James Baldwin paints a bleak picture of Harlem, New York during the 60s. In a much larger sense, however, he is painting a bleak picture of the United States during this time period. He reports how the Harlem Six have been unfairly treated from arrest to court proceedings. From the beatings and unwarranted and invasive search, to assigning ill-suited lawyers to defend the Harlem Six in court.
To write his report, Baldwin analyzes the behavior of the police in response to the mere presence of black people in the streets of Harlem. He also includes insider language by defining ‘bad [negro].’ A term which labels black people that don’t follow the oppressors order of things from the perspective of the oppressor. He points out the beatings young black men face at the hands of the police, coming across as ritual for police whenever they encounter a person of color. Not to mention the frequent stop and frisk on the streets thanks to a city law that goes by the same name.
This sort of toxic and abusive police culture that Baldwin observes can be further investigated by fieldworkers. A fieldworker may ask what do the police think they’re role is in patrolling Harlem streets? What could be the reason for high unsolved crime rate? Could there be any improvements with how they interact with the community? And one may ask the neighborhood locals how they deal with the common dictator-like police behavior?
To penetrate the ‘insider perspective,’ a fieldworker might use police reports as well as statements given by neighborhood locals.