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Blue Lines, Shaded in Black and Brown: The Diallo Shooting, Race and Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  12 gone down since then. Yet some of those same police practices have not changed….And since they’ve not changed, more and more innocent people are being abused. The dilemma of policing from the perspective of the citizen is clearly articulated in Lorraine’s statement. On the one hand, people seek protection from crime. But strategies of tough policing in communities of color both reinforce white people’s construction of a racialized criminality, and at the same time alienate people color from the police and from polity itself. Vulnerable communities find themselves fearing the very forces they may have invoked. Like the ever-reproducing brooms magically created by the Sorcerer’s Apprentice to do his dirty work, policing dynamics take on a life of their own. Law enforcement organizations created for a particular explicit purpose fight to grow after that purpose has been accomplished. One consequence arising from that contradiction was the assignment of four relatively unseasoned cops to patrol Amadou Diallo’s neighborhood at midnight on February 4, 1999. At a politically strategic moment, the mayor had ordered the enhancement of the unit, a group whose motto read well in a fearful electorate’s imagination: “We own the night.” Beefing up a police unit may seem an orderly administrative process, but Sid O’Conner told a different story. Sid had recently resigned from the NYPD. “I know how it came about,” Sid told me. The cops of the Street Crime Unit are young cops. They've flooded that unit, which does a narrow and specific job, a very difficult job, getting guns off the street. … I really don't [exactly] remember the reason they did it. But they increased [the SCU] by two hundred cops.Now what they did was they went around to precinct

Authors: Roy, Beth.
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gone down since then. Yet some of those same police practices have 
not changed….And since they’ve not changed, more and more 
innocent people are being abused.
The dilemma of policing from the perspective of the citizen is clearly 
articulated in Lorraine’s statement. On the one hand, people seek protection 
from crime. But strategies of tough policing in communities of color both 
reinforce white people’s construction of a racialized criminality, and at the 
same time alienate people color from the police and from polity itself. 
Vulnerable communities find themselves fearing the very forces they may 
have invoked. Like the ever-reproducing brooms magically created by the 
Sorcerer’s Apprentice to do his dirty work, policing dynamics take on a life of 
their own. Law enforcement organizations created for a particular explicit 
purpose fight to grow after that purpose has been accomplished.
One consequence arising from that contradiction was the assignment 
of four relatively unseasoned cops to patrol Amadou Diallo’s neighborhood at 
midnight on February 4, 1999. At a politically strategic moment, the mayor 
had ordered the enhancement of the unit, a group whose motto read well in 
a fearful electorate’s imagination: “We own the night.” Beefing up a police 
unit may seem an orderly administrative process, but Sid O’Conner told a 
different story. Sid had recently resigned from the NYPD. 
“I know how it came about,” Sid told me. 
The cops of the Street Crime Unit are young cops. They've 
flooded that unit, which does a narrow and specific job, a very 
difficult job, getting guns off the street. … I really don't 
[exactly] remember the reason they did it. But they increased 
[the SCU] by two hundred cops.
Now what they did was they went around to precinct 


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