Kristian Williams is the author, most recently, of Hurt: Notes on Torture in a Modern Democracy (Microcosm, 2012). His first book, Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America, was initially published in 2004, and has been re-released by South End. His work on policing and torture has also appeared in Counterpunch, New Politics, In These Times, and in the collection Confrontations (Tarantula Publishing, 2007).
In addition to researching state violence, Williams also frequently writes about comics and cartooning. He’s discussed comics in some surprising places, including the L.A. Daily Journal and the Columbia Journalism Review. He is presently at work on a book about Oscar Wilde and anarchism.
Williams is a volunteer with the Committee Against Political Repression, in Portland, Oregon.
Olympia, WA @ TESC (4-10-14) — ‘Brad’ of ‘Abolish Cops And Prisons’ (ACAP), Evergreen’s on campus student organization hosting the event, introduced Mr. Williams, a prolific author who has published a number of works regarding social justice and how the state is structured to inhibit/prevent the realization of it.
As always, Brad warned the group attending the presentation about the presence of the ‘Press’ in their midst including the fact their utterances were likely being recorded.
Kristian Williams’ lecture was relatively short, but intense and well researched. He gave the impression of a man who had made a Herculean effort to gather a mountain of facts all supporting his claim that we live in a virtual police state of total surveillance in America today. This may be old news in the wake of Snowden’s revelations, but Williams outlined the modern history of the problem dating back to the halcyon days of J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO and Senator McCarthy.
Surprisingly, Mr. Williams did not share the paranoia of Northwest area lifestyle (A)narchists regarding the press collaborating with their government nemesis. Williams opined this was old school and possibly no longer necessary given the raft of surveillance technology ubiquitous within our modern communication technology. Snowden, of course, underscored this point. Why hire a stooge to listen to barroom banter when you can assign a machine to listen to and record phone calls? Once it became possible, it became necessary.
President Bush once made this point as he publicly cozied up to and defended torture: “We HAD to know what they were thinking!” In the end, when you’ve got all those knives and forks, we’re finding out, you just HAVE to cut something!
Mr. Williams spent the majority of his allotted 2-hours in TESC’s Lecture Hall 2 fielding and answering questions from his audience. Even so, the room had mostly emptied by 20 before the hour. He remained to autograph some of the books purchased by listeners. He was articulate, persuasive, and extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter…in short, an intellectual force to be reckoned with.
The adviser to the student run Cooper Point Journal on campus newspaper arrived, greeted this reporter, and sat next to him throughout the lecture. The reporter’s wife was not nearly so loyal and left the presentation early. It was a good lecture, precise, and covering the subject at hand.
Mr. Williams’ books, particularly his recently published HURT are to be recommended. They’re very reasonably priced and a must read for any serious activist interested in becoming knowledgeable about the roots of the current political structure undermining the principles of social justice.
Kristian Williams is a man and critic for our times, a patriot in the old school sense as were our founding fathers when confronted with tyranny and despotism. Take the opportunity to read/hear him before the state decides it can no longer abide him.
The lecture can be heard in the video clips included below along with the extensive Q&A session with the students that followed.
Lectures/Presentations by/with Kristian Willi@ms:
Kurt Morris of Razorcake magazine says:
“…It was good to see Williams not reverting to the familiar arguments on everything; tying in torture with police and the U.S. prison system really is quite interesting. However, the apex of Williams’s argument is that getting rid of the apparatuses that allow abuse and torture and working towards an anarchist system is what would solve this despicable practice. I wondered who would be reading this beyond people who already agreed with the premise and conclusions. Don’t get me wrong: it’s still a very worthwhile topic to discuss, but this discussion needs to move from beyond anarchist circles and into some kind of action. How is that done? Beats me. I just review stuff.”
(full of verbal pauses by Mr. Williams, who may need a speech coach, but compelling)
What happens when the techniques of counterinsurgency, developed to squash small skirmishes and guerrilla wars on the border of Empire, blend into the state’s apparatus for domestic policing? In “Life During Wartime,” writers examine the application of domestic counterinsurgency tactics within the United States, and seek to equip the left with a more nuanced understanding of state repression – and how to fight back.
Bill Resnick talks with Kristian Williams, Portland-resident and renknown scholar of policing and police history, about the murder of Treyvon Martin. Kristian re-caps the case and those like it, but also comments on the nature of the “stand your ground” laws that have been invoked to shield George Zimmerman. He contends that simply attacking those laws misses deeper problems, namely how these laws arise out of already racialized understandings of crime, law and order. They end on a note about this culture of fear, which Kristian thinks we can overcome if we see that people’s needs are met, so they don’t feel there are “others” out there trying to take them.
The function of police in the U.S. has always been to protect the property and status of the ruling elite (aka the 1%), according to Kristian William’s important book Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America. Here he talks with the Old Mole’s Bill Resnick about how his analysis of policing relates to how police have handled the Occupy movement.
A talk with author Sasha Lilley about her book Capital and Its Discontents: Conversations with Radical Thinkers in a Time of Tumult (Spectre), Occupy Oakland, and her activism as a shop steward at KPFA radio station in Oakland, California, where she co-produces and co-hosts the program Against the Grain.
Then a talk with Kristian Williams about police, their unions, and their relationship to the working class. He is the author of Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America and the recent article “Cops for Labor?” in the September/October issue of Dollars and Sense magazine, and a member of the National Writers Union. You can find more of his writings at www.kristianwilliams.com.
With new information out about Portland police behavior in the James Chasse case, Bill Resnick talks with Kristian Williams. Williams is the author of Our Enemies in Blue and the founder of Rose City Copwatch.
Why is violence such a feature of police work? Kristian Williams is the author of two books on this topic, including Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America. Williams examines the populations most often subjected to police abuse and the forms that abuse takes, delving into the role of police brutality in repressing political dissent and in preserving existing structures of inequality. Here he talks with the Old Mole’s Bill Resnick. On next week’s Old Mole (Jan. 4), the conversation will continue, focusing on what police work would be like in a better world.
Kristian Williams, Portland writer and author of Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America, continues his discussion of last week with Bill Resnick about police violence. In this second part of the interview, Bill and Kristian look at what it would take to make policing non-violent.
Kristian Williams discusses the history and use of torture by the U.S. military and police as a tool for crushing dissent, controlling minorities/dissidents, and terrifying the population into compliance with its protocols to indemnify the most wealthy and comfortable.
Williams says, “The talk I gave in Portland about the cops and the Occupy movement was videotaped and is online in a couple different versions. Here’s one.
I’ve been on KBOO radio twice in two months. First, Bill Resnick interviewed me about the Treyvon Martin case, among other things. Then, Jay Thiemeyer‘s interview about my new pamphlet, Hurt: Notes on Torture in a Modern Democracy.
And I’ve recently written reviews of two books examining developments in counterinsurgency and security theory. One looks at David Price’s Weaponizing Anthropology. The other assesses the collection Anti-Security.
subMedia.TV’s final report from the G20 rebellions in three parts 1. Who are we? “Justice for our communities” action on June 25th. 2. Go forth o pioneers. the stimulator goes inside the riot that caused much damage to the corporate elites and embarrassed the security establishment on saturday June 26 in Toronto 3. We started the riot. Debunking the “agent provocateur” and “the cops let it happen” conspiracy theories. Kristian Williams an expert on police tactics during mass demonstrations speaks about the state’s monopoly of power. . . . . . .
from www.submedia.tv: 1. G20 Riot Porn 2. L.A.R.D. 3. Go back to sleep America 4. 5 Cocksrings of Chicago 5. Those daring Danish 6. Chase dem crazy ballheads 7. UC Santa Cruz occupation 8. Atari Teenage Riot 9. What the Po’? with special guest Kristian Williams (Here, Williams alleges our modern police evolved from slave patrols…at least in the U.S. Despite this suspicious premise, he makes a good case for the argument today’s police are more about enforcing segregation than about crime prevention. Both activities seem apparent. Which is the dominant one remains open to dispute.)
(from www.theportlandalliance.org) Local police reform activist and author Kristian Williams has produced a new work (American Methods: Torture and the Logic of Domination) looking at how our society uses torture to control us. American Methods: Torture and the Logic of Domination explores the dynamic created by imperialism in cultivates a society in which torture becomes an acceptable tool of domination abroad and at home. Dave Mazza recently spoke with Kristian about his latest work.
The Author Outlines a Course for Creating a World Without Police.
by Justin Taylor Our Enemies in Blue (Soft Skull 2004) is a sweeping, vitriolic work of scholarship. As studied as it is incendiary (100 pages of footnotes and bibliography make this perfectly clear), Kristian Williams opens with “a call for skepticism.” He urges his readers to critically re-assess the discourse that surrounds the institution of police: their purported role in society, patterns and trends in police brutality, the historical use of police against organized labor, and so on. Our Enemies in Blue is a comprehensive, controversial history of policing; as well it is a theory-meets-practice study of power relations and models of resistance. I went to Portland, Oregon’s economically depressed north side to see Williams speak to a standing-room only crowd of scruffy unwashed punks, older folks from the community, and even some children. A skinny, bookish guy with wire-frame glasses and a set-your-watch haircut, he was the last person in the room I expected to hear speak about active resistance and the importance of Copwatch. He spoke for about an hour, first reading from his book and then taking questions. Always, the focus of the talk was directed toward strategies of survival and a cop-free vision of the future. In no uncertain terms, Williams was arguing not just for an end to police violence, but an end to policing. Later, I had the opportunity to talk to Williams about his book, his philosophy, and how punk was what got him thinking. ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN PUNK PLANET #69 (SEPT/OCT 2005)
Police support for protesters in Wisconsin was an exception to the historical rule.
Policing public space—with deadly results—in Portland, Ore.
On June 8, the Justice Department announced a civil rights investigation to see if police officers in Portland, Ore., were engaged in a “pattern or practice” of using excessive force against the mentally ill. The investigation comes after several incidents in which police shot people in psychological crisis.
The problems with the mental health system are real enough, but this focus may obscure other dynamics propelling police violence–specifically, those relating to race and class.
Two high-profile cases in Portland help illustrate the point.