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Men of MobtownPolicing Baltimore in the Age of Slavery and Emancipation$
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Adam Malka

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469636290

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469636290.001.0001

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Policing the Black Criminal

Policing the Black Criminal

(p.155) Chapter Five Policing the Black Criminal
Men of Mobtown

Adam Malka

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter argues that white Baltimoreans acted on their fears of free black crime all the time, often violently and usually with the municipality’s approval. In the process, it shows that the compatibility between professional and popular policing manifested not only in job-busting attacks and home invasions but also in more prosaic moments, such as when an ordinary citizen arrested a black man or protected him from harm. The public authorities were nominally engaged in a broader project of seizing legitimate force for the state alone, but the policing of free black Baltimoreans relied upon informal white power no less than it did upon formal state power. Police officers did not always protect them. Prisons did not always house them. In the age of slavery, Baltimore’s officials preferred to leave the fates of free people of color to ordinary white men. When it came to policing black people, white vigilantes were the police.

Keywords:   White fears, Free black, Black crime, Popular policing, White power, Police officers, Prisons, Slavery, White vigilantes, Baltimore

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