Thursday, June 18, 2020

But What About....?

I read a story about the CHAZ zone established in Seattle over how Protesters have turned a few blocks into a commune of sort, an Occupy over Police Brutality.  They are self managed and the Police precinct where they are located has been abandoned... for now.

As a former occupier of Seattle who knows that city from the ground up, the last few years Seattle took a turn.  What kind and how that affected the City is an issue of contention.  It is largely a company town, but it always was.  It had been though boons and bust as gateway cities are but in this case the river that now flows through has piranhas within. There is little good to say about Amazon and this pandemic finally demonstrated the type of culture it perpetuates and that extends into the city that houses its headquarters.

Seattle was solidly working/middle class and its elegant set were the Nordstrom family, the Friedlanders, and others whose family names or business lined the streets of the downtown city. The CEO's of Industry came from coffee, paper, banks and of course planes.  Then one economic change after another changed the dynamic. The City itself has a charming Public Market that back in the day was the rough part of town and now its the city's most dynamic economic corridor while the downtown core itself has surrendered itself to Amazon, the Macy's Department store is closed and it houses the fish from the river that dominates the rest of the city itself. Nowhere is there not a type of Amazon facility much in the same way they place their warehouses in suburbs or areas that were once dynamic cores of other places in other times.

Add to this Microsoft and their imprint that is all due to one of the late co-founder, Paul Allen, and his clear and deep footprint in the city with the other founder, Bill Gates and his foundation looming over the once relic of arenas and fairs past, the Seattle Center, there is nowhere in this city I recognize.  I have been gone now four years and I have no desire to ever set foot there again and if I do I will sneak in and out like a shadow as I want no evidence left behind.  That is how I see the city, a place of danger and damage and it tried to kill me once and I plan on keeping the eight lives I have left, thanks.

In this time Washington wisely legalized Marijuana and in turn the hill where the CHAZ occupiers sit was once a thriving alt community of largely Gay owned business and art crowds that lent the city it joie de vivre.  The Pride Parade used to be held on 10th along to Broadway and when I lived on 10th it was just a window or roof view to see the glorious demonstrations of all things that make one proud  of the accomplishments of a group of marginalized people who now had come out from the dark of a closet and into the light.

The one thing that Seattle did best was have festivals and art shows that did an amazing job of showcasing the best of the city of my youth.  And yes we had a large Pacific Islander and Native American population who were also included but they really never were as they too were relegated to places in the past and their present was resigned to largely poverty and segregation.  They are what we are fighting about now only that in deep frustration but in necessity pockets are emerging to address that as they tear other statutes down to acknowledge oppression.  All lives of people on the fringe, in the corners, the minorities of color, of gender and of sexual identity share that and we all need to be recognized for that.

When I lived in Bellingham the Lummi Tribe and their reservation was just along the north of the coast and I would drive there to just behold the beauty of that land and on it sat shanty town shacks and trailers, something I would later see in Nashville just south of where I lived and at one point it was as if I was in a third world country, only in America.  There are many places throughout that share that dynamic, or is fate, be it faces of color or just the sheer poverty that dominates many areas of this country.  Again, we have placed those marginalized by society on the fringe as if to say, "See we gave you this land, this house, these are your 40 acres and mule."  It is not as if we quit killing, beating, raping and imprisoning them via "indentured servitude" we just rebranded it.  Ask the Asian population about that one or the Japanese about their lives in WWII in America.  And when all else fails giving Natives a pandemic of their own via contaminated blankets with measles. To make up for that we "let" them build Casinos to show they have an opportunity to have a business.  A business that you have to be bused in and out and just stay there for dinner, a show and some games and then off back to the city over the highway. Great. As for crime it is often neglected and ignored and like Covid there is a pandemic when it comes to missing Native women. 

But we don't talk about that in schools, we don't talk about that in the same way we don't talk about the Tulsa Massacre or the Scottsboro boys as now in the common core curriculum we are taught what a rich white man devised as a way to generate test scores and in turn how one tests proves that one can learn and in turn be a better, brighter person in America. That is what he apparently thinks is Meritocracy.    If you are not tested on it you do not learn it and Teacher's evaluations and jobs are based test scores not engagement or enlightening minds to learn and develop critical thinking skills, for if you do that you might give someone knowledge and knowledge is power.  Power is the people and the people have always had it but they were too afraid, they did not want to lose their one mule let alone 40.  Ah that never happened and frankly reparations are not going to in the same way disbanding the Police will.  Again let's look to the legacy and history of how this country was built and in turn who we used, exploited and harmed in the process.  This movement should not be about who has the most horrific story, for many of us do, it is about who gave them the power to do so.

Cities like Seattle, like New York, like San Francisco and other "it" cities that align our country have a history too and then they get rich, and the rich get richer and they turn these cities into their image, shiny, glassy, new and they ignore, obliterate and destroy communities, only now without guns or disease, or do they?  Welcome to 2020.

In the article there are several comments about the kids and their "demands." What they do have is a sense of community and are well doing what the oppressors do as well, carry guns, perform chokeholds and hide cameras from filming outbursts. I suspect that many are homeless or live in fractured style housing, given what I know of the area and the massive homeless population in the city itself.  It appears they have a type of mental health counseling and of course this being the Northwest a tribal type management structure; From the interviews they appear to be all men and despite the use of gender neutral pronouns and the like, it seems the women are doing the gardening and the camp base building.  Welcome to Utopia!

Seattle has always been aspirational and San Francisco was the city they styled themselves after and in turn this now reminds me of the Summer of Love with a touch of Occupy thrown in just to show New York that they can make it there too.  As much as Millennials like to think they invented something, they just rebrand it and viola its all new!  But alas this has a long history in America.  As for the city of Seattle itself, I know first hand what it is like to live there it is the home of the infamous "freeze" and I suspect that for many this is the first time they have actually connected to other and have a sense of belonging.  But like those this too will pass and it will come to an end. How it ends is the million dollar question in this million dollar city where the median wage is higher, the percent of people with degrees more so and of course the politics like the water are clear blue but even that has a common color with a uniform of another.

Within the comments there was some support, some trolling but many questions about women and them being sexually assaulted and then what?  Well again Seattle and the King County Sheriff's office have a long history of misogyny and in turn not prosecuting rape, again and again, so is there a point?  Again Seattle, not so different as they think when it comes to being true blue and equal.  Equality is for those who need a new label identity, it is like meritocracy, a myth.

And cops when they commit the crimes from DUI to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault they are often given a pass. And Bowling Green University, created the  Police Crime Database, which includes summary information on 10,287 criminal arrest cases of Law Enforcement, from the years 2005-2014.   Bitch please, they are not innocent victims here being targeted for their work, its the failure of how they do their work which is the issue.

This editorial from The Guardian I think does some womensplaining about what it means to be a victim of sexual assault and how the law views it.  I get it I really do. More than most and again this is not a contest over who has had it worse, this is where we all are in it together. Like Covid just different, right?

'Who will protect you from rape without police?' Here's my answer to that question

The reality is that the police are often more likely to hurt women than to help us. Let’s face the grim facts

Moira Donegan
The Guardian
Wed 17 Jun 2020

As uprisings have spread through American cities in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a once fringe leftwing position has become rapidly mainstream: abolishing the police. Police abolition means different things to different people, but to most activists “abolition” means a radical shrinking, defunding and disarming of police forces.

The call to “abolish the police”, then, amounts not to a wholesale abandonment of the state’s enforcement of criminal law, but rather to a reimagining of the nature and responsibilities of that enforcement. Many abolition advocates imagine a future in which the police no longer constitute an armed group that surveils peaceful minority neighborhoods or uses force in non-violent drug and traffic cases. The police, if they exist at all in an abolitionist future, would be smaller, disarmed and just one of many community interventions to foster public safety.

But as calls for police abolition have entered the mainstream, some feminists – as well as commentators invested in the status quo – have raised a question: without police, who will defend women from male violence? Who will investigate and arrest rapists? This is often a well-intended and good-faith concern, especially from feminists who believe that the prevalence of sexual violence and the failure of the justice system to prosecute and punish rapists is a result of societal indifference to women’s suffering. To them, this failure calls for more, not less, state intervention.

The notion that abolishing the police will have negative repercussions for women radically misunderstands both American policing and sexual violence

But the notion that abolishing the police will have negative repercussions for women radically misunderstands both American policing and sexual violence. Police abolition need not be considered an abdication of the responsibility to protect women, but rather a way to fulfill it.

The fact is that the police never investigate most sexual violence, because most sexual violence goes unreported. According to the Rape and Incest National Network, or Rainn, a little less than 25% of sexual assaults are reported to police, significantly less than other violent crimes. The reasons are myriad, but an often cited one is distrust and fear of the police. One survey of sexual assault survivors found that of those who chose not to report, 15% feared that the police could not or would not do anything to help. An additional 7% did not want to expose their attacker to the police. This skepticism of police may be especially pronounced among women of color, whose communities are already subject to heightened criminalization and police harassment.

There is ample evidence that sexual assault victims who distrust the police are correct. Women who do report sexual assaults often encounter cops who are incompetent, contemptuous or indifferent. A 2018 study of the Austin, Texas, police department found that officers tasked with investigating sexual assaults could not read lab reports on DNA evidence and often lacked an understanding of basic female anatomy. “I have to Google stuff like ‘labia majora’,” one officer said. No wonder police are often unable to even understand the mechanics of the assaults they investigate.

Sometimes police failures to investigate sexual violence look like the result not just of stupidity but of outright duplicity. One study of the New York police department discovered it was knowingly undercounting rapes in its public figures, using a deliberately strict definition of rape in order to shrink the number of reported rapes in New York. An inquiry into the NYPD found its special victims division to be grossly dysfunctional, with officers instructed to “simply not investigate” misdemeanor sexual assault cases.

The failure and indifference of police is not a matter of a few bad apples or mismanaged departments. The failure is nationwide. Conservative estimates indicate that American police departments have 200,000 untested rape kits in their possession, with DNA samples that could be used to identify rapists and prevent future assaults collecting dust, often because police have not bothered to send them to be tested.

Police departments systemically fail to make arrests in sexual assault cases, and their failures are mirrored throughout the justice system. According to Rainn, only 4.6% of sexual assaults ever lead to an arrest, and only 0.9% are ever referred by police to prosecutors. Conviction rates are also lower than for other violent crimes, in part because of police mishandling of sexual assault cases.

Then there’s this troubling fact: the police themselves are often perpetrators of gender violence. And they frequently use the privileges and protections of their job to hurt women with impunity.

Police households have dramatically higher rates of domestic violence than other homes, with approximately 40% of officers having intimate partner violence in their households, compared with roughly 10% of the general population. Worse, women beaten by cop partners often have no one to call: the very people they are told to seek help from are the friends and colleagues of their abusive husbands and boyfriends. And if their abuser is a cop, he has a gun, knows the locations of women’s shelters, and knows how to shift the blame to his victim if she seeks help.

An unaccountable group of primarily men, empowered to commit violence to uphold hierarchies of power, is not going to end sexual violence against women

The police also have a tendency to commit sexual violence on the job, abusing their authority to prey on women in their custody. There are famous cases like Daniel Holtzclaw, the Oklahoma City officer who raped and assaulted black women, secure in the belief that the system would protect him and punish his victims if they attempted to seek justice. And then there were Eddie Martins and Richard Hall, the two NYPD officers who got no jail time after they allegedly raped a teenager they had arrested in Brooklyn. Martins and Hall claimed that the sexual encounter was consensual – a claim that strains the definition of consent, since the girl in question was in their custody. Until recently, it was legal for police officers in many US jurisdictions to claim that sex with people under arrest was consensual.

Those are just the cases we know about. Unlike police brutality of the kind that killed men like Eric Garner and George Floyd, police sexual brutality often occurs behind closed doors and inside locked paddywagons, away from the reach of camera phones. It does not go viral, but that does not mean that it does not happen. According to Andrea J Ritchie, the author of the book Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color, sexual violence is the second most commonly reported kind of police misconduct. But reports of police sexual abuse are obscured by secretive police disciplinary and oversight bodies. This is in part because police unions have lobbied to ensure that sexual violence and sexual harassment complaints against police are kept under wraps. The targets of police sexual brutality? Overwhelmingly black women.

Within the feminist community, calls for police abolition sometimes face opposition from those who are understandably frustrated by the historically lenient enforcement of sexual violence crimes. Why should we abolish the police, these feminists ask, when they are already doing too little to protect women? Shouldn’t they do more? But it is precisely because the police are such terrible sources for justice in sexual assault cases, and because they are often so much more likely to commit sexual assault than to punish it, that feminists must become police abolitionists. The police have proven that they are no allies of women’s rights. A large, unaccountable group of primarily men, empowered to commit violence to maintain existing hierarchies of power, is not going to end the scourge of sexual violence against women. As feminists, we must recognize that the police are more likely to hurt women than to help us.

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