Example keywords and search terms
Tips for searching in library databases:
- Use quotation marks to search for terms or concepts made up of multiple words as phrases. For example, search "Black Lives Matter" instead of Black Lives Matter.
- Use "and" to connect two or more concepts. For example: "civil rights" AND police
Keywords and concepts for this topic:
(This is not an exhaustive list, but it will help you get started.)
- Black Lives Matter
- Civil rights
- Criminal justice
- "Defund the police"
- Law enforcement
- Police brutality
- Police-community relations
- Police misconduct
- Police reform
- Police violence
- Race relations
- Race riots
- Racial bias
- Racial profiling (in law enforcement)
- Racism (and the United States)
- Social control
- Use of force or excessive force
- White privilege
- White supremacy
Keywords for racial groups:
- African American
- American Indian
- Asian American
- Hispanic American
- Indians of North America
- People of color
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Find sources -- for background, history and framing the issues
- CQ ResearcherCQ Researcher provides in-depth coverage of important issues of the day. Reports are written by experienced journalists, footnoted, and professionally fact-checked. Full-length articles include an overview, historical background, chronology, pro/con feature, plus resources for additional research. Shorter "Hot Topics" articles provide a solid introduction to subjects in demand.
- Ethnic NewsWatchEthnic NewsWatch is a current resource of full-text newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic and minority press from 1990, providing researchers access to essential, often overlooked perspectives.
- Independent VoicesOpen access digital collection of alternative press newspapers, magazines and journals drawn from special collections and individual donors. Covers periodicals of feminists, dissident GIs, campus radicals, Native Americans, anti-war activists, Black Power advocates, Hispanics, LGBT activists, the extreme right-wing press and alternative literary magazines from 1950 to the present.
- Opposing Viewpoints in ContextFind articles on current issues, including viewpoint articles, topic overviews, statistics, primary documents, magazine and newspaper articles.
- Race Relations AbstractsDiscover articles covering essential areas related to race relations, including ethnic studies, discrimination, immigration studies, and other areas of key relevance to the discipline.
- Sociological AbstractsThis core database for the field of sociology contains information on sociology and social policy worldwide. Sociological Abstracts includes citations from the 1952-present. It provides abstracting and indexing of articles and book reviews drawn from thousands of journal publications, plus books, book chapters, dissertations, conference papers, and working papers.
- Criminal Justice DatabaseCriminal Justice Database supports research on crime, its causes and impacts, legal and social implications, as well as litigation and crime trends. It includes U.S. and international scholarly journals, and correctional and law enforcement trade publications, dissertations, crime reports, crime blogs and other material relevant for researchers or those preparing for careers in criminal justice, law enforcement and related fields.
Other Online Resources
- Gallup, an analytics and public opinion polling organization, contains a section of poll data and articles related to race relations and police. For example, check out the Gallup Confidence in Institutions poll data and this article about low trust in police in Chicago.
- American policing - NPR Throughline episode on the history of policing in the United States.
- Picking Up the Pieces – Policing in America: Minneapolis Case Study, 2015 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
- Public Investment in Community-Driven Safety Initiatives - Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center 2018 report exploring the landscape, key considerations, and models for community-driven public safety and policing.
Looking for more? A Matter of Facts: Defunding the Police is a blog post by several University of Minnesota Librarians that pulls together an array of information resources specifically on the topic of defunding police departments.
Legal & government documents
Law Enforcement and Racial Justice Research Guide from the UMN Law Library.
This research guide brings together a variety of resources for researching issues related to policing and racial injustice. Other sections of this guide focus on more specific issues such as police tactics and use of force; police/community relations, community policing and community activism; police oversight/accountability, and efforts/proposals to reform, defund and abolish police departments. Note: some of the resources (primarily books) listed under a particular topic (e.g. police tactics) may also contain content that address other topics such as police oversight. The guide has a separate section devoted to law enforcement and racial justice issues in Minnesota. It also includes a section with useful links to federal government publications and resources for researching law enforcement and racial justice issues in other states.
- The Ferguson Report byISBN: 1620971658Publication Date: 2015-06-23On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed African American high school senior, was shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. For months afterward, protestors took to the streets demanding justice, testifying to the racist and exploitative police department and court system, and connecting the shooting of Brown with the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and other young black men at the hands of police across the country. In the wake of these protests, the Department of Justice launched a six-month investigation, resulting in a report that Colorlines characterizes as "so caustic it reads like an Onion article" and laying bare what the Huffington Post calls "a totalizing police regime beyond any of Kafka's ghastliest nightmares."
Sample of online books
Below are a selection of online books and readings on the broad topic. We have more online books, journal articles, and sources in our Libraries Search and article databases.
- Occupied Territory byISBN: 9781469649603Publication Date: 2019-03-05In July 1919, an explosive race riot forever changed Chicago. For years, black southerners had been leaving the South as part of the Great Migration. Their arrival in Chicago drew the ire and scorn of many local whites, including members of the city's political leadership and police department, who generally sympathized with white Chicagoans and viewed black migrants as a problem population. During Chicago's Red Summer riot, patterns of extraordinary brutality, negligence, and discriminatory policing emerged to shocking effect. Those patterns shifted in subsequent decades, but the overall realities of a racially discriminatory police system persisted. In this history of Chicago from 1919 to the rise and fall of Black Power in the 1960s and 1970s, Simon Balto narrates the evolution of racially repressive policing in black neighborhoods as well as how black citizen-activists challenged that repression. Balto demonstrates that punitive practices by and inadequate protection from the police were central to black Chicagoans' lives long before the late-century "wars" on crime and drugs. By exploring the deeper origins of this toxic system, Balto reveals how modern mass incarceration, built upon racialized police practices, emerged as a fully formed machine of profoundly antiblack subjugation.
- Ending Police Violence byISBN: 9781421436449Publication Date: 2020-01-14Excessive police violence and its disproportionate targeting of minority communities has existed in the United States since police forces first formed in the colonial period. A personal tragedy for its victims, for the people who love them, and for their broader communities, excessive police violence is also a profound violation of human and civil rights. Most public discourse about excessive police violence focuses, understandably, on the horrors of civilian deaths. In From Enforcers to Guardians, Hannah L. F. Cooper and Mindy Thompson Fullilove approach the issue from a radically different angle: as a public health problem. By using a public health framing, this book challenges readers to recognize that the suffering created by excessive police violence extends far outside of death to include sexual, psychological, neglectful, and nonfatal physical violence as well. Arguing that excessive police violence has been deliberately used to marginalize working-class and minority communities, Cooper and Fullilove describe what we know about the history, distribution, and health impacts of police violence, from slave patrols in colonial times to war on drugs policing in the present-day United States. Finally, the book surveys efforts, including Barack Obama's 2015 creation of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, to eliminate police violence, and proposes a multisystem, multilevel strategy to end marginality and police violence and to achieve guardian policing. Aimed at anyone seeking to understand the causes and distributions of excessive police violence--and to develop interventions to end it--From Enforcers to Guardians frames excessive police violence so that it can be understood, researched, and taught about through a public health lens.
- Criminology Explains Police Violence byISBN: 0520971639Publication Date: 2020-01-21Criminology Explains Police Violence offers a concise and targeted overview of criminological theory applied to the phenomenon of police violence. In this engaging and accessible book, Philip M. Stinson, Sr. highlights the similarities and differences among criminological theories, and provides linkages across explanatory levels and across time and geography to explain police violence. This book is appropriate as a resource in criminology, policing, and criminal justice special topic courses, as well as a variety of violence and police courses such as policing, policing administration, police-community relations, police misconduct, and violence in society. Stinson uses examples from his own research to explore police violence, acknowledging the difficulty in studying the topic because violence is often seen as a normal part of policing.
- Hostile Heartland byISBN: 9780252042492Publication Date: 2019-06-30We forget that racist violence permeated the lower Midwest from the pre-Civil War period until the 1930s. From Kansas to Ohio, whites orchestrated extraordinary events like lynchings and riots while engaged in a spectrum of brutal acts made all the more horrific by being routine. Also forgotten is the fact African Americans forcefully responded to these assertions of white supremacy through armed resistance, the creation of press outlets and civil rights organizations, and courageous individual activism. Drawing on cutting-edge methodology and a wealth of documentary evidence, Brent M. S. Campney analyzes the institutionalized white efforts to assert and maintain dominance over African Americans. Though rooted in the past, white violence evolved into a fundamentally modern phenomenon, driven by technologies such as newspapers, photographs, automobiles, and telephones. Other surprising insights challenge our assumptions about sundown towns, who was targeted by whites, law enforcement's role in facilitating and perpetrating violence, and the details of African American resistance.
- Fight the power : African Americans and the long history of police brutality in New York City byISBN: 9781479851591Publication Date: 2019A story of resistance, power and politics as revealed through New York City's complex history of police brutality The 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri was the catalyst for a national conversation about race, policing, and injustice. The subsequent killings of other black (often unarmed) citizens led to a surge of media coverage which in turn led to protests and clashes between the police and local residents that were reminiscent of the unrest of the 1960s. Fight the Power examines the explosive history of police brutality in New York City and the black community's long struggle to resist it.
- The New Jim Crow: : mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness byISBN: 9781595588197Publication Date: 2012-01-16Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action." Called "stunning" by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David Levering Lewis, "invaluable" by the Daily Kos, "explosive" by Kirkus, and "profoundly necessary" by the Miami Herald, this updated and revised paperback edition of The New Jim Crow, now with a foreword by Cornel West, is a must-read for all people of conscience.
- You Can't Stop the Revolution byISBN: 9780520970502Publication Date: 2019-08-13You Can't Stop the Revolution is a vivid participant ethnography conducted from inside of Ferguson protests as the Black Lives Matter movement catapulted onto the global stage. Sociologist Andrea S. Boyles offers an everyday montage of protests, social ties, and empowerment that coalesced to safeguard black lives while igniting unprecedented twenty-first-century resistance. Focusing on neighborhood crime prevention and contentious black citizen-police interactions in the context of preserving black lives, this book examines how black citizens work to combat disorder, crime, and police conflict. Boyles offers an insider's analysis of cities like Ferguson, where a climate of indifference leaves black neighborhoods vulnerable to conflict, where black lives are seemingly expendable, and where black citizens are held responsible for their own oppression. You Can't Stop the Revolution serves as a reminder that community empowerment is still possible in neighborhoods experiencing police brutality and interpersonal violence.
- The torture letters : reckoning with police violence byISBN: 022672980XPublication Date: 2020Torture is an open secret in Chicago. Nobody in power wants to acknowledge this grim reality, but everyone knows it happens - and that the torturers are the police. Three to five new claims are submitted to the Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission of Illinois each week. Four hundred cases are currently pending investigation. Between 1972 and 1991, at least 125 black suspects were tortured by Chicago police officers working under former Police Commander John Burge. As the more recent revelations from the Homan Square "black site" show, that brutal period is far from a historical anomaly. For more than fifty years, police officers who took an oath to protect and serve have instead beaten, electrocuted, suffocated, and raped hundreds--perhaps thousands--of Chicago residents. Laurence Ralph chronicles the history of torture in Chicago, the burgeoning activist movement against police violence, and the American public's complicity in perpetuating torture at home and abroad. Engaging with a long tradition of epistolary meditations on racism in the United States, from James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time to Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me, Ralph offers in this book a collection of open letters written to protesters, victims, students, and others. Through these moving, questing, enraged letters, Ralph bears witness to police violence that began in Burge's Area Two and follows the city's networks of torture to the global War on Terror. From Vietnam to Geneva to Guantanamo Bay -Ralph's story extends as far as the legacy of American imperialism.
- Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? : police violence and resistance in the United States byISBN: 9781608466849Publication Date: 2016-05-30What is the reality of policing in the United States? Do the police keep anyone safe and secure other than the very wealthy? How do recent police killings of young black people in the United States fit into the historical and global context of anti-blackness? This collection of reports and essays (the first collaboration between Truthout and Haymarket Books) explores police violence against black, brown, indigenous and other marginalized communities, miscarriages of justice, and failures of token accountability and reform measures. It also makes a compelling and provocative argument against calling the police. Contributions cover a broad range of issues including the killing by police of black men and women, police violence against Latino and indigenous communities, law enforcement's treatment of pregnant people and those with mental illness, and the impact of racist police violence on parenting, as well as specific stories such as a Detroit police conspiracy to slap murder convictions on young black men using police informant and the failure of Chicago's much-touted Independent Police Review Authority, the body supposedly responsible for investigating police misconduct. The title Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? is no mere provocation: the book also explores alternatives for keeping communities safe. Contributors include William C. Anderson, Candice Bernd, Aaron Cant#65533;, Thandi Chimurenga, Ejeris Dixon, Adam Hudson, Victoria Law, Mike Ludwig, Sarah Macaraeg, and Roberto Rodriguez.
- The end of policing byISBN: 9781784782917Publication Date: 2017"How the police endanger us and why we need to find an alternative Recent years have seen an explosion of protest and concern about police brutality and repression--especially after long-held grievances in Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in months of violent protest following the police killing of Brown. Much of the conversation has focused on calls for enhancing police accountability, increasing police diversity, improving police training, and emphasizing community policing. Unfortunately, none of these is likely to produce results, because they fail to get at the core of the problem. The problem is policing itself--the dramatic expansion of the police role over the last forty years. This book attempts to jog public discussion of policing by revealing the tainted origins of modern policing as a tool of social control and demonstrating how the expanded role of the police is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice--even public safety. Drawing on first-hand research from across the globe, Alex Vitale shows how the implementation of alternatives to policing, like drug legalization, regulation, and harm reduction instead of the policing of drugs, has led to reductions in crime, spending, and injustice."
- Chokehold : Policing Black Men byISBN: 9781620974988Publication Date: 2018With the eloquence of Ta-Nehisi Coates and the persuasive research of Michelle Alexander, a former federal prosecutor explains how the system really works, and how to disrupt it Cops, politicians, and ordinary people are afraid of black men. The result is the Chokehold: laws and practices that treat every African American man like a thug. In this explosive new book, an African American former federal prosecutor shows that the system is working exactly the way it's supposed to. Black men are always under watch, and police violence is widespread'all with the support of judges and politicians. In his no-holds-barred style, Butler, whose scholarship has been featured on 60 Minutes, uses new data to demonstrate that white men commit the majority of violent crime in the United States. For example, a white woman is ten times more likely to be raped by a white male acquaintance than be the victim of a violent crime perpetrated by a black man. Butler also frankly discusses the problem of black on black violence and how to keep communities safer'without relying as much on police. Chokehold powerfully demonstrates why current efforts to reform law enforcement will not create lasting change. Butler's controversial recommendations about how to crash the system, and when it's better for a black man to plead guilty'even if he's innocent'are sure to be game-changers in the national debate about policing, criminal justice, and race relations.
- Just mercy : a story of justice and redemption byISBN: 9780812994537Publication Date: 2014Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn't commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship--and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever. Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer's coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
- Driving while brown : sheriff Joe Arpaio versus the Latino resistance byISBN: 0520967356Publication Date: 2021-04-20How Latino activists brought down powerful Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio Journalists Terry Greene Sterling and Jude Joffe-Block spent years chronicling the human consequences of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's relentless immigration enforcement in Maricopa County, Arizona. In Driving While Brown, they tell the tale of two opposing movements that redefined Arizona's political landscape--the restrictionist cause embraced by Arpaio and the Latino-led resistance that rose up against it. The story follows Arpaio, his supporters, and his adversaries, including Lydia Guzman, who gathered evidence for a racial-profiling lawsuit that took surprising turns. Guzman joined a coalition determined to stop Arpaio, reform unconstitutional policing, and fight for Latino civil rights. Driving While Brown details Arpaio's transformation--from "America's Toughest Sheriff," who forced inmates to wear pink underwear, into the nation's most feared immigration enforcer who ended up receiving President Donald Trump's first pardon. The authors immerse readers in the lives of people on both sides of the battle and uncover the deep roots of the Trump administration's immigration policies. The result of tireless investigative reporting, this powerful book provides critical insights into effective resistance to institutionalized racism and the community organizing that helped transform Arizona from a conservative stronghold into a battleground state.
- His name is George Floyd : one man's life and the struggle for racial justice byISBN: 9780593490624Publication Date: 2022"A landmark biography by two prizewinning Washington Post reporters that reveals how systemic racism shaped George Floyd's life and legacy-from his family's roots in the tobacco fields of North Carolina, to ongoing inequality in housing, education, health care, criminal justice, and policing-telling the singular story of how one man's tragic experience brought about a global movement for change. The events of that day are now tragically familiar: on May 25, 2020, George Floyd became the latest Black person to die at the hands of the police, murdered outside of a Minneapolis convenience store by white officer Derek Chauvin. The video recording of his death set off a series of protests in the United States and around the world, awakening millions to the dire need for reimagining this country's broken systems of policing. But behind a face that would be graffitied onto countless murals, and a name that has become synonymous with civil rights, there is the reality of one man's stolen life: a life beset by suffocating systemic pressures that ultimately proved inescapable. This biography of George Floyd shows the athletic young boy raised in the projects of Houston's Third Ward who would become a father, a partner, a friend, and a man constantly in search of a better life.
Mapping Prejudice Project
"This research is showing what communities of color have known for decades. Structural barriers stopped many people who were not white from buying property and building wealth for most of the last century.
In Minneapolis, these restrictions served as powerful obstacles for people of color seeking safe and affordable housing. They also limited access to community resources like parks and schools. Racial covenants dovetailed with redlining and predatory lending practices to depress homeownership rates for African Americans. Contemporary white residents of Minneapolis like to think their city never had formal segregation. But racial covenants did the work of Jim Crow in northern cities like Minneapolis.
This history has been willfully forgotten. So we created Mapping Prejudice to shed new light on these historic practices. We cannot address the inequities of the present without an understanding of the past."
Mapping PrejudiceVisualizing the hidden histories of race and privilege in Minneapolis. This map shows how racial restrictions were embedded in the physical landscape of our community. Using racial covenants in Hennepin County property deeds, this site illuminates how much land was reserved for the exclusive use of white people for most of the twentieth century.