Submission Title

The Western District Way: Reconsidering 'The Wire' in a Post-Freddie Gray America

Session Number

RS6

Location

Robinson 141

Abstract Number

RS6-b

Abstract

On April 19, 2015, Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr., died from injuries sustained while in police custody. The following days saw protests, extensive media coverage, deployment of the National Guard, and filing of charges against six Baltimore police officers. This paper analyzes these events through the lens of the HBO series “The Wire”. Using Altheide’s (1987) ethnographic content analysis, I examine all five seasons of the show, paying special attention to scenes, characters, story arcs, and symbolism relevant to Gray’s death. I also employ a structured approach in analyzing media coverage of Gray’s death and subsequent events. In addition to studying reportage, I include editorial and critical pieces in popular print media. My preliminary analysis indicates that “The Wire” minimizes and simplifies the violence of policing in Baltimore. However, the show starkly reveals the dehumanization of young black males by the Baltimore police and the corruption of departmental disciplinary processes.

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Apr 23rd, 10:45 AM Apr 23rd, 12:15 PM

The Western District Way: Reconsidering 'The Wire' in a Post-Freddie Gray America

Robinson 141

On April 19, 2015, Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr., died from injuries sustained while in police custody. The following days saw protests, extensive media coverage, deployment of the National Guard, and filing of charges against six Baltimore police officers. This paper analyzes these events through the lens of the HBO series “The Wire”. Using Altheide’s (1987) ethnographic content analysis, I examine all five seasons of the show, paying special attention to scenes, characters, story arcs, and symbolism relevant to Gray’s death. I also employ a structured approach in analyzing media coverage of Gray’s death and subsequent events. In addition to studying reportage, I include editorial and critical pieces in popular print media. My preliminary analysis indicates that “The Wire” minimizes and simplifies the violence of policing in Baltimore. However, the show starkly reveals the dehumanization of young black males by the Baltimore police and the corruption of departmental disciplinary processes.