Toward a Phenomenology of Racialized Police Violence
- Author(s): Hanink, Peter Augustine
- Advisor(s): McCleary, Richard
- et al.
This dissertation focuses upon how police officers come to perceive Blacks, specifically young Black men, as dangerous and thus justify the use of violence against them. This dissertation addresses this question in three studies employing a variety of methodological approaches. The first study examines how the history of racialized violence by the police has shaped the evolution of modern policing as an institution in the United States. This study employs a path dependent historical analysis of how policing in the United States has associated Blacks with dangerousness and criminality and has developed enduring patterns of racialized police practices as a form of social control. The second study employs a variety of quantitative methods to analyze police stops in a midsized American city to evaluate whether police behavior remains consistent with the patterns of racialized policing outlined in the first study. This study examines the contextual and temporal characteristics present in police stops to understand how certain vehicles and persons come to be labeled “suspicious.” The third study examines the discourse used by police officers and other law enforcement officials around racialized police violence. This study employs qualitative discourse analysis of how police officers and other law enforcement officials employ discursive strategies, structures, and schemes to describe, interpret, and evaluate such violence. This study will analyze textual sources including transcripts from Officer Darren Wilson’s grand jury proceeding for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Finally, this dissertation concludes by making recommendations about how police departments and the courts might address racialized police violence.