Crack era reform: A brief history of crack and the rise of the carceral state, 1985-1992
Durfee, Michael Jordan
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The first historical account of both local and national responses to crack cocaine, "Crack Era Reform" seeks to restore grassroots black and brown agency in wars against crack and crime by reframing local efforts as a battle for order, resources and respect. Desperate to help themselves, their families, and their community, activists in the Bronx of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, the United Black Church Appeal and others found themselves written out of national discourse surrounding the crack scourge. National media coverage highlighted themes of black urban disorder and criminality, cultural decay, and white victimization--obscuring both the presence of law-abiding activists in cities, as well as their more nuanced calls for community policing and structural reform. Congressional politics and mid-term election jockeying further compounded and hyperbolized both the specter of crack--and later--the scope of the looming carceral state. Despite this reality, activists persisted in calls for well-resourced police projects awarded to more prized districts of Manhattan. After celebrating initial "victories"--concessions from government for aggressive buy-bust operations in their districts--activists later questioned the efficacy and ethics of increasingly militarized police practices.