race

"Beyond Obama" - A Day in Solidarity With African People November 6th

Group Challenges Racial Divide in U.S.

What: Conference
When: Saturday, November 6, 1:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Where: First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA
Contact: Harris Daniels, 857-233-7508

On Saturday, November 6, the African People’s Solidarity Committee will hold a public event entitled, “Beyond Obama: Seeking real solutions to the growing racial divide in the US.” The conference will feature presentations by leaders of the “Black is Back!” Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations; Friends and Family of Mumia Abu Jamal; the Black Agenda Report; and the Harlem Tenants Council. It is the culmination of an effort to raise $10,000 for the Uhuru Movement’s black community justice campaigns.

The Disease that infects us all...

racism.jpg

The Disease that infects us all...

Racism, no other disease infects the world more. Not Swine flu, Ebola, Cancer nor HIV/AIDS have infected the world more than the ignorance of racism. Racism since the days of slavery and the 50's, 60's and 70's in its blatancy days is now a silent, subtle and passive/aggressive socially constructed tool used to manipulate, control, exploit and degrade people solely based on the color of someone's skin.

Racism is man's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason." Abraham J. Heschel

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Dear Inquirer, I take it back

So you have a suburban readership. Today you started an article series that takes that fact and uses it for good. Shows your readers some serious institutional inequity in their own counties, and for good measure, tells us and our new mayor that Philadelphia has some lessons here too.

I was pretty mean about your dumb columns, like the one about the woman who moved to the suburbs and was finally happy, and the insultingly thin coverage of violent crime and the neighborhoods and people it affects.

You're not all bad after all.

Love,
Jennifer

The article, "Suburban Cops, Tough Tactics", takes a long hard look at the penchant for area cops to take on zero-tolerance policies that they enforce mainly in heavily-black areas. Pottstown, Darby, and Coatesville all have or had arrest rates for minor, nuisance-type crimes that way outpace the averages for other cities across the nation.

The laws they use to make the arrests are mostly vague, almost certainly unconsitutional anti-loitering ordinances. And the police doing the arrests are overwhelmingly white.

The Inquirer convened local and national experts to review the laws and arrests. There are revealing and useful graphs here. There is a lot of rich information that I sincerely hope leads to political and legal pressure and policy change.

But the Inquirer also turns the heat on Philadelphia. This article is the first measured look by a local media outlet at the sort of easy criminology-speak rhetoric that got bandied about during the mayoral primary and is invoked in columns all the time. It takes aim at those who claim the "broken windows" theory is some self-evident truth.

What the article has given us a window into is the effect of zero-tolerance, broken-windows-theory influenced policing. Well, the effect: a ton of low-level drug and other nonviolent arrests, and bad or very inconclusive numbers on the more serious crimes that the theory says should be dropping. Broken windows fixes the broken windows, and arrests a bunch of people who really shouldn't be in the system in the process.

(It's not that there is no truth to the theory. Broken windows are signs of deeper decay. But that decay cannot be reversed just through ramped-up policing tactics. It evidences real social breakdown that needs rehab grants for the decayed houses with the broken windows, among a host of other interventions.)

Granted, the suburbs are a cautionary tale. Most generously, the polices examined here seem clumsily applied. More realistically, there is direct and submerged racism at work. Well designed policing programs in the city, including a policy not to prosecute low-level drug possession charges that are the product of stop and frisk, will help. But the Inquirer raises some serious questions about how we go about cracking down on violent crime under the new mayoral administration, and to its great credit, it asks those questions directly to the mayor and to us.

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