University of Sussex
Brock and Stephens-Griffin 2021 Policing Environmental Injustice_IDSBulletin.pdf (150.28 kB)

Policing environmental injustice

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-10, 01:54 authored by Andrea BrockAndrea Brock, Nathan Stephens-Griffin
Environmental justice (EJ) activists have long worked with abolitionists in their communities, critiquing the ways policing, prisons, and pollution are entangled and racially constituted (Braz and Gilmore 2006). Yet, much EJ scholarship reflects a liberal Western focus on a more equal distribution of harms, rather than challenging the underlying systems of exploitation these harms rest upon (Álvarez and Coolsaet 2020). This article argues that policing facilitates environmentally unjust developments that are inherently harmful to nature and society. Policing helps enforce a social order rooted in the ‘securing’ of property, hierarchy, and human-nature exploitation. Examining the colonial continuities of policing, we argue that EJ must challenge the assumed necessity of policing, overcome the mythology of the state as ‘arbiter of justice’, and work to create social conditions in which policing is unnecessary. This will help open space to question other related harmful hegemonic principles. Policing drives environmental injustice, so EJ must embrace abolition.


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IDS Bulletin




Institute of Development Studies

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