Policing The City: An Ethno-graphic Book Review – Vivid Presentation of Major City Policing Issues

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Policing The City: An Ethno-graphic, from Other Press Publications, presents French anthropologist Didier Fassin's graphic interpretation of how policing in low-income neighborhoods leads to more violence, discrimination, racial profiling, the incarceration of the innocent and police brutality.

Didier Fassin originally conducted a sociological study in the mid-2000s, which discover widespread police abuse, as he shadowed Parisian police for fifteen months. What he discovered became the basis for his scholarly work "Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing."


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He then took this same study, kept the most poignant stories had them graphically illustrated through the talents of French artist Jake Raynal, and created this oversized hardback with the help of Frederic Debomy, a graphic novel writer.

This graphic illustrated edited version which is presented in comic strip format provides depictions of crime in Parisian low-income neighborhoods.

The book begins with an illegal stop and frisk on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2006, at 7:00 P.M., By page 12, we understand the three boys stopped at the bus stop, frisked, transported to the police, booked, and held included one of Fassin's sons.

The book also uses comic frame illustration to explain that in many cities, Paris included, police are unwilling to participate in studies but as we read the police commissioner gave full permission for Fassin, who is represented as the ride along shadow, to have access.

Policing the City, moves through various representations of criminal activity from petty crimes like graffiti or tagging walls to more serious. Each of the novellas detail scenes from Fassin's study. He also includes a major incident in which three men were chased and ended up being electrocuted, killing two.

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As one turns the 100 pages it is obvious that each major metropolitan area has issues with crime, and issues with the power behind the badge. While not stated it is understood Police put their life on the line each time the don the uniform, the stress of that realization is obvious in the pages.

Policing the City is not your child's picture book. The language used is real, authenticate and at times disturbing with racial profiling terminology including those words considered the most derogatory, which during conversation are often reduced to a single initial.

As it is an edited version of a sociological study of France, immigration portrayals are presented and explained with references to many of the same statements parents of color explain to their children when dealing with the possible police encounter.

Adapted from anthropologist and sociologist Didier Fassin's original text with the same name, the hardcover book is the graphic interpretation of results from a sociological study conducted n the mid-2000s that sought to understand policing in low-income neighborhoods in France.

The epilogue brings the ethnography into the context of 2020 with illustration of the global outcry against police brutality, the Black Lives Matter Movement, the use of high-powered automatic weapons in mass shootings, and the uncertainty that arrived with the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

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The final page imparts the author's belief of the responsibility of the people through a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political historian, "A nation that asks nothing of its government, but the maintenance of order is already a slave in the depths of its heart, it is a slave of well-being ready for the man who will put it into chains."

As Fassin is both a social anthropologist and a sociologist, his work also present the human condition, the evolution of the Republic, what it should be, a breakdown of definition, what organization should be and how their actions present them.

What Policing the City demands of its readers if to question government, demand change, work for a better society. It is more than a right it is a responsibility.

Policing the City: An Ethno-graphic challenges readers belief about themselves, about crime, immigration and about reaction. Read it.

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Title: Policing the City: An Ethno-graphic.

Author: Didier Fassin and Frederic Debomy.

Art Illustrations: Jake Raynal.

Translation: Rachel Gomme.

Publisher: Other Press.

Length/Size: 100 pages, 8.5 X 11, 100 pages, Hardcover.

ISBN: 978=1-63542-250-4.

SMP: $25.99.

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