† Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.
This Week in the War on Black ~ Repression Builds Resistance
by nancy a heitzeg
This week’s CI was going to continue the discussion of what seems to be an uptick in the move towards prison privatization. There are many implications here, not the least of which concerns race – recent research suggests that Black and Latino/a prisoners are more likely than whites to be housed in private facilities that offer fewer programs that help prisoners: psychological interventions, drug and alcohol counseling, coursework towards high school or college diplomas, job training, etc.
But more on that later.
For now, a few words on the ruthless Anti-Blackness that shaped the week. Florida prosecutor Corey decided to retry Marissa Alexander for firing a warning shot in the ceiling to protect herself/her children against her abusive husband. The family of deceased Georgia teen Kendrick Johnson had to apply public pressure for nearly a year (and seek 2 autopsies) in order to get proper investigation of the case. Shopping While Black is still heavily criminalized, even when paying for expensive merchandise at high end stores. A Federal Appeals Court said NYPD is free to continue its’ racist policy of stop and frisk. Because it was Halloween, Clueless and/or Hateful White People™ donned Blackface yet again as high fashion accessorizing, prison inmate portrayals, and even the murdered Trayvon Martin were deemed by them to be “acceptable” costumes.
And because it is any given week, at least 6 Black men, women or children were killed by someone employed or protected by the US government, while untold numbers more were brutalized, arrested and incarcerated.
But we are not here today to say all that. We are here to say what is already known:
Repression Builds Resistance.
Marissa Alexander’s name/case is known, she is in fact getting a chance at freedom at all because of relentless activism. There will be a federal investigation into Kendrick Johnson’s death. Barney’s is getting sued. Dream Defenders have forced Stand Your Ground hearings in Florida and called for National Action. NYPD stop and frisk will be over one way or another, perhaps as soon as the next NYC Mayoral election.
So we are here today to say simply, with the theologian James Cone, one more thing that is also known:
The Lynchers will Never have the Last Word.
The Cross and The Lynching Tree, James Cone