To Protect and Observe: A History

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Today’s viral videos of police abuse have a long political lineage. But what if one of the oldest tools of copwatching is now taken away?

Ron Wilkins takes us back to 1966, in the wake of the Watts uprising, in which he joined an early cop watch program -- one that would inspire the likes of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

Then, reporter Jenny Casas introduces us to journalists and activists who have been using police scanners for decades to peek inside the infamously closed world of police departments. Many departments are now trying to end the practice. Special thanks to Andy Lanset and KQED for the archival tape.

And transformative justice organizer Ejeris Dixon, who is the Founding Director of Vision Change Win and editor of Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement, joins Kai to take calls about how communities can keep themselves safe without - and from - police intervention.

Companion listening for this episode:

Do We Need the Police at All? (April 26, 2021)

The answer isn’t simple, but it’s time to ask. Listeners weigh in with stories of their own efforts to solve problems with and without cops.

Collective Loss, Collective Care (March 15, 2021)

We’re looking back at a year with Covid-19 to reflect on our tremendous losses and the remarkable ways communities have come together to take care of themselves.

“The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on WNYC.org/anxiety or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC.

We want to hear from you! Connect with us on Twitter @WNYC using the hashtag #USofAnxiety or email us at anxiety@wnyc.org.

145 episodes