NUCNC and FMO co-host teach-in on policing alternatives


Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

A sign from a previous NU Community Not Cops demonstration, reading “Fund Communities Not Police.” Students reimagined justice in a Wednesday discussion led by FMO and NUCNC.

Yunkyo Kim, Development and Recruitment Editor

Student organizers educated attendees on policing and engaged them in discussions about policing alternatives at a Monday teach-in attended by more than 100 people.

The event, co-hosted by NU Community Not Cops and For Members Only, is part of a week-long series titled “Y’all Better Not Embarrass Me in Front of Angela Davis,” which will educate the NU community on racial justice to prepare for activist and academic Angela Davis’ forthcoming annual State of the Black Union, to take place this Thursday.

Beginning a presentation on policing, a presenter specified that police are not the same as law enforcement, but rather, “agents of social control” that “gain their power from discretion.”

“Our current social system assumes that police are, one, capable of properly assessing a situation they have no previous involvement in,” the presenter said, “And then two, they are justified in using violence, based on their assessment of that situation.”

The lack of restrictions on what “the police can and can’t do” is preserved on organizational, institutional and legal levels, the presenter added. This power also manifests beyond the courts in the educational system, like in the school-to-prison pipeline.

Another presenter also grounded the central discussion of the event by defining policing as a “social relationship made up a set of practices,” given power by the state to use force to impose “law and social control.”

“This applies to policing as normally (understood) which we’ll talk about, and to ourselves, and the ways that we enforce that social relationship, and the way that we enforce the dominant narratives perpetuated by the state,” the presenter said.

The presenter also referenced bell hooks’ theory on “centers” and “margin,” which states within any group, there is a center where privileged individuals are situated, and margins which hold less power. Policing exists to enforce the boundary between the center and the margin, the presenter said.

This relationship between marginalization and policing manifests in day-to-day relationships, the presenter said.

“In our day to day interactions, we are guilty of policing one another around our identities, around what we can and can’t do, how we can and can’t be.” the presenter said. “And so we want to bring to attention some behaviors that reflect a policing or carceral mentality, a punishment mentality.”

These actions include microaggressions, insecurity, silence, removal from communities and many more.

After a presentation on policing, organizers created breakout rooms to foster dialogues among attendees. Audience members were asked to prepare a response on when they felt safe due to the actions of surrounding individuals, and apply the response to interacting with a person who has been robbed, or a houseless person.

An organizer said during the event FMO was looking forward to hosting Davis on Thursday.

“We’re really happy with how the turnout is going so far,” the organizer said. “We hope to continue over the course of the next few days.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @yunkyomoonk

Related Stories:
FMO to host activist Angela Davis at this year’s State of the Black Union
NUCNC explains differences between police reform and abolition