Archive for January, 2010

The $132,000/Year Punishment

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Way, way back in 2007, I put up a short post about a scandal involving the Hoboken, New Jersey SWAT team, which claimed to have gone on a humanitarian aid trip to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, but ended up partying it up at Mardis Gras, with ensuing photos involving Hooters girls, Jello shots, and SWAT chief Lt. Angelo Andriani posing as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Andriani was later sued by five Hispanic police officers alleging him to be an “unabashed white supremacist.”

Andriani is back in the news, after apparently flashing his badge and berating some TSA employees for allowing a flight crew move ahead of him in a screening line.

Pick your poison in the “rogue cop vs. TSA” squabble. The story within the story linked above is the punishment Andriani received for his exploits in New Orleans: a two year paid suspension. Hoboken taxpayers are “punishing” Andriani by paying him $11,000 per month for 24 months to do absolutely nothing.

Sunday Links

Sunday, January 31st, 2010
  • Vikings. Horses. Fire. Vikings and horses jumping through fire. Pictures.
  • If you were planning on donating your own breast milk to Haiti, um, don’t.
  • Here’s a blog post headline I never thought I’d see.
  • The Economist comes up with a really horrible idea for Haiti.
  • Awkward stock photos.
  • South Carolina Lt. Gov. compares welfare recipients to stray animals, then apologizes by saying he is “not against animals.”
  • Rank-and-file employees of Maricopa County terrified of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
  • Obama nominates Bush holdover to head up the DEA. She has a horrible record, including supporting the de facto ban on medical marijuana research and defending one of the most notorious lying DEA informants in the history of the agency.
  • Wednesday Lazy Linking

    Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
    • Walking While Black in America Today... Brad DeLong, Grasping Reality with a Ten-Foot-Long Flexible Trunk (2010-01-25). Ta-Nehisi Coates: Ta-Nehisi Coates: Fear, Parenting, and the Police: We talked some, last week, about how fear drives black parents. I think this is the sort of case that I was thinking about: The photos taken by Jordan Miles' mother show his face covered with raw, red bruises, his cheek... (Linked Wednesday 2010-01-27.)

    • Populism. Ezra Klein (2010-01-27). Stopped clocks and all that, I guess. The rest of Brooks's column is, in fact, nonsense; but this is spot-on: "Populism is popular with the ruling class. Ever since I started covering politics, the Democratic ruling class has been driven by one fantasy: that voters will get so furious at people with M.B.A.’s that they will hand power to people with Ph.D.’s. The Republican ruling class has been driven by the fantasy that voters will get so furious at people with Ph.D.’s that they will hand power to people with M.B.A.’s. Members of the ruling class love populism because they think it will help their section of the elite gain power."

      Of course, the reason that the rest of Brooks's column is nonsense is because Brooks identifies this as a problem with "populism." It's not. It's a problem with populism as filtered through electoral politics. Or, to get to the heart of it, it's a problem with electoral politics. Which is always based around zero-sum power plays and consists more or less entirely in only nominally opposed power-elite factions playing off fear of one another in order to secure support from a captive voter base. (Linked Wednesday 2010-01-27.)

    Issue 19 of Tenacious: Art & Writings from Women in Prison available now!

    Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
    Issue #19 includes:

    • the tragic death of a woman left in a cage in 107 degree heat
    • the abuse of a 70-year-old woman in the California prison system
    • descriptions of life in an Alaska women's prison
    • discrimination and prejudice in a Florida prison
    • a thought-provoking essay on child sexual abuse
    • a corpse gets peppersprayed (I kid you not!)

    To get a copy, send $2 in well-concealed cash or a check made out to V. Law, PO Box 20388 New York, NY 10009.

    D.C. Police Raid Wrong Home, City Refuses to Pay for Damage

    Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

    Capitol Hill residents David and Allyson Kitchel tell local TV station WJLA that MPDC police recently raided their home looking for a suspect wanted on weapons charges. They say the raid caused $3,000 in damage. THe Kitchels bought the home from the suspect’s family 18 months ago. Police apparently raided the home after getting an address from the suspect’s mother, but didn’t bother to check public records to see if the house had been sold.

    The Kitchels say when they asked the city to compensate them for the damage, they were declined. The city explained that “the warrant was authorized and valid,” and that  “MPD officers determined there was sufficient probable cause.”

    So I guess as long as all the proper procedures were followed, the physical damage to the house is all in the Kitchels’ imagination. Good thing they don’t have an imaginary dog, too.

    I suspect that now that the Kitchels’ story has hit the media, they’ll eventually be compensated. But it makes you wonder how many times this sort of thing happens in less affluent parts of the city, where residents are less likely to have their stories covered by the local news.

    late news: incarcerated survivor Margaret Moore released from prison!

    Monday, January 25th, 2010
    Because my website has been down, I wasn't able to post this earlier, but even a week and a half later, it's still worth noting (and celebrating):

    from Free Battered Women:

    It is with great joy that we announce that another domestic violence survivor has been released on parole from state prison!

    Many of you know Margaret Moore who has been a leader at the California Institution of Women within Convicted Women Against Abuse.

    read more

    book event with Laura Whitehorn at the Green Arcade, Friday, 3/12

    Monday, January 25th, 2010
    Join Resistance Behind Bars author Victoria Law for a reading and discussion on women's acts of resistance and organizing behind prison walls.

    read more

    Women, Prison and Resistance: a workshop with Laura Whitehorn at the Bay Area Bookfair!

    Monday, January 25th, 2010
    Although the dramatic increase of women in prison has led to a growing interest in female incarceration, the voices and actions of the women inside often remain unheard. How are women inside challenging and organizing against prison conditions? How can activists and organizers on the outside support their actions and resistance?

    read more

    What Does the Left Need to Know about Prison? (a panel at Left Forum)

    Monday, January 25th, 2010
    What Does the Left Need to Know about Prison?

    Placated by TV-cop-show justice, worried about economic survival, most of the U.S. Left – like the U.S. mainstream – ignores the ongoing reality of prison in the lives of poor people and revolutionaries, alike. Yet prison in this country is the basis for the creation of new forms of increasing government/corporate control. The prison system has already played a critical role in ensuring that popular rebellions, like those of the mid-20th century, do not occur again.

    read more

    Walking While Black in America Today…

    Monday, January 25th, 2010

    Ta-Nehisi Coates:

    Ta-Nehisi Coates: Fear, Parenting, and the Police: We talked some, last week, about how fear drives black parents. I think this is the sort of case that I was thinking about:

    The photos taken by Jordan Miles' mother show his face covered with raw, red bruises, his cheek and lip swollen, his right eye swollen shut. A bald spot mars the long black dreadlocks where the 18-year-old violist says police tore them from his head.

    Now, 10 days after plainclothes officers stopped him on a street and arrested him after a struggle that they say revealed a soda bottle under his coat, not the gun they suspected, his right eye is still slightly swollen and bloodshot. His head is shaved. The three white officers who arrested him have been reassigned. And his mother says she is considering a lawsuit.

    I think it's safe to say that these guys, despite tasering and beating a high-school senior to a pulp for "trying to avoid being seen" and carrying a Mountain Dew bottle, will be back on the street and enjoy a long career in the Pittsburgh police department. That's fine. As a society, we've decided that we'll tolerate the occasional beatdown, or murder, of an innocent in order to "feel safe." The cops are who we want them to be.

    Meanwhile, some of us have friends who've been assaulted, or killed, by cops and a disproportionate number of us happen to be black. We are very clear that should one of our sons get caught up in a situation like this, the cop is, essentially, immune to any kind of meaningful censure. Having internalized this risk factor--among a dizzying array of other risk factors--we may, at times, be a little rougher on our kids.

    I don't know if that's right, fair, or even smart. But I do know that some of us live in a world where you're allowed to throw snowballs at cops, yell "fucking pig" and walk away, and others of us live in a world where a young violinist who attends a performing arts high school literally has his hair ripped out for the horrendous crime of "trying to avoid being seen."