watch Law & Order: America on Fire

Written by: The Exchange

Here’s the conventional wisdom: The increasingly violent relationship between the police and the citizens they are meant to serve and protect has been in direct response to escalating and widespread crime. But is that the right way to think about this dynamic? As we reflect on recent events that have left the nation mired in sweeping civil unrest, perhaps we need a new framing, one that looks very different from convention wisdom. Historian and law professor Elizabeth Hinton posits that it was unwarranted police aggression unleashed as part of Lyndon Johnson’s “war on crime,” that prompted Black rebellion. Facing escalating surveillance and brutality, impoverished Black neighborhoods fought back. These rebellions continue today and Elizabeth believes that the only way to break this cycle is to remake our existing oppressive system guided by the principles of justice and equality.

Special introduction from Laura Castillo-Page, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.


Elizabeth Hinton is Associate Professor in the Department of History and the Department of African American Studies at Yale, with a secondary appointment as Professor of Law at the Law School. Her research focuses on the persistence of poverty, racial inequality, and urban violence in the 20th century United States. She is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on criminalization and policing. Elizabeth is the author of the books From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America and America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s.

Special Introduction:

Laura Castillo-Page is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. In this role, she leads the development and implementation of an organization wide diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy and set of programs. Prior to joining the Academies, Laura served as the Senior Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). She holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in educational administration and policy studies as well as an M.A. in political science from the University at Albany, SUNY, and holds a B.A. in political science and Latin American studies from Fordham University.

The statements and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the event participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for this event or of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.