“Police Is Your Friend.” Nigerians say this slogan of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), which polices the country’s 200 million people, with laughter and resigned frustration. Decades of NPF misconduct and ineffectiveness understandably have led many Nigerians to view the police with skepticism. On October 8, the tensions boiled over into nationwide protests after a video showed police officers shooting a man outside a hotel in Lagos--Nigeria’s commercial capital and home to more than 13 million people. ...
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- Why Nigeria’s Youth Are Protesting for Police Reform“Police Is Your Friend.” Nigerians say this slogan of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), which polices the country’s 200 million people, with laughter and resigned frustration. Decades of NPF misconduct and ineffectiveness understandably have led many Nigerians to view the police with skepticism. On October 8, the tensions boiled over into nationwide protests after a video showed police officers shooting a man outside a hotel in Lagos–Nigeria’s commercial capital and home to more than 13 million people.
- Neither ‘Power Vacuum’ nor ‘Criminal Anarchy’: Colombia’s Peace MeltdownIn the last month, a spike in massacres has shocked Colombians. Despite Colombia recently registering its lowest homicide rate in the last 46 years, massacres – defined by the UN as the killing of three or more people in a single incident – have increased by roughly 30% since President Ivan Duque took office in 2018.
- Smaller Prisons are SmarterBy David Skarbek September 15, 2020 There is a growing consensus across the political spectrum that the United States incarcerates far too many people and that this has tragic and unjust consequences that fall disproportionately on socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and minority communities. Yet, not only do we lock up too many people, but all too […]
- Brazil’s Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC) Takes FlightBy Ryan Berg July 18, 2020 The coronavirus pandemic is causing tectonic shifts in Latin America’s organized crime landscape. Weak state institutions provide criminal groups an opportunity to fill voids of socioeconomic and security provision, while homicide rates have soared in several countries as groups contest territory and police presence has waned (or been directed […]
- Criminal Governance in the Time of COVID-19In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple news outlets, think tanks, public intellectuals, and academics have reported and reflected on its impact on criminal governance. Even before these unusual times, criminal governance was a topic of growing importance in the research agendas of many social sciences and regularly grabbed the attention of media outlets. Yet, despite the numerous academic articles and journalistic works on the topic, it is often not clear what exactly the term ‘criminal governance’ means.
- Why Violence Does Not Work for Social MovementsEven though violence is not endorsed by most activists and Black Lives Matter supporters, important questions are raised about the link between violence and social movement outcomes. Social scientists have long had an interest in related questions: “Does it matter? Do violent protests get activists what they want?”
- On Protests and Policing: A Conversation with Cathy Lisa SchneiderIn a special interview, UVRN spoke to Professor Cathy Lisa Schneider, author of ‘Police Power and Race Riots: Urban Unrest in Paris and New York’ about her research on policing and the current wave of protests following the murder of George Floyd.
- Reconsidering The Streets: Making and Breaking Street Culture in Cape TownCape Town is one of the world’s deadliest cities. The vast majority of the killing takes place in its townships, some just a short drive away from the stylish city centre. Turf wars, revenge killings, and gang initiations contribute to an average of more than two gangland murders per day – about one third of all homicides in and around the city.
- When urban violence enters your home: testimonies from Caracas, Venezuela“I have known about many homicides that have occurred during this quarantine, especially among young people. Just a few days ago, a young man was thrown off a building from the eighth floor because of a family row. Also, two young men were killed by state security forces”. (Testimony from a community leader in western Caracas when asked about violence during the ongoing COVID-19 emergency).
- Montevideo: Between violence and urban fragmentationUruguay currently suffers from the highest levels of insecurity and crime in the country’s recent history. Data prior to the 2002 economic crisis shows that structural factors such as unemployment and poverty were closely associated with the increase in crime in the period 1986-2002. However, between 2004 and 2015, Uruguay has made progress in the social and economic dimensions and has reduced its levels of poverty and inequality measured in real terms. This, however, happened alongside an increase in crime rates. The link between structural variables and crime seems not to be as linear as it had been claimed and is questioned both by academics and policymakers. This article argues that other causes – namely, drug trafficking and urban fragmentation – have influenced the increase of crime, and specifically of homicides, in Uruguay.
- Rule, support and buy: Making sense of Mafia strategies in the COVID-19 aftermathWhile COVID-19 continues to spread across the world, analysts and scholars grow increasingly more focused on the so-called “phase 2” of the pandemic: the one of reopening after the lockdown period. What we surely know so far about phase 2 is that it will be characterised by a serious economic crisis (similar in impact to the 1929 Great Depression, according to some) and, potentially, by a consequent criminal infiltration in the formal economy. Italy finds itself under the spotlight not only as one of the worst hit countries by the health crisis itself, but also as the homeland of what is arguably one of the oldest criminal organisations in the history of humankind: the Mafias. In this post, I will analyse the role of Mafias in the actual crisis and outline its potential development in the aftermath of the pandemic, with an exclusive focus on Mafias’ activities in Italy.
- From Managua to Cape Town – dealing drugs in the time of COVID-19From individual local initiatives all over the world to the one million people volunteering to support the National Health Service in the UK, there have been many uplifting stories about people coming together and helping each other as COVID-19 continues to spread across the world. Some of these initiatives have however been surprising. This for example includes the case of drug-trafficking gangs in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who have helped impose lockdown curfews in the city’s poor favelas. Their justification for this has been that “we’re imposing a curfew because nobody is taking this [pandemic] seriously”, something that some have welcomed in the face of the Bolsonaro government’s disastrous response to COVID-19.
- Urban Violence and Southern Theory During the Pandemicby Roxana Pessoa Cavalcanti 1 May 2020 We are in the middle of a global pandemic. It is a sunny day here in the UK but the emotions around us are disjointed from the beauty of spring: fear, panic, sadness and anxiety mixed with a dose of hope. My children are being ‘home-schooled’ during the […]
- Why Coronavirus gives organized crime momentum to shine and flourishIn late March 2020, amidst the global crisis caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, organized crime groups began to make headlines as caring social actors in their communities. In Southern Italy, local mafias acted as alternative social welfare-providers by financially supporting businesses that faced bankruptcy caused by Coronavirus-related lockdowns and by providing free groceries to communities. In several Brazilian favelas, gangs and militias took matters into their own hands, spreading information on curfews and other restrictions via social media and patrolling the streets to ensure compliance with the curfew.
- Criminal governance during the COVID-19 lockdown in MexicoExperts are wondering how the implementation of curfews and lockdowns around the world will affect criminal governance in countries with a persistent presence of organised crime. In the case of Mexico, the effects are yet to be seen, but some events are signalling that criminal governance may strengthen in some regions of the country.
- Prison Violence as Urban ViolenceBy Andrea Varsori 4 April 2020 Introduction The current Covid-19 pandemic is likely to have wide-ranging impact on most academic fields within the social sciences. The study of urban and criminal violence is similarly likely to be affected. With economic and social activities coming to a standstill across cities, some criminal and insurgent groups see […]
- Contesting Peace in the Postwar CityBy Ivan Gusic 26 February 2020 Postwar cities – i.e. cities which no longer experience war yet are still socio-politically contested – tend to be one of the most entrenched and volatile flash-points when societies transition from war to peace. These cities are often dangerous for citizens to live in; they tend to function either […]
- Thomas Abt – a Bold New Plan for Peace in the StreetsAn interview with Thomas Abt, author of Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence – and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets.
- Navigating Dahiyeh: Security in Lebanon’s Southern SuburbsBy Kelly Stedem. In this piece, I show how Hizbullah polices its neighborhoods, providing security and protection to local residents, while simultaneously undermining the role of the state in providing such security services. Insights into the local provision of policing are based on eight months of fieldwork conducted between 2017 and 2019, as well as observations made while working for local NGOs in South Beirut between 2011 and 2014.
- Medicalizing Conflict – The Risks of Public Health-Based Approaches to Conflict ResolutionBy Malte Riemann and Norma Rossi 10 November 2019 Medical approaches to violence prevention are progressively being adopted by various governmental and non-governmental actors around the globe. For example, the World Health Organization has made violence ‘a public health priority’ and centered its global strategy for violence prevention around the public health model; the World […]
- Chile: A tale of two countriesBy Lucía Dammert. Why have the Chileans taken to the streets? Chile has been a model for many Latin American countries. After 17 years of a cruel dictatorship, the Chilean political elite developed a democratic process that lowered poverty rates, consolidated economic growth and modernized urban infrastructure. However, during democratization the so-called
- Rage Against the Sectarian MachineBy Sara Fregonese. Lebanon’s protesters have looked beyond sectarianism. Now the state is closing its ranks.
- Ethnography as ‘Risky Business’By Kees Koonings, Dirk Kruijt, and Dennis Rodgers. Ethnography is an inherently rewarding but at the same time ‘risky’ research methodology: ‘high risk, high gain’. It is fraught with uncertainties, practical obstacles, challenges and pitfalls. Ethnographic researchers are unsure (or cannot and should not know beforehand) how it will work out and with what results.
- Ethnography and violenceBy Dennis Rodgers and Gareth A. Jones. Violence is a phenomenon that sheds bright light on the particularities of the relationship between ethnography as method and as writing. On the one hand, the methodological nature of ethnography means that ethnographers are inevitably forced to take on greater than normal moral and physical …
- Can soldiers solve Brazil’s crime problem?By Christoph Harig. Governments across the globe try to counter violent crime by deploying military forces. European countries such as Belgium and France have stepped up their armed forces’ internal anti-terror and policing role. Only recently, South Africa deployed troops in order to ‘help the police “restore law and maintain order”’ in …
- Evictions as Urban Violence: Karachi’s Violent Planning RegimeA child crawls on a pile of rubble that was formerly his home in Machar Colony, an informal settlement located in Karachi’s District West. Trapped by the debris and violence wrought on by Karachi’s latest evictions.