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Blue Lines, Shaded in Black and Brown: The Diallo Shooting, Race and Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  2 policy and politics on the circumstances leading to the killing. If debatable innocence is the picture, this other matter is the frame around it. It interrogates innocence and guilt on a systemic level rather than an individual one, looking beyond victims and perpetrators to a different analytic domain and a different accountability. In this paper, I seek to tell both stories, bringing them into relationship to each other in an effort to address police shootings that entwine with issues of race in ways pointing to change. Tarnishing innocence The first instance of questioning Amadou Diallo’s innocence was a somewhat mysterious series of press reports stating that he had filed a false claim for political amnesty. His immigration status was expiring, and so he concocted a story that placed his origins in a country from which he did not come, and claimed that his parents were victims of political assassination. He was granted amnesty, only to have the INS (the relevant agency at the time) re-open his case and revoke the decision. A day or two after Diallo was killed, several newspapers published stories about the matter, but the reporting fell away within a week. 1 Long afterward, the Village Voice investigated that side-mystery and found that the night of the shooting NYPD officers had searched Diallo’s apartment and questioned his roommates. 2 They took away his immigration file and released the indication of illegal action to the press. The procedure was not unique to the Diallo case, of course; release of information about criminal activity on the part of unarmed victims of police shootings is very common. 3 To report criminality is to hint

Authors: Roy, Beth.
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policy and politics on the circumstances leading to the killing. If debatable 
innocence is the picture, this other matter is the frame around it. It 
interrogates innocence and guilt on a systemic level rather than an individual 
one, looking beyond victims and perpetrators to a different analytic domain 
and a different accountability. In this paper, I seek to tell both stories, 
bringing them into relationship to each other in an effort to address police 
shootings that entwine with issues of race in ways pointing to change.
Tarnishing innocence
The first instance of questioning Amadou Diallo’s innocence was a 
somewhat mysterious series of press reports stating that he had filed a false 
claim for political amnesty. His immigration status was expiring, and so he 
concocted a story that placed his origins in a country from which he did not 
come, and claimed that his parents were victims of political assassination. 
He was granted amnesty, only to have the INS (the relevant agency at the 
time) re-open his case and revoke the decision. A day or two after Diallo was 
killed, several newspapers published stories about the matter, but the 
reporting fell away within a week.
 Long afterward, the Village Voice 
investigated that side-mystery and found that the night of the shooting NYPD 
officers had searched Diallo’s apartment and questioned his roommates.
They took away his immigration file and released the indication of illegal 
action to the press. The procedure was not unique to the Diallo case, of 
course; release of information about criminal activity on the part of unarmed 
victims of police shootings is very common.
 To report criminality is to hint 


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