The following excerpt comes from chapter 2 of my dissertation on postwar riots and policing. Well, I should say, this section may ultimately be cut or drastically downsized, as it is a bit of a tangent in a chapter that focuses on the implementation of stop-and-frisk, use-of-force controversies, and the fight over civilian review boards. But the story is interesting and timely in light of the much-hyped “Ferguson Effect” and other racialized crime panics of the last year and a half. I tried to reformat it to make it more readable on the blog. To this end I pared down the footnotes to the key and (relatively) most accessible texts.
When I watched the video of Sandra Bland’s arrest, I saw in the actions of Texas state trooper Brian Encinia a familiar sequence of events in the history of American policing. Bland got “smart” and Encinia got “tough.” His intent from the start may have been to provoke Bland to establish cause to search her car. Setting that aside, I want to focus on the inter-personal nature of a retaliatory arrest, which, I’d argue, highlights how our heritage of white male dominance continues to stalk officers on the beat. I want to emphasize both “white” and “male.”