Tag Archive: analysis

Hey, Step Back with the Riot Shaming

fergusonFrom Mask Magazine

As you may have heard, a young black man named Michael Brown from Ferguson, Missouri was shot many times and killed by a police officer on August 9 of this year. A bit of a caveat before my rant: I’m angry and it comes out a bit here. Sorry not sorry.

Processing my anger in the wake of Michael Brown’s murder.

On August 11, 1965, the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles exploded after a confrontation with police grew to a critical mass. The neighborhood SMOLDERED FOR SIX DAYS. Almost a thousand buildings were looted and burned to the ground. The unrest marked an important turn in the struggle against an overtly racist America. That was forty-nine years ago today.

Listen: police in this country attack poor people of color. IT’S HAPPENING. Like, it’s still happening. Every day. All across the country. It’s been happening. The story of America is an uninterrupted chapter book of brutality and horrific violence. Racist violence in America is a story with no interludes.

The narrative of “progress” steadily advances divorced from the reality on the streets. For all the online discourse about oppression, identity, and ‘shaming’, there is a disturbing lack of insight and nuance when it comes to riots, vandalism, and looting in the wake of these unsettling acts of violence against people of color. So I thought I’d put together my responses to the phenomenon of “riot shaming” – the policing of young black and brown bodies in the aftermath of police murder. (more…)

A Year After Mass Hunger Strike in California Prisons, What’s Changed?

hungerstrikeFrom Truth Out/ By Victoria Law

On July 8, 2013, 30,000 California prisoners launched what became a 60-day mass hunger strike. One year later, however, Luis Esquivel is still sitting in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in solitary confinement in California’s Pelican Bay State Prison. “Right now, my uncle is in his cell with no windows,” said his niece, Maribel Herrera. “It’s like sitting in a bathroom – your sink is there, your toilet is there, your bed is there. And you’re just sitting there. I can only think about that for so long because it hurts.”

Herrera’s uncle has been in solitary confinement for 15 years. “I hadn’t seen my uncle since I was a child,” said Herrera. “I can’t even remember hugging him.” When she visited him in 2012, her first-ever visit to Pelican Bay, more than 850 miles away from her family’s home in San Diego, hers was the first visit Esquivel had received in seven years. (more…)

Time does not always heal: state violence and psychic damage

Above all, I want to stress that the way in which the state uses time is a method of punishing, even before it seeks to actually penalize you, what I have elsewhere called ‘the weaponisation of time’.

This stretching out of time is a central feature of what punishment is, from the slowness of bringing someone to trial, to the trial process itself, to prison, the purest manifestation of time used as a weapon, against the very nature of what it means to be human.

My partner Alfie Meadows was nearly killed when a police officer hit his head with a truncheon at a demo. After Alfie was charged with 'violent disorder', I was so viscerally angry I stopped being able to feel temperature.

My partner Alfie Meadows was nearly killed when a police officer hit his head with a truncheon at a demo. After Alfie was charged with ‘violent disorder’, I was so viscerally angry I stopped being able to feel temperature.

By Nina Power/ From Open Democracy

The individual is only a symptom of the broader social whole. For decades now, (anti-)psychiatrists, activists and political thinkers have said that mental health cannot be dissociated from the pathologies of the culture in which individuals are deemed to be unwell.

Any supposed polarisation between ‘the mental’ and ‘the social’ is torn apart in situations where political activity puts you in direct confrontation with the state.

When the state’s actions are directly responsible for injury, stress and mental illness, it is imperative that we do not dissociate one from the other. We cannot continue to blame individuals for profound structural wrongs.

I want to talk about the personal impact of a serious, prolonged encounter with the criminal justice system, and the collective impact this continues to have on friends and family. Above all, I want to stress that the way in which the state uses time is a method of punishing, even before it seeks to actually penalize you, what I have elsewhere called ‘the weaponisation of time’.

This stretching out of time is a central feature of what punishment is, from the slowness of bringing someone to trial, to the trial process itself, to prison, the purest manifestation of time used as a weapon, against the very nature of what it means to be human. (more…)