CI: Unpacking “Chiraq” – Repression, RICO, and War on Terror Tactics

June 19, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

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.

Unpacking “Chiraq”: Repression, RICO, and War on Terror Tactics
by nancy a heitzeg

Editors Note: Wrote this one for my people at Prison Culture and Project NIA. Located in Chicago, a city increasingly labeled –  by both friend and foe – as “Chiraq”. This piece is a follow-up to Unpacking ‘Chiraq’ #1: Chief Keef, Badges of Honor, and Capitalism – please read it. It is brilliant analysis of how “Chiraq” is claimed in “elegies of survival” by those who live through it everyday. “Chiraq” is normalizing while pathologizing, glorifying while vilifying, the total link between domestic/foreign “enemies”.  Today we explore the latter…

What does it mean to call a city a War Zone? To write entire Black and Brown neighborhoods – and all their inhabitants – out of the United States of America and into a script that so effectively “others” them that they are now a foreign enemy state? What does it mean for public perception? What does it mean for police state response?

While the term “Chiraq” may have one set of meanings for those who survive Chicago’s high gun violence rate (see Unpacking ‘Chiraq’ #1: Chief Keef, Badges of Honor, and Capitalism), it serves to legitimate, without question, already solidified stereotypes of youth of color. “Chiraq” also links, per usual this violence to gangs. “Chiraq” implies that the already draconian domestic police approach to gangs is insufficient, and that a military response is now needed.

What other message could one take from the recent edition of HBO’s Vice Episode #9 Chiraq ? Where segments of a major US city are described like this — “The South Side of Chicago is basically a failed state within the borders of the U.S.”? Where viewers are blithely taken from Chicago’s Southside to then “hunting oil pirates in Nigeria”?

The lethal combination of gangs and guns has turned Chicago into a war zone. To see why the Windy City, now dubbed “Chiraq,” had the country’s highest homicide rate in 2012, VICE visits Chicago’s most dangerous areas, where handguns are plentiful and the police and community leaders are fighting a losing battle against gang violence. In the neighborhood of Englewood, we patrol with police, visit with religious leaders, and hang out with members of gangs – soldiers in a turf war that has spread into new communities as projects are destroyed and residents are forced to move elsewhere.

“Chiraq” means War. Literally.


Disaster Capitalism in Chicago Schools

March 04, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Terrorism, Education

From In These Times:

The right-wing, free market vision of University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman informed the blueprint for the rapid privatization of municipal services throughout the world due in no small part to what author Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism.” Friedman wrote in his 1982 treatise Capitalism and Freedom, “When [a] crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around”

In Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine, she explains how immediately after Hurricane Katrina, Friedman used the decimation of New Orleans’ infrastructure to push for charter schools, a market-based policy preference of Friedman acolytes. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the CEO of Chicago Public Schools at the time, and later described Hurricane Katrina as “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans.” Duncan is of the liberal wing of the free market project and a major supporter of charter schools.

There aren’t any hurricanes in the Midwest, so how can proponents of privatization like Mayor Rahm Emanuel sell off schools to the highest bidder?

They create a crisis.

Each year, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) projects a billion dollar deficit. The announcement grabs headlines and the Board of Education announces that they must make serious cuts. These cutbacks are never at the top. The Board cuts education programs, after-school activities, and forces more classroom costs onto its employees.

School closings are announced tangentially to the deficit announcement. In years past, the manufactured budget crisis was used as an excuse to lay off teachers. People were fired, class sizes swelled to epic proportions and—after the budget was reconciled—CPS miraculously found a surplus. This past year’s final audited budget showed a surplus of $344 million.

“It’s Simple Mathematics”

February 16, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Criminal Injustice Series, Economic Terrorism, Education, Housing, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege


Real Solutions Don’t Demand Marriage, Just lots of Math..

See also Prison Culture, The Atlantic and The Washington Post

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