“Roll over”, “Fetch”, and “Play dead” will not be the mottoes of an Einstein Administration

The top priority for a number of this year’s Mayoral candidates (we’re not familiar with the platforms for all twenty of them – in part because they haven’t all made their priorities public, at this point) is reducing crime, by which they seem to mean the crimes of the oppressed rather than those of the privileged.  We make this assumption because the most popular plans for fighting “crime” are to “put more police officers on the streets”, “get more officers out from behind their desks”, and “hire more police officers.”  If this happens, these candidates would like us to expect fewer murders, rapes, and assaults, as well as less drug-trafficking, as a result.  These are, for the most part, crimes of desperation and opportunity in a city where far-too-few legal opportunities exist for gaining security – financial, situational, educational, medical; they are responses to the stress and frustration of living paycheck-to-paycheck, of making do with no paycheck at all, of paying to live in homes where the roof leaks and the plumbing doesn’t work, of sending their children to schools in the same condition as their apartments, of hunger, and of suffering from treatable illnesses.  The tactic of making the threat of law-enforcement more visible and intimidating is intended to make those who have something to lose feel more safe while making those fighting every day to survive feel more fear.  It sends a message that Oakland’s government doesn’t care about your problems; it just wants you to obey.

A militarized police force that is not accountable for its abuses has become the symbol of Oakland.  While Oakland Police Department salaries are among the very highest in the US, so are incidents of their illegal conduct.  Restitution and restorative justice are punch-lines at police headquarters.  Instead, blanket surveillance of low-income communities and unwarranted brutality define the culture of law-enforcement in our city.

Oakland continues to be the annual host for Urban Shield, a trade show for weapons and surveillance technology dealers as well as a convention where law-enforcement and military experts share their innovations in crowd-control and SWAT-team protocols.  In addition, Urban Shield is sponsoring a new program called the Bay Area Urban Area Security Initiative (BAUASI), which will heighten the terrorism-alert functions of those sworn to protect and serve.  Police officers will be trained to view every resident of Oakland as a potential threat to the stability of business and government.

We would be skeptical of the sanity of a serious candidate for any elected office who advocated racial profiling as a tactic for reducing crime, but let it be said for the record that our candidate strongly rejects this method of codifying racism.  He also rejects measures that restrict the freedom of residents through the presumption of guilt, such as gang injunctions and curfews.  He opposes the Urban Shield weapons show in Oakland AND the BAUASI.

Please see Planks 7-14 of our candidate’s platform.  The strategy of preventing crime with overwhelming force and intimidation is not well-conceived at all.  Crime is not an issue for the same reason that smoke alarms don't cause fires.  A very simplistic argument is often made in the media when crime is related to the economy: crime goes up when the economy goes down.  But you don't hear anyone say that the economy goes down because crime goes up.  Crime serves as an alarm telling us that a shortage of opportunities and of security - along with the curtailment of civil rights - puts stress on populations.  Such stress should not be added by a democratically-elected government to an electorate already over-burdened by stresses in the areas of housing, education, and health.  The crimes of the oppressed are the RESULTS of these many causes of desperation.  Let's focus on reducing the CAUSES of crime - of which brutal repression, disregard for civil rights, and the invasion of privacy are three!

BAD Urban Shield! BAD!       

 


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