Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Transporting prisoners on the Valley's shiny new light rail system? Yup. Sheriff Joe's at it again but, as usual, the media have missed the point when it comes to his publicity stunt. After initially reporting dutifully on Arpaio's "con rail" circus like the stenographers they are (quoting verbatim from the Sheriff's press release, for instance) and framing it as a safety issue (the only dialogue they are truly capable of having with us), the media have become quite pleased with themselves after they actually managed to follow up on something Arpaio said and discovered a possible contradiction.
In what passes for a journalistic scoop in this town of ever-shrinking newspaper payrolls, it was revealed -- mostly by Arpaio himself it should be pointed out -- that the Sheriff, despite claims to the contrary, is not only eligible for the airport's free cop parking lot, but is actually apparently currently taking advantage of the service. Oh, sweet controversy! After all, it's hard to claim you're saving money on the light rail at $2.50 a round trip per person when you can take advantage of free parking at the airport. Just as quickly as it appeared, the question of light rail as prison bus has become just another bureaucratic budget debate. And no one bothered to connect the $72,000 Joe has miraculously re-appeared into his budget with the slashing of health and other essential services at his jails.
However, at the same time the press was blabbering on about airport parking (it's a nightmare -- we know!) a much bigger point passed without comment. Namely, that the light rail serves itself as a sort of mobile police state. And it conveniently goes practically directly to the jail, thus making it the perfect tool for a fascist like Sheriff Joe. Try it yourself: Mapquest estimates the trip at .34 miles and 1 minute travel time between the light rail and the jail. It's utterly covered from nose to stern with cameras and other surveillance devices and policed by security and law enforcement. Plus, as Joe points out, the added deputies only add security. Truly secure, indeed.
Keep in mind, I'm not arguing in support of transporting prisoners on the light rail. What I'm saying is that the logic of the light rail as inmate transporter is a natural reflection of the design and concept of the light rail itself. Light rail meets light jail. They aren't mutually contradictory. That fact says something very important about the new train that has gone completely unremarked on in the media as it bends over backwards to do one vacuous human interest story after another about the new project.
I noticed that not one reporter I saw asked anyone if they were uncomfortable with the presence of armed police on the light rail! This despite the recent execution of an unarmed commuter on the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. Is that because the police don't seem out of place on the train? Probably. But what does that say about the light rail?
In this age of increasingly strict controls on movement, from border cameras to freeway cameras to light rail cameras to jail cameras, it's surprising that it took Joe this long to point out what should have been obvious to everyone from the moment the first masked, machine-gun toting cops set foot on the light rail platform in December, if not before. Joe didn't have a stroke of genius! He just came to a logical conclusion based on an honest evaluation the nature and potentiality of the light rail itself: use it to transport prisoners.
Why is this a natural conclusion? Because every day is 1984 on the light jail. Bristling with cameras inside and out and sporting the latest advances in the social engineering science of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (pioneered in Tempe as a means to advance the private/government/university directed gentrification of downtown and utilized by Phoenix in its bus and other public stations), the light rail cruises the city streets like a cross between a wage slave ship and a prison barge, delivering poor working saps to their cubicles and now prisoners to their cells without any modification required. Shouldn't this be something that we remark on? In the parlance of Orwell's 1984, the light rail panopticon watches both the Proles and the Outer Party members alike.
And when not shipping us out for the extraction of surplus value or incarceration, the trains deliver us to the tax-subsidized spectacle downtown. But any aberration from from the prescribed use of these public facilities will be detected, duly noted and reported immediately to security personnel. As we found out in the case of those kids who tagged up a station recently, the data and images are stored for some time, thus creating a searchable record of miscreant behavior. Truly multi-purpose. Or single-purposed, more like it, since the control grid is build right into the light rail itself, thus all applications of it reflect that reality. So, is the light rail a liberating transportation system or a control grid apparatus?
While it's creepy enough that Valley Metro is tracking our license plates at the park-n-ride stations, and that there are sixteen cameras on every train (six interior, ten facing out), there is worse to come. In an article in Security Director News, Larry Engleman, Director of Safety and Security for Valley Metro explained not only how Big Brother principles had been built directly into the light rail from the go, but how future legs of the project will go even further in their ability to track, regulate and control us.
"This project was typical with open, visible spaces [that needed to be protected]. We installed public address systems, an emergency call system and CCTV," explained Engleman. "Unfortunately, when we began this project, analytics was not a proven technology. We designed the future extension so that it will have analytics and if we have the money we'll retrofit it."
What is this 'analytics' that Engleman laments wasn't included in the first leg of the rail? Stuff like face and gait recognition technology, audio analysis, object location and behavior recognition. So, rest assured, citizen, the light rail of the future will be able to watch your every move from the time you get on (or even before that if you park and ride, since they can track you to your house by your license plate) to the time you get off, headed for work or the game presumably, but perhaps the jail -- it makes no difference to the light rail. It will deliver you there either way. And it will be able to analyze your behavior and even mark you as a security threat. Will there be a 'do not ride list' for the light rail? You didn't make an audible nasty comment about those sheriff's deputies transporting a prisoner, did you? Your travel papers have been revoked! Straight to jail without collecting a check at your cubicle!
It's truly a case of the accepted ideology covering up the truth, since the light rail is boosted in city ads as a liberalization of movement. But this assertion is only true if you ignore the political and control aspects of the surveillance technology deployed throughout the system. One has to believe that they exist for "security" and that "security" is neutral or even benevolent. But it isn't neutral. It reflects the class interests of the people who design and deploy it. On the light rail, it is aimed, for one thing, at people who take public transportation. And it is aimed at prisoners now. It's aimed at the poor. Yet there are no such surveillance systems installed in the luxury cars of box seat owners at Suns games. The control grid exists to regulate the poor and working class. And it's there to protect the capitalist and bureaucratic elite. In order to believe that the light rail surveillance grid is about mere safety, you have to ignore the fact that such a system by definition serves the needs of Capital first and foremost.
That is, it gets you to work to slave away for a paycheck or it gets you to jail when you pass a bad check. And it skips a large chunk of the poor, Latino part of Phoenix even as it gets you from one white yuppie colony in downtown Tempe to another white yuppie colony in Phoenix. Notice how it doesn't need to change form in order to accomplish all these things because it inherently expresses the needs of Capital. The train directs us in the pre-approved paths of Capital. The light rail, therefore, is the expression of Capital, and it's security grid is likewise the expression of the need to defend Capital.
But it doesn't stop there. The control grid stretches even beyond the light rail itself even as far as the border. How is that? Since Tempe and Mesa opted not to use their police forces to physically patrol the stations and trains, they opted to contract out to Wackenhut to the tune of a three-year contract and almost $4 million -- a company that also contracts with ICE and DHS for the maintenance of immigration detention centers and transportation. Thus, the police state we see expressed on the light rail is mirrored at the border, and vice-versa. The dollars from one flow to and from the other. And so do the logic and technologies of control. They are hand in hand, velvet glove and iron fist.
And while some, particularly working class white people, may think that exceptions will be made for them, and that they can support controls on travel for one group while expecting immunity for themselves -- even when it comes to crossing the border -- the example of the light rail shows that no such dispensation shall be granted. Such hall passes are temporary and tolerated by the capitalist class only in as much as it reinforces the over all project of control. The goal is total control, and if white folks will accept the experiments on folks of color, or migrants, then so much the better from the elite perspective. But the exception proves the rule, guaranteeing that it won't last.
Free people must travel freely. Without that right, whether when crossing the border or just crossing town, we are not free people. And supporting the extension of the logic of control in one place, such as the border, enables the extension of it everywhere else.
Monday, January 26, 2009
While overall crime was on the decline last year, shootings by Mesa police more than doubled from 2007.
Twenty-two officers used their firearms in seven incidents in 2008, killing five people who approached police with knives and guns. The year before, police were involved in three incidents and used deadly force in each one.Mesa Police Chief George Gascón considers the number of shootings "small" compared to the 26,000 arrests and the 300,000 phone calls officers responded to in 2008.
Hundreds of anarchist protesters in Greece have fought running battles with police through the centre of the capital, Athens.
The demonstrators were demanding the release of people arrested during rioting last month after a policeman shot dead a youth aged 15.
Rioters smashed shop windows and threw stones and petrol bombs, police say.
The futility of firing tear gas at rioters who wear gas masks has dawned on the authorities and it is reported that Greece is taking delivery of water cannon, which should be ready for action within a fortnight, our correspondent reports.
The militant Basque separatist movement has its traditional strongholds in urban centres such as Bilbao. But as it seeks to display its eco credentials - by sabotaging a new high-speed rail link - a bloody battle is being fought in one of the region's most beautiful locations. A project director has already been murdered and now his colleagues fear they may be next.
In the Herriko Taberna, a bar in Bilbao's working-class area of Santutxu, a new picture hangs on the wall this weekend: the face belongs to Garikoitz Aspiazu, a local boy who was, police claim, the military chief of the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, the armed Basque nationalist group long known to the world as Eta. In a necklace and a pink T-shirt, Aspiazu, linked to at least four deaths, smiles out at the drinkers, the slices of tortilla, the posters and the prizes for the Christmas raffle. 'A very good guy,' said Josu Telleria, who helps run the bar. 'We played football together. He was a great striker.'
Aspiazu, who was arrested a month ago, is lost to the struggle for the time being. But there are plenty of others to carry on the fight. In the same bar Carlos Ruiz, a former steelworker and member of a campaigning group close to the extremist Basque nationalists, argues that the violent confrontation with Madrid stems from its refusal to allow the Basques to decide their own future.
Medical researchers have found that some of the streams, rivers, and groundwater in Patancheru, India, are really "a soup of 21 different active pharmaceutical ingredients, used in generics for treatment of hypertension, heart disease, chronic liver ailments, depression, gonorrhea, ulcers and other ailments. Half of the drugs measured at the highest levels of pharmaceuticals ever detected in the environment."
"If you just swallow a few gasps of water," a German doctor said to MSNBC, "you're treated for everything. The question is for how long?" Indeed, all of this has the unsurprising effect that "some of India's poor are unwittingly consuming an array of chemicals that may be harmful, and could lead to the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria."
These are dark days. Capitalism continues to lurch deeper into crisis and even the giants of the economy don't seem to be immune from the steadily spreading pathogen of an economic system weakened by an addiction to debt and bubble economics. Greenspan, making his exit at the perfect moment, watches now from the sidelines as his free market fantasies dissolve before his eyes and our wallets.
Even this year's convocation of Capital's heavyweights in Davos -- in any other year an orgy of opulence and ostentation -- can't avoid the gloom and doom. As reported in the Wall Street Journal today,
"This may be the first Davos where capitalism is widely viewed as a failure, rather than something to be admired," says Ethan Kapstein, professor of economics and political science at French business school Insead, who has been going to Davos since 1994.But many contradictions remain yet to be played out. The bankers have staged a major coup with the election of the Obama regime -- filling the highest ranks of the administration. And yet the capitalists in Davos tremble before the state, recognizing it as the only true source of capital these days.
"The capitalist myth is lovely and youthful. It kicked off the industrial revolution, but maybe we need a new one," says Richard Olivier, son of the late British actor Sir Laurence Olivier. Mr. Olivier, who owns a company that gives seminars, will give a dinner talk on business leadership at Davos, based on Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth. The tale shows a heroic soldier turned bad, led to self-delusion by his own ambition and greed -- think Lehman Brothers, says Mr. Olivier.
This year, big government looks set to seize the Davos limelight from the banks, hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds that attracted attention in recent years. The reason for this change, economists say, is simple: The taxpayer now holds what money and power remain in an ailing global economy. Many big banks are on government life support and even state-controlled sovereign wealth funds aren't offering capital to struggling Western corporations.Is it a coup or a last stand? Either way, it has all the characteristics of a robbery.
The TARP money, allegedly intended to restart lending, has instead gone into the pockets of the bankers, who have used it to bolster their bottom lines or to prey on their weakened competitors. Credit is drying up and fast.
Lending at many of the largest U.S. banks fell in recent months, the Wall Street Journal said, citing an analysis of banks that recently announced their quarterly results.But there is money to be had, if you've got connections. Pfizer recently got itself a $22.5 billion loan from a conglomeration of weakened banks.
Ten of the 13 big beneficiaries of the U.S. Treasury Department's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), saw their outstanding loan balances decline by a total of about $46 billion, or 1.4 percent, between the third and fourth quarters of 2008, according to the paper.
Those 13 banks have collected the lion's share of the roughly $200 billion the government has doled out since TARP was launched last October to stabilize financial institutions, the paper said.
"The money is there," said Ken Jaques, senior analyst at Informa. The banks "are just picking and choosing."Consolidation is the watchword of the day, but that won't help you pay that mortgage. Don't expect the banks to spend much of that government capital to keep you in your house -- despite the already critical volume of foreclosed houses flooding the market.
The five banks syndicating the bank debt also advised Pfizer on the takeover, a typical arrangement in big mergers.
And the deal shows where some of the capital injected into the banks under the Troubled Asset Relief Program is headed. Some Congressional lawmakers and President Barack Obama have criticized the banking industry for not using this capital to increase loans to consumers and businesses.
CNNMoney.com reports today that banks are holding massive amounts of reposessed homes off the market, perhaps as much as twice what is listed out of fear that such listings would collapse the market entirely.
The chief problem is probably system overload: Lenders are just not prepared to handle the sheer numbers of foreclosures that they have on their books. Banks took back about 860,000 in 2008 - more than twice the number in 2007 - according to RealtyTrac. Before the housing crisis hit, it took only about a month to get a bank-owned foreclosure on the market.With three million foreclosures last year, and at least that many predicted for this year, the financial situation for working class folks looks bad and is going to get worse. The near total defeat of the American working class, combined with the cooptation of easy credit as a substitute for decades of falling wages, has left us with little to count on in times of crisis.
Lenders still insist they try to act as swiftly as possible. According to Tom Kelly, a spokesman for Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) Mortgage, their goal is to cut their losses on these homes, which are expensive to maintain, as fast as possible.
But banks might hold back listings in areas where they already have lots of homes for sale in order to avoid flooding the market, according to Michael Youngblood, a financial analyst and founder of Five Bridges Capital, an asset management company.
"If lenders have a significant number of properties in a limited area, they may want to stagger putting them back on the market," he said.
Layoffs mount and the capitalists continue to press their assault on what few hard-earned gains we still maintain in this harsh climate. Obama, hoping to pay for a trillion dollar deficit, has hinted at arranging a new deal with regard to social programs that often serve as a last bulwark between the American people and destitution.
The great movements of recent history are dead. The migrant movement has petered out in defeat, returned home or slipped away to less contentious locales. A victim of reaction, the collapse of the economy and it's own conservative leadership, the movement for all intents and purposes appears dead, at least for now. Leftists vultures feed on its corpse, but the chances of a reanimation seem slim, especially if the Democrats push through some kind of reform package this year. The emergence of a militant base never materialized. Unable to offer protection from the assault of state agencies seeking to placate the white working and middle class, the movement therefore became irrelevant to its own constituency. Will the tanking economy revive it? We will see.
The anti-war movement, too, has settled into the grave of its own digging, having proved itself the testing ground for Obama-mania. Settling into routine and the worst leftist habits of electoralism and symbolic protest, the movement happily shuffled along behind the Soros billions into the open arms of Democratic front groups and even more dispicable commie sects. Willingly stringing itself up under the approving gaze of the other war party, it's suicide wouldn't be so tragic if its potential hadn't been so great and the atrocities it could never stop so terrible. But, if the anti-war movement hadn't offed itself, Obama would have been forced to kill it. Either way, its stench no longer offends us. Will the escalations of the Obama regime breathe new life into it? We will see.
Lacking a strong, militant working class movement to challenge him, and as the beneficiary of fawning admiration in the corporate and alternative press, Obama has a free hand in pressing the final assault on what remains of America's always anemic welfare state. Capping thirty years of attacks on the American work force, started under Carter and his Fed chairman Paul Volcker, many of the old Democratic enemies of the working class are now back in business with the Obama administration to finish what they started.
Hardly a peep is heard in opposition. As Yahoo News reports today, we can even count out the comic lashings of the political cartoonists.
Bush's emotive facial expressions, easy-to-caricature physical features and, most of, all his deeply unpopular political decisions were fodder for liberal-leaning cartoonists. But the cool and detached Obama enters the White House at a time of considerable economic anxiety, bolstered by wishes of goodwill even from some political opponents.With no opposition, it's hard to see how the hope that so many leftists pin on him will be fulfilled. The Obama brand has surfed the spectacle in a way never before seen in this country, preventing many people from approaching his policies critically, even as he turns ever more towards the right, repudiating what few progressive positions he maintained until now.
"I had all my villains in place for eight years and they've been taken away," lamented Pulitzer Prize winner Pat Oliphant, one of the most widely syndicated cartoonists. "I don't know that I've ever had this experience before, of a president I maybe like. This is an antagonistic art. We're supposed to concentrate on finding things wrong. There's no point in drawing a cartoon that's favorable."
Leftists spent the last campaign voting against a president who wasn't running for re-election, and hoped that by hitching their train to the Great Obama they would finally breathe the fresh air of a post-Bush era, which they expected to be handed to them just because they had believed in it so damn much. Instead, they will be turned into their own willing executioners, as they join his civilian corps, marshalling behind one reactionary policy after another.
It's easy for many to forget that the New Deal wasn't a gift from a benevolent capitalist class, any more than it was bestowed out of the fear of a collapsing financial establishment. As we are reminded by the London Telegraph, the romanticised view many take of the period of the Great Depression obscures the reality of the political situation of that time.
Roosevelt took over a country where the economic machinery had completely broken down. The New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade had closed. Thirty-two states had shut their banks. Texas had restricted withdrawals to $10 a day.Of course, we haven't seen anything like that here in the US yet, although the recent occupation of the Republic Window factory and the short-lived uprising in the Bay certainly give pause to any from the elite who think they have things on lock. Will we see more explosions like these, perhaps more furious and more determined, in the months to come?
Few states could borrow on the bond markets. Illinois and much of the South had stopped paying teachers. Schools closed for months. An army of 25,000 famished war veterans squatting in view of Congress had been charged by troopers of the 3rd US cavalry with naked sabres – led by a Major George Patton.
Armed farmers threatening revolution had laid siege to a string or Prairie cities. A mob had stormed the Nebraska Capitol. Minnesota's governor was recruiting Communists only for the state militia. Lawyers attempting to enforce foreclosures were shot. More than 100,000 New Yorkers applied to go to the Soviet Union when Moscow advertised for 6,000 skilled workers.
The capitalist class certainly isn't interested in taking any chances. The deployment of the army for domestic use, the rapid expansion of the electronic police state and the spread of secret detention centers across the country are all indicators of the lessons that they have taken from history, and they surely shudder in fear at the riots in Greece and Iceland. They wonder, 'Is that our future, too?"
We are here to answer them.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
The U.S. Treasury Department released details Thursday about $1.5 billion it invested in 39 commercial and community banks. Arizona banks were shut out of this latest rescue package through the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program.
To date, the agency has invested $193.8 billion in more than 290 financial institutions across the country, and not one is based in the Grand Canyon State –– one of the hardest-hit markets in the real estate crash and credit crisis.
-Phoenix Business Journal
Trees are dying twice as fast as they once did in forests across the West, killed by drought, disease and pests that thrive in a changing climate.
In a study set for release Friday, scientists chart the spike in tree deaths over several decades and say warming temperatures are almost certainly to blame. The losses cut across a wide range of tree types, sizes and locations, from northern Arizona to British Columbia.
If the higher death rate persists, the study warns, forests would cease to function properly. Wildlife habitat would vanish, wildfire danger could increase and, over time, the sparser landscapes could feed the temperature rise and contribute to the trees' own demise.
Surprised state lawmakers learned Thursday that the photo enforcement cameras they authorized last year to catch speeders are actually taking — and keeping — videos of everyone who passes.
The information came out as a House panel debated legislation to outlaw the operation of fixed and mobile cameras on state roads. Backers of the legislation complained that the cameras are really designed to generate revenue and not to improve public safety.
But they learned that the cameras do more than snap still photos of those clocked driving at least 11 miles over the speed limit. In fact, they actually are recording “streaming video” around-the-clock.
-East Valley Tribune
As spreading European riots hearken the coming age of rebellion, US military and local police prepare for the unrest at home
Iceland's government is on the verge of collapse, most recently seeing the prime minister's car surrounded by people and pelted with eggs before riot police could arrive. Greece sees regular street clashes between anarchists and youth on one side, riot police and nationalists on the other. Widespread revolts in Latvia and Bulgaria against the political class, and signs pointing to social upheaval soon spreading to Ukraine and Russia.
From Times Online
Naturally, the authorities in the USA have not turned a blind eye to the hundreds of thousands of people taking the streets to reclaim their lives from the institutions of capital and commerce. In a new report the U.S. Army war college warns that the Pentagon and military should prepare to send troops into American streets when the crisis worsens.
"The financial meltdown has become part of the real economy and is now beginning to shape real politics. More and more citizens on the edge of the global crisis are taking to the streets. Bulgaria has been gripped this month by its worst riots since 1997 when street power helped to topple a Socialist government. Now Socialists are at the helm again and are having to fend off popular protests about government incompetence and corruption.
In Latvia – where growth has been in double-digit figures for years – anger is bubbling over at official mismanagement. GDP is expected to contract by 5 per cent this year; salaries will be cut; unemployment will rise. Last week, in a country where demonstrators usually just sing and then go home, 10,000 people besieged parliament.
Iceland, Bulgaria, Latvia: these are not natural protest cultures. Something is going amiss."
From the Phoenix Business Journal:
“Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security,” said the War College report.
The study says economic collapse, terrorism and loss of legal order are among possible domestic shocks that might require military action within the U.S.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned Wednesday of economy-related riots and unrest in various global markets if the financial crisis is not addressed and lower-income households are hurt by credit constraints and rising unemployment.
Across the board valley police departments say they are more than prepared for massive civil unrest. In a political climate where the military's Northern Command (northcom) and the Department of Homeland Security work hand in hand with local officials to plan security for the Superbowl, should it be any surprise to see the Mesa police and the Army's 3rd Infantry Division defending a bank sometime soon?
Again, from the Phoenix Business Journal:
State and local police in Arizona say they have broad plans to deal with social unrest, including trouble resulting from economic distress. The security and police agencies declined to give specifics, but said they would employ existing and generalized emergency responses to civil unrest that arises for any reason.
“The Phoenix Police Department is not expecting any civil unrest at this time, but we always train to prepare for any civil unrest issue. We have a Tactical Response Unit that trains continually and has deployed on many occasions for any potential civil unrest issue,” said Phoenix Police spokesman Andy Hill.
“We have well established plans in place for such civil unrest,” said Scottsdale Police spokesman Mark Clark.
Clark, Hill and other local police officials said the region did plenty of planning and emergency management training for the Super Bowl in February in Glendale.
“We’re prepared,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Deputy Chief Dave Trombi citing his office’s past dealings with immigration marches and major events.
We all know the spring kicks off early and is often short lived, the summer grows in intensity and length as our humanity's climate change nightmare continues. So, with the probability of a longer, hotter summer, will it the sun be the only thing burning up the streets of Phoenix? London School of Economics economist Robert Wade predicts large scale civil unrest beginning in the spring of 2009:
“It will be caused by the rise of general awareness throughout Europe, America and Asia that hundreds of millions of people in rich and poor countries are experiencing rapidly falling consumption standards; that the crisis is getting worse not better; and that it has escaped the control of public authorities, national and international.”Stay tuned.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
The recent shooting death of Officer David Uribe, shot in the head and neck while making a traffic stop, offers several opportunities for radical analysis. Typical of its easy-going treatment of local police departments, the media fell lock step behind the idea of the police officer as defender of public order and all things good. In fact, where any dissented from the gushing media monotone, they demanded an even more gratuitous lavishing of praise on Uribe and police in general.
Such was the case with John McDonald's melodramatic column in the Arizona Republic. In his sensationally titled article, "The day a cop died, this city lost its soul," McDonald expressed his exasperation at the TV when "two anchors and a weatherman laughed and giggled about the delightful mild temperatures just minutes after detailing the brutal execution of a local veteran cop." One wonders if McDonald even watches local television news, which in fact was dominated by endless coverage of the murder, manhunt and reaction for several days as local talking heads beatified Uribe with all due haste.
A LOSS FOR THE WHOLE COMMUNITY?
The media uniformly treated the Uribe killing as a loss for whole community. Even the killing of an unarmed man by Phoenix PD the very next day could not damper the media's enthusiasm for the story. Remarking on the shooting, Patty Kirkpatrick, a Channel 3 anchor, expressed relief that the conflict had ended in the death of the suspect, rather than a cop. In her mind it was preferable that an unarmed man die than a cop get hurt trying to carry out murder.
On May 12th, Benson's cartoon in the Republic featured a simple sketch of a police badge bearing Uribe's number. Written across a black band of mourning were the words, "thank you." But for what? "When we lose someone like that, we lose part of ourselves," answers the Phoenix Fire Department's chaplain, Rev. Father Carl G. Carlozzi in the Arizona Republic. In a letter to the editor, Patricia Fay of Phoenix explained it this way, "They are my protectors. Someone killed one of my protectors."
THE MEDIA COVERAGE
But there is a real tension between the public image of policing, defended so single-mindedly by the media, and the reality. Introducing channel 12's coverage of the Uribe funeral the following Tuesday, Lin Sue Cooney described the event as "a whole community" saying thank you. Effusive in their coverage of a car-wash fundraiser for the Uribe's family, local media outlets actively campaigned for valley residents to participate. Can the same police force that regularly kills unarmed people of color be the protectors of the community? Can the same police force that uses Tasers to kill, just as the Phoenix Police did on May 4th, 2005, killing a 24 year-old man, be protectors? Are the same police forces that disproportionately target, arrest and incarcerate the poor, and especially people of color, really defenders of the "community?"
But, everyone knows that police don't protect everyone equally and that they specifically target some segments of the community over others. For years the Scottsdale PD enforced what they called a "no-n****r zone," pulling over and harassing black people driving through the city. Incarceration rates for poor people versus rich people are so obvious that they hardly require mentioning. But many whites still continue to deny the just as obvious disparities in white and non-white incarceration rates. To believe that these disparities exist apart or in exception to the overall system of policing makes no sense. They exist because this is the way the system was meant to function.
THE ROLE OF THE POLICE
The police system is designed primarily to defend the rich and toward that end to police poor people and poor people of color in particular. Made up of reporters primarily drawn from middle and upper classes, and owned by very rich people, the media serves that goal as propagandist for the police and defender of its own class interest, and they reflect the racism that all white people learn in their upbringing.
Let's look at the numbers. According the Princeton Review, the average television reporter, after five years on the job, earned $65,000 dollars a year. In the top 25 television markets the median salary as reported by the Missouri School of Journalism stood at $78,000 in 2000. According to the US Census, that rate stood at nearly twice the same figure for male workers in general, a rate which, it should be pointed out, itself remains higher than the median for non-whites and women. That disparity appears even sharper when we consider the Bureau of Labor Statistics count, which put the average annual wage in the U.S. as $36,764 for 2002. Even print reporters, generally paid less than their television comrades, fair better than average Americans. Clearly there is a class divide between many of us consuming the news and the people reporting, not to mention the editors and owners, and the media coverage shows it.
For example, the bulk of the media ignored a story that ran in the Arizona Republic the 11th, the very day Uribe was killed. Jahna Berry reported that a federal jury had awarded Gerardo Ramirez-Diaz $1 million dollars after a Phoenix police officer shot him in the gut without just cause. And just four days before the shooting of Uribe, in a rare display of public criticism, the Arizona Republic came out against the reinstatement of Chandler police officer Dan Lovelace. Lovelace was fired for using excessive force after he shot and killed unarmed Dawn Rae Nelson in her car, from behind, with her 14 month-old son sitting in the seat behind her. That murder occurred on October 11th, 2001, making the Republic's opposition to Lovelace's reinstatement a little late in coming, to say the least, though it does show just how extreme a case it takes for the local media to take a critical position towards local police.
A DANGEROUS JOB?
Much of the coverage Uribe's killing focused on the supposed danger cops face in the carrying out of their duties. Multiple newscasters and residents interviewed regarded the police as "putting themselves on the line" for other people, risking their lives regularly or standing as soldiers on the front lines of American society. But reflecting a rate that has remained pretty consistent, police officers don't even rank in the top ten most dangerous jobs as most recently listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, just a little over a week before Uribe's killing, a farm worker was killed in Arizona when a bale of hay fell on him. Another worker, a roofer, was killed when he fell and drowned in a pool. The first didn't even merit mentioning his name in the brief Arizona Republic article that ran. Both farm worker and roofer do rank within the top ten most dangerous occupations. Interestingly, Latinos represent a large proportion of workers in these fields. Another recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found a rate of five fatalities per 100,000 Hispanic workers in 2002 that was 25 percent higher than for all workers. This wouldn't happen if white workers would stand up with Latino workers against these kinds of abuses. But apparently local media finds the deaths of workers, especially workers of color, as too commonplace to merit coverage, even though that contradicts their attitude towards the job of police officer, who they misreport as in constant jeopardy.
So, in order to understand why the media, the rich and so many white people have fallen all over themselves to praise Uribe and to condemn his murder – while rarely admitting police excesses - we have to delve a little into the history of American police forces. The alleged danger of the job doesn't stand up as a sufficient explanation. Policing in America has two main origins, both of which serve to accomplish the same mission: to protect the wealth of the rich and powerful.
THE ORIGINS OF AMERICAN POLICING
The first origin lies in the violent class struggles of the 19th century. During those times, workers were forced into the emerging factory system that the capitalist class was creating in the cities of the Northeast. In these factories workers had little power and were subjected to long hours. When armed class struggle broke out, the capitalists, outnumbered and not generally wishing to risk their own necks in the fighting, created police forces to wage war on the working class in defense of their factories and wealth. The first real police force in the US was founded in 1845 in New York City, center of the country's emerging industrial economy. As industrialism and modern capitalism spread, other cities followed New York's example.
Private property lies at the heart of capitalist exploitation. The authority of the boss derives precisely because s/he owns the means of production – the workplace, the computers, the machines and thus the profits. Because workers' interests depend on a redistribution of wealth and equality in the workplace, this brings us in inevitable conflict with the boss and his lackeys, the police. It's the same thing with the landlord. The landlord's ability to evict or demand rent couldn't exist without the system of private property and the police to back it up with violence.
The second main origin of American policing centers on the slave patrol system of the South. Charged with protecting white plantation owners, the slave patrols, or "patty rollers" as they were often called, brutally oppressed blacks, both slave and free. It is from the slave patrollers that American policing gets many of its traditions and powers. Patty rollers worked specific "beats" and could demand identification from any black person they encountered. The slave patrols incarcerated and returned, frequently with violence, any black person who could not prove their free status or provide written permission for their travel. Even in the North the police were charged with capturing and returning escaped slaves.
The influence of this racist tradition reverberates today in a variety of ways. An Arizona Daily Star review of Department of Public Safety records revealed that during traffic stops police searched Latinos more than twice as frequently as whites. And police searched blacks almost three times as frequently as whites – despite the fact that searches of whites turned up contraband much more regularly. Beyond racial profiling, which brings them into police contact more frequently in the first place, non-whites also face racist judges, unequal access to competent defense and sentencing guidelines that send them to prison at rates many times that of whites.
In fact, the history of Arizona police forces combines both origins. Back in the day, as now, Arizona was a mining state and Latinos composed a large percentage of the miners. In response to militant organizing by mine workers, the state created the Arizona Rangers. Ostensibly formed to combat cattle rustling, in actuality the government used the force primarily against miners and people of color. This tradition continues to contemporary times, and many of us remember the UMW strike of 1983 when then-Governor Bruce Babbitt, a Democrat, called out police and national guardsmen against workers in defense of the Phelps-Dodge Corporation. Police guarded scabs brought in by the company, effectively breaking the strike.
It is critical for working class white people to understand the true origins and purposes of American policing and to be critical of both the aims and causes of media defense of police and police departments. In the end, supporting police power means supporting the rich people that exploit the entire working class, white or not. The American system has given white workers privileges that non-white workers don't get, and many of them directly involve reduced exposure to police violence and policing in general. American history has shown, though, that when even white workers organize against the bosses and politicians, the police are brought in against us as well. It's time for white workers to stand in support of communities of color when they organize against the police of all kinds, including La Migra. We need to recognize that the police are a racist institution that cannot be justified if what we want is a world of equality and justice, and media defense of policing amounts to defense of racism and the rich.
Call for the Diné, O'odham, anarchist/anti-authoritarian bloc at the anti-Arpaio rally by PCWC, O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective, & Others
Arizona: A State of Emergency by Jon Riley
Free Movement, Reaction and the Fascist State: Critical Questions for the Patriot Movement by Phoenix Insurgent
Anarchists, students, and pissed off people come out swinging at Arpaio's ASU appearance by Jon Riley
"When the Border Is Everywhere: Examining the Resistance to Speed Cameras and Border Checkpoints in Arizona" by Phoenix Insurgent
"Phoenix: Where Anarchists Pack Heat and Send Nazis Packing" by Crudo
"The NSM Offers Nothing for the White Working Class But More Exploitation and Misery" by PCWC
"Opposition Builds in the Borderlands, From the Checkpoints to the Wall: Who Participates, Who Sits on Their Hands" by Jon Riley
"Future's Past: Technology and the Class War by Other Means" by Phoenix Insurgent
"OFFICER DOWN: The Phoenix Media and Cop-Killings" by Phoenix Insurgent
"First Friday Transformed! Observers of art become participants in their own lives! Police confronted by mob after raiding the UM gallery" by Jon Riley
"Racist Jet-Set: Rusty Childress and the False Class Consciousness of the Minutemen" by Phoenix Insurgent
"Kansas Bleeding Again" by Phoenix Insurgent
"Blood on the Line: Resistance, Empire and Repression at the Border" (Flyer Distributed by PCWC)
"A Venue of Vultures: Where Now For Anarchists and the Immigrant Movement?" by Phoenix Insurgent
"Our Own Boulevards: Capital's constructions from Van Buren to the Champs-Élysées" by Collin Sick
"Immigrants get one camp. But which one is for you?" by Phoenix Insurgent
"Is that a singularity in your pocket or are you just happy to see me enslaved?
Transhumanism's class problem" by Phoenix Insurgent
"Every Day is 1984 on the Light Jail" by Phoenix Insurgent
firesneverextinguished [at] gmail.com
Anarchy: Introductions to Freedom and Self Organization
"Anarchy: Cooperation Without Restraint": BBC Interview with Noam Chomsky
"Anarchy in Action" by Colin Ward
"Anarchism: What it Really Stands For" by Emma Goldman
"Anarchy Alive" by Peter Gelderloos
"Anarchy" by Errico Malatesta
"Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction" by Colin Ward
Insurrectionary Thought: Solidarity Means Attack
"Against the Corpse Machine: A Post-Leftist Critique of Violence" by Ashen Ruins
"The Anarchist Tension" by Alfredo M. Bonanno
"Autonomous Self-Organization and Anarchist Intervention: A Tension in Practice" by Wolfi Landstreicher
"Armed Joy" by Alfredo M. Bonanno
"Some Notes on Insurrectionary Anarchism" from Venomous Butterfly and Willful Disobedience
Enemies of Freedom: The City, Work, and Progress
"Nowtopia: Strategic Exodus?" by Chris Carlsson and Francesca Manning
"The Abolition of Work" by Bob Black
"Progress and Nuclear Power: The Destruction of the Continent and Its Peoples" by Fredy Perlman
"In the Distance: Suburbia Against the Barricades" from Killing King Abacus #1
A Crime Called Freedom: The Writings of Os Cangaceiros (Volume One)
Rebel Against the Future: An Interview with Kirkpatrick Sale
"Organized Labor versus 'The Revolt Against Work'" by John Zerzan
"Five Facets of a Myth" by Kirkpatrick Sale
"Black Cats,White Cats,Wildcats: Auto Workers in Detroit" (and other texts) at Class Against Class
"The Reproduction of Daily Life" by Fredy Perlman
"The Rising of the Barbarians: A Non-Primitivist Revolt Against Civilization" by Anonymous from Willful Disobedience
"Workers Against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona During the Popular Fronts" by Michael Seidman
"Technology and Class Struggle" by Wolfi Landstreicher
Bone Idle: or Work Doesn’t Work! An Interview with Ian Bone and Ray Roughler Jones
The Fire and the Word:
"'Together, We're Going to Shake This Country Up from Below, Lift It Up, and Stand It on Its Head': Opening Words from the First Plenary Session of the Other Campaign" by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
"The Freshness of Fanaticism: The Abolitionists and the Democratic Uses of Zealotry" by Joel Olson
"Friends and Enemies, Slaves and Masters: Carl Schmitt, Wendell Phillips, and the Radical Critique of Political Moderation" by Joel Olson
"Radically Democratic Extremism: An Interview with Joel Olson"
The History We Make
"Harass the Brass: Some notes toward the subversion of the US armed forces" by Kevin Keating
"LA '92: The Context of a Proletarian Uprising" from Aufheben #1
"Resistance and Collaboration: O'odham Responses to U.S. Invasion" by JD Hendricks
"The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, and the Atlantic Working Class in the Eighteenth Century" by Peter Linebaugh & Marcus Rediker
"The Edelweiss Pirates" by the Anarchist Federation
"bolo'bolo" (from the 'Introduction' to bolo'bolo) by ibu
The Un-Natural Disasters of Capitalism and State
"The uses of an earthquake" by Harry Cleaver
"Murdering the dead: Amadeo Bordiga on capitalism and other disasters" (Antagonism Press)
Against White Supremacy: For Humanity
"Abolish the White Race - By Any Means Necessary" from Race Traitor #1
"The Point Is Not To Interpret Whiteness But To Abolish It" by Noel Ignatiev
"Back From Hell: Black Power And Treason To Whiteness Inside Prison Walls" by Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin
"Introduction to the United States: An Autonomist Political History" by Noel Ignatiev
"Black Worker/White Worker: Understanding and Fighting White Supremacy" by Noel Ignatiev
"White Supremacy" by Joel Olson
"'Speak Out Now When Others Grow Silent': The Messenger, the IWW and Debates Over New Negro Radicalism" by George Robertson
"Jailbreak Out of History: the re-biography of Harriet Tubman" by Butch Lee
"Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers" by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English
"Women's Subversive Individualism in Barcelona During the 1930s" by Michael Seidman
"Caliban and the witch: women, the body and primitive accumulation" by Silvia Federici
Beer and Revolution
"Beer and Revolution: Some Aspects of German Anarchist Culture in New York, 1880-1900" by Tom Goyen
"The Rise of the Saloon" by Roy Rosenzweig
"PROFILES OF PROVOCATEURS: Recent case studies of the use of agents provocateurs; warning signs; practical advice" by Kristian Williams