Midterm: Project Proposal

My Research Question: Do the examples of abuse of authority perpetuated by the Philadelphia Police Department reflect the individuals who took part, the leadership of the department, or the organization as a whole?

For my final project, I have decided that I will make a podcast episode where the overarching topic of discussion is the issues surrounding race and the Philadelphia Police Department. My podcast will have several parts dedicated to a different approach to the discussion. First, I will use my sources to give a brief history of the PPD, their leaders and ideologies throughout its existence. Second, I will discuss several high profile cases of misconduct among the department, and the events/reactions that follow. Finally, I will give my personal take on the issue, hopefully to answer or at the very least better understand my research question. In doing so, I hope to put my experiences with police, as a white man from the suburbs, into perspective, while attempting to make sense of who can be held accountable when police abuse their power.

Secondary Source 1: “The Burning of Rebellious Thoughts; Move as Revolutionary Black Humanism-This source contains an evaluation of the MOVE bombing, and gives a background on the organization and the events leading up to the bombing. I hope that this source will help me understand the public reaction to the MOVE bombing, specifically amongst African Americans, and the thought processes behind black power movements.

Citation: “‘Both Spectacular And UNREMARKABLE:” a Letter to the United Nations on Police Violence in Philadelphia,” December 9, 2020. https://www.aclupa.org/en/UN-report.

Secondary Source 2: Dirty Work: Police and Community Relations and the Limits of Liberalism in Postwar Philadelphia-This secondary source will help me to look at both the public response to police violence through civilian review, and the internal response of the department.

Citation: Schneider, Eric C., Christopher Agee, and Themis Chronopoulos. 2020. “Dirty Work: Police and Community Relations and the Limits of Liberalism in Postwar Philadelphia.” Journal of Urban History 46 (5): 961–79. doi:10.1177/0096144217705497.

Primary Source 1: Both Spectacular And UNREMARKABLE:” a Letter to the United Nations on Police Violence in Philadelphia-This source, a recent one on the George Floyd protests during the summer of 2020 and the police response, will help me answer my research question by giving me specific, recent examples of police misconduct, and the way in which both the public and department reacted.

Primary Source 2: Philadelphia Inquirer articles from the 1950’s-1960’s-by using articles from the height of the civil rights movement in the 50’s and 60’s, will give me information about specific events during an important time period, and how they contributed to shaping the movement

Primary source 3: Federal Surveillance of African Americans, 1920-1984-I will look at the federal governments response to events like the civil rights movement, and their surveillance of certain black leaders who’s ideology shaped the civil rights movement. While this does not give me specific information about police violence in Philadelphia, it will be useful in helping me understand the federal governments role in policing, and the way in which these black leaders had influence.

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