Street Justice: A History of Police Violence in New York City

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Beacon Press, Oct 1, 2004 - History - 365 pages
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A revelatory examination of the repeated cycles of police brutality and reform in New York City

Street Justice traces the stunning history of police brutality cases in New York and the antibrutality movements that sought to eradicate it. Examining police violence from the period just after the Civil War to the present—from clubbing to the third degree to the backroom torture of Abner Louima in 1997—Johnson shows that while it is not a static phenomenon, neither has there been the simple progression toward more professional, less violent police behavior that some would like to believe.

“Johnson . . . has taken on a formidable and sensitive subject and has largely conquered it, thanks to indefatigable research and a rigorous, unblinking analysis . . . a well-written, intelligent and at times even colorful examination of one of the perennial problems of urban life . . . an invaluable contribution to the histories both of New York and of American law enforcement in general.” —Kevin Baker, New York Times Book Review

“A masterfully crafted chronicle . . . The pages are sprinkled with fascinating episodes and anecdotes, uncovering the ‘story behind the story’ for such police practices as ‘the third degree’ and ‘sweatboxes.’” —James Alan Fox, Boston Globe

“This fascinating, highly detailed historical survey, beginning with the NYPD’s founding in 1845, reads like a true-crime page-turner . . . [Johnson] provides a sensitive and insightful look at the range of social, political and economic changes that have affected how police brutality has been repeatedly redefined.” —Publishers Weekly

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Street justice: a history of police violence in New York City

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The streets of New York City have a long history of violence, and-for better or worse-the NYPD has generally been in the thick of it. In most cases, the NYPD has been protecting the public in the ... Read full review


Police Violence in the Nineteenth Century
Chapter 2
8 Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 6
Will the Cycle Be Unbroken?
34 Acknowledgments

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About the author (2004)

Marilynn S. Johnson is associate professor of history at Boston College and the author of The Second Gold Rush: Oakland and the East Bay in World War II.

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