Imperial Policing

Weaponized Data in Carceral Chicago

2024
Authors:

Andy Clarno, Enrique Alvear Moreno, Janaé Bonsu-Love, Lydia Dana, Michael De Anda Muñiz, Ilā Ravichandran, and Haley Volpintesta
Afterword by David Stovall

Exposing the carceral webs and weaponized data that shape Chicago’s police wars

Imperial Policing examines the role of local law enforcement, federal immigration authorities, and national security agencies in upholding Chicago’s highly unequal social order. Analyzing the weaponization of data and the coordination between local and national agencies to suppress communities of color and undermine social movements, the Policing in Chicago Research Group offers a critical perspective on the abolition of imperial policing, both in Chicago and around the globe.

Chicago is a city with extreme concentrations of racialized poverty and inequity, one that relies on an extensive network of repressive agencies to police the poor and suppress struggles for social justice. Imperial Policing examines the role of local law enforcement, federal immigration authorities, and national security agencies in upholding the city’s highly unequal social order.

Collaboratively authored by the Policing in Chicago Research Group, Imperial Policing was developed in dialogue with movements on the front lines of struggles against racist policing in Black, Latinx, and Arab/Muslim communities. It analyzes the connections between three police “wars”—on crime, terror, and immigrants—focusing on the weaponization of data and the coordination between local and national agencies to suppress communities of color and undermine social movements. Topics include high-tech, data-based tools of policing; the racialized archetypes that ground the police wars; the manufacturing of criminals and terrorists; the subversion of sanctuary city protections; and abolitionist responses to policing, such as the Erase the Database campaign.

Police networks and infrastructure are notoriously impenetrable to community members and scholars, making Imperial Policing a rare, vital example of scholars working directly with community organizations to map police networks and intervene in policing practices. Engaging in a methodology designed to provide support for transformative justice organizations, the Policing in Chicago Research Group offers a critical perspective on the abolition of imperial policing, both in Chicago and around the globe.

The Policing in Chicago Research Group is an activist research collective composed primarily of current and former graduate students at the University of Illinois at Chicago whose work is committed to supporting abolitionist movements, transformative justice organizations, and policed communities. The members of PCRG are Andy Clarno, Enrique Alvear Moreno, Janaé Bonsu-Love, Lydia Dana, Michael De Anda Muñiz, Ilā Ravichandran, and Haley Volpintesta.

Contents

Preface: The Policing in Chicago Research Group

Introduction: Imperial Policing in Carceral Chicago

1. Weaponized Data: High-Tech Surveillance in Chicago

2. Focused Deterrence: Carceral Liberalism in the War on Crime

3. Strategic Subjects: Predictive Policing and the Gang Member Archetype

4. Manufacturing Terrorists: Palestinian Americans and the Dif/Fusion of Surveillance

5. Welcoming City? Punitive Exceptions and Disavowed Collusion in the War on Immigrants

6. Expand Sanctuary! Erase the Database! Joint Struggle against Criminalization and Deportation

with Tania Unzueta Carrasco

Conclusion: For the Abolition of Imperial Policing

Afterword. Abolition Dreaming in Chicago: Channeling Refusal in Unsettling Times

David Omotoso Stovall

Methodological Appendix: Countersurveillant Abolitionist Research

Acknowledgments

Abbreviations

Glossary of Key Terms and Concepts

Notes

Bibliography

Index