THE MEARDAY CASE, FASCISM AND NEW SLAVERY IN THE U.S.
This paper will examine the dreadful circle consisting of the Mearday case, the police, the media, the genocidal practices of the U. S. Government, “weed and seed, ” the prison build-up and the new slavery in the “prison industrial complex.”
On September 26, 1997, black teenager, Jerimiah Mearday, was brutally assaulted by white police officers, Mathew Thiel and James Comito, on Chicago’s West-side.
The Mearday case has implications so far reaching that it has drawn hundreds of demonstrators on various occasions and there have been a series of hearings surrounding this case. On the one hand, there have been judicial hearings for Jerimiah Mearday for allegedly resisting arrest and for allegedly assaulting police officers Comito and Theil. On the other hand, there have been administrative hearings, in front of the Chicago police board for Comito and Theil, the Grand Central District officers for the teeth bashing, jaw breaking beating that they inflicted upon young Jerimiah, according to him, for no reason.
At the December 3, 1997, hearing at the Circuit Court of Cook County, 1340 S. Michigan Avenue, approximately five hundred demonstrators supported Mearday and marched in the cold rain and wore fearless, immovable expressions as they chanted repeatedly, “No justice no peace!”
Approximately eighty demonstrators, supported Thiel and Comito and stood “up against the wall,” out of the rain, some in police uniforms “sloppily” concealed by civilian clothes. Neither Comito nor Theil was present nor was their case being heard.
One of the reasons the Mearday case is so important is because of the disturbing behavior of the judge who condoned a Nazi type display by 200 Chicago police officers inside the courtroom, at the first Mearday hearing on November 7, 1997. They rose and remained standing throughout the proceeding without any challenge from the judge. They forced the Mearday family to walk a gauntlet between them, in a truly cowardly act of intimidation.
If the protest of these 200 officers was against the suspension and disciplining of Comito and Thiel, surely neither the Mearday family nor their son, Jerimiah, was responsible for this. We can only conclude that the message that these 200 officers intended to send was not for those who disciplined Comito and Thiel at all, but a message to the people, a part of their daily and growing attempts to intimidate and grind down the people. In fact, before the blood on young Jerimiah’s face dried, the on-going, national campaign to criminalize black people in the U. S. was in motion again, with comments like “He’s a gangbanger.” Even if this were true, it does not justify this bestial act by police.
It is outrageous that police feel free to render brutal street justice to certain segments of the population with pistols, pepper spray, night sticks, bullets and bloody flashlights. In the Mearday case, more troubling is the fact that active police officers are so mentally warped and backward that they would publicly stand in support of an act of viciously criminal brutality. Yet, their behavior, an affront to all decent people, can easily be explained by the wink and nod they received from the judge as these 200 miscreants, probably armed to the teeth, terrorized this court room.
This macabre circle is completed by Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, who sees nothing in this act of police terror ( police standing up when Mearday’s case was called by the Judge ) but a group of citizens exercising their Constitutional rights. Since when have we seen a judge countenance any aberrant behavior in a courtroom, including sleeping or reading?
The Mearday case, however, represents a significant turning point in the open complicity of the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government with police terror.
Comito and Theil were suspended without pay. In a small gathering, police have raised $10,000 for them. On January 16, 1998, 2,000 cops and their friends held a $30 per person fundraiser at which $60,000 was raised for Comito and Theil. This not only makes them heroes, but opens the floodgates wider to more police terror by sending the message to police, that “if you beat-down Blacks or minorities in the streets and get suspended or even fired, we’ll get together and give you more money than your original salary, and in a lump sum.”
The gratifying thing about the Mearday case, is the rise of a variety of people from different backgrounds and nationalities, principally organized by the Greater Chicago Committee Against Police Brutality chaired by Reverend Paul Jakes Junior, Pastor of Old St. Pauls Church.
Other Mearday supporters present at the hearing were Congressmen Danny Davis and Bobby Rush, the N.A.A.C.P., the Black United Front, people from the Center for Inner City Studies, The Committee to Support Affirmative Action, The Center for Black Political Impowerment, “Refuse and Resist,” The Committee for Liberation, Polish and Hispanic organizations and many other individuals and organizations.
Attorney Standish Willis and Howard Sandford of “Cop Watch” were there with others from their movement which has issued an extensive packet on citizen monitoring of police and will meet regularly to organize community “Cop Watch” efforts beginning at old St. Pauls Church , 531 N. Kedzie on the West side of Chicago. They will train people to monitor police through the use of cameras, video and audio recorders. They will instruct people on their legal right to ask police why they are arresting people and their right to ask the arrestee if they want anyone telephoned etc.
All these organizations and individuals united and demonstrated outside the December 3rd Mearday hearing in spite of the great possibility of a violent police riot, from a counter demonstration of heavily armed angry “off duty” Chicago cops, not to mention all the police there, who were on duty.
Like the recent demonstration in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago opposing the brutal, racist baseball bat beating of black youngster Leonard Clark, people are proving that no amount of intimidation, imprisonment, or violence can stop the forward march of the people in their demand for justice and power.
The Mearday case is plethoric, as full as a fatted pig with many vital questions; which in my mind, have world historic implications. When Chicago police Chief, Matt Rodriguez initiated the suspension and disciplinary process against Comito and Theil, the officers who reportedly assaulted Mearday, a whirlwind of events ensued.
Apparently, there was enough pressure on the mayor from Hitler wannabe, William Nolan, and his Fraternal Order of Police, the “Poster Children for the New Gestapo” ( PCNG) for them to find, in a picosecond after Comito and Thiel were disciplined, indisputable grounds ( that had existed for decades) to remove the Latino police chief, Matt Rodriguez, from office.
Ex-chief Rodriguez deserves a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for putting up the least resistance to being fired of any man in U.S. history. The stated grounds for his resignation were that one of his closest friends was a gangster. It appeared that Rodriguez either supplied the Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley with the grounds to get himself fired or possibly, he didn’t know the meaning of words like severed or terminated. ( No disrespect to the Latino community intended ) . Maybe when Rodriguez learned what a gangster was, he looked at the totality of his public and private life and just gave himself an offer that he couldn’t refuse.
The Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, boldly announced his impending nation-wide search for a successor to Rodriguez, the then transitional Chief, who was to be at the helm for the months of the search for the right man ( Plastic Man ) who could appear to represent all sides of the Chicago Police Department, an organization who’s unity is like Swiss cheese. On the way to the nation-wide search, it appears that Mayor Daley ran into the PCNG, and underwent a transmogrification. The last waves good bye of Rodriguez went from months to minutes. In a proverbial “heartbeat,” Rodriguez was outa there.
Daley, who should have followed Rodriguez, detoured to Jurassic Park and re-appeared with a “boy from the hood”
( Bridgeport.), his ex-mayor father’s, ex- bodyguard, as new acting police chief, John J. Townsend, a hoary, relic from hell.
Comito and Thiel took the 5th amendment in their first hearing, then in the second hearing they came back oinking in unison about how Jerimiah Mearday fell against a car and “ knocked out five teeth and broke his jaw” and one of them simply tapped him on the head with a night stick. Come on people! U. S. history has provided us with lessons from hundreds of years of such odious crap.
In the January 8, 1998 disciplinary hearing for Comito and Theil, before the Chicago Police Board, Mearday testified for three hours, amid many outbreaks from the audience. He said that because of an allergic reaction to some shrimp-fried-rice, he was walking north on Pulaski, with friends, to the Walgreens located at 1340 N. Pulaski, near Grand, to get some Benadryl.
He said he saw some officers pull around from Potomac Avenue and quickly jump out of the squad car. He said: “I heard a voice say ‘if you run, I’m gonna shoot your ass.’ ” Mearday said that when he turned around he saw Theil pointing a gun at him. Mearday said he immediately dropped to his knees, raised his hands above his head and told the officer to put the gun away and that he ( Mearday ) was not going to do anything crazy. “His partner
( Comito ) started running at me with a flashlight,” Jerimiah said.
“I was on my knees and he struck me in the head with the flash light.” Jerimiah stated that he never resisted arrest and after the first blow, “I was covering up my head so the officer wouldn’t hit me any more.” He said he was then “lifted-up” with one officer on each wrist and while he was on his feet they continued to beat him.
Jerimiah Mearday said that after he was hand cuffed, Theil delivered a blow to his upper lip with a flashlight, that knocked his teeth to the back of his head and Comito kicked him and they both stomped him.
Next, they put him in a squad car and drove him to a “fire station” where he saw them washing his blood from their arms. He overheard them setting up their alibi, “we’re just going to say he was resisting arrest and he was trying to get tough.”
While cross examining Mearday, Paul Geiger, attorney for Comito and Theil, tried the well worn ploy of blaming the victim, as he accused Jerimiah of “being a gang member,” “violating parole” and “smoking marijuana” all in the futile attempt to justify wanton, savage, cowardly, violence by police. Even if Mearday had been high on “crack,” this does not justify the barbaric act by police.
In this hearing, Dr. John Flaherty, emergency room doctor and Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University, as an expert witness, testified that Jerimiah’s injuries were “inconsistent” with a fall to the pavement, the explanation that Comito and Theil had offered in their testimony. “There are lots of problems with the police officer’s accounts,” he said. This medical testimony has been all but totally obliterated in the eyes of the public by the media with its “clever” manipulation of the insipid comments of Geiger, attorney for Comito and Theil.
At the court house, during the January 8th hearing, LaRon Betts, 17, was arrested. Betts, a potential witness, is one of the young men that was with Mearday the night that he was assaulted. As Betts stood in the lobby waiting to testify, he was taken into custody by Chicago police. Reverend Paul Jakes spokesperson for the Greater Chicago Committee Against Police Brutality stated “There should be a law to keep witnesses from being detained or arrested while they are waiting to testify.” Wallace Gator Bradley, also a member of the Greater Chicago Committee Against Police Brutality said, “it’s police intimidation of a witness cut and dried.” While LaRon Betts was in custody, ostensibly, for a controlled substance possession warrant, reports are two other charges were put on him.
Another man, Delfina Delgado, who claimed that he saw the events of September 26th, did testify through a Spanish interpreter. While Delgado stated that Mearday did not stop when the officers told him to, he said that Mearday threw a punch at the officers. Delgado said, contrary to the testimony of Comito and Theil, that both of them had flashlights because he saw the lights from the flashlights. Delgado claims that he didn’t see the officers strike Mearday because it was dark, he was a little far away and they had all fallen between two cars. According to one newspaper report, Delgado appeared to be fuzzy when asked if he had any contact with either Comito or Theil or anyone from the police department, since September 26th. At one point, according to the news article, he appeared to point to Comito and Theil.
On January 20, 1998, at the final hearing for Comito and Theil, before the Chicago Police Board, Corporation Counsel, Michael Crowley stated that Mearday’s story never changed, that all the witnesses including those testifying for Comito and Thiel saw flashlights. Crowly also said that the DNA testing which matched the blood on Theil’s flashlight with the blood of Jerimiah Mearday, was evidence that spoke for itself.
After much discussion about whether LaRon Betts would testify or not, both sides agreed to rest their cases in the police brutality hearings against James Comito and Matthew Theil.
On January 21, 1998, there was an 8:15 a. m. demonstration in front of the Criminal Courts building at 26th and California Avenue, where the hearing for Jerimiah Mearday was to be held. Several members of the Greater Chicago Committee Against Police Brutality spoke including Congressman Danny Davis, Makalani, of the National Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement, Howard Sandford, former police officer, now Community activist and representative of “Cop Watch”, Patricia Hill, President of the African American Police League, Reverend Keith Hines and several others including Reverend Jakes.
A group of reactionary cops held a counter demonstration and marched back and forth across the street. Their signs read Dump Daley.( who do they want Strom Thurman, or maybe his act-a-like, William Nolan. Other signs in the police demonstration read: “Judges, We Will Hold You Accountable.” Are they threatening judges?
At 2: 00 p.m., in Courtroom 402, when Jerimiah Mearday’s name was called, everyone on one whole side of the courtroom which looked like a magnet for pigs ( all white except for about three Latinos and one Chinese. ) stood as if a military command had been given. As soon as they stood the entire opposite side of the courtroom, comprised of Mearday supporters and opponents of police brutality, stood with clinched fists fully extended. The Court Clerk yelled “sit down!!!” ( Funny thing, no such order was given at the first Mearday hearing when only police stood, they were allowed to stand throughout the proceeding. ) In the January 21st hearing, the police sat, then the people sat.
Earlier, I surmised that the police officers who started this whole courtroom thing by standing and intimidating the Mearday family at the first Mearday hearing were probably armed to the teeth. My supposition was correct. They were armed to the teeth. I learned that police don’t surrender their weapons in local and state courts but are “supposed” to surrender weapons in federal courts. The people had to almost strip to get into the court building, taking off all belts and some had to leave because their belts had “too much metal” in them, etc.
Community activist and attorney, Kennon Lawrence, approached the bench and made a protest statement on behalf of the community. Mr. Lawrence has indicated that Mearday’s attorney, Epstein, has consistently refused all assistance from other more experienced attorneys, and the community. This would be fine if the Mearday case were only an isolated incident but its implications impact powerfully on what police, judges and the system in general, will or will not be able to do to the people in the future.
The other most interesting part of this hearing was that James Epstein, Mearday’s attorney told the Judge that he had long since subpoenaed the 911 tapes and police reports from the night of September 26,1997, the transcripts from the Office of Professional Standards investigation of Comito and Theil, but he had never received them. Judge William S. Woods called both Attorneys into chambers and when they all returned he ordered both sides to have all their issues resolved by February 18, at which time a status hearing would be held and trial date set.
After the Hearing, Patricia Hill said: ( concerning the police officers who stood in the courtroom ) “This is not representative of the Chicago Police Department. These are specific districts, 11, 12, 25, 24, and 17. They are historically the most racist districts in the city, they have the highest cases of police brutality, misconduct and abuse of authority. It is documented that when African Americans travel through or even move into those areas, more often than not, they encounter abuse by police officers.”
Wallace “Gator” Bradley said that the officers present opened the door to seeing what the police department really stood for. “For once, we get a chance to see the real gangbangers that are terrorizing our community. Their hoods are off and their badges are hidden but their leader, the infamous Nolan, the one who supported the torture that Cmdr. Burge did to over 150 people. ( A reference to Chicago Area Two Commander of Detectives, Burge during the 1982 search for the Wilson Brothers as the black community was terrorized in the streets and inside police headquarters ) The City of Chicago, in general, is fed up with it , but we African Americans in particular aren’t having it anymore, the beat down is over.”
As far as I could tell, none of the major Chicago newspapers reported on the February 18th hearing for Jerimiah Mearday, except for a photo in one paper of a vigil of women against the prison system, outside the Mearday hearing. However, at the hearing, April 13th was set as the trial date for Jerimiah Mearday.
A few days later, Comito and Thiel were fired! One week after they were fired, on March 19, 1998, Jerimiah Mearday was violently attacked by two white police officers and their white lieutenant in front of his home in the 4000 block of West Crystal on the West side of Chicago.
Reports are that Mearday’s house was surrounded by a host of police in marked and unmarked police cars before the “Blue coats” made their move. The police had no warrant for the arrest of Mearday and just “happened” to have a civilian eyewitness riding in the car with them, during what appears to be a planned “operation.” While the police claim that they didn’t know that it was Mearday that they were arresting, eye witnesses said that Mearday was yelling “I’m Jerimiah Mearday” repeatedly as they brutalized him, laughed and claimed that they didn’t care.
Eye witnesses said that the officers had drawn guns and one had what appeared to be a shotgun and that Mearday was viciously slammed to the ground during the assault. Mearday was arrested and taken to Grand Central Police Headquarters and strip searched. Why a strip search? After the strip search turned up nothing, the pigs came back, took his shoes again and claimed that they had found rock cocaine under the sole of Mearday’s gym shoes. Some observers have said that rock cocaine would melt or be crushed under such circumstances. Mearday was charged with drug possession and three counts of aggravated battery, against police officers.
All three officers claimed that they had been assaulted by Mearday and all three went to the hospital claiming the almost impossible to disprove, muscle strain.
“Hitler’s lickspittle,” the quintessential devil, William Nolan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, immediately came forward with the statement that Mearday was a scumbag, gangbanging, dope dealer who should be behind bars. Nolan’s words evoke further suspicion of a set-up when he says that Mearday’s arrest vindicates Comito and Theil and proves that the police board was wrong in firing them. (what twisted unconnected gangster logic.) Nolan also said that he wished that the arrest of Mearday had come before the police board fired Comito and Theil. This can only mean that Nolan is spreading the view to thousands of police officers that if someone commits or is suspected of committing a crime that it’s ok for the police to render brutal street justice. Talking in the language of Nazi-speak Nolan said, “I think it shows that the Police board would rather listen to a drug-dealing gangbanger than to two honorable officers.”
Some of the people have already begun to express the erroneous view that things will now get better between the people and the police because we have a black superintendant of police. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Under the curent conditions,Terry Hillard is the best green light for police terror possible.
Throughout the history of the Atlantic Slave Trade and the colonization of Africa, getting blacks to “front” the exploitation of the African masses has been wide-spread. When the Europeans in South Africa forced the Africans onto a very small percentage of the worse most barren land, as the Europeans siezed the richest land for themselves, they had black leaders to agree that this arrangement was acceptable.
Just as the arch devil, Bill Clinton, is going all over Africa, setting Africa up for a new, broad and deep round of exploitation and oppression, scores of “prominent” blacks are acting like the Uncle Toms from the Jim Crow era, as this latterday “great white father” and his ilk, have set their sights on giving Africa more of the American, criminal style of democracy and viscious capitalism. Many middle class African and African-Americans will prosper ( while certain Euro-Africans and Euro-Americans reap super profits ) from the new U. S. incursion into Africa. Life for the masses, under this plan, can only be kept bad or made worse.
Even if Clinton were a nice guy, and he’s not, his behavior, in Africa can only open the flood gates wider to ruthless corporate conquest and the exportation of more resources and wealth from Africa that the African masses, who create the wealth will never enjoy under capitalism. Meanwhile, the U.S. Military will back these corporations from their 18 bases in Africa and the U.S. Government will claim that it loves Africa but just a few
bad apples or unscrupulous businessmen are decimating the continent.
Five hundred years of history should have given us some clues but if not, the very laws of capitalism can only mean that the U.S. Imperialist vampire needs new blood to suck, new resources, new markets to exploit.
A component of this, must be a new host of latterday handkerchief heads in Africa, as well as, in the U. S. History has already taught us that these black compradors can only point out the wealth, supervise the wage slaves, take their little cut and serve up more warm or cold African bodies, on both sides of the Atlantic, to the centuries old perpetrators and protectors of the slavery and mysery of Africa, as they attempt to install “neo,” neo, colonialism. Clinton will spearhead a similar bloodsucking voyage to the Hemispheric Summit in Santiago, Chile and from there on to China and Asia in quest of a modern-day version of “Manifest Destiny”.
This scenario has a local subsystem. What could be better for the Chicago pigs and their masters than a black chief who does nothing but apologise for police misconduct as they abuse and maul the Black and Latino communities daily and attempt to grind us down with their “police state” CAPS program.
In a knee jerk reaction, Hillard said about this second assault on Mearday: “...But when our officers are doing their jobs and following police procedures, as they were in this case, then I will always stand alongside them.” He said this without taking into account one shred of the evidence from non-police witnesses who saw the second “beatdown” of Jerimiah Mearday.
Hillard did say that he would initiate an Internal Affairs Division investigation of claims from the community that the arrest was revenge and that drugs were planted on Mearday. ...... please.
It is crucial to understand that Daley and Hillard deserve each other. When they finally appeared, together, to answer the outcry of the public about the latest Mearday frame-up, it was obvious from the veins popping out in Hillard’s neck and face, that he is faced with the excruciating task of never appearing to be smarter than Mayor Daley in public ( poor man ). The result was that their comments have raised the art of double talk to the heights of Jibberonics ( a combination jibberish, Pig Latin and smack ) Their combined comments defy analysis. Daley did make some comments, that could be deciphered by the naked ear, he said that the arrest of Mearday was “appropriate” and attempting to appear to be original, Hillard changed the word appropriate to “proper.” And Daley oinked about the planted cocaine. They all claim to be innocent. “They have to claim something.”
Epstein, attorney for Mearday, said: “This is, simply putting a case on somebody in revenge for the Police Board findings. It’s a planted revenge case.”
On Friday March 20, 1998, at midnight, the police went through the neighborhood near the Mearday house, bamming on the doors of the Mearday neighbors issuing subpoenas, according to one witness “ to the whole neighborhood” telling people that if they didn’t appear before a Grand Jury at 8:00 A M on Monday morning March 23, 1998, and testify about what they saw during the second arrest of Mearday, they would go to jail.
On Monday morning March 3,1998 many of us were right back in front of the criminal courts building at 26th and California demonstrating against this latest travesty of justice. Reverend Jakes and Reverend Al Sampson, among others, were leading this gathering but the star of the show was Judge R. Eugene Pincham who entered the building through the back door.
Retired Appellate Judge Pincham offered to represent, for free, all those who had been, he believed, subpoenaed illegally by police colleagues of Comito and Theil. Chief Criminal Court Judge Thomas Fitzgerald said that he needed to be assured that there was no conflict of interest between Pincham’s counseling possible grand jury witnesses on their rights and his stated support of Mearday. Judge Pincham said: “ I never spoke to or met Mr. Mearday and I am not representing him in any way. We have an interest in the community and their rights.”
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office agreed in court to inform any of the subpoenaed witnesses that they have the right to legal counsel and that they are welcolm to call upon Judge Pincham for free counceling. Judge Pincham said: “This will allow witnesses to honestly say what they heard or saw and not be intimidated by police. Many of the people subpoenaed aren’t familiar with the legal system and need help to deal with it.”
Judge Pincham said that the subpoenas should be put on hold until witnesses have had time to get proper counsel and fully understand their rights. The court agreed.
State’s Attorney, Dick Divine, felt the need to jump up and say: ( jibberonically ) that he won’t cave in to activists suporting Jerimiah Mearday who had been arrested on drug charges, or others who use street corners to issue “soap opera” claims of injustice. Divine said further: “We’re going to do our job and do it right. Some people may be using it for their own rhetorical purposes, but that won’t affect us.”
Divine continued: “We can’t go by whether 50 people are hollering on a street corner or that there’s a rally of 5,000 or whatever.
Attorney Lewis Meyers indicated that: “There’s a serious question that those officers should be looking at some criminal charges for violating Mearday’s civil rights.” He is also moving to have the Justice Department investigate the latest arrest of Mearday and Judge Pincham agreed.
Judge Pincham also said : “I’ve never seen anything like this in my career, with the exception of the Rodney King case where police were caught on video tape beating this man, which means that it was unquestionable that they did it.” Judge Pincham said that he belives that Officers Comito and Thiel did beat Mearday,
( during the first arrest ) contrary to their claims that his injuries resulted from a fall on the curb as they toppled over him. “That didn’t happen,” he said. He said the officers’ rationale did not seem plausable.
Judge Pincham said: “I’ve been in this profession for almost 50 years and I’ve never seen or heard of any case in which 300 police officers go to the courtroom in support and stand up and look at the witnesses and the judge takes no action. If 200 supporters of Mearday had done that, they would have been rightfully held in contempt and locked up.
On Thursday April 9,1998, Cook County State’s attorney, Richard Devine, dropped resisting arrest and battery charges against Jerimiah Mearday for the first arrest, however, he also said that Comito and Theil would not be charged. Devine used a bunch of ridiculous claims as to why Comito and Theil would not be prosecuted such as witnesses’ stories were replete with contradictions and witnesses could not tell Comito from Theil from photos of them etc.
Even without the testimony of these witnesses, after the officers lied about beating Mearday with flashlights and DNA tests revealed the blood of Mearday under the switch of one of the officer’s flashlights, this should be enough to convict them. After a doctor testified that Mearday’s injuries were inconsistent with a fall to the pavement, as the officers claimed, this should be enough to convict them. And surely a look at Mearday’s mangled face should have been enough to convict Comito and Theil.
Mearday’s attorney, James Epstein, has requested thirteen and one half hours of recorded police radio conversations to see if officers targeted Mearday for the second arrest. Witnesses with police scanners have told Epstein that they heard police talking about Mearday the night before his second arrest.
Associate Judge Wendell P. Marbly gave the city three weeks to review the tapes to determine what portions they will and will not object to turning over to Mearday’s attorney. The judge will rule later as to whether Epstein will get to hear any of the recordings.
As much as we want justice for Jerimiah and all the countless Jerimiahs out there, the issue, now, is not so much what the courts, the police, or the politicians do but what we, the oppressed and all people who love freedom and justice do.
Even today, regrettably, many feel absolved from any compassion for the victims of the Atlantic Slave Trade and its incumbent evils by simply saying “Africans sold their own brothers and sisters” as if Europeans were not the perpetrators of even this aspect of Slavery. This outlook has also been used to convince themselves and others that Africa and other “Third World” countries are so “bad off”, today, because of “corrupt indigenous leaders” when the truth is that the key reason they’re so “bad off” is because of imperialist exploitation. And fundamental to the U.S. system’s assault on Mearday and thousands of others and the people in general, is the use of public opinion to blame the people for “bringing it on themselves.” We must throw this gangster logic back in their faces and expose the criminal nature of their whole system.
There is a tradition in the U. S. that demands that the oppressed people see things in a vacuum. They would love for us to never mention slavery or colonization again but we are living in so much of its aftermath and many other forms of slavery and colonization, today. They want us to see things like police brutality, and the Mearday case as isolated incidents. But we cannot afford to do this. We must see the big picture. We must always connect the historical and even the international implications of events.
The oppressed people and their allies must grow increasingly more keenly aware of the whole world in which we live. We must also become increasingly active and better organized than our oppressors. This can only be achieved through a correct philosophical view of the world. We must oppose every single act of injustice no matter how big or how small. We must intensify the heat on exploiters and oppressors of every hue, until the whole world is free from all forms of exploitation and oppression.
The police, as oppressive as they are, are not the key oppressors here, although many of them wish they were. The police are merely the shock troops, the dogs on a leash for the rich owners and controllers of society. This does not mean that some police are not “nice” people or that some are not “fair” in their individual application of police work. There are some officers that are organized and work diligently to change things, for the better, from within the Chicago Police Department and this is probably true in other cities. However, what this does mean is that the police, naughty or nice, as an institution, exist to protect the right of the rich to rip- off the labor power, resources, art, sciences, culture, wealth etc. of the entire planet.
Even people who once doubted the true behavior of many police, are now convinced of the brutal daily beatings inflicted by police, throughout the country, the planting of evidence, The strip searching of women by male officers, the cover-ups, the codes of silence, extortion, rape with and without plungers etc. and the countless unpunished murders of especially black youth, at the hands of the police.
It is conceivable that a police officer could die of a heart attack while brutalizing you and then the system could turn around and charge you with murder. One organization has compiled a list of hundreds of people killed by the police nationally in the last three years. In fact, police brutality is a deep nation-wide crisis.
The police hold the slave chains of workers, employed and unemployed, intact and try to provide a tranquil environment in which the rich can enjoy the fruits of their conquest.
The Watch and Ward system is a plan through which men in England over 16 years of age, would stand watch and ward duty in their community. They questioned travelers after dark, held all suspicious persons and watched for disturbances. All able bodied men joined in a hue and cry which was a chase to capture a suspect.
In 1066 the Normans conquered the Anglo-Saxons and added their own victory mixture to policing. A part of this mix was a judiciary and executive branch as they installed their lords of manors and court system. They also added constables. The word Cop probably comes from constable on patrol. The Saxon customs and the Norman innovations in law enforcement were codified in 1285, in the Statute of Winchester. This law was the basis of English policing until 1829 when Sir Robert Peel organized the Metropolitan Police of London, the Bobbies, and they are called that to this day.
The colonizers brought the Watch and Ward system to America. Before they ever left England, the constable position and watchman duties were obligations which the wealthy increasingly paid others to assume for them and paid any fines associated with failure to perform their policing duties. This was the crude predecessor of professional policing and one thing that has remained constant from then to now is the protection, by the police, of the interest of the rich.
In 1749, the inhabitants of Philadelphia prodded their legislature into restructuring the law so that the official called a warden could hire as many watchmen as they wanted. Herein lies the beginning of professional policing and this idea spread to other cities. From the earlier days many found police work inviting because the pay was good, it didn’t require any skill or education, and they never had lay-offs.
Today, instead of busting “real” drug kingpins, or using effective interdiction at the borders, or removing conditions which force so many inner-city youth into the underground economy, evidence exists that the feds actually go out of their way to bust small dealers using the practice of “bargaining up”. This involves sending agents back to small dealers repeatedly until the total reaches the 50 grams necessary to kick in a 10-year sentence. White supremacy and national oppression are woven into the very fabric of these drug laws.
The selective targeting of Blacks and minorities is an extensive part of the American repressive campaign against the people. The case, State v. Pedro Soto, et al, revisited events that transpired in Volusa County, Florida where the Sheriff’s Department preyed on Black and Latino Motorist, reaping millions of dollars in confiscated money, alleged but not proven by police to be drug money.
On the New Jersey Turnpike on a stretch that runs through Gloucester County from Exit 1, just off the Delaware Memorial Bridge to Exit 7a. under the pretext of weaving ( though you never left your lane ), following the car in front of you too closely, changing lanes without giving a signal etc., evidence presented in the case State v Pedro Soto, revealed that Blacks were stopped at a rate five times greater than white motorists are stopped. Yet, a population survey has shown that only 13.5 percent of the drivers on the Gloucester section of the New Jersey Turnpike were Black.
More than one officer has testified that they were told to look for cars with out-of-state license plates, rental license plates and cars with Blacks or Latinos inside. Although this is true in the neighborhoods as well as on the highway, “profiling” is widely used. Two State Troopers testified that they were taught and encouraged to “profile”. “Profiling”, due to its stereotypical premise forces law enforcement officers to find reason to stop those who “fit the profile”.
My personal observation has been that more than once I have been to traffic court here in Chicago for trumped-up charges and tickets for “ double parking” while clearly letting friends out in front of their house as I gave them a ride home. There have been others equally absurd but the main point here is that each time I have been to traffic court the nationalities of the people facing charges there are always approximately 90% Black , 8% Latino and 2% white.
The Jerimiah Mearday case is a part of the unleashing of the shock troops of the rich, their domestic army, the police, to hold the people in check as they, the rich class, launch a new round in the rape, robbery, and pillage of a new motherload of the world’s human and material resources through their down sizing, out sizing, NAFTA, Globalization etc.,etc., etc. The U.S. military, also under the control of the rich class, serves a police function against other oppressed people all around the world.
Nevertheless, the people must be aware that while the police are the traditional dogs on a leash for the rich class, the Mearday case holds significant evidence of the growing quest of the police, often in league with Klan, Nazi, Skinhead, and Malitia groups etc., to seize fascist, state power, to the detriment of the people and the Bourgeoise.
In Chicago, the Fraternal Order of Police, it appears, has not only forced the hand of mayor Daley in forcing out Police Superintendent Rodriguez but has apparently Forced his hand in selecting a backward Black man, Terry G. Hillard, as new Chicago Police Superintendent.
In the past, people in America, in general, have often had difficulty in separating skin color from deeds and intent and this not only applies to both sides of the black white color line but also applies to some of the highest most supposedly sophisticated leaders in the area of civil rights and the revolutionary movement, as well. The simplest and also the most scientific way to solve this problem is to ruthlessly sum up the achievements, as well as, the failures of people and situations regardless of race.
In recent times, Clarence Thomas, a teacher by bad example, has been great in teaching us to look at the deeds and intent of a person in stead of their skin color. This outlook must be applied to Terry Hillard with binoculars, up close.
William Nolan, President of the Fraternal order of Police, would not only have approved of Now Washington, D.C. Police Chief,Charles Ramsey, the next candidate in line as Chicago police superintendent ( once Chicago head of the reactionary program “Weed and Seed” or CAPS ) but Nolan also highly approves of Terry Hillard. Nolan has said : “We have someone on our side-someone who’s going to stick up for us and not have knee-jerk reactions to public outcry.” This statement by nolan, suggests that the police should not be accountable to the public and he feels confident that Hillard will support this. Another good lesson for the people is whenever racist fools like William Nolan support someone, more than nine times out of ten, we must be against them. Hillard has also proclaimed that he will retain John J. Townsend as first deputy superintendent.
Terry Hillard, a man the pigs call a “cop’s cop,” has already oinked out his vow to get tougher on gangs and drugs than ever before. Why not a war on the big dealers who bring drugs from foreign countries and dump them on the people? Why not a war on the klan or the Nazis or skin heads or those who violate discrimination laws or perpetuate hate crimes or those who rob the people everyday in a million ways? Why not a war on police corruption or rampant police brutality ? Instead,
Hillard has vowed to make the war on drugs and gangs his top priorities. As many of us know, the war on drugs is nothing but war on the people and this can only be effectively countered by people’s war.
The Media and the Criminalization of the People
The rich controllers of society have two principal ways that they exercise their control over society. These two ways are force of arms and the creation of public opinion. In the Mearday case, one of the key problems is the proclamation by Mearday’s attorney, James Epstein, that the supporters of the policemen who beat “Jerry”and the supporters of “Jerry”are the same in that they’re both using Mearday as a political football. The problem here, is that we’ve seen Epstein on the news, if at all, maybe once, when this debacle first started. Yet, almost every morning, noon and night, we have seen Geiger, the lawyer for Comito and Thiel, on the air, steadily building public opinion for his clients and criminalizing Mearday and setting-up the railroad of Mearday. Every time we turn around, we see stories set-up by news people and then Gieger comes on doing his thing, if only what he did on one particular news show after Jerimiah’s story was told. Geiger was only heard to say from the top of his voice “he’s lying.”
In recent years, the system has used its massive means to create public opinion to criminalize a whole generation of Black people and other minorities and to create a climate in which nothing that is done to a Black man or woman is bad enough or “they must have done something to deserve it.” They have sold this outlook to the general American populace and the American people have generally bought it hook, line and sinker, including many from the very groups that are being victimized by this.
The criminalization of a whole generation of Blacks has been thorough. For years we’ve seen the nightly images on T V of Blacks in handcuffs being led away by police. Any black celebrity or hero who could be used to heighten the assumption of black criminality has been used. All of a sudden they care about a black man kicking another black man as evidenced by the hype surrounding Dennis Rodman’s kicking a black photographer.
There have been attempts to animalize and criminalize Mike Tyson even before he showed all oppressed people of the world never to respect rules that don’t respect you when he bit the ears of Evander Holyfield, in the 1997 heavyweight title fight. There have been attempts to link Michael Jordan with illegal gambling, the highlighting of Bill Cosby for alleged infidelity, the use of the Tirell Sprewell case, and attacks and attempts to criminalize Black elected officials has been wide-spread.
The system, through its media, has increasingly publicly criminalized black mothers who have left their children home alone. Whether they’re searching for food or drugs the system of oppression has created this condition for these mothers. There are an alarming number of black women now being endungeoned into slavery in the “prison industrial complex”.
Rodney king has been used over and over again to perpetuate the criminalization of Blacks in America. The major media, which is owned by the rich class, has repeatedly tried to highlight any misdemeanor of Rodney in an attempt to justify his brutal beating at the hands of police. They even tried to use the raising of his head, during the beating incident, as a justification for more beating.
Chicago’s “Operation Silver Shovel” which targeted, indicted, and incarcerated several local, black politicians ( no defense of corruption intended ) as if the white politicians are all squeaky clean. There was the recent arresting of a number of black Chicago police officers for shaking down drug dealers and various terrible criminal acts. Goodness knows they should fry for their dirty deeds but you mean to tell me that none of these white pigs do this.
The O.J. Simpson case, a case that was tried by and continues to be tried by the mass media, has been the crown jewel in the criminalization of Blacks in America. In spite of the murder of 168 people in the Oklahoma bombing allegedly by “boy next door”, Timothy McVeigh, the O.J. Simpson case continues to be the trial of the century. They even tried to criminalize the jury. In fact the verdict in the first O.J. trial came as a result of a defense case that argued that the Los Angeles police ( and by implication police in general ) are not to be believed and the system had to have a new verdict in the second trial that re-legitimized its police. There have been incessant charges against Johnny Cocran, ( the brilliant African American who defended O.J. ) for “playing the race card ” .
The race card was played by those who brought Africans here to work for free and cheap for hundreds of years to make America the richest country in the world and the race card is played daily by those who work to deny Blacks equal access and opportunity. The race card is played daily by filthy pigs like Mark Furman and the “criminal,” criminal justice system. In fact in my mind, the absolute most important lesson in the totality of the O.J. Simpson case is the revelation of what the average Black person or minority, who is not rich, goes up against when they are faced with defending themselves against all the powerful resources and wrath of the criminal justice system in America, and this includes its powerful mass media.
The immediate task for the people, is to develop our own massive, public opinion creating machine.and this can take many forms. The public opinion creating machine must not only arm the people with the most revolutionary interpretation of all the major events in society, hot on the heels of these events, but must also be a collective organizer.
The Judicial, Executive and Legislative
Tentacles of the Monster
Decisions made at the level of the Judiciary, Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. Government impact powerfully on who gets arrested, fined, convicted, beat-up in the street or incarcerated and enslaved in the new “prison industrial complex.”. Like voting, this system of judiciary, executive and legislative, branches ( “checks and balances” yea right.) provide sophisticated and elaborate smoke screens for the raw rule and dictatorship of the rich class in America.
On May 13, 1996, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned rulings by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and a district court in L. A. which dismissed federal charges against five men accused of selling crack. The dismissal came after the government prosecutors refused to obey the judge’s order to explain statistics showing a clear disparity in the number of Black and white people who are prosecuted for federal crack offenses.
According to the government’s own figures, the majority of crack users are white. But a study of 1993 convictions showed that 88.3 percent of those convicted on federal crack offenses were Black, 7.1 percent Latino and 1 percent white. The defense had presented an affidavit from the federal public defender’s office in L.A. showing that all 24 cases brought to conclusions by the office in 1991 were African American. In the federal courts of 16 states, not a single white person was tried for crack offenses between 1987 and 1992.
The mandatory sentencing guidelines passed by congress distinguished between crack and powder. This distinction has led to a vast disparity in arrests, convictions, and sentencing of young black males for felony drug offenses. Under these guidelines people convicted on federal charges for five grams of crack are punished with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years without parole, even for first time offenders. By contrast, a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for powdered cocaine kicks in at possession of 500 grams-100 times the amount of crack.
According to estimates by the federal sentencing commission, 14,000 out of 90,000 federal prison inmates are serving sentences under these laws for crack cocaine offenses.
Almost 90 percent of those convicted on federal crack offenses in 1993 were black. Those convicted of powdered cocaine in that same year were 32 percent white, 27.4 percent Black and 39.3 percent Latino. Since crack cocaine must be made from powdered cocaine those who handle powdered cocaine are just higher up in the drug system.
The government bases the discriminatory drug laws on the argument that crack wreaks greater social damage than powder cocaine. They claim that crack use is “more associated with gang violence.” They say that crack is more potent, addictive and more affordable.
But defense attorneys and others who have studied the issue contradict the government’s argument about crack’s “association with violence.” One public defender said “ We see street level guys all the time who sell $20 doses [ of crack ]. They end up in federal court facing massive amounts of time. They don’t have gang affiliations. They don’t have firearms. They shouldn’t be there.”
Medical experts point out that there are negligible pharmacological differences between crack and powdered cocaine. Though smoking crack makes the drug’s high quicker and stronger, some doctors note that powdered cocaine when free-based can also be smoked or injected, which is more likely to lead to addiction.
The racist federal guidelines on crack interpenetrate with more general discrimination against Black people in the justice system, contributing to a situation where today, one in three Black men between the ages of 20 and 29 are in prison or on probation.
About 13 percent of monthly drug users are Black. But Black people make up 35 percent of arrests for drug possession, 55 percent of all convictions for drug possession and 74 percent of all prison sentences for drug possession. As of 1992, the incarceration rates among Black males were eight times higher than that for white males.
The statistics on the disparity in crack laws are so blatant that in 1995, even the official U.S. Sentencing Commission was moved to act. The Sentencing Commission established by congress to set uniform sentencing guidelines for federal courts, recommended that the distinction between crack and powder be eliminated and that the punishment for crack be reduced to that for powder.
The Commission said, “ federal sentencing data leads to the inescapable conclusion that Blacks comprise the largest percentage of those affected by the penalties associated with crack cocaine.” Both the House and the Senate vetoed the recommendation and voted to keep the current sentencing guidelines. It was the first of 500 recommendations made by the commission to be rejected since its creation in 1994.
It was not only the Republican Congress that threw out the recommendation, the Clinton Administration also rejected it. This is a blatant violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
There have been an incredible number of laws that have come “out of the pipe line” in recent times, that greatly deepen the repression of those who are already dispossessed and oppressed. In its 1994-1995 term, the U. S. Supreme Court interpreted the “ knock and Announce” requirements in such a way that police can always justify kicking in doors without warning when they “suspect” a crime has been committed.
“Three strikes and you’re out,” is baseball “lingo” for the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, also known as the Federal Crime Bill. It was enacted by Congress in 1994 as an incremental step toward increasingly punitive crime policies. Among other things, this law “mandates life in prison for criminals convicted of three violent felonies or drug offenses if the third conviction is a federal crime.”
There are new “search and seizure” liberties that police can take with motorists, “public nuisance law,”a Los Angeles law under which people can be arrested for just standing on the corner. Now, Chicago Mayor, Daley, is introducing his version of this and will probably be called the “lookout Law”. Supposedly, this law is designed to arrest those who lookout for drug dealers or solicit for drugs or prostitution., but knowing the police as we do, they can use this, as a pretext, to arrest anyone in the “hood” that they want to arrest.
There are new laws like “criminal trespass on government property,” which can be used on someone who is visiting relatives or just walking through a housing project, who does not live there. There are new Apartheid type pass laws in housing projects under which people must carry ID cards. “Truth in sentencing” which requires convicted people to serve all the time initially indicated without parole or regard for good behavior or rehabilitation etc.
On March 28th 1996 President Clinton signed a fascist directive that called on Housing Secretary Cisneros to issue new guidelines on the policy known as “one strike you’re out” to the 3,400 public housing authorities around the country. Under this outrageous policy, the operators of housing projects can terminate leases and evict residents if a tenant, any member of the tenant’s household or even a guest is accused of involvement in a “violent or drug related crime.” Suppose this accused ruling were applied to Clinton.
One day after prosecutors proclaimed that Jerimiah Mearday had tested positive for marijuana, Bill Clinton announced a new drug testing measure that could get people in jail or keep them there.
Although statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( NIDA ) reveal that the greatest number of documented crack users are Caucasian, national drug enforcement and prosecutorial practices have resulted in the “war on drugs” being targeted almost exclusively at inner-city black communities. In 1994, this resulted in 96.5% of those sentenced federally for crack cocaine offenses being non-white. Amazingly regardless of whether the claim was equal protection or due process, cruel and unusual punishment or vagueness, not one federal appeals court has held the disparity unconstitutional.
While some boast about all the black Judges appointed by the Clinton Administration, one can’t help but wonder why not one of these judges has opposed these racist “crack” laws. Even if they did and they should, it’s easy for Clinton to appoint Black judges when anything they say or do is so well contained and covered by the system of “balanced checks on the people” Check this out!
. A woman named Carol Bayless was arrested by cops in Washington Heights, the mainly Dominican neighborhood in upper Manhattan. The cops searched her car and claimed they found 80 pounds of drugs. Technically, before searching a car or person, cops are legally required to have “probable cause,” meaning: some specific evidence that gives them good reason to believe a search will uncover evidence of a crime.
When Carol Bayless’ case got to court, the cops were asked what their “probable cause” was for searching the car. They said they had seen men loading something into her car, and that the men had run away when the cops approached.
At this point something unusual happened: Judge Baer threw the evidence out of court. He declared this had been an illegal search, because the cops had no probable cause. Just because the men ran away from the cops, Baer said, was not proof that they were doing something illegal. Baer went on: “Residents in this neighborhood tend to regard police as corrupt, abusive and violent. Had the men not run when the cops began to stare at them, it would have been unusual.”
From the standpoint of the system Baer had crossed the line. Prominent officials and spokes people within this system are supposed to portray cops as protectors of law-abiding citizens. When evidence of police brutality and corruption surface, prominent people within the system are supposed to insist that these are only isolated “bad apples.” Certainly no one in Judge Baer’s position is supposed to admit that whole sections of the population fear random police abuse, or that such fear might be justified!
Baer’s remarks became a big scandal. New York’s Mayor Giuliani and Governor Patki attacked him. A New York Times article called Baer’s ruling “judicial malpractice” that would “undermine respect of the legal system, encourage citizens to flee the police and deter honest cops in drug-infested neighborhoods from doing their job.”
Prominent Republicans like Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich denounced Baer as an example of “coddling criminals.” They accused the Democrats of being soft on crime because “Super Cracker,” Clinton, had appointed this judge.
In response, top Democrats quickly proved that they support unjustified police searches and blatant political pressuring of judges. Clinton’s White House announced that Baer should resign if he didn’t change his ruling. These moves crudely violated the so-called bourgeois legal principle that judges are “independent” from political pressure, a principle which is routinely violated in every city in the country.
In the next hearing of Carol Bayless’ case, basic power relations were on display. Bowing to pressure from above, Judge Baer reversed his previous decision. He allowed the seized drugs into evidence against Carol Bayless. If convicted, in this courtroom farce, on the basis of a blatantly illegal search, she could get life in prison
The “Omnibus Counter -Terrorism Act” has greatly expanded the powers of federal law enforcement powers and there are now fifty three separate federal agencies that have personnel who are authorized to carry firearms and make arrests, including the Government Printing Office.The most ominous of these new measures has to be “Weed and Seed.”
Weed and Seed
“Weed and Seed” is a counter insurgency program derived from U. S. counter insurgency programs used in Vietnam and throughout the world. “Weed and Seed” was the brain child of George Bush, ex U.S. President and ex Director of the CIA, an organization that has not only been accused of starting the current “crack” epidemic but of stuffing heroine ( destined for the inner cities of the U.S.) into the dead bodies of GIs coming from the Iron Triangle of Vietnam, during the Vietnam War. The CIA has also been accused of the introduction of LSD into American society. Bush proposed the “weeding” of criminals from neighborhoods and then “seeding” those areas with police controlled social programs.
“Weed and Seed” is a scheme through which a police state is being deepened in the Black and Latino communities as law enforcement is being brought under the direct supervision of the top law enforcement agency in the U. S., the Justice Department. The neighborhoods are now being brought under the authority of an army of federal police agencies including The Federal Bureau of Investigation ( FBI ), the Drug Enforcement Agency ( DEA ), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, ( BATF ), Immigration Service ( La Migra ) and the Bureau of Prisons.
The “Weed and Seed” program is not community control of police but police control of communities and it features more cops in oppressed communities on foot and bikes talking to people to get more information for their already swollen computer files. It features the setting up of scattered small police stations and developing a battery of snitchers. It seeks to clamp down on the people and keep the current rulers in power, through some desperate times, by getting a small section of the people to collaborate with them by turning people in and giving a phony stamp of approval to police operations that go after the people, especially youth. In some cities they have been forced to change the name of this program because of the out cry against it. In Los Angeles its called “Community Project for Restoration,” or CPR. In Chicago, it is “Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy,” called CAPS. No matter what the name is, this program is being implemented on a national level.
One of the most insidious parts of “Weed and Seed” is “Preventive Detention” under which the people can be arrested and detained for an unlimited amount of time in the anticipation that they “might” commit a crime. This smacks of conditions during “Reconstruction” after the U. S. Civil War when thousands upon thousands of “unemployed,” recently freed slaves were arrested and re-enslaved, on chain gangs, under the “legal” pretext of vagrancy.
“Weed and Seed” is aimed at positioning the Department of Justice as the central political force determining urban policy in the U. S., with all social agencies subordinated to law enforcement agencies. This program also transfers drug and firearm cases involving Blacks and minorities from local to federal jurisdiction while whites are left under local and state jurisdiction. Under federal law people are subjected to harsher sentences and fewer civil rights, it is harder to get bail and, if convicted, people are subject to federal sentencing guidelines and/or federal mandatory minimums and incarcerated in federal facilities.
“Weed and Seed” pulls already existing federal funds under the “weed and Seed” authority expanding the influence and control of the Justice Department over already existing social service funding and programs.
“Weed and Seed” is linked with the development of “Free Enterprise Zones.” These are areas ( the ghetto ) where industry receives tax breaks and relaxation of environmental regulations
( environmental racism ) in exchange for hiring residents, desperate for jobs, at slave wages. This is a page taken from the U. S Imperialist strangulation of people throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America where a whole generation of military dictatorships were propped up by the U. S. to ensure a terrorized and docile work force which would submit to the economic rape and plunder of imperialist corporations.
The backbone of “Weed and Seed” is a massive dose of armed force. Its justification is built on a propaganda campaign that demonizes Black and Latino youth. Racist stereotypes are used to perpetuate the view that all youth in the ghettos and Barrios are gang members and “weeds” that must be wiped out. Herein lies the pretext for wholesale civil liberties and human rights violations.
“Weed and Seed” includes “street sweeps,” “use of sophisticated audiovisual evidence-gathering techniques” In fact, the legal basis for further expanding government spying powers was laid in 1994 when President Clinton signed the “Digital Telephony Act” While making plans to slash budgets for health care, education, welfare and other programs that people need just to survive, Clinton promised telephone companies that the government would provide $500 million to change their wiring and switches for easier spying on the people. Then the law was passed in 1994 called the “Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement”
( CALEA ). This law makes it mandatory for phone companies to give access to the FBI, when they have a “court authorization.”
Under “Weed and Seed” the repressive and intimidating role of the INS Immigration and Naturalization Service will be expanded.
While all kinds of social programs are being cut, “Weed and Seed” offers to restore a small portion under the condition that these programs are explicitly linked to increased police repression. “Weed and Seed” plans to appropriate existing funds from the federal departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Transportation, Housing, Welfare, and Agriculture, and impose a federal police force component on each of them.
“Weed and Seed” aims to intimidate and co-opt community programs. It creates an illusion of increased federal social funding. Then it demands that social service programs become linked with new repressive measures if they want any kind of funding.
An interesting thing, related to “Weed and Seed”, happened in Chicago on Wednesday, January 7,1998. At approximately 6:00 PM., an admitted supporter of “Weed and Seed,” ( CAPS ), “the community policing program,” Reverend Keith Hines, was jacked up by the cops. Reverend Hines, pastor of Rosehill Missionary Baptist Church at 3137 West Roosevelt Road,
( probably making a “Cop Watch” move ) allegedly was asking police why they were stopping a motorist, in the 2900 block of West Lexington Avenue.
Reportedly, the cops told him to get his Black nigger ass across the street. He told them that they couldn’t talk to him that way, that he was pastor of the church that they were in front of and that he was a part of CAPS ( “Weed and Seed.” ) These cops jacked him up with a choke-a-hold, arrested him, claimed he slapped one of the cops, charged him with one felony count of aggravated battery of a police officer, and misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and obstructing justice.
Congressman Danny Davis, Reverend Paul Jakes Jr.and 30 ministers held a press conference to denounce this act of police brutality against Reverend Hines and to call for a “Justice Department” investigation. I hope all of them will use this one incident as grounds to remove all support from “weed and seed” CAPS, COPS and the horses on which they all rode up in here.
To get a handle on how important “weed and seed”
( CAPS) is to the ruling class, on December 29, 1997 one of the “weed and seeders,” Arnold Mireles, was killed by someone on the Southeast side of Chicago, where Mireles did his thing. His death brought out Mayor Daley, all kinds and huge numbers of police
( strange when this system generally grinds down, hounds and enslaves Mexicans daily ). The police played their bag pipes at his funeral, schools are being named for him, that quick ( this system is desperate ). Scholarships are being granted in the name of Arnold Mireles. The Mexican Independence Day Parade will be in his honor, and a monument may be built in the neighborhood. For the first time in anyone’s memory, at least two decades, a Cook County States Attorney will try a case. Richard “Dick” Devine, Cook County States Attorney, will try suspect, Roel Salinas, who has been accused of hiring two youths to murder Mireles.
The ruling class is very serious about “weed and seed.” On July 28,1998, Illinois Govenor Jim Edgar announced the passage of a bill, House Bill 2400, which supposedly gives greater protection to volunteers involved with community policing programs through stiffer penalties on crimes committed against them. This bill includes stiffer penalties all the way from first degree murder to aggravated intimidation (Arguing with a weed and seeder could probably interpreted as aggrivated intimidation.)
In Chicago, every police district is broken-down into numerous locations where police meet with citizens to deepen their snitching corps and to emplant their police state program. They call them “beat meetings.” They are using the people’s justified hatred of street crime, joblessness, and the terrible conditions created by the very system that the police protect, to establish a strangle hold of force and violence, on the black and poor communities, as a substitute for social responsibility.
The resources being poured into this program reveal the weakness and desperation of the rulers. Throughout the day and night, citizens ( mostly elderly ) are being seen and heard on the radio and T.V. with very “slick” promotions of “caps.”
While some advanced forces are already at work in Chicago and some of the other 143 cities in which this program has been established, massive action will be required to defeat this assault. As we organize and prepare ourselves to defeat the red, white and blue global gangsters, who the police really serve and protect, most of the so-called thugs and street criminals will join an honest effort to make a better world. They will also become reliable and productive members of a social system that has their best interest at heart.
The Real Criminals are the Rulers
The first crime wave in the U.S. was perpetrated by white runaway indentured serfs and Black runaway slaves in the 1640s in New Amsterdam, the Dutch colony of New York. They had no jobs or means of subsistence.
Today, many plants and factories have been moved to the Southern U. S. where wages are kept low and the treatment of workers is rarely challenged in an organized way. Increasingly, plants are being moved near prisons where workers are forced to compete with the low or no cost of prison labor, driving wages even lower.
The federal Government has also subsidized the movement of thousands of plants south of the U. S. border and to the Caribbean where environmental protections are non-existent and wage labor is straight slavery. Meanwhile thousands of people in the inner-cities are left without jobs, pushing many into almost necessary contact with the police.
If Affirmative Action is looked at as a program through which petty bourgeois, or better-off African Americans and women have gained ascendancy in the U. S. system, the truth is that very few have risen through the “glass ceiling” and 5% white males hold some 80 percent of the highest corporate positions. It is also true that the U.S. has worked consciously to create a “well-off”, buffer class of blacks to stand between the rich and the so called “under class” of Blacks and other minorities for various reasons, all of which are related to profits and the continued dominant position of the rich.
The fact, however, is that all who have been legally and systematically denied access to goods and services, educational opportunity etc. deserve restitution. They deserve the “legalized” correction of set backs and harm done by the “legalized” denial of these opportunities no matter if they are well off today or not. This does not excuse Women or minorities who have served as “fronts” for mainstream corporations, secretly taking the benefits of Affirmative Action and funneling it to these well-off companies. As an aside, Affirmative Action is a form of reparations..
If, however, the big picture of the current assaults on Affirmative Action is seen clearly, it will reveal a sick, sadistic and massive assault on those on the lower rung of society. Along side the massive loss of jobs, are wide-spread cuts in food stamps, medical care, housing and rent subsidies, assaults on benefits for the disabled, school lunches, the loss of Social Security Insurance
( SSI ) and the heightening of welfare scapegoating, the wide spread and deep abusive treatment of Blacks in the workplace driving them down and out and as a final result of all these factors and more, more people are pushed into almost necessary contact with the police.
The first bill in a state legislature to provide support for women who were widows at the time happened in 1910. For the past 86 years there has been a small will, by the powers that be, to support people who were needy or disadvantaged. The Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, that is basically dismantled by the new range of welfare reforms, was created in 1935, the same time that the Social Security Act was passed. With all the criminalization and abuse of Black families on welfare calling the mothers “welfare queens” etc., the stark reality is that the majority of people on welfare are white.
The Federal Government gives countless indirect subsidies through which corporations are charged below market rates for all kinds of goods and services such as uranium enrichment, irrigation water, electrical power, timber, land rights and public lands for grazing. Every year the Pentagon gives $100 million to the 14 largest computer chip makers.
The military budget is $300 billion per year and is full of high profit margins, cost overruns, rigged bidding, corruption, sweetheart deals. In the last two decades, literally trillions were spent on arms. This list really goes on and on some more, but the point is that with all this welfare for the rich, whether considered on a state basis or federally only 1% or 2% of the U.S. budget is used for welfare for the poor.
It is instructive to observe the Klu Klux Klanish nature of U.S. policy toward Blacks, minorities and the poor and how this impacts on the current situation. In 1975, David Duke restarted the largest Klan group in America called the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan, headquartered in Harrison, Arkansas. His plan of action and his platform in his bid for the position of Governor of the State of Louisiana ( which he almost won ) was, end all support for Affirmative Action, because he felt it injured the rights of whites. He wanted to end all support for non-white immigration to this country, and third, he wanted to end all support for welfare because he felt that the working white people were being forced to support the “undeserving” and lazy blacks and other people of color that he felt were the majority of people on welfare. The fourth plank in this racist platform was to create in the minds of the American public the concept of reverse discrimination, which didn’t exist at the time.
It is important to note that in the twenty-odd years since David Duke made this the national program of the Klu Klux Klan, four of his proposals have become public policy out of the White House. The U. S. system is forever trying to criminalize the people but by now we should know who the real criminals are. In case you don’t know who the “real” criminals are, take a look at the blatant U. S. violation of International Law.
In 1948, the United Nations ( U. N.) wrote and passed a document called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
( UDHR ). In fact, Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the president chaired the commission that wrote the UDHR. The spirit in which this document was written, was that there should be in international law, a value system that would insure that people have the right to have a basic standard of living and a basic set of freedoms that are human rights, that should not depend on what country they live in, into what race they’re born, what gender they are or what their age is. According to this document, human rights don’t even depend on being sane.
The two of these basic human rights that we are most familiar with, in the U.S., are civil rights, the right to be equal with any other member of society, and political human rights, the right to vote or join the political party of your choice. But the U.S. system tends not to promote or even mention the other parts of the UDHR. The first one that they like to ignore is economic human rights, that is, that each country should arrange its economy in such a way that the economic needs of its people are met. Surely the richest country in the world can afford this.
The second part of the UDHR that they like to ignore in the U.S. is the part which concerns social human rights, education, health care, housing, etc. The first two, civil and political rights are pretty empty without economic and social human rights.
Article 25 of the UDHR states that, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood through circumstances beyond his control” ( and I hope this applies to women equally) . And the second part of the document reads: “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protections.” Now the criminality of the U.S. comes into very plain view.
It is easier for the U.S. system to exercise its genocidal policies if it uses sudo-scientific explanations for its behavior, like those put forward by it’s a..hole think tanks. There are some 750 right-wing think tanks across America right now and they have nothing better to do than sit around and think of things to make the lives of the people miserable. Slithering out of one of these think tanks, the Heritage Foundation, has come the consummate a..hole, Charles Murray. Murray wrote a book, Losing ground, which became the blue print for Ronald Regan’s dismantling of the welfare system as he kicked 700,000 people off welfare. That was because Charles Murray basically offered the scientifically unsubstantiated theory that by providing welfare to people you destroyed their moral character and that you destroyed their ambition to work so the system was in fact, creating a worse problem by helping them than by just letting them flounder and die.
More recently Murray has written a second book, The Bell Curve. Instead of offering economic justification for dismantling Affirmative Action programs and the welfare program like he’d done in Losing ground, he began to resurface biological or genetic reasons, basically by saying that Blacks and other people of color were genetically incapable of being responsible American citizens. His argument was that the dependency cycle was in our genes.
Make no mistake, this particular outlook has been bought widely and at some pretty high levels of government. One example is the horned, pitchfork slinging, white devil, Pete Wilson, recent presidential candidate and govenor of California, the largest state in the union. Wilson has used the Bell Curve as the basis of his platform, through the infamous proposition 187 ( which attacks the basic human rights of millions of Latinos living in California ) in his bid for Govenor of California. He won.
Pete Wilson has used the outlook in the Bell Curve in his bid for the presidency of the U.S. and the key plank in his platform was the dismantling of all Affirmative Action programs. He lost the presidential race to his clone, Bill Clinton, but Wilson was successful in getting rid of all Affirmative Action programs in the state government system and the state university system, in California, denying access to thousands of minorities and women.
A record number of minority students have applied to UCLA for the first freshman class since the passage of the anti Affirmative Action proposotion 209, yet, the number of African American, Hispanic and Native Americans has dropped 42 percent, 33 percent, and 43.2 percent respectively. At Berkley the number of African Americans plummeted 66 percent and the number of Hispanic and Native Americans fell 52.6 percent and 60.9 percent respectively. For the fall semester 1997, the UC Berkley.which because of proposition 209, like the other universities in the California system, was forced to drop race as a consideration for admission, admitted only 18 Hispanic and only one Black student. As political tradition has it, in America, as California goes, generally, so goes the nation.
The system of U.S. imperialism increasingly rips off the resources of the whole world and hords them for the benefit of of a few based on their race and sex. All these qualified students who are being denied access to higher education and the ones who have been admitted can find even greater challenge, fulfillment and a brighter future by joining the world-wide movement to overturn the system of U.S. imperalism.
Attempts at genocide are obvious when the U. S. Supreme Court, Federal Courts, the House, the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, the President, plus state and local governments legalize racist abuse and neglect like that being aimed at Blacks in the U.S, today.
When all this is seen in light of the year-long investigation and August 1996 story in the San Jose Mercury News that the
C I A had initiated the crack cocaine epidemic by funneling crack into the ghettos of Los Angeles, California, which swiftly spread nationally. The profits from this were used to fund the Contra War against the Sandanistas in Nicaragua. With only a cursory knowledge of the devastation that crack cocaine has brought to the Black communities of America, one could only conclude that a campaign of genocide is hard at work here.
The general treatment of Blacks in America conforms to the internationally accepted definition of genocide, which has been defined as a crime, which the signatories have proclaimed must be prevented and punished.
The United Nations Convention on the prevention and punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 9 December 1948, ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1986 and signed by then President Reagan in 1988 reads, in part:
In the Present Convention genocide means any of the following acts, committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, racial, ethnic or religious group, as such:
a. Killing members of the group
b.Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
d. Forcibly transferring the children of the group to another group
e. Taking measures to prevent births within the group.
Article IV of the Convention declares that those guilty of genocide and other acts listed shall be punished , “whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials, or private individuals.”
The drug trade in general, has not only resulted in massive killing and serious bodily or mental harm as outlined in the international Genocide Convention and the version ratified by this country, it deliberately inflicts conditions of life calculated to bring about the destruction of a group, “in whole or in part.”
Moreover, the long-range implications of what is increasingly becoming the criminalization of a “race” are being actualized daily. Increased incarceration not only results in more Blacks having stigmatizing felony records insuring negative consequences for future employment, it means virtual disenfranchisement for large segments of Blacks where, in many states, conviction of a felony results in loss of the right to vote. Such long-term impact on voting rights, coupled with the concomitant disruption and disintegration of families and termination of parental rights ( which oftentimes causes children of one group to be transferred to another ), and the obliteration of vital reproductive years ( which results in the prevention of birth within the group ) results in incalculable damages to Black people.
When a constitutionality responsible ruler like the U. S. is guilty of genocide it is the responsibility of its own citizens in combination with other nations and peoples to usurp its laws and not only find the means to overthrow such government but must also find the means to punish the perpetrators and not just have them admit past crimes.
Black children are being dogged-out by the heartless system in the U. S. In May of 1997, the House passed a bill that would give $1.6 billion to states that agree to toughen their handling of kids who commit serious felonies, in part, to make it easier to try them as adults. In July 1997 the Senate Judiciary Committee was pushing forward a similar bill. The feeling among law makers like twisted mouth fools like Orin Hatch, Senate Judiciary Chairman and Bill McCollum the Florida Representative who wrote the house version of the bill, is that no population in America today poses a greater threat to public safety than juvenile criminals and they feel compelled to do something about this and the answer for them, is reflected in the fact that Orin Hatch has to speed through 100 proposed amendments to the bill aimed at dealing with youth. Their whole approach is geared toward punishment and not a modicum of concern for the system’s violation of the “social or economic human rights” of these youth which in most cases drives them to “crime” in the first place.
In Illinois, seven state correctional centers for youth are operating at 160% of capacity. In most, two teens share a tiny room designed for one. St. Charles, the largest youth center in the state, was built for 300 boys but has 500 to 600.
Some reactionary criminologists are also warning that a new wave of “superpredators” will soon hit the streets. They say in fatherless households, ( this system creates Black fatherless households and we must learn to blame the system and not each other for this condition. ) and fractured neighborhoods, millions of four-to seven-year olds, the baby boomers’ own mini-boom, are headed for their teens. So Congress wants to make it easier to try juveniles accused of violent crimes as adults and to incarcerate them in adult prisons.
Under both the Senate and the House bill, states would have to make prosecutors ( prosecutors? ) and not judges the ones who decide whether a teenager, charged with a serious violent felony or drug offense, should be tried as an adult. This is the pits of legalized fascism. ( There goes the Black Judges neighborhood.) To demonstrate that crimes really do carry punishments, states would also have to impose a rising scale of “graduated sanctions” for all juvenile offenses, beginning with the first, and keep adult style criminal records on juvenile offenders. McCullum says “the juvenile justice system isn’t working. This bill puts consequences back into the law.”
Over the past five years every state except Hawaii has decided to allow some kids to be tried in adult criminal courts. Altogether, some 12,300 youths are prosecuted as adults each year in state courts, that is about 9% of all juveniles arrested over the number who were tried as adults a decade ago. Child welfare advocates say that these new bills would effectively dissolve the separate system of justice for kids that dates to 1899, when Chicago established the nation’s first juvenile court.
According to a recent study by the “liberal” ( quotation marks belong to Time magazine ) National Center for Initiatives and Alternatives, Connecticut has the highest juvenile-to-adult transfer rate and Colorado has the lowest, yet their youth crime rates are the same. Since the 1970s New York has been automatically trying as adults kids 16 and older charged with serious crimes. In the same period its juvenile crime rates doubled.
One area in which Republicans might be getting out ahead of the “public mood” is in the provisions that would imprison kids with adults, though “not in the same cells.” While reportedly 8,ooo teens are already housed with adults, federal rules require “Sight and sound” separation, meaning juveniles cannot be within reach of adults. Some corrections officials say that requires a pointless division of facilities used by both populations, for instance, two exercise areas when one could be shared.
The Senate bill would override the complexities of the “sight and sound” rule by imposing a “no physical contact” provision which means that the same facilities could be used. But juvenile advocates say that breaking down the barriers would make kids prey to rape and other forms of abuse. Kids held for truancy, the most common reason for juvenile arrest, would be morsels for the older guys. “Children commit suicide eight times as often in jails as they do in juvenile-detention facilities,” says Mark Soler, head of the Washington-based Youth Law Center.
The White House has proposed its own bill that puts more emphasis on money for crime-prevention measures, such as keeping schools open in the afternoon from 3 to 6, when almost half of juvenile crimes take place. While the Senate would allow states to use as much as 40% of the federal money they get for prevention programs, the House would require them to spend it all on law enforcement.
The most troubling part of this whole scheme of police, Judiciary, Executive, Legislative, think tanks etc. is the straight up new form of slavery being practiced in the Prison Industrial Complex. At the root of a great deal of this is the long standing thrust of the Republicans to privatize government in the interest of what they call their “market orientation.” Eisenhower opened the flood gates when under his administration the Bureau of Budget became the Office of Management and Budget and issued a directive discouraging federal agencies from procuring any “product or service that can be procured from private enterprise through ordinary business channels.”
Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, 1964 presidential nominee, made big waves when he suggested that the Tennessee Valley Authority be privatized. This didn’t happen but had Barry Goldwater not been defeated by Lyndon Johnson in 1964, what we are seeing today we would have seen some time ago. It took Ronald Ragan to come along with first the Grace Commission which promoted privatization and later the Commission on Privatization. One of the many recommendations of this commission was converting U. S. military commissaries and federal state and local correctional facilities to private management. George Bush picked up the gauntlet when Ragan left office.
As recently as the early 1980s, not a single privatized jail or prison existed either within or beyond the boundaries of the United States. At the end of 1995, 104 privately run adult correctional facilities were operating in this country. Today, private American firms manage correctional facilities in 18 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Australia and Britain. In 1996, ten states arranged to house some of their prisoners in privatized facilities in other states. This is not new. Until the 1920s Florida and Alabama were involved in convict release programs with private firms and this yielded significant financial benefits to both the firms and the coffers of the Jurisdictions.
It is also informative to notice an 1891 Virginia Supreme court decision, Ruffin v. Commonwealth, which summed up the prevailing attitude for decades after: “A prisoner has, as a consequence of his crime, not only forfeited his liberty, but all his personal rights except those which the law in its humanity accord him. He is for the time being, the slave of the state.”
Some argue that things are not like this today because of the protection of “wonderful laws,” but with the all the things we’ve seen about the history and current behavior of America who can doubt that the men and women in these prisons are slaves.
Here is one example of how this system works. Bowling Green, Missouri, population 2,976, was a town in trouble, jobs were scarce and developers were passing it by. So the civic leaders of Bowling Green traveled to the state capital to compete against a dozen other Missouri communities for three new prisons. They showered legislators with buttons, local apples and an $11 million bond issue for utility work. In March 1996, Bowling Green landed a prison.
The $79 million, 1,975-bed facility will bring hundreds of jobs to Bowling Green. Because inmates count as residents for the disbursement of state tax revenues, the prison will also bring $I50,000 a year in new state funds. Also in the works: a new housing subdivision, a Super 8 Motel and a McDonalds.
Bowling Green’s prison courtship is exemplary of a relatively new ritual that is spreading rapidly as rural towns seek to capitalize on skyrocketing incarceration rates in the United States.
Punishment is now America’s leading growth industry. The 1980s saw so many people dragged in shackles from inner city neighborhoods to rural prisons that 5 percent of the national increase in rural population between 1980 and 1990 is accounted for by prisoners.
Prisons have replaced factories as the economic centerpiece of many small towns. Florida officials recently promoted their state’s prison-building spree with a color brochure that claimed that a 1,100- bed prison is worth $25 million a year and 350 jobs to a community. Towns responded by lining up for the chance at such bounty.
Gone are the days ( in the recent past ) when communities greeted the prospect of prisons with chants of “not in my back yard.” Prisons do not use a lot of chemicals, do not create noise or atmospheric pollutants and do not lay off workers during recessions. Students in one Sunday school in Texas actually got on their knees and prayed that a new prison would open in their neighborhood.
Municipalities are not the only ones eager to cash in on the U. S. incarceration binge. Private interests, including prison management companies, construction firms and bond underwriters, are booming along with the unparalleled growth in the U. S. correctional population. The U. S. incarceration rate now runs five times higher than that of other industrial “Democracies.”
The United States has 1.8 million people behind bars, three times the number in 1980, and 3.5 million more on probation and parole. In the course of a year, there are 12 million admissions to secure facilities. Enough people are admitted to prisons and jails every two days to fill the New Orleans Superdome to capacity.
Nationwide, annual prison construction budgets approached $7 billion over the last decade. California is in the midst of a multi-year expansion budgeted at $5.27 billion; Texas just completed a $1.5 billion project. ( funny how these two states are leading the charge in the assaults on Affirmative Action and funny how both rest on land stolen from Mexico.). Contractors broke ground on 26 federal and 96 state prisons in 1996, alone.
Small masonry shops that would just as soon build a school as a jail find themselves laying brick for cell blocks. Giant Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs, Smith Barney Shearson and Merrill Lynch compete to underwrite prison construction with enormous bond issues. Financial intermediaries buy bonds and securities from private prison companies or state agencies and resell them to investors, a market worth about $2 to $3 billion per year.
Curious people can read all about it in new industry publications like Correctional Building News, a glossy industry journal that features a “facility of the month” on the front page and announces which companies have won the latest contracts.
But as much as the construction industry benefits from the money spent building prisons, it is the prospect of managing prisons for profit, with contracts paying approximately $20,000 per year, per cell, that offers the most exciting prospects for those looking to profit from the incarceration boom.
Eighteen companies currently run more than 100 correctional facilities in 19 states. The industry has grown at a rate of 34 percent clip over the past five years. There are now 70,000 inmates incarcerated in private facilities, up from 2,500 in 1984.
These profiteers from human misery, speculate that there is still tremendous room for growth as 95% of prison inmates are still in public facilities and the prison population continues to grow by roughly 70,000 per year.
Investors have taken notice. A March 1996 research document from Equitable Securities in Nashville describes the prison industry as “very attractive” and issues strong buy advice to investors.
The leader of this dirty enterprise is Corrections Corporation of America ( CCA ), the first private prison company to go public. It was touted in 1993 as a “theme stock for the 90s.” Since that time CCA has moved from the NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange and watched its fortunes rise. CCA now has contracts for more than 35,000 beds, a correctional system larger than most states. In 1995 CCA stock soared from $8 to $37 per share.
Like all other capitalist enterprises these devils have done their homework and according to CCA representative, “devilette,” Susan Hart, they factor in things like “the breakdown in the social setting” “the increase in single parent homes”, the fact that “there are not a whole lot of career choices for people”, combined with the reality that people need money to live”, “social barriers” preventing many people from getting good paying jobs and other factors. Hart predicts there will be more than enough crime and public demand for get-tough responses to fuel CCA’s growth for quite some time.
An American trader in Hong Kong, who was disgruntled about the third degree his China-made products received at U.S. customs, blew the whistle on a secret aspect of this sordid circle of human carnage, foreign trade. California, has launched an ambitious prison product export drive, touting boots and jeans in Russia and the Middle East. And while it is busy trying to sign- up sales reps around the world, the State of Oregon’s Department of Corrections has already snared its first supply contract in Japan.
Despite its own prohibition of prison-made products, the United States is starting to move aggressively into export markets, led by state governments. As proof, the trader who broke the story, produced a State of California prison industries catalogue which invites foreign traders to buy from its wide range of discount furniture and clothing products.
Many other firms are cashing in on the domestic end of this bonanza. US West advertises a prisoner telephone service that promotes reliable service and one of the highest commission rates in the telephone industry. Other phone companies market technologies to track where prisoners place phone calls, disallow prohibited calls and disconnect after the allotted time period. Correctional cable TV offers video communications in sports, news, music, educational and spiritual programming while granting wardens complete control of TV viewing at all times. OCS Technologies moves prison management into the information age with software that tracks inmate information such as risk classification, visitor scheduling, movement, bed load planning and sentence calculation.
If prisoners get sick, Correctional Medical Services offers to care for them in this $3 billion corner of the health care market. Reports are that the privatization of Health care in prisons has reduced the frequency and quality of health care to criminal levels of neglect.
An ACLU report about Texas prisons has revealed that medical attention is often withheld, used to control, torture and even kill inmates. Some doctors are inept hacks, often alcoholics or drug addicts who frequently are not allowed to practice medicine outside of prison.
Politicians have tried to create public opinion against prisoners by spreading the big lie that prisoners are getting all kinds of “privileges,” like free medical care. They say that these privileges go to prisoners “at tax payers expense” and should be eliminated. But the reality is that prisoners are often denied any treatment at all, and are forced to live in squalid unsanitary conditions that breed disease.
The ACLU report exposes how prison officials, In their drive to cut costs, deny medical attention to prisoners, and doctors are rewarded once they discontinue expensive prescriptions, refuse costly care, or ignore inmate ailments. Assigned drug prescriptions and work restrictions are routinely disregarded by non medical staff. If an inmate is moved to another facility, then his doctor’s recommendations are lost in the ensuing administrative shuffle.
The conditions and treatment in these prisons are not only degrading, they are often deadly. A prisoner in the Texas prison system exposed that “blood work and insulin injections are performed during meals at the table. It is not uncommon to encounter bloodied alcohol swabs on the table and the floor.” The report states that on one unit in July of 1997, the filthy razors used to shave prisoner’s heads triggered an epidemic of painful, puss-filled skin abrasions that creams and antibiotics don’t seem to cure. Often, such soiled surroundings occasion more than mere physical discomfort. Poorly cleaned and overcrowded units are ideal incubators for antibiotic-resistant bacteria: between 1994 and 1995 no fewer than eighteen inmates died from systemic infections which might have been prevented through proper sanitation. The ACLU person who reported on the prisons in Texas says conditions in Texas prisons “ border on medieval times.”
Lockup USA offers a series of video tapes that teach prison guards the latest techniques in handling unruly inmates etc., others are scrambling for food and laundry concessions etc., etc., etc.
These profit making enterprises prefer to avoid the cost of drug treatment, group counseling, literacy training or anything that is going to give these inmates a better chance when they hit the streets. Instead, they opt for fewer personnel and more video cameras to watch them.
One criminologist has said that timber companies need trees, steel companies need iron, and prison companies use people as their raw material. In my view this is straight-up slavery. Another critic of prisons has said that: “The goal of the industry is to keep prisons full. A successful company locks up as many people as possible for as long as possible.”
Just so we have a fairly panoramic view of the various heads and tentacles of this despicable, monster, other areas should be considered. Consider the “extra,” extra curricular activities of prison guards. Prison guards are already some of the most vigorous proponents of prison expansion. Some guards have used the punitive political climate , which they helped foster, to transform themselves into political power houses. The California Peace Officers Association grew in one decade from 4,000 to 23,000 members. Union president, Don Novey, boasts that 38 of 44 bills the union pushed in the state legislature under the past three governors were enacted. The union spent lavishly in support of California’s “three strikes and you’re out” law and spent more than $1 million, the second highest amount in the state, on Republican Governor Pete Wilson’s gubernatorial campaign.
Just the endorsement of this union is gold for struggling politicians. The union uses its influence to lobby for tougher laws, more prison guards and higher wages and benefits. The average prison guard now earns $10,000 more than the average California school teacher and more than many professors in the state university system. The union also provides seed money to victims’ rights groups which also lobby for longer sentences and tougher laws.
Contrary to popular belief, the U. S. did not experience an increase in crime during the era of the prison build up. Victimization surveys through the 1980s show slightly declining crime rates. Yet the prison population tripled as the threshold for admission to prison was lowered. Non-violent offenders accounted for 84 percent of the increase in prison admissions since 1980. California’s “three-strikes law” captured twice as many people for simple possession of marijuana as for rape, manslaughter, and murder combined.
In the current state of affairs, unchecked, the Prison Industrial Complex’s influence over criminal justice policy is likely to grow significantly. Criminal justice policy may someday be as influenced by Corrections Corporation of America as defense policy is influenced by Lockheed Martin and Mc Donald Douglas.
With for-profit interests advocating increased “prisonization”, there is no telling ( if this trend is allowed to continue ) how many of the people will ultimately be locked up. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency already projects that if current “get tough” proposals like “truth- in- sentencing” and “three-strikes-you’re out” were fully implemented, the prison population would leap from 1.6 million to seven million.
The rise in the prison population has been accompanied by a rise in the brutal treatment of prisoners. In August of 1997 a video tape showed to the whole world the brutality routinely inflicted on prisoners at the Brazoria County Detention Center in Texas. Inmates who were sitting around tables, playing cards and watching television were abruptly and savagely assaulted by guards. They were dragged along the ground and told to “crawl like snakes.” They were beaten, kicked, bitten by dogs and tortured with stun guns. Then they were sprayed with mace, strip-searched and ordered to lie face down on a concrete floor for two hours. “This will be done on a regular basis and get worse each time,” one guard announced.
During the years 1990-1995 the prison population in Texas grew by 127% which was the highest in the country For comparison, in North Carolina, which had the second highest percentage increase, the prison population grew by 59.5%. In Texas, as well as, many other states there have been a proliferation of “boot camps” where the treatment of inmates is almost like the “breaking” or “seasoning” of slaves during the shackle slave era.
In 1996, Congress dramatically cut back death row appeals. Inmates now get just one appeal. In 1997 there were 74 executions in the U.S. 37 were in Texas, probably the state with the most barbaric prison system. Texas has 372 people on death row, Florida 350, and Illinois is third with 171. Rest assured most of these death row inmates are black, while Blacks comprise approximately 10% of the U. S. population. In Illinois, recently, nine ( 9 ) men had to be removed from death row and out of prison because they were proven to be innocent. No white man in America has ever been executed for the murder of a black person.
For centuries the U. S. has committed some of the most horrendous crimes in world history including, to name a few, the shackle slavery of Africans, the virtual extermination of native Americans, standing by during the Nazi holocaust against the Jews in World War II, then using nuclear weapons on the only non-white members of the Axis powers. The U. S. was first to recognize the Leopold Government in the Congo where the stated goal of the Belgians was to kill every black man woman and child of the Congo. The Belgians built a mountain of the cut off hands of the African people of the Congo and the Americans raced to embrace the Belgians. The U. S. is responsible for the brutal treatment of the Chinese people as they built the railroads in the U.S., the treatment of poor whites in the coal mines and oil fields or the international trail of blood that they’ve left from Nagasaki, to Grenada, to most of Africa to Vietnam, to Mexico, to Hiroshima, to Peru, to Iraq, to Honduras, Iran, Somalia, pick a country. Now the U.S. is perpetrating the massive drugging, criminalization, incarceration and neo-slavery of African people in the chain gangs and prisons of America.
. Bill Clinton, the current mouthpiece of U. S. Imperialism, bears watching with a microscope. When he is not “representin” as a self-enshrined piñata in a twisted struggle of unity and opposites between love and war, he is clamoring about how we have to stop building so many prisons and do some “social programs” to prevent so many people from getting caught up in the prison system.
How much of a threat can this be to the biggest growth industry in the U.S., ( the prison industry ) when the House has already passed a bill that grants states 1.6 billion dollars to “get tough” on kids and the Senate is doing the same and they’re legally putting the power of judges into the hands of prosecutors? Who’s kidding whom when under the Clinton Administration we’ve had more repressive laws passed and upheld, probably, than in any equal amount of time in U.S. history. The reality is that massive cuts in the basic human needs of people have occurred along side of unprecedented profits for the rich, while social programs are put under the Justice Department and brutal police agencies that are protected and encouraged by the courts.
Where in the hell was Clinton in 1996 and when did he know, that 26 federal and 96 state prisons were built?
In Chicago police are “sweeping” the streets in certain neighborhoods and as beds in state mental hospitals are increasingly going empty, people are being packed into the new 1,000 bed Cook County Psychiatric Prison, without court dates. This is being done to justify the building of this elaborate facility and to justify the salaries of correctional staff etc. In light of this, is there any doubt, that attempts will be made to “sweep” the streets nationally, to justify the building of all these prisons?
This is the same Clinton who “reviewed” Affirmative Action, giving Pete Wilson Governor of California, time to get the national snowball rolling against it. As we know, generally , as California goes, so goes the nation. Then he jumps up with “mend it don’t end it.” Under the current circumstances, mend it, can only mean more “weed and seed.” Weed and seed, a program which in word addresses the righteous needs of the people for an end to community violence and for jobs and economic development; while in deed it is a cover for imposing a most brutal police state that includes prison slavery, deep wage slavery in the community and more.
There come times in human history when people must make a radical rupture with old views of the whole world. That time has come for Black people, other minorities and freedom fighters in the U.S. Gone are the days when we can look to our slave masters, our exploiters and tormentors and their system for salvation.
Many of the old methods of struggle, do not apply to the reality of today. We must “retool” the whole movement and bring forward the tens of millions of people who suffer from this system, onto the new and winning track of scientific methods of struggle.
Many among the people have been slowed down by the hype of the system. This is evidenced by their making statements like “we are our own worse enemies,” calling our kids a “lost generation” creating a climate in which you can only be accepted when you deplore everything about the youth, their clothes, their music, their attitude etc.
Every generation in history has created its own fads and styles which defy the traditions of their parents. What is unique about the youth of today is the extent to which the system has created a climate of no hope, jobs, higher education or prosperity while criminalizing them, making their world a living hell hole of the daily omnipresence of police, with non-stop harassment, incarceration and slavery.
While it is true that black on black violence ends many lives annually, it is the system of national oppression against Blacks that creates the conditions for most Black on Black crime and causes massive deaths yearly in many other ways. It is not just from the direct murder by Klan-type racists, but from countless ways that oppression takes its blood price. Black children are twice as likely to die in the first year of life as white children. The average life span expectancy for black people is many years less than for white people in the U.S. The poverty imposed by the system translates into worse medical care, worse diet, more industrial accidents and the explosion of the AIDS epidemic in poor communities. Condoms are kept on lock-down in drugstores in the ghetto. Anyone who wants to claim that “youth gangs” are the main killers of Black people is simply telling a lie.
The people themselves are not to blame for poverty, desperation crime and drugs. Heroine or cocaine don’t grow in the ghetto but require sophisticated networks of boats and planes and international connections. These conditions are caused by the workings of capitalism.
If we destroy the big global criminals who operate under the biggest, gangster, organized crime logo of them all, the red, white and blue flag, most of the petty neighborhood criminals will automatically fall.
The system cares nothing about the suffering of the people or about crime. It cares only about its own stability and ability to continue to exploit and oppress the people and maximize its profits. Capitalism is a system that needs and breeds poverty. Anyone who believes that inequality has disappeared in the USA should checkout the difference between the crumbling prison-like public schools in any big city and the sprawling high school campuses of the wealthy suburbs.
When ghetto youth try to survive in the only way the system has made available to them, the system calls them “career criminals” and locks them up by the hundreds of thousands. Then, it uses these street hustles as an excuse to prepare invasion armies of police and create lock-down conditions in the projects.
It is true that there is a “dog eat dog” madness to street life in the ghetto. Poverty pushes some people into desperation and demoralization, and some turn on themselves and other oppressed people. But these conditions are a result of the capitalist system that offers people nothing but neglect or exploitation.
Often the same people who support these police crackdowns, preach that oppressed people need to get into “capitalist entrepreneurship.” But capitalism is a dog eat dog, me first system and it is the ideology and laws of capitalism that drive “street capitalists” into competition that ends in shooting, just like big-time capitalist competition ends in world war!
While Congress is making “drive by shootings” a federal crime, for years the U. S. Military has been carrying out its own crime wave against any small country that won’t do its bidding but it does “fly by shootings.”
Whether in three cornered hats, powdered wigs, black robes or blue uniforms this whole system must be exposed as the most extreme criminal enterprise of the last 500 years, world-wide.
Millions of people have been duped into going along with the most hideous designs to criminalize and enslave a whole race of Black people. The only reason this has not been done more widely to Latinos in the U. S. is because they are being used in many cases in the kitchens, roadways, sweatshops and ditches of America as a cheap labor force making Blacks even more dispensable. Many Latinos are even more deeply enslaved in their own countries by U.S. imperialism than they are here in the U. S.
In spite of the views of many that each nationality should go it alone, relentless efforts must be made to unite all who can be united regardless of nationality or sex. Much has been done along the usual lines of divide and conquer, but we must break this yoke and even learn Spanish or other languages that can aid us in a formidable but winnable fight. Today, if we don’t end all oppression and exploitation world-wide, we got nothing coming.
In the case of America the “mass media” has been herding the minds of millions into complicity with its genocidal program and the brainwashing has gone deep into the fabric of American society.
An example of this deep seated brainwashing of the American people is evidenced by events in the Abner Louima case. On August 9,1997 Abner Louima, a black man, an immigrant from Haiti, was set upon by cops outside a Haitian nightclub in Brooklyn, New York. He was handcuffed and thrown into a squad car. On the way to the 70th precinct station, cops beat Louima with their radios and fists.
At the station the cops pulled Louima’s pants down, took him in the bathroom and while he was hand cuffed a fascist pig named Justin Volp shoved the wooden handle of a toilet plunger up his anus rupturing several internal organs. Then this gang of pigs shoved the stick covered with blood and feces down Louima’s throat all the while screaming “nigger” and threatening to kill his family if he told anyone. Then as the blood pours from his wounds, these pigs let him lie there for hours, probably hoping he’d die. The station was full of cops but not one came to Louima’s aid.
Once they finally had to take him to the hospital they kept him hand cuffed to the bed for three days. The police cover-ups have come to be expected in the U. S. but in this case over forty
( 40 ) medical personnel, including doctors, covered-up this case. One black woman, a hospital employee, Magalie Laurent, courageously and under ostracism from her co-workers and threats to her life, came forward with this story.
We must join with our hundreds of millions of brothers and sisters all around the Planet Earth who cry themselves to sleep, each night, with the same dream. Down with U. S. Imperialism!!!
There are still many who encourage the people to “work within the system”, no matter what. Although we must not rule out any form of struggle, only those who don’t want to see, cannot see that this system is stacked against the people in a thousand ways.
The criminal justice system in America is infected, to the core, with racism and people of color are subjected to unwarranted disparate treatment at every stage in the administration of justice, from the selective deployment of law enforcement personnel in communities of color, to police misconduct and brutality, from stops and arrests premised on racially based profiles, to prosecutorial misconduct in decisions of charging and pretrial detention, from the lack of diversity in jury pools, to the improper use of peremptory challenges to remove Blacks from juries, and from the racial disparity in mandatory minimum sentences, including “three strikes” and the crack cocaine disparity, to the racial application of the death penalty.
A very important thing for the people to understand is that in spite of all the atrocities committed by the U. S. rulers, by the use of their massive means to create public opinion they have promoted the idea that the U.S. is the most loving and caring country in the world. In reality, throughout U.S. history, there has never been any U.S. policy, foreign or domestic, that has not been intimately linked with the maximization of profits through the exploitation of any one who could provide such profits.
Some of the most backward high level U.S politicians, Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, Reagan, Bush etc. have been pushing for the profit driven, anti- people privatization of government functions such as transportation, energy, education and prisons. This scheme of things features concentrating greater wealth into fewer and fewer hands. The ultimate outcome of privatization will be more repression, poverty, misery and enslavement for the people.
Our push for freedom must be the opposite of privatization. Instead of being driven by the profit motive it must be driven by the needs of people. Instead of deepening the people’s involvement in the stock market, thereby, strengthening the capitalist system, it must expose the stock market and the capitalist system generally, as the source of the problem. It must patiently explain the superiority of the socialist system and why it is in our best interest. Our system must feature cooperatives, collectivization of work and public ownership of the major means of .production. We must see to it that food, shelter, medical care and at least all the basic human needs are guaranteed for all.
Our task is to develop a massive public opinion creating machine that can interpret the major events of the world with honesty and in a way that is favorable to the toiling and oppressed people of the world. Whatever forms this public opinion creating machine employs, it must also unite all the scattered organizations and the tens and hundreds of millions of people, world-wide who are bleeding, suffering, and dying to be free. Our public opinion-creating/organizing machine must teach the people to seize state power by force and to make a new world.
No retreat!!! Free the whole world from all forms of exploitation and oppression of humans by humans!!!
1. Multinational Monitor
2. C Q Researcher
4. Beijing Review
Nov. 1, 1993
5. National Bar Association Magazine
“Selective Targeting In Law Enforcement”
March/ April 1996
Vol. 10 No.2
July 21, 1997
Vol. 150 No. 3
7. American Law enforcement: A History
David R. Johnson
Forum Press, Saint Louis, Missouri.
8. The History of the U. S. Marshals
Robin Langley Sommer
Brompton Book Corp.
9. In Defence of Whom, A Critique of Criminal Justice Reform
Anderson publishing Company
10. Gestapo Instrument of Tyranny
1956, ( Putnam & Co. Ltd. )
1991 Presido Press,
11. Police Intelligence
AMS Press, New York
!2 National Bar Association Magazine
“Beyond Institutionalized Racism”
Vol. 10 No 5
September/ October 1996
13 The Burning Spear
What is Weed and Seed and why is the U.S. government using it to destroy the African Community?”
14. Issues in Science & Technology
The Drug War’s Hidden toll
Winter 1996/ 1997
15. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy
Criticism of Federal Counter-Terrorism Laws
16. Newsweek , Bush’s’ Weed and Seed’: Cultivating the Cities
May 25, 1992
17. Supreme Court cases 1994-1995 term
19. Numerous articles from the following newspapers: Chicago Defender, Revolutionary Worker, Chicago Suntimes, Chicago Tribune.
20. Precolonial Black Africa
Cheikh Anta Diop
Lawrence Hill Books
21. Before the Mayflower
Lerone Bennett, Jr.
Johnson Publishing Co.
22. Sage publications
Three Strikes as a Public Policy: The Convergence of the new Penology and the McDonaldization of of Punishment.
© Lee Roy Rouge 2006