Policing and the Politics of Reform

Nan Barber, Convenor League of Women Voters of Muncie/Delaware County introduces Dr. Max Felker-Kantor, author of Policing Los Angeles and visiting Associate Professor at Ball State University History Department


Policing Los Angeles, Race, Resistance and the Rise of the LAPD, by Dr. Max Felker-Kantor

Dr. Felker-Kantor presenting information on the early days of Los Angeles, and the reasons for his interest in studying the subject.


Coalition Against Police Abuse, CAPA

CAPA was a citizens coalition which followed police cars at night in order to serve as witnesses for those who were pulled over by them.

LWV of Muncie/Delaware County presented 

Prison Reform : The Carceral State 

Saturday, April 20th, 2019 at the Kennedy Library 

About 25 Muncie residents turned out to hear speaker Max Felker-Kantor, Ph.D. He is a visiting Assistant Professor of History at Ball State University and author of Policing Los Angeles. 

Dr. Felker-Kantor explained his research into the path which led to the Rodney King riots, and the course taken by officials to attempt to remedy the situation. According to his research, the community is stuck in a cycle of lack of oversight of the police department, which has been tasked with policing itself, and riots from citizens affected by that lack of oversight. 

He began with a brief history of the culture of Los Angeles, which was nearly 100% white in its early days. There were many immigrants in Los Angeles, but those immigrants were also white. When a large number of black citizens moved into L. A., the police were tasked with enforcing segregation. When segregation ended, the police still upheld the cultural norms of white culture over those of minority cultures. Defining “good citizens” by the standards of white culture caused a friction between the police and any minority culture which behaved within the law but outside of those cultural norms.  

An “Us vs. Them” attitude evolved in the L. A. police department which sometimes resulted in pitting officers against community. This attitude  explains why simply hiring officers within a neighborhood to police that same neighborhood was not an effective solution to issues like police brutality and harassment. 


Teresa Basey 
Member, League of Women Voters of Muncie/Delaware County 

Policing Los Angeles author, Max Felker-Kantor, Ph.D.

The solution suggested by Professor Felker-Kantor was a complex and nuanced society-wide reformation. Most importantly, we need a police department that answers to a citizen commission in order to be held accountable for corruption, abuse, and harassment policies.

Other issues include a shift in media coverage that better represents reality, as opposed to sensationalism, and a shift in the majority culture’s use of the police department to force minority cultures to behave within the majority culture’s norms. 

The McCone Commission

After the Frye brothers and their mother were arrested by police, rumors spread that a pregnant woman was kicked by police and the neighborhood, fed up with other incidents of police brutality, struck out against the L.A. police. The McCone Commission was tasked with understanding what caused the worst riot in L.A. history, until Rodney King, and suggesting a path forward to resolving the issues.

Calls for L.A. Chief of police Daryl Gates to step down

During the Rodney King riots protestors demanded that Chief Gates finally step down, after years of supplying his own employment evaluations.

Folks mingling before the presentation

I encourage you to visit his website at https://www.maxfelkerkantor.com to find out more about his research, and to purchase his book Policing Los Angeles, where he explains his findings in depth.