| Preparation | Roles
| The Story | The Trial
| Foucault's Analysis | Our
Analysis | Assignment | Recommended
Parts | Evaluation
As we read theory, what assumptions to we make about its usefulness
for understanding social issues? How can we use the theoretical
writings of a thinker to better understand our own assumptions about
the workings of society, broadly defined? In our examination of
the Amadou Diallo case, we will question the usefulness and relevance
of Foucault's study of "juridico-political structures"
(the regulation of bodies, the distribution of power, and the function
of judicial systems) for analyzing the conflicting interpretations
of the case. We will focus on the issues that emerged from the fatal
shooting of Amadou Diallo on Feb. 4, 1999 to the verdict of the
jury in the trial of the four white policemen charged with second-degree
murder and reckless endangerment. The case study provides an opportunity
to question the adequacy of Foucault's framework for studying the
distribution of power in U.S. society.
Each student will be responsible for presenting, synthesizing, and
analyzing the data provided in the materials packet from
the perspective of different people involved in the case. You are
welcome to seek out more information relevant to your role. You
are expected to follow the story line as closely as possible, but
the outcome of the jury deliberation does not have to coincide with
the actual verdict. You may also choose to use the details of the
case as points of departure for your own rendition of the events.
We will do a comparative analysis of the outcome of what has become
known as the "Amadou Diallo" trial with the conclusion
we reach in class.
students will work in pairs to represent the stance of the defense
attorney and the prosecutor. One student will represent the judge,
one student will present the testimony of one or more of the police
officers and one student will be a witness for the prosecution.
As the defense attorney or prosecutor, your task is make preliminary
comments to the jury based on the judge's instructions, to present
the details of the case from your particular perspective, to present
evidence to back up your argument, and to make closing statements
to convince the jury of the guilt or innocence of the defendants.
The judge will state the charge against the defendants, intervene
when appropriate, answer questions from the jury and instruct the
jury on the definition of the charges against the defendants and
outline their task as jury. The witnesses are required to answer
the questions posed to them by the lawyers and the judge. You are
welcome to use any visual material, quotations, or mode of presentation
that you find useful.
jury's task is to listen to the arguments presented at the trial
and to come up with the verdict based on the testimony presented.
You may choose to deviate from the actual verdict in the case, but
must justify your decision. You will deliberate out loud, while
the rest of the class listens in. You may choose to take on the
persona of an actual juror or simply be yourself.
Foucault Group will play Foucault. If you were Foucault how would
you analyze this case based on your main premises about the judicio-political
structures of Western society? What questions might you pose to
us about this case?
In your analysis be sure to refer to the material at hand, particularly
the statements by Mayor Giuliani, Reverend Sharpton and the opinion
pieces by Sewell and Toomis.
4) We all
join in and analyze the assumptions that "Foucault " makes
regarding the case. (hint: pay special attention to page
213, 217, 218 and 222, among others). In our discussion, let's keep
the following questions in mind:
*How would you apply Foucualt's approach to body politics in your
analysis of the case?
*How might we apply Foucault's analytical criteria regarding surveillance
to interpreting the Amadou Diallo case? Do you think you "read"
this case differently after reading Foucault? How?
*How does Foucault's analysis of the function of the police force
apply (or not apply) to this case?
*How might we understand the following quotation by Foucault in
our reading of the Amadou Diallo case?: "Moreover, whereas
the juridical systems define juridical subjects according to universal
norms, the disciplines characterize, classify, specialize; they
distribute along a scale, around a norm, hierarchize individuals
in relation to one another and, if necessary, disqualify and invalidate."
*What did race have to do with it? In other words, did it make a
difference that the four police officers were white and Amadou Diallo,
black? Why was this not discussed at the trial?
Each group must
meet with the mentor and/or Professor Remmler before the case study
to discuss your role and to practice. Please make an appointment
as soon as possible for one of the times given in class.
Story based on the testimony given by the police officers: About
12:40 a.m. on Feb. 4, 1999, four white police officers, all in street
clothes, opened fire on Amadou Diallo on the stoop of his apartment
building in the Bronx. The officers, Sean Carroll, 36, Edward McMellon,
27, Kenneth Boss, 28, and Richard Murphy, 27, were members of the
New York Police Department's Street Crime Unit. Diallo, 22, was
an immigrant from Guinea (West Africa) and worked as a street peddler.
When the officers spotted Diallo, they were driving an unmarked
police car . They stopped the car, stepped out, and approached the
area in which Diallo was standing. Two of the officers, Carroll
and McMellon, approached Diallo. The police officers identified
themselves. According to the police officers, Diallo did not respond
to their command to halt and "darted" into a vestibule.
At that point, Diallo turned towards the officers and reached for
a black object in his right pocket. Carroll believed Diallo had
a weapon and cried "Gun!". Gunfire ensued. McMellon fell
off the steps and Boss and Murphy thought he had been hit. They
began shooting. The officers fired a total of 41 shots, striking
Diallo 19 times as he retreated inside. It turned out Diallo was
reaching for his wallet and was unarmed. Diallo died as a result
of the gunshot wounds.
In response to the shooting, Civil Rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton
and others began a series of protests, citing the case as an example
of "police slaughter." U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White investigates
the case along with the Bronx district attorney. Protests continue
and more than 1,200 protestors are eventually arrested. Mayor Giuliani
regrets the shooting, but defends the work of the police officers.
On March 31, 1999 the four officers who shot Diallo are charged
with reckless endangerment and second-degree murder. On Dec. 16,
1999, a state appeals court rules in favor of a change of venue
and the trial is moved from the Bronx to Albany, citing pretrial
publicity. Albany Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi is appointed
the new trial judge. On Feb. 1, 2000, 12 jurors are selected, four
of whom are black. On Feb 25, 2000, the seven white men, one white
woman, and four black women find the four defendants not guilty
of all charges.
Trial (45 minutes!): In order to analyze the conflicting readings
of what happened on Feb. 4, 1999, we will review the main arguments
presented at the trial of the four police officers who were charged
with second-degree murder and other lessor crimes based on their
actions which resulted in the death of Amadou Diallo. The Jury
will hear the arguments put forth by the defense attorney and
the prosecutor (and their team), weigh the evidence, and deliberate
before reaching a verdict. The Jury has 20 minutes
to reach a verdict.
BREAK (10 minutes)
Analysis (20 minutes): After the simulation of the trail and
its aftermath, we will invite Foucault to comment on the case. We
expect him to refer directly to his study of Discipline and Punish
in making his statements and to the material provided in the packet
including the comments of Mayor Giuliani, Reverend Sharpton, Thomas
Sewell and Jeffrey Toobin.
Analysis (50 minutes) (See Preparation above). This will be
our opportunity to question our own assumptions about the case and
to critique Foucault. This is probably the most crucial part of
- Read the entire
materials packet paying special attention to the information most
relevant to your particular task. As you read, note statements
or information that will help you develop your particular role
in this case.
- Meet with the
mentor or myself at least once before the case. Ideally, you should
talk with one of us about your plan of action and/or questions.
After you have prepared your part, you should meet with me or
the mentor a second time to fine-tune your presentation. Sign-up
sheets will be available.
- You may confer
with anyone else in class in advance, but also be expected to
respond to surprise questions or comments.
The mentor and
I will serve as advisors. I will advise the prosecution, whereas
the mentor will advise the defense during the case study.
Witness for the defense (police officer):
Witness for the prosecution:
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