Using Philadelphia as a case study, this book examines numerous themes within policing, such as historical-cultural sentiment, the role of city officials in the exacerbation of abuse, federal litigation, and civil activism aimed at curbing police violence. While Philadelphia was one of the first cities to implement reforms spearheaded by the African American community, the Philadelphia police department (PPD) has successfully eluded every attempt at reform, largely by fortifying and insulating themselves from any form of oversight. The PPD has evolved into a politically autonomous entity; the city has subsequently relinquished control, evidenced in police immunity from court decrees, mayoral edicts, litigation, community outcry, and internal discipline. An analysis of the legal mechanisms, internal police structure, and external efforts to oversee police is essential for successful reform measures in Philadelphia and across America.
Ife Williams is professor of political science and African American history at Delaware County Community College.
Chapter One: The Philadelphia Negro
Chapter Two: Rizzo in The Hood: Struggle & More Strife
Chapter Three: Battling Brutality
Chapter Four: MOVE
Chapter Five: Policing the Philadelphia Police
Chapter Six: Mumia Abu-Jamal
Chapter Seven: Policing Race & The Law: Redress & Reform?
About the Author
An overwhelming majority of books that tackle the issue of police brutality tend to apply a broad stroke to the issue by looking at national data and the impact generally across the US. Though such widespread examinations are important, the decision to dissect the festering issue of police brutality in the City of Brotherly Love is both timely and necessary. Williams does more than chronicle historical events, but instead masterfully unveils the building blocks of institutionalized racism in the city: the far reach of state-sanctioned violence; and, the failure of democratic institutions, all the way up to the Supreme Court. Ending with contemporary policy issues, the author easily widens the relevance of this book for activists, policymakers and everyday citizens. She provides expert insight into one of the most dreadful stains of America’s past and present, which prevents the society from reaching its full potential.
Ife Williams has studied tensions between civilian police and African American communities for decades. Her Police Brutality: A Philadelphia Story, is a serious examination of the ways in which these relationships evolved from the city’s earliest days into the 21st century. Scholars, public officials and community leaders will want to include this new source in their libraries for Williams’ depth and insight.
Police brutality has been a part of the history of African Americans in the U.S. since the slave era. This book provides a comprehensive history by focusing on the city of Philadelphia and the role of its police, political establishment, community organizations and citizens in perpetuating and fighting police brutality. As a student of the police, a former civilian employee, and former community activist in other cities, I recommend the book to students, scholars, police officials and community residents.