November 11, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Gun Culture, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex, What People are Doing to Change the World

CI: Militarization, Surveillance, and the Police State, Part 2

August 28, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complex

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.

Militarization, Surveillance, and the Police State, Part 2
by nancy a heitzeg

“It is white power that makes the laws, and it is violent white power in the form of armed white cops that enforces those laws with guns and nightsticks.”  Stokely Carmichael, Towards Black Liberation 1966

Or maybe with tanks and drones. Add a few officers of color too.

Carmichael’s central premise remains unchanged, but the technology, and perhaps too the scope of the dragnet has changed.

In recent posts – Tagging, Tasers, and the Police State, Part 1 and Unpacking “Chiraq”: Repression, RICO, and War on Terror TacticsCI has explored the deepening connections between policing and war, the alignment of those two deadlyindustrial complexes  of our time – prison and military. The connections are both literal in terms of the use of military technology, but conceptual as well. The citizenry as “enemy” to be  battled and defeated.

No questions. No quarter.

Of course, this has been the experience of communities of color since colonial days, but the rapid expansion of the technology of mass surveillance and the tactics of war have spilled out into the populace at large, threatening even those they were once designed to protect.


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.



April 08, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Terrorism, Imperialism, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complex, Workers' Rights

“Margaret Thatcher left a dark legacy that has still not disappeared..”

by Hugo Young, The Guardian

ACLU Launches Nationwide Police Militarization Investigation

March 07, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complex

From HuffPo:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has launched a nationwide campaign to assess police militarization in the United States. Starting Wednesday, ACLU affiliates in 23 states are sending open records requests to hundreds of state and local police agencies requesting information about their SWAT teams, such as how often and for what reasons they’re deployed, what types of weapons they use, how often citizens are injured during SWAT raids, and how they’re funded. More affiliates may join the effort in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the affiliates will ask for information about drones, GPS tracking devices, how much military equipment the police agencies have obtained through programs run through the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, and how often and for what purpose state National Guards are participating in enforcement of drug laws.

“We’ve known for a while now that American neighborhoods are increasingly being policed by cops armed with the weapons and tactics of war,” said Kara Dansky, senior counsel at the ACLU’s Center for Justice, which is coordinating the investigation. “The aim of this investigation is to find out just how pervasive this is, and to what extent federal funding is incentivizing this trend.”

The militarization of America’s police forces has been going on for about a generation now. Former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates first conceived the idea of the SWAT team in the late 1960s, in response to the Watts riots and a few mass shooting incidents for which he thought the police were unprepared. Gates wanted an elite team of specialized cops similar to groups like the Army Rangers or Navy SEALs that could respond to riots, barricades, shootouts, or hostage-takings with more skill and precision than everyday patrol officers.

Obama Administration Says President Can Use Lethal Force Against Americans on US Soil

March 06, 2013 By: seeta Category: Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complex

From Mother Jones:

Yes, the president does have the authority to use military force against American citizens on US soil—but only in “an extraordinary circumstance,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter to Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Tuesday.

“The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening,” Paul said Tuesday. “It is an affront the constitutional due process rights of all Americans.”

Last month, Paul threatened to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan, Obama’s pick to head the CIA, “until he answers the question of whether or not the President can kill American citizens through the drone strike program on U.S. soil.” Tuesday, Brennan told Paul that “the agency I have been nominated to lead does not conduct lethal operations inside the United States—nor does it have any authority to do so.” Brennan said that the Justice Department would answer Paul’s question about whether Americans could be targeted for lethal strikes on US soil.

Holder’s answer was more detailed, however, stating that under certain circumstances, the president would have the authority to order lethal attacks on American citizens. The two possible examples of such “extraordinary” circumstances were the attack on Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. An American president order the use of lethal military force inside the US is “entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront,” Holder wrote.

Is America Training Too Many Foreign Armies?

February 02, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Development, Imperialism

From Foreign Policy:

At a time when not a day goes by without Beltway handwringing about the impact of a potential sequester, there has been almost zero discussion of how to better focus U.S. military assistance around clear objectives and direct it to countries where it can make a lasting difference. And these aren’t insignificant sums when taken together. The administration requested $9.8 billion in security assistance funding for fiscal year 2013.

Much of this military assistance — through programs like Foreign Military Financing; International Military Education and Training; Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Programs; International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement; Peacekeeping Operations; and the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund — is supposed to be overseen by the State Department with the Defense Department doing the heavy lifting of actually delivering aid and training.

The rationale on paper for such assistance is straightforward and usually receives uncritical congressional support. U.S. military aid helps train security forces, finance the purchase of military equipment, bolster the ability of law enforcement to tackle the illegal narcotics trade, and shape cooperation on nonproliferation issues. But more than anything, the Pentagon has always insisted that spreading military assistance so broadly is all about building relationships with fellow militaries — a cost effective way of establishing contacts who will pick up the phone in a ministry of defense when needed. For those who say U.S. dollars propped up an autocratic military in Egypt, other argue that it was the senior flag relationships between the Pentagon and Cairo that kept the military from opening fire on democratic protesters during the Arab Spring.

But U.S. military aid looks much better on paper than in practice, in large part because it is often delivered as if on autopilot without a reasoned discussion of its merits. The State Department largely offers rubber-stamp approvals, and the Foreign Service currently lacks personnel with the expertise needed to engage in a rigorous debate with the Pentagon about who deserves aid and why. As Gordon Adams of the Stimson Center has argued, the State Department’s “internal capacity to plan, budget, and manage these programs needs to be seriously strengthened.” This, combined with the general tendency of Congress to treat military spending requests as something just short of a papal writ, has meant that U.S. security assistance programs receive very little oversight.

Barack Obama’s historic transformation of the American military

January 30, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, LGBTQ

From The Grio:

This past week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the Pentagon will drop its ban on women serving in combat. With this historic announcement, coming just a year and a half after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Obama administration has once again sent a clear message that the United States is committed to fielding a military that reflects the fundamental American values of fairness and equal opportunity.

And just days into his second term, President Obama has reinforced his legacy; he will be remembered for transforming our armed forces more profoundly than any president since Harry Truman, who desegregated the U.S. military and provided a permanent place in the military for women.

By repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and opening all combat positions to women, the Obama administration has eliminated two of the most egregious examples of modern government-sanctioned discrimination. But these decisions were not based in political correctness or moral probity—dropping these unnecessary and discriminatory restrictions is in our national interest. With the overturning of these bans, the American military will no longer lose talented service members due to their gender or sexual orientation, and our armed forces will be stronger due to their diversity.

Yet these reforms did not come easily, nor are they without political risk, as President Clinton discovered when he tried to end the ban on gays in the military. The U.S. military is highly resistant to change, and to achieve these reforms, the Obama administration had to expend considerable political capital and assemble a wide alliance of committed experts and advocates to overcome significant resistance from some active and retired military officers as well as social conservatives in the Congress. Still, these changes will stand the test of history, and by more fully opening the force to minority groups, President Obama has put a commitment to equality, inclusive government, and military readiness at the heart of his legacy.

See also: Defense must be part of debate to reduce spending