Judiciary Committee Public Hearing Friday/ Ferguson & SAE: Synergy of Corporatism & the Police State

This column appears in the March 19 – 26 edition of the Hartford News…

” Stripping resources from our local communities is state violence. Cutting hundreds of millions from the (University of Wisconsin) is state violence. The non-taxation of corporations and the over-taxation of the poor and middle class is state violence.” ~ Wisconsin activist Brandi Grayson

Judiciary Committee Public Hearing Friday, March 20

The public hearing on Rep. Matt Ritter’s racial profiling bill, which includes the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act traffic stop receipt amendment ( https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/community-party-trayvon-martin-act-bill-language/), is scheduled for Friday, March 20. CP’s traffic stop receipt would provide a layer of protection for people of color. If you or someone you care about has been a victim of racial profiling, now is your chance to be heard. The public hearing agenda can be viewed here. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/judiciary-committee-public-hearing-friday-march-20/

Here’s the Judiciary Committee email address for written testimony on the racial profiling bill. judtestimony@cga.ct.gov You can read my testimony at CP’s No Sellout blog. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/david-samuels-judiciary-committee-hearing-public-testimony/

Ferguson

Police apologists have attempted to seize the opportunity to use the shootings of two Ferguson police officers last week to smear all peaceful protestors against police repression. No sane person would endorse random violence against the police. That being said, the Ferguson municipal government and the police department created a climate of violence in that city a long time ago with their economic exploitation and repression of poor, Black city residents: this is described in the Department of Justice report on corruption within the Ferguson PD. http://search.justice.gov/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&affiliate=justice&query=ferguson+police+department&commit=Search Democracy Now! reported that the shots which injured the two officers didn’t come from the area where the nonviolent protestors gathered. Protestors could have easily been wounded or killed by the shots. Jeffrey Williams, who was arrested Sunday, was not a part of the Ferguson movement, despite attempts by the police and the corporate media to identify him as a ‘protestor’. http://www.democracynow.org/2015/3/12/eyewitness_to_ferguson_police_shooting_gunfire

There was plenty of racist rhetoric from law enforcement Saturday on CNN. Milwaukee County Sheriff/House Negro David Clarke rattled off numbers about the percentage of Blacks involved in violent crime and the ‘false narrative’ of the disproportionate killings of Blacks by the police. Of course Clarke didn’t talk about how poverty, Black unemployment and lack of opportunity factor heavily in the involvement of Black males in criminal activity. A study by the Center for Social Inclusion, which included parts of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Westchester County, Long Island, found that the unemployment rate for young Black males between the ages of 18-25 is as high as 50%. During an interview with Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, CSI director Maya Wiley explained what this statistic means. “We’re talking about communities where you literally have no economy that is supporting those communities.” http://www.democracynow.org/2009/3/17/report_communities_of_color_bear_heaviest As a result of these bleak economic conditions, young Black males are forced to turn to the underground economy, where violence is an occupational hazard, to get paid. The racist message Clarke delivered for his white masters was simple: Blacks are animals who must be controlled by any means necessary, including extrajudicial killings. Former NYC police commissioner and current CNN commentator Bernard Kerik, who served four years in federal prison for conspiracy, tax fraud and lying under oath, recycled the old southern politicians’ complaint about ‘outside agitators’ stirring up the ‘good negroes’ in Ferguson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thJXKW43pnM Every 28 hours, Blacks in this country are killed by police, security guards or vigilantes. https://mxgm.org/we-charge-genocide-again-new-curriculum-on-every-28-hours-report/

The Ferguson movement has been vindicated by the DOJ report and subsequent investigative reports by media outlets such as the New York Times, who found that as bad as Ferguson is, the city isn’t even close to being the worst offender in Missouri. See our Resources section at the end of this column for the link to the full NYT article. “If the shooting of Michael Brown had taken place about 500 yards to the southeast, he would have died not in Ferguson, Mo., but in the neighboring city of Jennings. The court system there, which is overseen by a white judge but has almost exclusively black defendants, routinely sends people to jail for failure to pay minor traffic fines, a new lawsuit alleges. Had the shooting occurred three and a half miles to the north, the world’s attention might have turned to the city of Florissant, where in 2013, the police stopped black motorists at a rate nearly three times their share of the population. Less than four miles to the northwest, in Calverton Park, court fines and fees accounted for over 40 percent of the city’s general operating revenue last year.” Anyone who attempts to use the shootings of the two Ferguson officers to justify biased policing and shutting down the Ferguson protests is a stooge for law enforcement. The DOJ allowed George Zimmerman and former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson to walk free after lynching Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, respectively. The Obama Justice Department has not prosecuted anyone for the extrajudicial killings of Blacks.

The Ferguson Model is now being used in Wisconsin, where activists protesting the police shooting of unarmed Black teen Tony Robinson have united with union workers against the racist, classist, corporatist policies of Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Think Progress reported on the protests (see Resources ).

” ‘ The purpose of this march and this movement is connect the dots between the different forms of injustice and how it all leads back to state violence,’ said Brandi Grayson with the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition. ‘Stripping resources from our local communities is state violence. Cutting hundreds of millions from the UW is state violence. The non-taxation of corporations and the over-taxation of the poor and middle class is state violence.’

Wisconsin already had the some of the worst racial disparities in the country when Governor Scott Walker took office, but those demonstrating say he has made the situation much worse. Soon after taking office, he defunded a program that tracked the race of people stopped by police, even though black residents of Madison’s Dane County were found to be more than 97 times more likely to go to jail for a drug crime than a white resident. Now, the Governor’s new budget proposes an $8 million jail expansion in Dane County, at the same time many social services are being eliminated.”

The Ferguson Model is historically significant. Activists are now making the connection between economic exploitation and biased policing. Right here in Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget proposal, which includes $25 million in proposed human services budget cuts is a blatant display of racism, as low income communities of color would be disproportionately impacted. Patrick J. Johnson, Jr., interim executive director of the CT Association of Nonprofits, Inc., wrote an op-ed to the Connecticut Mirror on Malloy’s budget proposal that is the best I’ve read. Johnson’s commentary included a chilling prediction. “With over $50 million cut from the Department of Developmental Services over the past five years and almost every line item in the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services budget cut, as well as vital cost saving services like teen pregnancy prevention, the fatherhood initiative, covenant to care, neighborhood centers and family support services, one is forced to ask—where is the safety net? I see the impact of two decades of abuse and neglect on the state’s nonprofit partners and know that when tragedy strikes because of this neglect, the state will point the accusatory finger and blame us because our staff fell asleep while working two jobs to feed their own families.” Johnson’s entire op-ed can be read here. http://ctmirror.org/2015/03/13/op-ed-connecticut-nonprofits-are-in-an-abusive-relationship-with-the-state/ Sunday Hartford Courant content manager John Ferraro summed up the warped priorities in Hartford with this tweet, “Some day there might be as much outrage at how many kids live in poverty in Hartford as there is over minor-league baseball names.” While Malloy attempts to decimate human services funding, the U.S. Census Bureau found that poverty in Connecticut continues to rise. http://www.ctvoices.org/publications/poverty-income-and-health-insurance-connecticut-cities-and-towns-summary-2011-2013-data Malloy’s so-called Second Chance Society is a mere bone being thrown to the urban community. Urban policy makers were excluded from the process of drafting Malloy’s bill. CP’s Trayvon Martin Act addresses the layered socioeconomic issues related to police repression of Black/Latino neighborhoods.

SAE Scandal

I’m not as concerned about the racist Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity video, as I am about the NPR report I heard last week on the fraternity’s close ties with Wall Street. Former members of the Oklahoma chapter are now in positions where they can channel their racist views and influence public policy. A member of the Oklahoma SAE chapter told NPR that he didn’t like the racism he saw there, but he wanted to use the fraternity to get a Wall Street job. Last week I watched a speech by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who is considering a presidential run in 2016. Sanders said his constituents keep telling him that Congress has to impose strong regulations on corporations, but corporations are regulating Congress with money. Wall Street of course is a powerful ‘regulator’ of Congress. The SAE lynching song was obviously meant to condition members of the Oklahoma chapter into maintaining the fraternity as a vehicle of white supremacy through economic and political power, with an added message about lynching Blacks: there’s that connection to state violence again… Extrajudicial killings of Blacks are the modern version of lynching.

Residents in low income communities of color should stop listening to anyone who tells them to blindly trust law enforcement, or to close their eyes, bow their heads and pray in response to police brutality, which is what happened following the barbaric Taser attack on Luis Anglero, Jr. by HPD Det. Shawn Ware. Luis is lucky to be alive. David Werblow, 41, died Sunday night after a Branford police officer shocked him with a Taser. These ‘nonlethal’ weapons should be banned. Over 500 people have died since 2001 after being tased. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/08/13/taser-death-of-graffiti-artist-israel-hernandez-llach-revives-debate.html

The Miami Beach Police Department bans use of a Taser on someone who is exhibiting “passive physical resistance”, which means that they are ignoring officers’ commands, but not actually engaging officers in a physical confrontation.

NBC Connecticut reported that Werblow was tased after he ignored officers’ commands to exit a vehicle. http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/State-Police-Investigate-Possible-Stun-Gun-Death-Report-296410201.html The Register-Citizen corroborated the NBC Connecticut report. “After Werblow ignored police requests to exit the vehicle, a Branford police officer deployed his Taser, enabling police to remove Werblow from the vehicle and place him in handcuffs. The release said officers then ‘immediately’ noticed that Werblow was in ‘medical distress.’ EMS then responded to the scene near Burban Drive and Jefferson Road, where neighbors said they saw a heavyset man receiving chest compressions. Town records show 134 Burban Drive is owned by Continuum Management Corp., 67 Trumbull St., New Haven. Continuum of Care, Inc. operates mental health services in 30 locations in the state, according to its website.” A source told me that Werblow suffered from mental illness and that 134 Burban Drive is a group home. Surveillance video showed that Luis had obeyed Ware’s command to stop running toward him and was standing still, when Ware took a step toward Luis and tased him. Sincere activists, community residents and workers must unite to push back against the powerful synergy of corporatism and the police state in this country. Holding the police accountable doesn’t mean that you hate cops, it means that you’ve got love for your community. Racial profiling, extrajudicial killings of Blacks and human services cuts are connected!

Resources

New York Times investigative report on economic exploitation and biased policing in Missouri:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/08/us/ferguson-became-symbol-but-bias-knows-no-border.html?emc=edit_th_20150308&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=55721302&_r=1

Think Progress report on protestors against police violence and union workers in Wisconsin uniting against Gov. Scott Walker:

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2015/03/11/3632325/unions-black-lives-matter-activists-join-forces-scott-walker/

OpenSecrets.org Center for Responsive Politics:

http://www.opensecrets.org/

Information Clearing House commentary on corporatism:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article7260.htm

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin and Safe Work Environment Acts, including action alerts. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/) . Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com

David Samuels

Founder

Community Party

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