President Rodrigo Duterte came to power by promising a bloody war on drugs. Since he assumed office in July 2016, thousands of drug users and dealers have been killed in both police operations and murders by unknown assailants. Nearly all of these victims were poor Filipinos who lived in informal settlements in the country’s largest and most populous cities.
This frenzy of violence is rooted in wider and older forms of violence and injustice: poverty, segregation, and systematic violence against urban poor communities, such as forced evictions and police saturation drives. It is also enmeshed in the growing polarization of Philippine cities.
The Philippine case is not unique. Echoes of the Philippine experience can be found worldwide. This conference aims to bring together journalists and scholars who have explored the nexus between urban poverty, policing, and violence. It will explore how violence is woven into the fabric of policing strategies that have focused on the security and safety of the rich and the middle class, and on criminalizing the poor as thieves, drug addicts, and scoundrels. Seen in this light, the war on crime is but the latest expression of a decades-long war against the urban poor.
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Columbia Journalism School
NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
NYU Center for Latin and Caribbean Studies