Law Schools

'The Wire' Cast Members Participate in Panel at Harvard Law About Urban Poverty

The creators and five cast members of The Wire—a TV series about police officers and inner-city drug dealers in Baltimore—participated in a panel discussion at Harvard Law School on Tuesday where they talked about both the celebrated show and America’s inner-city poor.

“We’re going to need to pick up a brick and get out in the street,” show co-creator David Simon said via Skype at the panel discussion after being asked how Harvard Law students can fight poverty. “Nothing is going to change the plutocracy until there are people in the street to change the plutocracy. We have found a way of throwing away people.”

This is the second panel with Wire cast members in this academic year, the Harvard Crimson reported. The first panel was in November, News One reported, and coincided with law professor Charles Ogletree’s announcement of this spring’s seminar: “Race and Justice: The Wire.” The course description states that reading assignments will focus on police procedure, criminal codes, crime policy, criminal investigation, drug interdiction, and sentencing alternatives.

The Wire, which ended its run in 2008, has spawned university-level courses and academic conferences in many disciplines, Slate reports. Harvard also has an undergraduate course in its African and African-American studies department titled: “The Wire and its Contribution to Understanding Urban Inequality.”

Even the United Kingdom has gotten in on the action: In late 2009, more than 100 sociologists, criminologists, historians and cultural theorists participated in a conference on The Wire, the Guardian reported at the time. One whole session of that conference was devoted to the principled gay stickup character Omar Little, the Baltimore Sun blog Crime: A Tale of Two Cities reported, and offered talks such as “A Man Must Have a Code: The Masculine Ethics of Snitching and Not-Snitching.”

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