This article examines the practice of “carpeteo,” or politicized police surveillance and targeted harassment, during the 2010 and 2011 student strikes at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). LeBrón argues that police and security forces engaged in tactics that deeply resonated, for many students, with historical forms of repression experienced by political dissidents in Puerto Rico. Drawing from interviews with student activists, the author details how students culled from popular knowledge about the violent, politicized policing experienced by Puerto Rican radical movements in order to position themselves within a genealogy of repression and resistance on the island. Rather than understanding their experience as unique or unprecedented, UPR students instead situated their movement, and the policing of their movement, within historical struggles against inequality and colonial rule in Puerto Rico.
Marisol LeBrón is an assistant professor in the Department of American Studies at Dickinson College. She is currently the 2015–17 postdoctoral associate in the Program in Latino/a Studies in the Global South at Duke University. Her research and teaching focus on social inequality, policing, violence, and protest movements in Puerto Rico and US communities of color. She is at work on her first book, which examines the growth of punitive governance in contemporary Puerto Rico.