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Tag: Covid-19

Bordering in a pandemic: extending the politics of belonging

With the global outbreak of Covid-19, we regularly heard the phrases ‘the virus knows no borders’ and the ‘virus does not discriminate’. Many health experts, politicians and media emphasised the message that everyone was at risk of infection and that the virus was travelling fast.

In practice, however, viruses spread in societies that are intimately shaped by oppression. This has been all too obvious in the UK and South Africa – the two countries where I am conducting PhD research into experiences of migration, racism, being and belonging.

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The Covid-19 ‘Infodemic’

In my last blog, I explored the ‘infodemic’ surrounding COVID-19, which sees citizens caught in a growing swirl of information about the pandemic, some of which is intentionally or unintentionally misleading. In the midst of a pandemic, such misinformation and disinformation can be deadly. It is clear that something needs to be done to help citizens navigate this infodemic but what does a good intervention look like? And who can be trusted to take it?

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Gaurding Against Covid: The Irish experience of policing the pandemic

The police response to Covid in Ireland has generated both concern and praise from communities, oversight bodies and NGOs. While analysis of what has worked and what hasn’t will take time, there are numerous aspects which can be highlighted at this point.

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Policing Covid-19: Managing Risk During the Lockdown

Another shift ends, and at one level Police Scotland have been dealing with the typical mix of incidents that would characterise policing in any urban centre: domestic incidents, ‘concern-for-person’ calls, and sudden deaths to name but a few. At another level, however, policing in Scotland has never felt more different. Since the Scottish government imposed a lockdown on the evening of Monday 23rd March 2020 in an attempt to restrict the transmission of Covid-19 and ensure that the NHS was not overwhelmed, Police Scotland have had to adapt to circumstances never seen before. Whilst the NHS’s task is clear if daunting, the police have had to carefully refine their role in ensuring that restrictive social distancing measures are adhered to in a country which is used to widespread social freedoms. Police Scotland’s ‘Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce’ strategy is designed to inspire compliance with government guidelines whilst maintaining public consent.

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The Lucrative Drug Market, Covid-19, and Future Uncertainty in the North East of Scotland

The uncertainties surrounding Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent oil price collapse have merged to create a truly perfect storm for the North East of Scotland. Once again, history repeats itself in a region where a heavy reliance on the oil and gas sector means that there are profound consequences which follow when crisis hits: places such as Aberdeen have not fully recovered from the last crash six years ago. Now, with the economic turmoil of lockdown, individuals, families and local businesses are facing an even greater struggle for survival. The unmet basic needs in Aberdeen are such that more than seventy local organisations are currently working to address the scale of food poverty here. These harrowing, painful realities are in stark contrast with Aberdeen’s reputation of “the oil rich capital of Europe.”

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Fake News and Media Freedom During the Covid-19 Pandemic

The news broke last week that about one hundred people in Hungary were under investigation for allegedly publishing false information on the Internet regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. The dire state of media freedom in Hungary is nothing new but the current crisis has possibly exacerbated it, with the Government assuming new emergency powers of unprecedented scale and evident illiberal nature. However, the example of Hungary is just one of many instances where the pandemic has offered a reason, or a pretext, to impose limitations to the free flow of information. These limitations have taken different shapes across the globe, and highlight the thorny political issues that surround the policing of information. Commentators are concerned that many government attempts to tackle ‘fake news’ are problematic on different fronts.

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George Floyd – A Reader on Police Violence and Racism in the US

On 25 May, George Floyd – a handcuffed and unarmed Black man – was killed by white police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck. His death was yet more devastating evidence of the racism that continues to structure lethal police violence in the United States. In the wake of his death and amidst the protests that have followed, there have been a series of powerful commentaries that put this violence in context, highlighting the systemic nature of lethal police and civilian violence against Black people. Here, we highlight a few of these resources. They serve as a reminder that, in order to understand policing in lockdown, we have to understand the structure of society and practice of policing in which it is embedded.

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Policing the Pandemic in Kenya

On 26 March 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta invoked the Public Order Act, ordering a nationwide curfew from 7pm to 5am in an attempt to manage the spread of Covid-19. Management of the curfew by the police has been chaotic and brutal, with both the media and citizens recording and reporting many cases of human rights violations. By end of April, eleven people had died as a result of police violence during the curfew. This included thirteen-year-old Yassin Hussein Moyo from Nairobi’s Eastlands area, who was shot in the stomach on 31 March while standing on his third-floor balcony. Since their inception, measures that were supposed to curb a public health crisis, have only served to criminalize the vulnerable and increase their exposure to police brutality.

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Policing the Lockdown in Cape Town

‘If only they could deploy more soldiers and police for effective enforcement’, Zukiswa wrote, efforts to contain Covid-19 might be successful. Like almost half of the residents in Khayelitsha, Zukiswa lives in informal housing. Throughout the crisis, she has seen little of the police or army in her area, save when they were closing down shebeens. During the Easter weekend, however, she was ‘traumatised’ when the Metro Police forcibly evicted residents of the informal settlement Empolweni from their homes and ‘harassed the people and abused them’.

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