cover image Policing the City: An Ethno-Graphic

Policing the City: An Ethno-Graphic

Didier Fassin, Frédéric Debomy, and Jake Raynal, trans. from the French by Rac

In this urgent and provocative graphic interpretation of Fassin’s findings from 15 months of research into police brutality in Parisian suburbs (originally published as a scholarly work), the French social scientist meticulously diagnoses issues undergirding the crisis. These include arrest quotas, which incentivize officers on otherwise uneventful patrols to target immigrant youth. Anti-crime squads are re-created in pulpy detail, with suspenseful encounters between officers and youth (including Fassin’s own son) that reek of racism, xenophobia, and unwarranted antagonism. Raynal renders figures with dark shading against color-saturated background panels that veer from black and green during mundane moments to red and orange during confrontations. Tensions ignite with the accidental death by electrocution of two Muslim teens who were fleeing security forces through a power substation. A whirlwind of nationwide protests, inflammatory statements from politicians, and a police-launched tear-gas grenade landing in a mosque lead to fiery unrest. Creating comics from the academic source material is no easy task, but the animation in Raynal’s artwork and creative layouts allows Fassin to expound on his theories and dramatically expose the emotional currents raging through notions of fair and equal justice. (Mar.)