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A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing

Lexx Diamond

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“the literature clearly establishes that a legally sanctioned law enforcement system existed in America before the Civil War for the express purpose of controlling the slave population and protecting the interests of slave owners. The similarities between the slave patrols and modern American policing are too salient to dismiss or ignore. Hence, the slave patrol should be considered a forerunner of modern American law enforcement.”


A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing
January 7, 2014
EKU Online > A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing


By: Victor E. Kappeler, Ph.D.
The birth and development of the American police can be traced to a multitude of historical, legal and political-economic conditions. The institution of slavery and the control of minorities, however, were two of the more formidable historic features of American society shaping early policing. Slave patrols and Night Watches, which later became modern police departments, were both designed to control the behaviors of minorities. For example, New England settlers appointed Indian Constables to police Native Americans (National Constable Association, 1995), the St. Louis police were founded to protect residents from Native Americans in that frontier city, and many southern police departments began as slave patrols. In 1704, the colony of Carolina developed the nation’s first slave patrol. Slave patrols helped to maintain the economic order and to assist the wealthy landowners in recovering and punishing slaves who essentially were considered property.
Policing was not the only social institution enmeshed in slavery. Slavery was fully institutionalized in the American economic and legal order with laws being enacted at both the state and national divisions of government. Virginia, for example, enacted more than 130 slave statutes between 1689 and 1865. Slavery and the abuse of people of color, however, was not merely a southern affair as many have been taught to believe. Connecticut, New York and other colonies enacted laws to criminalize and control slaves. Congress also passed fugitive Slave Laws, laws allowing the detention and return of escaped slaves, in 1793 and 1850. As Turner, Giacopassi and Vandiver (2006:186) remark, “the literature clearly establishes that a legally sanctioned law enforcement system existed in America before the Civil War for the express purpose of controlling the slave population and protecting the interests of slave owners. The similarities between the slave patrols and modern American policing are too salient to dismiss or ignore. Hence, the slave patrol should be considered a forerunner of modern American law enforcement.”
The legacy of slavery and racism did not end after the Civil War. In fact it can be argued that extreme violence against people of color became even worse with the rise of vigilante groups who resisted Reconstruction. Because vigilantes, by definition, have no external restraints, lynch mobs had a justified reputation for hanging minorities first and asking questions later. Because of its tradition of slavery, which rested on the racist rationalization that Blacks were sub-human, America had a long and shameful history of mistreating people of color, long after the end of the Civil War. Perhaps the most infamous American vigilante group, the Ku Klux Klan started in the 1860s, was notorious for assaulting and lynching Black men for transgressions that would not be considered crimes at all, had a White man committed them. Lynching occurred across the entire county not just in the South. Finally, in 1871 Congress passed the Ku Klux Klan Act, which prohibited state actors from violating the Civil Rights of all citizens in part because of law enforcements’ involvement with the infamous group. This legislation, however, did not stem the tide of racial or ethnic abuse that persisted well into the 1960s.
Though having white skin did not prevent discrimination in America, being White undoubtedly made it easier for ethnic minorities to assimilate into the mainstream of America. The additional burden of racism has made that transition much more difficult for those whose skin is black, brown, red, or yellow. In no small part because of the tradition of slavery, Blacks have long been targets of abuse. The use of patrols to capture runaway slaves was one of the precursors of formal police forces, especially in the South. This disastrous legacy persisted as an element of the police role even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In some cases, police harassment simply meant people of African descent were more likely to be stopped and questioned by the police, while at the other extreme, they have suffered beatings, and even murder, at the hands of White police. Questions still arise today about the disproportionately high numbers of people of African descent killed, beaten, and arrested by police in major urban cities of America.
References
National Constables Association (1995). Constable. In W. G. Bailey (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Police Science (2nd ed., pp. 114–114). New York, NY: Garland Press.
Turner, K. B. , Giacopassi , D. , & Vandiver , M. (2006) . Ignoring the Past: Coverage of Slavery and Slave Patrols in Criminal Justice Texts. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 17: (1), 181–195.
 

Lexx Diamond

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slave patrols
Mon Mar 26th 2012 by abagond




The slave patrols (1704-1865) in the American South were armed bands of three to six white men on horseback who rode through the night looking for runaway slaves and other blacks up to no good.
  • Manpower: three to six white men
  • Weapons: guns, whips
  • Transport: horses
  • Range: a beat about ten miles wide (16km)
  • Hours of operation: mainly at night
  • Duties:
    • Stop blacks and ask for their pass
    • Catch runaways
    • Enforce curfew
    • Break up gatherings of blacks
    • Disarm blacks
    • Search homes for guns and books, both signs of a possible uprising
    • Keep blacks in line through terror
If they stopped you and you could not produce a pass from your master, they could kill you, whip you or physicially screw you up. And even if you did have a pass and were doing nothing wrong, they might still choose to beat you up.
The point was not so much to find and return runaways as some kind of public service to slave owners, but to keep blacks in line to prevent slave uprisings. The government paid slave owners for any property damage the patrols caused, like dead slaves.
Slave catchers were separate from the slave patrol. They caught runaways slaves for a living. They are the ones with the bloodhounds. They generally got $50 a slave, $5 more if whipped. This was back when a white day labourer made $1 a day and healthy slaves of working age were worth between $500 and $1500 (400 to 1200 crowns).
The practice started in South Carolina in 1704. It became much more serious after the Stono Rebellion of 1739. In time it spread to all the slave states of the South. All white men of military age had to serve in the slave patrols, whether they owned slaves or not. It was a civic duty. It helped to bind white men together across class lines and to pit poor whites violently against blacks in the service of slavery.

 

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HOW ARABS CAME TO BE IN THE NORTHERN PART OF AFRICA

Arab slavery had already begun in Africa more than 700 years before the European transatlantic slave trade.

The slave trade began when the Arabs invaded North Africa for the first time in the 7th century AD.

The first Arab entry into Africa was through Egypt.

An Arab military general named General Amir Aben Alas invaded Egypt in December 639 AD.

Amir had successfully conquered Egypt and went ahead and conquered other places such as Tunisia and western Libya.

Once these areas had been completely conquered by the Arabs, they imposed tributes of 360 slaves in all regions they occupied and controlled.

With this Islamic slave trade in Africa, North Africans were Islamized by their Arab slave masters.

Today, many Africans pose as Muslims without knowing how the owners of such a religion brutally enslaved their black African ancestors for over 700 years.

Remember that every time you see a modern Egyptian claim to be of North African origin.
 

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The Story Of Attah Ameh Oboni - the Nigerian King who Chose Suicide Instead of Bowing to the Queen of England.

Attah Ameh Oboni was a revered Igala King.

At a particular meeting held in Kaduna which consisted of all paramount traditional rulers in Nigeria and which had the queen of England in attendance, Attah Ameh was asked to remove his cap to greet the Queen of England as others had done.

Though he refused until they said he should leave the meeting if he would not remove his cap. But Attah was not like others, or was he?

It was a taboo for Attah to remove his cap in the public. The entire hall where they were staying was occupied by swan of bees which emanates from the cap of Attah Ameh Oboni which he removed in order to greet the Queen.

The Queen of England as well as other rulers in the meeting ran helter-skelter except the friendly Oba of Benin who was asked by Attah Ameh to go out before he removed his cap. The hall became empty as some were stung by the bees and the meeting ended.

According to history, Attah Ameh Oboni was asked to be arrested and handcuffed by the security people, which they did, but the handcuffs fell off his hands.

He was later locked up in a room on the instruction of the Northern rulers and guarded by the security personnel but only to find out later by the personnel that he had left the room. Yes, when the security were taking him to be locked up, he told his driver, Amanabo of blessed memory, to take the car and be going to Idah while the security locked him in the room.

He then warned Amanabo not to look back until he felt a cool breeze in the car. Though Amanabo argued a little that he cannot leave the Attah there but later obeyed and started driving back to Idah from Kaduna.

After some time, he felt the cool breeze in the car, and Attah Ameh was sitted inside the car.

The incident in the meeting made many traditional rulers which were mostly northerners to be angry especially making kings run in such a manner because of bees.

This became one important sin, and it was like “one sin too many”.

The queen of Englnad was also not happy and they (the Queen and northern leaders) started looking for a way to remove Attah Ameh from the throne since he was getting tougher and uncontrollable like others, as well as searching for an obedient replacement.

Igala has various cultural festivals, one of which is Ocho. Ocho is celebrated before farming starts, and it is the time that Attah Igala prays to God for sufficient rainfall, bountiful harvest, success in hunting. It is celebrated in the bush and the venue is called Ere-ocho, where the Attah will hunt until he kills a Buffalo or a strong animal. The community in Idah where Ocho takes place is called Ogo-Efa. He performs a little sacrifice to the ancestors using a fowl in the process, and this was to find out if there will blessings or problems in the land after the Ocho.

Before this time, the enemies at home (among the Igala people), especially those having connections with the leaders of the northern region, were working hard to get any evidence either true or false which can be used to remove him from the throne. The blood of the animal used as sacrifice at Ocho ground now became what the enemies would use against him.

Petition was written by these two Igala people to the Queen and some other Northern leaders that Attah Ameh was sacrificing humans during the Ocho festivals. Since they were looking for any means to displace him with, judgment was quickly passed that he must be dethroned, even when investigations were not yet concluded.

In addition, all the Igala cultural festivals including the Ocho were immediately banned and this remained for almost 63 years until Governor Yahaya Bello unbanned them based on the appeal of the present Attah Igala.

Already, before this time, the Oba of Benin who had such friction with the British had already been dethroned and banished from Benin. So, Attah Ameh Oboni knew that at that point, no matter what spiritual approach applied, it can only postpone the evil day as his enemies will never relent until he was removed by them.

The result of the blood sample which was taken from the Ocho venue and taken to University of Ibadan for analysis had arrived and it was proved that it was the blood of an animal and not human. Sadly, the revered King, Attah Ameh had passed on before the result was brought.

But Attah Ameh, being very sure that he was wrongly accused and framed up by his enemies, especially those from Igala who wrote the petition against him marking the beginning of his planned dethronement, made some pronouncements before his death.

He was allegedly quoted to have said that ” the person who wrote the petition against him would have that hand dried up, and that the leader of the gang or petitioners would be buried three times”. And they all came to pass.

While the hand dried as said, the other was buried as stated, first was the leg, second was his hand and the third was himself, all buried at various times at different locations.

In addition, as this information of his dethronement was given to him in a meeting from where he was supposed to go back to Idah and prepare to leave the throne, he stopped on the way in another Igala land called Dekina.

That was where he committed suicide.

Before taking his life, he was allegedly quoted to have said that the town, Dekina will be popular but its development will not be as much as its popularity.

He was also quoted to have said that because Igala was the genesis of his ordeal, there will be disunity among the Igala people until the reign of his own blood (son) as Attah, and all Igalas irrespective of their locations will be reunited again.

I think from the reconnection and reunification of Igala people across Nigeria and beyond which has been going on and still going on under the reign of his son, Agabaidu Idakwo Ameh Oboni II, the present Attah Igala, that pronouncement of reunification of Igala people is also coming through.
 
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