“Eco-terrorism” and the Green Scare, Green is the New Red
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Cross-posted from Seeta’s Environmental/Photography Blog:
Today officially marks the first day of summer with the sun at its highest point in the sky gracing us with the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The great paradox, of course, is that with the arrival of summer, along with its attendant abundant signs of life, the days will gradually begin to grow shorter from here on out as we head into fall.
This paradox is the inherent law of nature: the balance of life and death. During summer, the sun shines its brightest at its greatest strength with the promise of shorter days and waning light ahead. Shorter days ahead are not cause for sadness or melancholy, but is a gift that allows deep appreciation for the fleeting, ephemeral beauty of life and our transient and impermanent place in it.
Implicit, too, in the paradox of the summer solstice is the inevitability of rebirth. We can immerse ourselves in the here and now, reflect on the swift inevitable passage of time, and also have an appreciation for the value of seasonal changes ahead.
— Stonehenge (@EH_Stonehenge) June 21, 2015
A polar bear eats a white-beaked dolphin in the Raudfjorden fjord, on the northwestern coast of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, Norway, on July 2, 2014. Dolphins had become trapped too far north possibly due to the almost absence of ice in the region in the past few years and the sudden arrival of ice in April. As the climate warms, the sight of polar bears tucking into weird meals, such as dolphins, could become more common.
A polar bear eats a white-beaked dolphin in the Raudfjorden fjord, on the northwestern coast of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, Norway. Melting sea ice has led to more species venturing further north, they are the new preys for polar bears.
“The way that meat, eggs and milk are produced is surrounded by one of our great silences, in which most people collaborate. We don’t want to know, because knowing would force anyone with a capacity for empathy to change their diet…
So now to the real question: how do they get away with it? How is it that we, who regard ourselves as a nation of animal lovers, accept such terrible standards of meat production? If dogs and cats were treated as pigs and chickens are, there would be a deafening outcry: in fact there are plenty of people in Britain who campaign against the raising of dogs and cats for food in Asia. But what’s the difference? Why is it acceptable to treat some animals – even creatures as intelligent and capable of suffering as pigs – so brutally, but not others?”
† 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.
Minneapolis is a beautiful Blue City. It ranks near or at the top of a number of livability indices: low unemployment, high income and low poverty rates, affordable housing, literacy and high educational attainment, robust voter turnout and political engagement, high percentages of colleges, art/theater, bike paths, green space, lakes and coops per capita.
Minneapolis ranks near or at the top too on indicators that reveal the city is less than “livable” if you are Black. The Black unemployment rate is nearly 4 times that of white, making it the highest racial unemployment gap in the nation. Black-white gaps in the City of Minneapolis on census indicators such as household income, homeownership and educational attainment contribute heavily to Minnesota’s ranking as the worst state for financial inequality. Racial segregation persists by neighborhood and school; about 62 percent of black students attend high-poverty schools, compared with 10 percent of white students. Unsurprisingly, the s0-called “achievement gap” as measured by test scores and graduation rates is also amongst the highest in the nation.
Minneapolis similarly ranks high with regard to racial gulfs in matters of criminal injustice. The racial disparities are staggering, with Blacks and American Indians dramatically over-represented in arrests for the low-level offenses used as pretexts for racial profiling, and in all aspects of correctional control from probation to prison. This racially biased policing extends to the Minneapolis Public Schools which again runs one the nations “leading” school to prison pipelines.
Minneapolis School to Prison Pipeline and the Role of SROs
Minneapolis Public Schools have come under Federal scrutiny for the dramatically disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates for students of color. For more than a decade the rate at which Black and American Indian students were suspended/expelled exceeded the national average, achieving at the zenith, a rate of nearly 5 times more than white peers. The most recent data shows that Black students are 4 times more likely to get suspended compared with white students. Special education students and American Indians were the next most likely to get suspended.
In an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the Minneapolis School District has now enacted a new policy where every non-violent suspension of a Black, Hispanic, or American Indian student will now be reviewed by the Superintendent’s office before they are approved.
While this begins to address one pillar of the school to prison pipeline, it fails to account for the role of police in the hallways and in-school arrests. Minneapolis Public Schools spends $1 million annually (matched by another $500,000 from the city) to employ 16 Minneapolis Police Department officers as Security Resource Officers (SROs) in the schools. While arrests have slightly declined in recent years, the racial dis-proportionality reflected in suspensions and expulsions is present here too, leaving us again with amongst the highest rankings for racial gaps in arrests. It is important to note too, that the overwhelming majority of school based arrests are for minor misbehavior. Nearly 90% of these arrests are for misdemeanors or lesser offenses.
In Minneapolis, as elsewhere, a police presence in schools results in the criminalization of minor and typical youthful misbehavior. In addition to the risks posed by zero tolerance policies and suspension/expulsion, police in the schools are a direct conduit into the pipeline.
This has to stop. In Minneapolis, the Coalition for Critical Change and the Social Justice Education Movement are calling for an end to SROs in the schools. Please join us – wherever you are – in imagining how to better spend $1.5 million in our schools.