When Eric Garner died from an NYPD chokehold last summer on Staten Island after being confronted by police for allegedly selling loose cigarettes, the concept of “broken windows” policing came back into the public’s consciousness. The idea is that law enforcement should strictly clamp down on petty crimes in order to prevent more serious ones.
As Kai Wright wrote at Colorlines shortly after a grand jury declined to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the officer at the center of Garner’s case, “For nearly a generation, it has been NYPD’s explicit policy to marshal a big response to small things, to treat the illegal distribution of 75 cent loosies with the gravity of a violent felony. This approach has been so widely recreated in cities around the country that broken windows policing, as it’s called, is now synonymous with effective policing.”
Fusion’s Molly Crapapple looks the history of broken windows policing and it’s oversized impact on communities of color.