Flak-Catchers : One Hundred Years of Riot Commission Politics in America

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Flak-Catchers explores the ways in which riot commissions-the institutional bodies appointed by an executive in the aftermath of a race riot to determine a riot timeline, investigate causes, and offer prescriptions for change-have dealt with racial violence in the United States over the last century. In studying five American riots and their commissions this book shows that riot commissions only serve to give the appearance of strong and responsive government action during uncertain times. They primarily benefit the instituting body by focusing on a restoration of law and order while undermining any larger civil rights message.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 284 pages
  • 154 x 232 x 30mm | 639.56g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0739138103
  • 9780739138106

About Lindsey Lupo

Lindsey Lupo is assistant professor at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA.
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Review quote

Lindsey Lupo's outlook is fresh and her writing provocative. This book takes on established ideas about mass rioting and poses disturbing questions about how we view race and violence in America. Not everyone reading this book will agree with its theme, but they will learn a great deal and be roused by its message. -- Hank V. Savitch, Brown and Williamson Distinguished Research Professor, University of Louisville Riot commissions, though their recommendations are rarely acted upon, paradoxically, serve political ends. The "processing away" of violence, as Lupo characterizes the work of riot commissions, first and foremost is intended to address the fears of non-rioters, to show that elites are in control and that action is being taken. Although, the primary usefulness of riot commissions is to politicians, rather than to society as a whole, Lupo argues that riot commissions are not inherently inefficacious. Flak Catchers updates the literature on riot commissions, brings a sharply analytical perspective to the study of U.S. riot commissions, and addresses important new questions made possible by the excellent choice to study such commissions in a historical-comparative framework. -- Lorraine C. Minnite, Barnard College Lupo (Point Loma Nazarene Univ.) examines five riot commissions in the US over the past 100 years. The author relies on an extensive assortment of primary sources, including many interviews with persons involved with the commission studying the 1992 Los Angeles riot. Lupo states her main finding and argument concisely in the conclusion: "Riot commissions are a rough measure of how we look at race-they are an official cataloguing and one lens through which to view race." As such, it would seem to make more sense to discuss how the politics of riot commissions are a reflection of US politics. Lupo does mention this dynamic at times. For example, she connects riot commissions and presidential politics; but her account focuses heavily on the commissions themselves, and she therefore gives less attention to how riot commission politics simply reflects the politics of race in the US. Nonetheless, Flak-Catchers is a valuable contribution to the broader literature on race and politics, and addresses a very important, yet understudied, subject. Summing Up: Recommended. All undergraduate, graduate, and research collections.
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Table of contents

1 Acknowledgements 2 Chapter 1. Introduction 3 Chapter 2. Literature Review 4 Chapter 3. Research Design 5 Chapter 4. The 1919 Chicago Riot and the Chicago Commission 6 Chapter 5. The 1935 Harlem Riot and the Harlem Commission 7 Chapter 6. The 1965 Los Angeles Riot and the McCone Commission 8 Chapter 7. The 1967 USA Riots and the Kerner Commission 9 Chapter 8. The 1992 Los Angeles Riot and the Assembly Special Committee, Senate Special Task Force, Presidential Task Force, and the Webster-Williams Commission 10 Chapter 9. The Changing Nature of Riot Commission Politics in the Post-Kerner Commission Years 11 Chapter 10. Conclusion 12 Archive Notes 13 Bibliography
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