Michelle Alexander calls decriminalizing hustling a priority for police reform

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Still deeply rooted in the slave patrols formed in the 1700s, contemporary practices of policing and mass incarceration emerged to confront Black people with limited access to legitimate work. With the failure of social programs in the wake of 1960’s race riots, the police, courts, and prisons have been weaponized to keep the Black poor in segregated neighborhoods and out of good jobs.

“Over the past few decades cities have turned to policing to fulfill two functions: to surveil and discipline Black populations hardest hit by economic shifts and to collect revenue in the form of fines,” Lester Spence, professor of political science at John Hopkins University and author ofKnocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics told Salon writer Daniel Denvir. “The Black men most likely to be left out of the formal economy — who have to engage in various illegal hustles to make ends meet — are far more likely to suffer from police violence than other Black men.”

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