Blacks, Cops, and the State of Nature

10 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2017 Last revised: 27 Nov 2017

See all articles by Raff Donelson

Raff Donelson

Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson Law

Date Written: March 15, 2017


This essay offers a new way to conceptualize the “police violence against Blacks” phenomenon. I argue that we should see the situation as an instance of what Thomas Hobbes called the state of nature, that is, a state without effective law. This understanding of the phenomenon stands in sharp contrast to that offered by Professor Michelle Alexander in her book The New Jim Crow. Alexander sees the phenomenon as a continuation of centuries-old patterns of state-backed anti-Black racism. My account is that police are not under control of the state in their interactions with Blacks.

Keywords: Police Violence, Thomas Hobbes, State of Nature

Suggested Citation

Donelson, Raff, Blacks, Cops, and the State of Nature (March 15, 2017). 15 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 183 (2017), Available at SSRN:

Raff Donelson (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson Law ( email )

150 S College St
Carlisle, PA 17013
United States

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