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Police, Power, and the Production of Racial Boundaries

Ana Muñiz
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 154
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  • Book Info
    Police, Power, and the Production of Racial Boundaries
    Book Description:

    Based on five years of ethnography, archival research, census data analysis, and interviews,Police, Power, and the Production of Racial Boundariesreveals how the LAPD, city prosecutors, community groups, and business owners struggled to control who should be considered "dangerous" and how they should be policed in Los Angeles. Sociologist Ana Muñiz shows how these influential groups used policies and everyday procedures to criminalize behaviors commonly associated with blacks and Latinos and to promote an exceedingly aggressive form of policing.

    Muñiz illuminates the degree to which the definitions of "gangs" and "deviants" are politically constructed labels born of public policy and court decisions, offering an innovative look at the process of criminalization and underscoring the ways in which a politically powerful coalition can define deviant behavior. As she does so, Muñiz also highlights the various grassroots challenges to such policies and the efforts to call attention to their racist effects. Muñiz describes the fight over two very different methods of policing: community policing (in which the police and the community work together) and the "broken windows" or "zero tolerance" approach (which aggressively polices minor infractions-such as loitering-to deter more serious crime).Police, Power, and the Production of Racial Boundariesalso explores the history of one specific neighborhood, Cadillac-Corning became viewed by outsiders as a "violent neighborhood" and how the city's first gang injunction-a restraining order aimed at alleged gang members-solidified this negative image. As a result, Muñiz shows, Cadillac-Corning, to explain how the area became a test site for repressive practices that eventually spread to the rest of the city.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-6977-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Chapter 1 Race and Place in Cadillac-Corning
    (pp. 1-14)

    I am standing in the back of a dark room. A projection covers the wall in front of me. White letters flicker, “Start a New Simulation.” Next to the projection is a beige desk. On the desk stands nothing but a computer. Behind the computer there is a cop. He is white, middle-aged, with brown hair and a bald spot starting in the middle of his head.

    A burly white officer with a crew cut stands in the middle of the room, facing the projection. He holds a laser gun. It is hooked up to an oxygen tank that will...

  5. Chapter 2 A Neighborhood Is Born: Housing Development, Racial Change, and Boundary Building
    (pp. 15-32)

    In 2003, a blue sign went up at the intersection of Cadillac Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard. The sign boasted the city seal of Los Angeles and the name “La Cienega Heights.” A dozen or so people in a community group voted to rename the neighborhood. They were hoping the new name would “rehabilitate” the neighborhood’s status. But the new veneer has not buried a reputation decades in the making. There are still whispers about Cadillac-Corning at homeowners association meetings in the surrounding wealthier, whiter neighborhoods. A thirty-something white man with dark-rimmed glasses confided to a fellow Beverlywood Homeowners Association...

  6. Chapter 3 Maintaining Racial Boundaries: Criminalization, Neighborhood Context, and the Origins of Gang Injunctions
    (pp. 33-55)

    Housing development, school integration, and racial change in the 1950s through the 1970s distinguished Cadillac-Corning from surrounding areas. Consequently, Cadillac-Corning was an easy target for containment and control tactics in defense of bordering white middle-class neighborhoods. By the 1980s, Cadillac-Corning’s stage was set as a training ground for the newest policy of repression—the gang injunction.

    In the 1980s, Los Angeles street gangs were exploding into popular consciousness. Rock cocaine was about to become big business. During a 1987 court case involving Cadillac-Corning residents, an LAPD officer pleaded with the judge, “Can you imagine meeting 15 year old kids who...

  7. Chapter 4 The Chaos of Upstanding Citizens: Disorderly Community Partners and Broken Windows Policing
    (pp. 56-77)

    Let us catch up by returning to the beginning of this book. Remember, it is 2012 in Los Angeles; there is a neon pink sunset and nine officers of the law at my back gate. Officially there is no Cadillac-Corning anymore. As of 2003 the neighborhood is La Cienega Heights. A local community group voted to change the name as part of LA City’s neighborhood naming initiative. I have been regularly attending community meetings on public safety with the community group, business and homeowners associations, city prosecutors, and the police.

    There are several points of potential danger that the community...

  8. Chapter 5 “We Don’t Need No Gang Injunction! We Just Out Here Tryin’ to Function!”
    (pp. 78-111)

    It happens so fast and it feels inescapable. Silver Lake was the hotspot but then, just as quickly, it was over. Onto Echo Park, Highland Park, it never ends. The secret is out—cheap rents, charming old houses to flip. All that needs to be done is to clean out some of the people that have been hanging around the area for generations. The lady that sells papusas gets to stay. The new crowd likes papusas. Beware: gentrification and displacement are tearing through neighborhoods.

    On June 18, 2013, Dennis Romero with the LA Weekly published a blog post entitled, “Can...

  9. Chapter 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 112-122)

    I have examined how police, city prosecutors, wealthy residents, and business owners in Los Angeles identify and target “dangerous” people. Community partnerships are the vehicle through which I chose to focus on current policing. I traced a genealogy of repression-oriented policies and practices in Los Angeles City through the development of multiple-unit housing in the 1940s, through school and residential desegregation in the 1960s, and through the city’s first gang injunction in the 1980s.

    What does all this tell us about power? Although I do not care what people in power think about us, I care a great deal about...

  10. References
    (pp. 123-132)
  11. Index
    (pp. 133-138)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 139-142)