their damaged relationships.

Keywords:   mass incarceration, war on crime, police violence, collateral consequences, inequality, ethnography, youth, gender, family

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