Interrupters: Suspicion, Surveillance, and Snitching

Local law enforcement agencies are once again mobilizing what they call “Interrupters”: civilians who go door to door in low-income neighborhoods in an attempt to intervene and “stop the violence.”

This tactic of “community policing,” however, boils down to developing snitches—along with media propaganda that attempts to make it seem credible.

The narrative we’re currently being sold is that cops want to get out in front of “gang violence,” and nip it in the bud before it flares back up this summer. What cops and their managers aren’t going to elucidate for us, though, is that this type of media spectacle perpetuates at least two illusions:

1) that “good” civilians need to help cops fight crime

2) that the criminals of most concern in our communities are young men beefing with one another

—not to mention the fact that when cops make public showings of this sort, they reinforce the myth that what we need is more rather than less policing. Add to this the fact that high-ranking cops in this county are either up for re-election or are facing scrutiny about the unethical practices of the agencies they represent, and you begin to understand why the “Interrupters” spectacle is back in production.

We at RAW are fans of door-to-door organizing and of knowledge-sharing at the grassroots level. As such, we believe “Interrupters” ought to share with their neighbors the fact that our common enemy is not one another, but instead is the racialized capitalism that promotes such effects as poverty, gentrification, police brutality, “failing” schools, and hyperincarceration.

For in-depth exposition of these ideas, check out “The Community Engagement Arm of the Police State,” produced by Chicago social justice group We Charge Genocide, as well as Kristian Williams’s “The Other Side of the COIN: Counterinsurgency and Community Policing.”

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