Subscribe
The stories that matter.
The humor you need.
Subscribe now and get a free tote. Cancel anytime.
Subscribe
Already a subscriber? Sign in
Double Take
Sunday Reading: America’s Policing Crisis
By The New Yorker
May 2, 2021
Photograph by Apu Gomes / Getty
In his address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, President Biden called on legislators to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, saying, “We have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal-justice system.”
More from the Archive
Sign up for Classics, a twice-weekly newsletter featuring notable pieces from the past.
This week, in the aftermath of the Derek Chauvin verdict, in Minneapolis, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces about the history of race and policing in America. In “How Police Unions Fight Reform,” William Finnegan writes about the troubling powers of N.Y.P.D. unions. In “Busted in New York,” the essayist and novelist Darryl Pinckney recounts his arrest on a minor drug charge on the Lower East Side. (“Jail was going to get me over my fear of saying the obvious, because there was no way to ignore all morning the fact that everyone in the cell was either black or Hispanic.”) In “How a Deadly Police Force Ruled a City,” Shane Bauer examines the failure to hold officers accountable in Vallejo, California, where cops are responsible for a higher rate of killings than all but one of the nation’s hundred largest police forces. Finally, in “The Invention of the Police,” Jill Lepore explores the evolution of modern urban policing and its connection to American racism. (“To say that many good and admirable people are police officers, dedicated and brave public servants, which is, of course, true, is to fail to address both the nature and the scale of the crisis and the legacy of centuries of racial injustice.”) These pieces offer a kaleidoscopic and penetrating look at a central crisis in American life.
—David Remnick
The Invention of the Police
Photograph courtesy Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
Why did American policing get so big, so fast? The answer, mainly, is slavery.
Busted in New York
Illustration by R. Gregory Christie
A nighttime walk leads to trouble.
How Police Unions Fight Reform
Activists insist that police departments must change. For half a century, New York City’s P.B.A. has successfully resisted such demands.
How a Deadly Police Force Ruled a City
After years of impunity, the police in Vallejo, California, took over the city’s politics and threatened its people.
The New Yorker offers a signature blend of news, culture, and the arts. It has been published since February 21, 1925.
More:
Archive
Police Brutality
African-Americans
Racism
Slavery
White Supremacy
New York Police Department (NYPD)
Books & Fiction
Get book recommendations, fiction, poetry, and dispatches from the world of literature in your in-box. Sign up for the Books & Fiction newsletter.
Enter your e-mail address


By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement and Privacy Policy & Cookie Statement.
Subscribe for unlimited access, plus get a free tote.
Subscribe Cancel anytime.
NewsBooks & CultureFiction & PoetryHumor & Cartoons​Magazine​Crossword​Video​Podcasts​Archive​Goings On
Customer CareShop The New YorkerBuy Covers and CartoonsCondé Nast StoreDigital Access​Newsletters​Jigsaw PuzzleRSSSite Map
About​Careers​Contact​F.A.Q.​Media KitPressAccessibility HelpCondé Nast Spotlight
© 2021 Condé Nast. All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement and Your California Privacy Rights. The New Yorker may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. Ad Choices