Dissecting the American Police State 1

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In recent years, there has been growing concern in some camps about matters involving police brutality, police militarization, mass incarceration, overcriminalization, electronic surveillance and related matters.

The bulk of the concerns of these kinds have come from the left end of spectrum, and raised by those who are concerned with racial disparities that can be observed within the framework of the police state. Yet there have also been some on the right end who have become concerned about the fiscal costs of mass incarceration, the social costs to families and communities, and the fact that the police state is now attacking population groups outside of traditional outgroups. When the police state primarily targeted blacks, Puerto Ricans, hookers, and the drug culture, the right-wing was all for it. However, it is now not uncommon to find middle class persons, older people, churchgoers, business people, and others outside of the traditional underclass or marginal sectors who have had run ins with the cops or the carceral state.

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How Common is Police Brutality in the United States? Reply

This is a peer reviewed article published last year by the British Medical Journal on the subject of police brutality in the United States and how frequently it occurs. The researchers summarized their findings as follows.

“US police killed or injured an estimated 55 400 people in 2012 (95% CI 47 050 to 63 740 for cases coded as police involved). Blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics had higher stop/arrest rates per 10 000 population than white non-Hispanics and Asians. On average, an estimated 1 in 291 stops/arrests resulted in hospital-treated injury or death of a suspect or bystander. Ratios of admitted and fatal injury due to legal police intervention per 10 000 stops/arrests did not differ significantly between racial/ethnic groups. Ratios rose with age, and were higher for men than women.”

Read the entire article here.

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How Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump have restarted the war on drugs Reply

Trump goes predictably full Nixon/Reagan on drug policy. Expect a backlash in the future given the racial implications of drug policy and the racially controversial nature of the Trump presidency.. The next Democratic President will likely be the furthest left the US has ever had. Just like Bill Clinton seems rather conservative by today’s standards, the next Democratic President will likely make Obama seem comparatively right-wing.

By Lois Beckett

The Guardian

Shauna Barry-Scott remembers the moment she felt the American fever for mass incarceration break. It was an August morning in 2013, and she was in a federal prison in the mountains of West Virginia. She remembers crowding into the TV room with the other women in their khaki uniforms. Everyone who could get out of their work shifts was there, waiting. Good news was on the way, advocates had told them. Watch for it.

Some of her fellow inmates were cynical: it seemed like millions of rumors of reform had swept through the federal prison system to only then dissolve. Barry-Scott did not blame them, but she was more hopeful.

At age 41, she had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for possession with the intent to distribute 4.5 ounces of crack cocaine. “Think of a 12oz can of Coke, cut that in a third,” she explains. “And that’s what I got 20 years for.” The sentence made no sense to her. Barry-Scott’s son had been murdered in 1998, and the men charged with shooting him to death had to serve less time than she did – six and seven years each, she says.

But the amount of drugs in her possession had triggered a mandatory minimum sentence, part of a now-infamous law passed in 1986 to impose punitive sentences for certain offenses amid a rising panic over drug abuse. In 1980, some 25,000 people were incarcerated in federal prisons. By 2013 after four decades of America’s war on drugs, there were 219,000. Yet this population was just a small fraction of the estimated 2.3 million Americans locked up not only in federal prisons, but also in state facilities and local jails.

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The Real Joe Arpaio: A Career Scumbag Reply

By Nathan J. Robinson

Current Affairs

If you are a Trump supporter, the president has just pardoned “America’s toughest sheriff,” a man who was willing to fight illegal immigration using any means at his disposal. If you are a liberal, Trump has pardoned a despicable racist, a man who spent decades casually violating the civil liberties of Latinos. And if you are a balanced and neutral news organization, Trump has pardoned a “controversial” sheriff who faced “accusations of abuse” and “defied a court order.” These are the terms on which the debate about Arpaio is had: is he a vindictive bigot who neglected his prisoners or a steely lawman who dared to enforce immigration policy when the Feds wouldn’t? (Perhaps we’ll just call him “polarizing.”)

But none of these perspectives actually capture the full truth about Joe Arpaio. And I am worried that even those who detest Trump and are appalled by this pardon do not entirely appreciate the depth of Arpaio’s evil, or understand quite how indefensible what Donald Trump just has done is. Frankly I think even Trump may not fully realize the extent of the wrongdoing that he has just signaled his approval of. And I think it’s very important to be clear: the things Joe Arpaio is nationally infamous for, the immigration crackdown and the tent city, these are only the beginning.

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How Will the State Respond to Growing Antifa/Alt-Right Violence? 2

By Keith Preston

The State exists for the purpose of maintaining a monopoly over the legitimate use of violence within a particular geographical territory in order to more effectively control resources, exploit subjects, protect an artificially privileged ruling class, and expand its own power both internally and externally. The State does this while maintaining a self-legitimating ideological superstructure, and buying the loyalty of the middle class by suppressing the lower/underclass. The State is what you would get if the Mafia managed to eliminate all of its competitors, including the State itself, and consequently become a state of its own.

At times, the State will seek to maintain total control over every aspect of social life (e.g. the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, present day North Korea or Islamist regimes like ISIS, the Taliban, and Saudi Arabia, or Israel’s conduct in the occupied territories). However, most modern states allow for a fairly robust civil society to exist that may actually have the effect of affording the average person a fair amount of comfort. States of these kinds, so-called “liberal democracies,” may even encourage intense political debate within certain narrow parameters (or even fairly broad parameters). Some states will allow or even encourage a fair amount crime and disorder in order to legitimize the expansion of state power to an even greater degree (what the late paleconservative writer Samuel Francis called “anarcho-tyranny’‘). For example, isn’t it interesting that in spite of the massive police and prison systems that now exist in the United States, one third of all murders go unsolved?

However, no state can allow disorder to spiral too far out of control, or it will lose its legitimacy in the process. A state of this kind is a protection racket that continues to engage in extortion and exploitation, but can no longer offer actual protection. Hence, states tend to be very sensitive to perceived threats to their own legitimacy. At present, the violence that is taking place between the Antifa, Alt-Right, and their various allies certainly poses no threat to the state. America in 2017 is light years away from Weimar Germany in 1932. But the important question involves the issue of to what degree the State will continue allow such violence to persist, if indeed it does persist, which it may not. That remains to be seen.

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This piece of pro-Israel legislation is a serious threat to free speech Reply

I can’t think of any time since the conspiracy trials of the late 1960s and early 1970s that there has been an effort to attack political freedom on this magnitude and in such a direct manner.

By David Cole and Faiz Shakir

Washington Post

David Cole is national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. Faiz Shakir is national political director of the ACLU.

The right to boycott has a long history in the United States, from the American Revolution to Martin Luther King Jr.’s Montgomery bus boycott to the campaign for divestment from businesses serving apartheid South Africa. Nowadays we celebrate those efforts. But precisely because boycotts are such a powerful form of expression, governments have long sought to interfere with them — from King George III to the police in Alabama, and now to the U.S. Congress.

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I entered the prison system 60 years ago. It’s never been so chaotic and dangerous Reply

Shades of Emma Goldman.

Eric Allison

The Guardian

Prisoner looking through bars

I have been a student of the prison system since I first entered it in 1957. I was around when a bread and water diet was part of the punishment process, and even had a taste of it. And I lived through major prison riots in Parkhurst, Hull and Strangeways, circa 1990.

Following the Woolf Report that followed the Strangeways riot a year later, a Guardian leader spoke of the “mandarins who condoned and defended a prison system that in all practical ways is an affront to our definition of civilisation.” Pre-riot, I spent years in the conditions that leader attacked, then served more time in the better environment that report brought about.

But I say, hand on heart, I have never seen the system in such a chaotic and dangerous state as it is now. Where to begin in chronicling the deep malaise? Soaring death rates, from homicidal, self-inflicted and natural causes; violence levels at an all-time high; prisons awash with drugs; and overcrowding and understaffing the norm in many jails.

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Private Prison Demands Small Town Give It 300 More Prisoners or It Will Close Down Reply

Where are the Shining Path when you need them?

Anti-Media

New Mexico — A small community in New Mexico is learning firsthand the consequences of relying on corporate industry to fuel your economy. In the case of Torrance County, it’s the private prison industry. From a July 25 article by the Santa Fe New Mexican:

“The company that has operated a private prison in Estancia for nearly three decades has announced it will close the Torrance County Detention Facility and lay off more than 200 employees unless it can find 300 state or federal inmates to fill empty beds within the next 60 days, according to a statement issued Tuesday by county officials.”

The closure of the prison would mean a loss of about $700,000 in annual taxes and utility payments for the town of Estancia, which has a population of 1,500. Surrounding Torrance County would see a loss of around $300,000. Incidentally, the county has no jail of its own, meaning the sheriff’s department would have to find new housing for the 50 to 75 people it arrests each month.

“This is a big issue for us,” county manager Belinda Garland told the Santa Fe New Mexican“It’s going to affect Torrance County in a big way.”

The corporate entity that operates the facility, CoreCivic — formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America — is the second-largest private prison company in the nation. CoreCivic spokesman Jonathan Burns said this of the closing:

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Oregon bill decriminalizes possession of heroin, cocaine and other drugs Reply

Oregon: Soon to be a Pan-Anarchist homeland for druggies?

This bill isn’t as radical as it sounds but it’s a start.

By Nicole Lewis

Washington Post

An Oregon bill that passed last week makes possession of small amounts of drugs such as cocaine, shown here, a misdemeanor instead of a felony. (istock photo)

First-time offenders caught with small amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs will face less jail time and smaller fines under a new bill approved by the Oregon legislature that aims to curb mass incarceration.

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Institutionalized Racism: Yes or No? Reply

Jared Taylor of American Renaissance tries to understand the concept of “institutional racism.” Racism is said to be what holds back blacks and whites in American society, but there just don’t seem to be enough racist people or deliberately racist practices to explain large gaps in achievement. The culprit must therefore be institutions, or the structure of society. Jared Taylor shows why this explanation makes no sense, and explains what the real problem is.

Are blacks more likely to be arrested for drug offenses despite using drugs at the same rates as whites? Conventional wisdom has it that the war on drugs is inherently discriminatory, but a closer look at black crime statistics undermines explanations that rely exclusively on racial bias or police discrimination. Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, discusses several empirical studies that support a more nuanced understanding of differential arrest rates for drug-related crimes, one that avoids the pitfalls of the typically reductive explanations that emphasize systemic anti-black discrimination by a hopelessly racist police force.

Black victims of white cops should get the same love, support and justice as Justine Damond Reply

By Shaun King

New York Daily News

Are you familiar with the 10,000 hour rule that Malcolm Gladwell shares in his book, “Outliers?” It basically states that it takes about 10,000 hours of time and effort in a field to become an expert in it. I’m now nearing my 10,000 hours on police brutality and injustice in America. Going on four straight years, it’s dominated my life as I’ve studied not hundreds, but thousands of cases from top to bottom. I’ve written over a thousand articles on the topic. I’ve organized, agonized, strategized, fundraised, recorded, presented, brainstormed, protested, researched, counseled, and dreamed about how we can solve this crisis — or at least drastically improve it.

3TP MNDTY

(HANDOUT/REUTERS)

And in all of those hours, in all of those cases, I’ve never seen what I’m seeing in Minnesota at this very moment surrounding the horrific police killing of Justine Damond — an Australian immigrant and yoga instructor who was just weeks away from getting married when she called 911 to report suspicious noises outside of her Minneapolis home. The police showed up. Justine, in her pajamas, went outside to meet them, but was fatally shot by one of the reporting officers.

All of that is textbook police brutality. I could name a dozen cases off the top of my head where a family called 911 for help but ended up being victimized by the police instead. Everything about what happened to Justine Damond is normal in America — except the demographics.

She’s white — a sweet, popular, peaceful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed white woman at that.

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Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017 Reply

An interesting new study.

By Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy

Prison Policy Initiative

Wait, does the United States have 1.3 million or more than 2 million people in prison? Are most people in state and federal prisons locked up for drug offenses? Frustrating questions like these abound because our systems of confinement are so fragmented and controlled by various entities. There is a lot of interesting and valuable research out there, but varying definitions make it hard — for both people new to criminal justice and for experienced policy wonks — to get the big picture.

This report offers some much needed clarity by piecing together this country’s disparate systems of confinement. The American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 76 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories. And we go deeper to provide further detail on why people are locked up in all of those different types of facilities.

Pie chart showing the number of people locked up on a given day in the United States by facility type and the underlying offense using the newest data available in March 2017.

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Don’t Like Militarized Police and Mass Incarceration? Blame Progressivism. Reply

By Thaddeus Russell

Reason

Our cities are saturated with militarized law enforcement officers. An extraordinarily high number of American civilians are killed by police each year. The U.S. prison population is the largest in the world. And we are only beginning to understand why.

In recent years, scholars such as Naomi Murakawa and Marie Gottschalk and activists in the Black Lives Matter movement have broken from the civil rights generation’s obeisance to the Democratic Party, and from the left’s reflexive assumption that “law and order” Republicans are exclusively to blame for this situation. Instead, they have persuasively argued that much of today’s criminal justice regime originated in policies forged by liberal Democrats in the second half of the 20th century, in particular under the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton.

Yet even this new and welcome historical analysis of militarized policing and mass incarceration does not go deep enough.

The campaign to criminalize victimless behaviors and then build a carceral system large and efficient enough to contain the criminals it would create began long before the 1960s, with the formation of the political regime we now call liberalism. The intellectuals and policy makers who created the modern wars on drugs and crime were the direct descendants of the original progressives, who emerged at the turn of the 20th century. Those progressives consistently argued that disruptive and marginal populations should be encouraged to assimilate into the formal culture of the country and to adopt the responsibilities of American citizenship, but they also held that individuals who refused to do so should be removed from society. Indeed, it could be said that progressivism was created around those twin projects.

Unlike scientific racists, who were the dominant ideologists of race until World War II, progressives generally maintained that there were no innate barriers in any race of people to acquiring the personality of a “good” American. Progressives believed that certain races and nationalities had not attained the level of civilization of white Americans and northern Europeans, but also thought those peoples could and should be raised to that level. That is, most progressives were simultaneously anti-racist and hostile to cultures other than their own. Immigrants who brought alien ways of living, radical political ideas, and criminal behavior into the U.S. were invited into progressives’ settlement houses, where they were given free vocational education, subsidized room and board, and instructions on the proper attitudes and behaviors of Americans. Those who demonstrated a willingness to follow the rules of their new society—even those who were originally believed to be of an inferior race, such as Italians, Jews, and Slavs—were deemed worthy of full citizenship.

Most progressives believed that the culture of blacks was especially retarded, but they nonetheless funded hundreds of settlement houses for blacks and helped establish the first major civil rights organizations, the Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. One mission of those organizations was to eliminate the “pathologies” of native black culture, to “adjust or assimilate” blacks to the dominant culture, and to make them into “orderly citizens.” This was a brutal and puritanical assimilationism, but it ran directly counter to the belief of the scientific racists that blacks were biologically incapable of becoming civilized. Nonetheless, progressives acknowledged that some immigrants and blacks and even some native-born whites would choose renegade lives of crime over constrained lives as citizens, and for that eventuality they created the basis of what is now called the carceral state.

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Trump Regime Seeks to Strengthen the Police State Reply

Not exactly a surprise.

MSN.Com

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is directing federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against the vast majority of suspects, a reversal of Obama-era policies that is sure to send more people to prison and for much longer terms.

The move has long been expected from Sessions, a former federal prosecutor who cut his teeth during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic and who has promised to make combating violence and drugs the Justice Department’s top priority.

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The Iron Jaws of the Police State: Trump’s America Is a Constitution-Free Zone Reply

“Policing is broken… It has evolved as a paramilitary, bureaucratic, organizational arrangement that distances police officers from the communities they’ve been sworn to protect and serve. When we have shooting after shooting after shooting that most people would define as at least questionable, it’s time to look, not just at a few bad apples, but the barrel. And I’m convinced that it is the barrel that is rotted.”— Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief

By John W. Whitehead

Rutherford Institute

Please.

Somebody give Attorney General Jeff Sessions a copy of the Constitution.

And while you’re at it, get a copy to President Trump, too.

In fact, you might want to share a copy with the nation’s police officers, as well.

I have my doubts that any of these individuals—all of whom swore to uphold and defend the Constitution—have ever read any of the nation’s founding documents.

Had they actually read and understood the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, there would be no militarized police, no mass surveillance, no police shootings of unarmed individuals, no SWAT team raids, no tasering of children, no asset forfeiture schemes or any of the other government-sanctioned abuses that get passed off as law and order these days.

We’ve got serious problems in this country, and they won’t be solved on the golf course, by wining and dining corporate CEOs, giving local police forces more military equipment, locking down the nation, or pretending that the only threats to our freedoms are posed by forces beyond our borders or by “anti-government” extremists hiding among us.

So far, Trump’s first 100 days in office have been no different from Obama’s last 100 days, at least when it comes to the government’s ongoing war on our freedoms.

Government corruption remains at an all-time high.

Police shootings and misconduct have continued unabated.

The nation’s endless wars continue to push us to the brink of financial ruin.

And “we the people” are still being treated as if we have no rights, are entitled to no protections, and exist solely for the purpose of sustaining the American police state with our hard-earned tax dollars.

Just take the policing crisis in this country, for instance.

Sessions—the chief lawyer for the government and the head of the Justice Department, which is entrusted with ensuring that the nation’s laws are faithfully carried out and holding government officials accountable to abiding by their oaths of office to “uphold and defend the Constitution”—doesn’t think we’ve got a policing problem in America.

In fact, Sessions thinks the police are doing a great job (apart from “the individual misdeeds of bad actors,” that is).

For that matter, so does Trump.

Really, really great.

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Unraveling Political Theory: What is Neoliberalism? Reply

To understand the world of politics and change it for the better, it’s paramount that people begin to study political theory and the ways in which it has manifest throughout history up into the present day. By bringing light to the origins of political and philosophical thought, the present day becomes all the more explainable because one is now able to see the logical progression of such manifestations.

With this urge to better understand the root of many of the common political ideologies present in the world, The Last American Vagabond has decided to team up with Keith Preston in a new podcast series in which the who, what, where, when and how of different political theories will be explored.

My Take on the “Muslim Travel Ban” Reply

A number of people have for my views on the so-called “Muslim travel ban” imposed by the Trump administration. Here goes:

Statistically, the evidence shows that right-wing terrorists have been slightly more violent in the years since 9-11 than Islamists, at least in the US obviously. But the meaning I take from this data is that the neocons and other hawks are blowing the Islamic terrorism threat way out of proportion, while liberals and the Left blow the right-wing terrorism threat out of proportion. Both groups need these false narratives to be true for ideological reasons.

The neocons and other hawks want a permanent war against Islam and the Left wants a permanent war against whitey, so there always has to be some looming threat on the horizon. The real violence is the US comes mostly from inner city gangs that murder each other over drug dealing disputes, from fights and domestic violence that spirals out of control, and from the mentally ill or lone nuts like Adam Lanza, Dylan Roof, or Omar Mateen.

September 11, 2001 was a singular but spectacular incident that has predictably kept plenty of people up in arms ever since. The OKC bombing in ’95, which killed about 150, had the same impact on the Left. I remember how after OKC the Left was saying many more such acts were just around the corner. But over 20 years later there’s been no such thing. The same thing happened with 9-11. I remember people talking about how there was going to be nuclear destruction of US cities and terrorism with bioweapons and all kinds of stuff. But 15 years later there’s only been a handful of incidents like Orlando, San Bernardino, and Ft. Hood that were perpetrated by lone nuts or small groups of friends acting as freelancers.

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How to Fix the Left 1

By Alden Braddock

Peoples Post Modernist

Reject liberal(isms). Embrace your will to power.

The Left (even in radical circles)in many respects has failed as a movement. Race baiting, class politics, compromise on top of compromise and a clumsy at best praxis to achieving the ends we strive for are what we have now and accepting this reality is the only what we can now move past it. The old God is dead and we shall lay the groundwork of our stronghold on His grave. In order to do this we must be willing to embrace some new ideas;

1. We must stop pandering to identity politics. Treating people as collectives or even worse as sociological concepts trips individual action of any meaning and obfuscates our shared goal of fostering a world of self sufficiency, unshackled creative expression and freedom from imposed conditions. Yes, we can see the grave injustices levied against minorities by the state but recent events have made it clear that our cure is far worse than the disease. Arguing over who oppresses who, supporting language policing in an effort to hide from open dialogue and stick to our safe spaces have done us all a great disservice. Revolution never happens within a person’ comfort zone.

2. We must be willing to do what the right has done; collaborate with a wide variety of anti-state affinity groups (hard greens, third world nationalists, agorists, gender-nihilist/queer organizations, ext.) in order to crush our opposition and while we’re at it crush everybody’s enemy the neo-liberal/globalist.

3. We must be ruthless but use violence with tact and be willing to organize. Providing aid, organization/mobilization to and radicalizing groups like BLM and focusing on the core idea which motivate dissent (opposition to police brutality)instead of race and gender baiting will take us much further in achieving our long term goals

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