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Brunson (Gender Race and Policing)

Brunson (Gender Race and Policing) - GENDER RACE AND URBAN...

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GENDER, RACE, AND URBAN POLICING The Experience of African American Youths ROD K. BRUNSON University of Alabama–Birmingham JODY MILLER University of Missouri–St. Louis Proactive policing strategies produce a range of harms to African Americans in poor urban commu- nities. We know little, however, about how aggressive policing is experienced across gender by ado- lescents in these neighborhoods. The authors argue that important insights can be gained by examining the perspectives of African American youths and draw from in-depth interviews with youths in St. Louis, Missouri, to investigate how gender shapes interactions with the police. The comparative analysis reveals important gendered facets of African American adolescents’ experiences with and expectations of law enforcement. Young men described being treated routinely as suspects regardless of their involvement in delinquency and also reported police violence. Young women typically described being stopped for curfew violations but also expressed concerns about police sexual mis- conduct. This study highlights the differential harms of urban policing for African American young women and men and highlights the need for systematic attention to the intersections of race and gender in research on criminal justice practices. Keywords: policing; African Americans; gender discrimination; racial discrimination L aw enforcement strategies in poor urban communities produce a range of harms to African American residents. This includes disproportionate experi- ences with surveillance and stops, disrespectful treatment, excessive force, police deviance, and fewer police protections (Fagan and Davies 2000; Mastrofski, Reisig, and McCluskey 2002; Smith and Holmes 2003). Attempts to explain these AUTHORS’ NOTE: This article is based on research funded by the National Consortium on Violence Research. We thank Christopher Mullins, David Klinger, and the editors and reviewers at Gender & Society for their comments; Norm White, co-PI; and Toya Like, Dennis Mares, Jenna St. Cyr, and Iris Foster for their research assistance. REPRINT REQUESTS: Rod K. Brunson, University of Alabama-Birmingham, Department of Justice Sciences, UBOB 210, 1201 University Boulevard, Birmingham, AL 35294-4562. GENDER & SOCIETY, Vol. 20 No. 4, August 2006 531-552 DOI: 10.1177/0891243206287727 © 2006 Sociologists for Women in Society 531
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532 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 patterns examine how young Black men come to symbolize the stereotypical offender (Skolnick 1994) and have drawn from minority group threat theories (Smith and Holmes 2003) and social ecological models (Anderson 1990; Kane 2002; Klinger 1997). However, few studies have considered how gender inter- sects with race and neighborhood context in determining how police behaviors are experienced. It is taken for granted that young minority men are the primary targets of negative police experiences.
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