Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma

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In “An American Dilemma”, Gunnar Myrdal calls attention to discrimination plaguing law enforcement and justice systems in the South during the mid 20th century. Although his volumes of work were written nearly twenty years prior to the A.C. Hall case, Myrdal highlights troubling patterns of law enforcement and criminal justice that clearly manifest in A.C. Hall’s death and the incident’s aftermath. Myrdal unpacks how southern law enforcement conditions are rooted in the disenfranchisement of black communities, with far reaching consequences for not only the political climate of the region, but also for the trends of justice served to black defendants and plaintiffs. In many areas of the south, local governments employed judges, prosecuting attorneys, court officials, and high ranking police officers based on local elections (rather than appointments) and this practice led to low professional standards among these positions. Myrdal asserts that these roles lose…show more content…
Hall case, Officers Joseph Thomas Brown and James Larry Durden are young police officers, still in their eighteen-month probationary period. They shoot and kill A.C. Hall after claiming they ordered him to halt, then observed him drawing a weapon. While particular actions of the officers raise questions about Macon Police Department protocol and training, a troubling lack of justice for A.C. Hall is evident when the officers are charged with the murder, yet neither is indicted by a grand jury. The combination of black disenfranchisement and mediocre professional standards within Southern police forces allowed for police officers to become a kind of sanctioned white violence, where police could step “far outside of normal policy activity” to subjectively punish black people for any perceived misconduct. Policemen played this role even when not wearing their uniforms – in The South and the Nation, Pat Waters references the how police were often leaders of lynch mobs and other extra-legal
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