Friday, September 16, 2005


Amnesty of Intelligence

Trawling through some of the material New Orleans Indymedia is the closest one can get to trawling through the diseased waters of the area without actually being there.

I came across this today. CALL FOR AMNESTY.
On the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans’ organizers from national grassroots organization Critical Resistance are demanding amnesty for those arrested during the aftermath of Katrina and for an accounting of what happened to prisoners during the evacuation of New Orleans. “We mourn all the victims of Katrina, including those hidden victims who were locked up in Orleans area jails during the storm and those who have been imprisoned indefinitely in its aftermath,”
On face value, it makes some sense. Whilst we know there was some unforgiveable criminal activity (and I'm not talking about Mayor Nagin) we can also assume there must be some people who were locked up simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We also know there were some people who spent a lot longer in jail than they should have.

But let's see who the organizers of this 'press release' are:
Critical Resistance (CR) is a national grassroots group that fights to end the prison industrial complex (PIC) by challenging the belief that policing, surveillance, imprisonment, and similar forms of control make our communities safer.
It is a political movement made up of "Abolitionists".
Abolitionists recognize that the kinds of wrongdoing we call "crime" do not exist in the same way everywhere and are not "human nature", but rather determined by the societies we live in.
There is some truth in that, and social justice recognizes a link between poverty and crime in some cases. That however, is not what they are about. They are about removing what they call the "Prison Industrial Complex" - and the rest of us call the legal system of police, law-enforcement, courts and prison.

They accept however that even if we lived happily ever after, crime won't dissapear
Similarly, abolitionists do not assume that people will never hurt each other or that people won't cross the boundaries set up by their communities.
So what's their alternative solution?
We do not have all the answers. But, we do know that people in other parts of the world rely on prisons and police far less than the U.S. does, and suffer from far less harm.
Naturally, there is no reference provided to support this theory. South Africa? Nigeria perhaps? Maybe parts of South America where there is no "PIC" (and you can't walk down the street at night). There are practical steps you can take as well:
Instead of calling the police everytime there is a conflict in our neighborhoods, we can establish community forums and mediation practices to deal with harm and conflict.
Try to keep that in mind next time you see someone being raped.

There is a point when well-meaning social justice and sheer insanity cross each other. That nexus seems to exist on Indymedia. Of course the 'PIC' wouldn't need as many resources if said insane persons didn't try so hard to get arrested protesting...

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