A little about myself…

I’m an urban historian who researches police power and community-based struggles for accountability in the face of state violence. Much of my work focuses on how publicly-funded police departments and their bureaucratic partners authorize police authority through institutional memory-work. But I’m also interested in the grassroots production of counter-narratives that challenge accepted notions of police legitimacy and help historically criminalized groups enact their own visions of community safety.

My writing is largely anchored in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I lived from 2010 to 2020 and completed a PhD in History. However, the lessons I seek to impart extend to the whole of metropolitan America. A dedication to anti-racism, gender and sex equity, labor rights, and civil liberties informs my work.

To that end, I believe democracy will never be realized in the US until we abolish the Prison Industrial Complex and make any need for surveillance, policing, and punishment systems obsolete. That means honestly reckoning with this country’s formative history of indigenous genocide, white settler-colonialism, and racial-capitalist development. It means paying reparations to occupied First Nations and the descendants of enslaved Black families and diasporic communities who helped build this country and have steadily resisted criminalization, economic plunder, and imposed violence. And it means assertively investing in housing, jobs, education, and healthcare through equitable programs of economic relief that forgo revanchist, market-driven approaches. While research can help further these ends, it’s through political education and organizing that we’ll realize, what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. notably referenced as, the “beloved community.”

I bring this perspective to bear as a public historian who has collaborated on community-based archiving, museum exhibition, and digital humanities projects across multiple cities. I earned a Master’s degree in US History (Public History track) from American University in 2011. I hail from greater Hartford, CT, where trips to museums like the Mark Twain House and Wadsworth Atheneum as a youth instilled a sense of place and passion for storytelling and artistic visualization.

Let’s connect

Follow on Twitter @willtchak and LinkedIn, or reach out by email: tchakiridesw@si.edu

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