Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to deal with the fascist “trucker” convoy has been met with a mix of support, criticism, and confusion. While Trudeau and his government claim that this is necessary to respond to the situation, many of us on the left remain skeptical, having witnessed first-hand the power of police protest control in the absence of the Emergencies Act. So why did the federal government take such a drastic step? First, the border blockades at Coutts in Alberta and the Ambassador Bridge in Ontario were effective enough that they began to hurt sections of big capital. Officials in Michigan used the opportunity to champion Buy-American initiatives. In Windsor, a coalition of auto companies was able to obtain an injunction against the blockade.
After she heard that police had killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop outside of Minneapolis, Eilanne Farhat said she first reacted with “deep exhaustion, heartbreak, and sadness.” Then she was disturbed. Farhat, executive director of Take Action Minnesota, told The Appeal she was struck by how frequently stories of police killings of unarmed people, often people of color, have made headlines in recent years. Since 2015, at least 135 unarmed Black men and women have been killed by police during traffic stops, according to a January investigation by NPR. Now, after Wright’s death and other recent violent encounters between Black people and police, experts and advocates say it’s past time for cities to move traffic enforcement away from law enforcement.
On the show this week, Chris Hedges talks to writer, academic and activist Philip McHarris about the latest calls for police reform in the US. McHarris says the entire system of policing has to be unearthed. He argues there is no way to tweak or reform our way out of mass incarceration or the current policing apparatus and the culture of surveillance. The broader culture of punishment and control is actively harming certain people while also failing to provide public safety. Along the way to remaking the entire system, there are certain steps that can be taken in order to begin dismantling and shifting resources and power.
Imagine a world where after being accused of using a counterfeit bill, George Floyd was approached by a community member who helped mediate the situation, rather than the police officer who suffocated him as he begged for his life. A world where Rayshard Brooks was not murdered for falling asleep in his car in a Wendy’s parking lot, but given a ride home. A world where Elijah McClain was not choked and injected with ketamine for “acting suspicious,” but simply asked by a neighbor how he was doing. Those in power would have us believe that such a world is impossible — but for the past four years, the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago has been providing a roadmap for what this radical reimagining of justice might look like.
The video of a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed African American, for nearly nine minutes as he slowly died, gasping for air, has struck a familiar chord with many Palestinians and anti-occupation activists. Since his death in late May, footage of Floyd pleading: "I can't breathe" and "they're going to kill me," has emerged alongside videos and stills of Israeli security forces taking similar positions over the necks of unarmed Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip. The Israeli police force has tried to distance itself from any perceived similarities, issuing statements denouncing what happened and stating that its officers are not trained to use knee-to-neck techniques. But photographs taken as recently as March have shown Israeli forces using the same restraint on unarmed protesters just yards from the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City.
By Traci Yoder for NLG Director of Research and Education - When independent media collective Unicorn Riot filed a records request to the North Dakota Department of Corrections related to the indigenous movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, they received the updated Field Force Operations Manual produced by the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP). The 135-page federal training manual is designed to provide local law enforcement with “the knowledge and skills required to manage and control crowds and demonstrations.” References in the manual to the Occupy and Black Lives Matter Movements indicate that it has been updated recently, although the policing tactics will be familiar to those who have taken part in social movements for the last several decades.
By Aaron Rupar for Think Progress - Last Wednesday, a black man was walking down a street in suburban Edina, Minnesota, when a plain clothes officer grabbed him and refused to let go. The officer’s conduct drew the attention of a bystander, who took out her phone and started filming. As the officer forcibly pulls the man toward his police car, he yells, “For what?… You can’t just put your hands on me like this!”
By Staff of We Charge Genocide - On June 8, 2016, three members of a We Charge Genocide working group, Real Community Accountability for People’s Safety (RCAPS) met with the Department of Justice. As part of their investigation into police use of deadly force in Chicago, the DOJ wanted to discuss The Counter-CAPS Report: The Community Engagement Arm of the Police State. Community policing is currently an important plank in proposals for criminal justice reform. Through our independent, collaborative and grassroots research, we found that community policing mobilizes a self-selecting group to work with police and insulate them from scrutiny.
By Michaela Brown for Baltimore Bloc. Baltimore, MD - "It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains." - Assata Shakur It is a chant that has echoed throughout this nation as black bodies have hit the streets, day after day, week after week, calling for an end to systems of injustice, inequity, and violence. In recent weeks, we have seen the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castille in St.Paul result in these black men being transformed from fathers, husbands, and sons into viral hashtags, and nationwide sorrow, rage and grief. The abundance of protest and calls to actions have been responses to this system of injustice, inequity and violence as it continues to reproduce the same outcomes.
By Matthew Harwood and Jay Stanley for Tom Dispatch - For 15 years, Americans have been living in a constant state of “wartime” without any of the obvious signs of war. There is no draft. The public has in no way been mobilized. The fighting has all taken place in battle zones thousands of miles from the United States. Despite a rising homegrown fear of Islamic terrorism, an American in the continental U.S. faces greater danger from a toddler wielding a loaded gun. And yet, in ways often hard to chart, America’s endless wars -- Barack Obama is now slated to preside over the longest war presidency in our history -- have quietly come home.
By Boots Riley for The Guardian - The idea that it is black folks and our supposedly immoral and savage culture that creates our disproportionate rates of poverty and imprisonment is everywhere: cop shows, news media, movies set in black neighborhoods and high-school social studies classes have all perpetuated this misconception. And some are now using this old, false idea to disparage Black Lives Matter, saying that the real problem facing black communities isn’t police violence, racist oppression or economic exploitation but “black-on-black crime”.
By Joseph Ax for Reuters - Police in Newark, New Jersey, will institute sweeping reforms to resolve allegations of widespread civil-rights violations under the supervision of a federal monitor, U.S. and city officials announced on Wednesday. The changes will settle allegations by the U.S. Justice Department that the police department in New Jersey's largest city engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional practices that targeted black residents for unwarranted street stops, used excessive force and stole residents' property.
By George Joseph for The Guardian - Contracts between police and city authorities, leaked after hackers breached the website of the country’s biggest law enforcement union, contain guarantees that disciplinary records and complaints made against officers are kept secret or even destroyed. A Guardian analysis of dozens of contracts obtained from the servers of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) found that more than a third featured clauses allowing – and often mandating – the destruction of records of civilian complaints, departmental investigations, or disciplinary actions after a negotiated period of time.