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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Askar: Militarism, Policing and Somali Refugees

  • Author(s): Abumaye, Mohamed
  • Advisor(s): Espiritu, Yen Le
  • et al.

My dissertation examines the intersections between policing and militarism through centering Somali refugee experience with state violence. I argue that the intersections between the police and military are made visible through the Somali experience with police violence in San Diego. As a theoretical rubric for this project, I draw from the fields of Black Studies, Critical Refugee Studies and Critical Muslim Studies. While the police and military are depicted as separate in the fields of Political Science and Criminology, my project spotlights the convergence between the police and military. During my research, I discovered that the SDPD received a tank from the U.S. military.

I traced the trajectory of this tank through the database “Detroit Free Press” and uncovered that it had been deployed in Afghanistan in 2012, then transferred to Camp Pendleton in 2014, and finally given to the SDPD in 2015. I utilize this dramatic piece of evidence to show the rate and scale of police militarization in San Diego. My investigation builds off a critical reading of police archives and an ethnography of the people most effected by police violence in San Diego, namely Somali refugees. This project, the first of its kind, exposes the links between U.S. military violence abroad and domestic police violence by centering refugee narratives that detail militarized violence. In closing, I illuminate the increasingly intimate relationship between the police and military in our contemporary security state.

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