Urban Policing Statement

Why The Need to Recover Lost Voices?

The crisis of police brutality is much in the news these days. Mass demonstrations in Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, Ferguson, North Charleston, and other cities are testimony to the latent resentment of black and brown residents and white supporters.

President Obama recently said that such incidents have a long history and the Press should not feign shock. Indeed, the practices are as old as the slave patrols that shaped southern policing and as new as the zero tolerance policy of “Stop & Frisk” carried out in many cities today.

Far too many innocent people have suffered as a result of these practices. While a few  incidents have been captured on video, and disseminated on TV and internet, most have occurred out of public sight. The victims of police detentions, beatings, and shootings are largely forgotten but for grieving family members and social justice agencies documenting police conduct.

This spring a class of Emerson journalism students took on the project of chronicling incidents of police abuse. The goal was to “recover the lost voices” of men, women, and children subjected to questionable treatment by officers of the law. They tried to tell the stories of people no longer in the news and, in many cases, in this life.

The students of JR364 – History of the Alternative Press conducted their research on urban policing while also studying the history of the alternative press. After consulting respected publications on police use of excessive force, they created a series of individual video reports and feature stories on the topic. The works are themselves an example of the alternative press.

Their stories, in combination, document incidents known and unknown for the benefit of the Emerson community. In a small way, the stories constitute a modest memorial to victims of police brutality.

Roger House

Associate Professor of American Studies
Department of Journalism

May 14, 2015

The aspiring journalists in the class were — Meghan Allen ’15, Mehak Anwar ’15, Isaac Bryant ’15, Wendy Eaton ’15, Angela Ferraguto ’15, Christabel Frye ’15, Ava Gordley-Smith ’15, Cassidy Hopkins ’16, Shannon Horowitz ’16, Timothy Johnson ’15, Claire Kerr ’15, Zoe Mathews ’15, Tatiana Ochoa ’16, Frank Olito ’15, Tyler Salomon ’15, Jesse Sterge ’16, and Tashanea Whitlow ’16.

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