Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Urban Studies

First Advisor

Kristin Sziarto

Committee Members

Anne Bonds, Chia Vang


critical carceral studies, intersectionality, Milwaukee, WI, necropolitics, racial capitalism, settler colonialism


Between the years of 1987 and 1991, 16 multiply-marginalized men and boys went missing in the City of Milwaukee; few other than their family and friends noticed. In 1991, it was discovered that they were murdered by Jeffrey Dahmer, a white man living on Milwaukee’s near west side. This paper argues that state power, racial capitalism, and white supremacy devalued the lives of Black, queer, young and poor people and created conditions that allowed Dahmer to commit 16 murders without detection by the Milwaukee Police Department. In this thesis, responses from Black, Lao, queer and Othered people are centered. In particular, I emphasize the voices of writers aligned with the Black radical tradition, whose work appears in various archives and offers key perspectives on how racial capitalism and white supremacy operated. This thesis also draws from LGBT and community organization archives to craft an intersectional analysis that demonstrates the dynamics of policing that sanctioned these murders. Policy requests from community members and leaders are then contrasted with municipal responses, which used this tragedy to justify policy changes and increased funding to the Milwaukee Police Department. The implementation of community-oriented policing, while fitting within the requests of some organizers discussed here, did not address the conditions that devalued the lives of the young men who were murdered.

Included in

Geography Commons