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From San Quentin to Guantanamo: the New Carceral State

From San Quentin to Guantanamo: the New Carceral State

By Dennis Loo (10/22/14)

This is a transcript of Dennis Loo’s prepared remarks at a Cal Poly Pomona Symposium on Stop Mass Incarceration, Police Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation on the evening of October 21, 2014.

Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, recounts at the beginning of her book that when she first began working as a civil rights attorney over a decade ago, the prevailing view was that the battle for civil rights had essentially been won and that the main battlefront in defending those gains was in affirmative action cases and so on, a view that matched her own attitude at the time.

One day she spotted a flyer stuck on a post that said in big letters: “The Drug War is the New Jim Crow.” Her response at the time was that this was a gross overstatement that would turn people off who would think that it was “crazy.” It took her years, even after leaving her work at the ACLU, to realize that the criminalization of millions of people of color was going on right in front of her nose and that the slogan was not an exaggeration at all. The Drug War was indeed the New Jim Crow, a way of rendering black and brown people to a permanent second-class caste status, robbed of their rights, deprived of any housing assistance, the right to vote and serve on a jury, condemned to filling out job apps that asked the inevitable question that ruled you out of employment “have you ever been convicted of a felony?” all without being blatantly racist.

Read more: From San Quentin to Guantanamo: the New Carceral State

How Ebola Is Being Transmitted Airborne

How Ebola Is Being Transmitted Airborne

By Dennis Loo (10/15/14)

Two health workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan was treated and died from Ebola have now tested positive for Ebola. Hospital spokespeople expressed astonishment that first nurse Nina Pham and now a so-far unidentified health care worker contracted Ebola, despite wearing facemasks, gowns, gloves, et al, as per their supervisors’ instructions and CDC protocols.

When Pham came down with Ebola, officials initially blamed her for not following proper procedures. A strikingly similar sequence of events has occurred in Spain, with two nurses coming down with Ebola who were following the instructions they were given, with government spokesmen initially blaming the nurses - and then in response to angry protest, retracting their pompous blaming - for the nurses' contracting the disease.

As this article (“Health workers need optimal respiratory protection for Ebola”) by national respiratory protection and infectious disease experts Lisa Brosseau, SCD, and Rachael Jones, PhD, published in the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy on September 17, 2014, makes clear, however, Ebola can be transmitted through facemasks by being aerosolized through coughing, sneezing, or even, we should assume, breathing by an infected person.

Read more: How Ebola Is Being Transmitted Airborne

ST. LOUIS COP KILLS ANOTHER BLACK YOUTH

By Carl Dix (10/10/14)

A white off duty St. Louis cop gunned down Vonderrit Myers Jr., an 18-year-old Black man, last night. One day short of 2 months after the police murder of Michael Brown, another Black life is stolen. THESE POLICE MURDERS MUST STOP, and it's up to us to stop them.

The police say that Myers and several friends ran when the off duty cop tried to make “a pedestrian stop” on them and that Myers shot at the cop first. So, according to them, the 17 shots the cop fired were in self-defense. Witnesses to the incident say Myers was unarmed, that he had just bought a sandwich and that’s all he had in his hands when he was chased and gunned down. People gathered at the scene of the murder to protest it within minutes and soon the crowd had grown to several hundred angry people. A resident whose son had been with Myers on Wednesday night said, "They have been harassing him all day like they do all the time, pulling him over, stopping him." "That's how it is. They harass the kids in the neighborhood. Our kids walk around in their own neighborhood and get harassed for it." This is the reality of life in this country for Black people. It has become a daily fact of life that Black youth have to fear for their lives, and face the danger of summary execution by police at any time, for doing anything, or nothing.

Why does an off-duty cop feel like he can be making “pedestrian stops” of Black youth while he's moonlighting as a security guard? This killing and the story the police are using to justify it reflect how Black people are criminalized in this society. Some Black youth walking together are suspicious and need to be jacked up by a cop, even if the cop is off duty. This is like the Black Codes that southern states, including Missouri, enforced during the days of slavery which gave whites the power to break up any gatherings of 3 or more Black people. And it brings to mind the 1857 Dred Scott decision by the U.S. Supreme Court which said that Black people had no rights that white people are bound to respect.

Read the rest of this at Revcom.us.

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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12