Posts tagged brownfemipower

Wednesday Lazy Linking

  • … but the streets belong to the people! Jesse Walker, Hit & Run (2009-06-10): The People’s Stop Sign. In which people in an Ottawa neighborhood take nonviolent direct action to slow down the traffic flying down their neighborhood streets — by putting up their own stop signs at a key intersection. The city government, of course, is now busy with a Criminal Investigation of the public’s heinous contribution to public safety.

  • Abolitionism is the radical notion that other people are not your property. Darian Worden (2009-06-09): The New Abolitionists The point is that the principles of abolitionism, which held that regardless of popular justifications no human is worthy to be master and no human can be owned by another, when carried to their logical conclusion require this: that no human is worthy of authority over another, and that no person is owed allegiance simply because of political status. When reason disassembles the popular justifications of statism, as advances in political philosophy since the 1850’s have assisted in doing, the consistent abolitionist cannot oppose the voluntaryist principles of the Keene radicals.

  • Mr. Obama, Speak For Yourself. Thomas L. Knapp, Center for a Stateless Society (2009-09-09): Speaking of the State

  • A campaign of isolated incidents. Ellen Goodman, Houston Chronicle (2009-06-08): Sorry, but the doctor’s killer did not act alone

  • Let’s screw all the little guys. Just to be fair. (Or, pay me to advertise my product on your station.) Jesse Walker, Reason (2009-06-09): The Man Can’t Tax Our Music: The music industry wants to impose an onerous new fee on broadcasters.

  • Some dare call it torture. Just not the cops. Or the judges. Wendy McElroy, WendyMcElroy.com (2009-06-08): N.Y. Judge Rules that Police Can Taser Torture in order to coerce compliance with any arbitrary court order. I think that Wendy is right to call pain compliance for what it is — torture (as I have called it here before) — and that it is important to insist on this point as much as possible whenever the topic comes up.

  • On criminalizing compassion. Macon D., stuff white people do (2009-06-05), on the conviction of Walt Staton for knowingly littering water jugs in a wildlife refuge, in order to keep undocumented immigrants from dying in the desert.

  • Freed markets vs. deforesters. Keith Goetzman, Utne Reader Environment (2009-06-04): Do You Know Where Your Shoes Have Been?, on the leather industry and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Utne does a good job of pointing out (by quoting Grist’s Tom Philpott) that the problem is deeply rooted in multi-statist neoliberalism: because of the way in which the Brazilian government and the World Bank act together to subsidize the cattle barons and ‘roid up Brazilian cattle ranching, the report is really about the perils of using state policy to prop up global, corporate-dominated trade.

  • Well, Thank God. (Cont’d.) Thanks to the Lord Justice, we now know that Pringles are, in fact, officially potato chips, not mere savory snacks, in spite of the fact that only about 40% of a Pringles crisp is actually potato flour. Language Log takes this case to demonstrate the quasi-Wittgensteinian point that, fundamentalist legal philosophy to one side, there’s actually no such thing as a self-applying law. (Quoting Adam Cohen’s New York Times Op-Ed, Conservatives like to insist that their judges are strict constructionists, giving the Constitution and statutes their precise meaning and no more [linguists groan here], while judges like [Sonia] Sotermayor are activists. But there is no magic way to interpret terms like free speech or due process — or potato chip.) I think the main moral of the story has to do with the absurdity of a political system in which whether or not you can keep $160,000,000 of your own damn money rides on whether or not you can prove to a judge that your savory snack hasn’t got the requisite potatoness to count as a potato crisp for the purposes of law and justice.

  • Small riots will get small attention, no riots get no attention, make a big riot, and it will be handled immediately. Loretta Chao, Wall Street Journal (2009-05-30): In China, a New Breed of Dissidents. The story makes it seem as though the most remarkable thing about the emerging dissident movement is that they are safe enough for the State to tolerate them, rather than launching all out assaults as they did against the Tienanmen dissidents in 1989. Actually, I think that that misses the point entirely; and that the most interesting thing is that they have adopted such flexible and adaptive networking, both tactically and strategically, and that they now so often rise up from the very social classes that the Chinese Communist Party claims to speak for (not just easily-demonized students and intelligentsia, but ordinary farmers, factory workers, and retirees) — that the regime isn’t tolerating them; it just no longer knows what to do with them.

  • Counter-Cooking and Mutual Meals. Julia Levitt, Worldchanging: Bright Green (2009-06-03): Community Kitchens (Via Kevin Carson’s Shared Items.) If I may recommend, if you’re going to work on any kind of community cooking like this, particularly if you’re interested in it partly for reasons of resiliency and building community alternatives, you should do what you can to make sure that it is strongly connected with the local grey-market solidarity economy, through close cooperation with your local Food Not Bombs (as both a source and a destination for food) and other local alternatives to the state-subsidized corporate-consumer model for food distribution.

  • Looking Forward. Shawn Wilbur, In the Libertarian Labyrinth (009-06-06): Clement M. Hammond on Police Insurance. An excerpt on policing in a freed society, from individualist anarchist Clement M. Hammond’s futurist utopian novel, Then and Now which originally appeared in serialized form in Tucker’s Liberty in 1884 and 1885. (Thus predating Bellamy’s dreary Nationalist potboiler by 4 years.) Hammond’s novel is now available in print through Shawn’s Corvus Distribution. The good news is that, while Bellamy’s date of 2000 has already mercifully passed us by without any such society emerging, we still have almost 80 years to get it together in time for Hammond’s future.

  • Here at Reason we never pass up a chance to have some fun at the expense of Pete Seeger. Jesse Walker, Hit & Run (2009-06-09): They Wanna Hear Some American Music. On brilliant fakery, the invention of Country and Western music, the cult of authenticity, and the manufacture of Americana. For the long, full treatment see Barry Mazor, No Depression (2009-02-23): Americana, by any other name…

  • Anarchy on the Big Screen. Colin Firth and Kevin Spacey have signed on for a big-screen film adaptation of Homage to Catalonia. The film is supposed to enter production during the first half of 2010.

Technological civilization is awesome. (Cont’d.)

Communications

Friday Lazy Linking

  • Winter Soldier: Just Another Tuesday. From Ryan Endicott, formerly a United States government Marine stationed in Iraq.

    Via Clay Claibourne, L.A. I.M.C. (2009-05-13): Winter Soldier Southwest on YouTube #1

  • The regulatory State versus freed markets and the human future: A quote from Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, via B.K. Marcus at Mises Economics Blog:

    To expect the government to prevent such fraud from ever occurring would be like wanting it to provide cushions for all the children who might fall. To assume it to be possible to prevent successfully, by regulation, all possible malpractices of this kind, is to sacrifice to a chimerical perfection the whole progress of industry; it is to restrict the imagination of artificers to the narrow limits of the familiar; it is to forbid them all new experiments; it is to renounce even the hope of competing with the foreigners in the making of the new products which they invent daily, since, as they do not conform to our regulations, our workmen cannot imitate these articles without first having obtained permission from the government, that is to say, often after the foreign factories, having profited by the first eagerness of the consumer for this novelty, have already replaced it with something else. … Thus, with obvious injustice, commerce, and consequently the nation, are charged with a heavy burden to save a few idle people the trouble of instructing themselves or of making enquiries to avoid being cheated. To suppose all consumers to be dupes, and all merchants and manufacturers to be cheats, has the effect of authorizing them to be so, and of degrading all the working members of the community.

    — Turgot, Éloge de Gournay (1759), translated by P.D. Groenewegen

Outrage

Think.

Left-Libertarianism

  • On dialectical jujitsu: Roderick Long, Austro-Athenian Empire (2009-05-19): How to annoy a conservative

  • Ownership failures, not market failures Chris Dillow, Stumbling and Mumbling (2009-05-01): Markets, the poor & the left. Dillow makes two really important distinctions: one of them the familiar left-libertarian distinction between freed markets, on the one hand, and actually-existing corporate capitalism, on the other; the other a less familiar, but very important, distinction between market processes and patterns of ownership. Quote: In many ways, what look like ways in which markets fail the poor are in fact merely ways in which a lack of assets fail the poor. Exactly; and the many cases where there are not really market failures, but rather ownership failures, have everything to do with feudal, mercantile, neoliberal, and other politically-driven seizures and reallocations of poor people’s land, livelihoods, and possessions — and nothing to do with genuine market exchange.

Counter-Economics

Movement

Communications

International apartheid in Roswell

According to the ruling elite and the rank-and-file of bellowing Know-Nothing busybodies, all the people of the world must be segregated according to their nationality. If they won’t stay in their place voluntarily, then the government had better make them stay there through paramilitary lockdowns at national borders and rigid enforcement of a state-imposed passbook (visa, passport) system to control where people can live and work, which is to say a system of government permission slips for existing, which provides a mechanism for the state to track and control those who go through official channels, and a mechanism for detecting, arresting, jailing, and exiling peaceful residents from the communities that they now call home when they cannot meet some presumptuous government official’s demand for Ihre Papiere, bitte. Those who stand up for this despicable system of coercion and control — some of whom embrace it whole-heartedly out of unapologetic race hatred or inquisitorial theo-nationalism, and some of whom do the same damage by making half-hearted Sensible Liberal excuses based on an illusory need for control or the chauvinistic ideal of assimilation — are all promoting a government-imposed system of discrimination and rigid segregation in housing, employment, education, and civic life, supported by government surveillance, enforced through government violence, all in the name of an illusory national unity or integrity that depends, at the bottom, on having the government presumptively treat outsiders (even those outsiders who have been living and working inside for years) as more dangerous, more likely to be criminal, more unsanitary, less deserving of security in their persons and effects, less worthy of a happy life, and less deserving of simply being left in peace than the native-born, solely on the basis of their nationality. That is to say, treating them as if their lives and homes and livelihoods were worth less than nothing—just so much foul-smelling garbage to be removed at the first opportunity.

It’s precisely this sort of immorality — the elevation of state control or belligerent nationalism over common decency towards peaceful people — that has been put on display recently in Roswell, New Mexico, with the arrest, jailing, expulsion and exile of Karina Acosta, a pregnant high schooler who was ready to graduate in the spring, because the immigration law, which is nothing but Jim Crow imposed at the level of nationality, forbids her from attending an Estadounidense school, and Student Resource Officer Charlie Corn, the pig-in-residence at Roswell High School, decided to take the opportunity of a minor traffic violation pull her out of class, arrest her, and then snitch on her to La Migra, so that they could jail her and force her out of her home, away from her family, and back into her place.

U.S. immigration officials deported a pregnant Roswell High School senior after she was pulled from class Wednesday by a local police officer regarding a traffic ticket issued days before.

According to Roswell Police Chief John Balderston, Karina Acosta, 18, was given several days to provide proper identification after being cited for a parking violation and driving without a license on Nov. 29 but failed to do so.

RHS Student Resource Officer Charlie Corn, a 10-year RPD veteran, removed Acosta from class Dec. 5 regarding the traffic violation and detained her at the school before notifying U.S. immigration officials of her illegal status, according to Balderston.

Acosta, who is five months pregnant, was transported to the Chaves County Detention Center, put on hold by the INS and later deported to Mexico, according to Balderston.

In the course of an investigation, if we determine that someone is not here legally, we will contact INS and tell them what their status is, he said.

Worried about the deportation of the girl and the future security of other illegal immigrant students at RHS, Acosta’s mother and nearly 50 members of the Hispanic community gathered at the RHS Little Theater, and later the Roswell Police Department, to voice their concerns.

The kids are scared now because this thing happened, so we need your help, said Maria Rodriguez to Balderston during a meeting in an RPD conference room Friday afternoon.

At the meeting, Balderston listened to complaints about Corn, including allegations he targets Hispanics. Balderston agreed to meet further with representatives from the Hispanic community and Corn in an effort to ease relations and eliminate any problems or misconceptions that might exist.

If you don’t trust us then we need to do some more work here, said Balderston, who will retire Jan. 4.

Roswell Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Mike Kakuska said the RISD has officially protested Acosta’s arrest with the INS and the Mexican Consulate.

We are very, very concerned as a public school as to what happened the other day, said Kakuska, addressing a group of about 50 parents who gathered at RHS Friday morning. The police officer, without our knowledge, had this young lady brought into his office here at school and the detain orders were issued through him, not the Roswell schools.

— Richard Jacques, Roswell Daily Record (2007-12-08): RHS senior deported; parents concerned

The good news is that Charlie Corn and all the other pigs-in-residence have been removed from Roswell city schools. The bad news is that Karina Acosta is still stuck in Mexico, away from her family, her home, and her school. And the Roswell cops will do it again, by God, just as soon as they get the chance:

In the lengthy open meeting that lasted more than one hour, Kakuska and other school officials, including RHS Principal Brian Shea, answered questions and notified those in attendance that Corn has been removed as an SRO.

The Roswell Independent School system did not support the decision of this officer to have this young lady arrested, said Kakuska.

In a joint decision by the RPD and RISD, all SROs have been removed from RISD schools. Both Balderston and Kakuska maintain that despite the incident, no contention exists between the RISD and the RPD.

We’re going to work through this and I wish I can say that it’s not going to happen again, but I can’t. The officers are going to enforce the law, said Balderston.

School officials said Acosta was on course to graduate in the spring.

— Richard Jacques, Roswell Daily Record (2007-12-08): RHS senior deported; parents concerned

Just remember: it doesn’t matter to these people how good a student you are, or how hard you’ve worked, or what a decent and productive member of your community you are, let alone — ha, ha — the mere fact that you are an individual, irreplaceable human being who has the right to expect a certain level of dignity, decent treatment, and basic humanity from your neighbors and from your brothers and sisters in other communities. What matters is The Law, and the coerced integrity of a segregated nation, and the power of the world’s governments to each keep their own herd properly corralled and branded. To hell with that idiot notion. Smash international apartheid, now and forever.

(Story thanks to brownfemipower 2007-12-11.)

Urban homesteading

So, I have an essay coming up in next month’s Freeman (thanks to the encouragement and editorial efforts of the indefatigable Sheldon Richman). It’s called Scratching By, and the theme is to explain how it’s not the free market, but rather the State, in its role as the invisible fist of corporate capitalism, that creates the material predicament faced by poor folks in American cities. One of the topics that I touched on there, and which I mentioned before in my comments on the South Central Farmers, is government control and planning of inner-city land use. Government regimentation of land squeezes poor people economically; perhaps more importantly, it also keeps them permanently in hock to, and at the mercy of, a select handful of politically-connected developers and slumlords. Last week, Women of Color Blog (2007-11-09) alerted me to the latest example: HUD’s continuing refusal to let New Orleans public housing residents return to their old homes, even two years after the fact. All for their own good, of course, whether or not they happen to think that they are best off living as permanent refugees. The plan is to begin demolishing the homes, now forcibly kept vacant, in order to make room for government redistribution of the land to connected developers for the usual urban renewal projects.

A major human rights crisis exists in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. It is a crisis that denies the basic rights to life, equality under the law, and social equity to Black, Indigenous, migrant, and working class communities in the region. While this crisis was in existence long before Hurricane Katrina, the policies and actions of the US government and finance capital (i.e. banking, credit, insurance, and development industries) following the Hurricane have seriously exacerbated the crisis.

One of the clearest examples of this crisis is the denial of the right to housing in New Orleans, particularly in the public housing sector. Since the Hurricane, the US government through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has denied the vast majority of the residents of public housing the right to return to their homes. Unlike the vast majority of the housing stock in New Orleans, the majority of the public housing units received little to no flood or wind damage from the Hurricane. Yet, as of October 2007 only ¼ of the public housing units have been reopened and reoccupied. The Bush government refuses to reopen the public housing units in New Orleans because it appears intent on destroying the public housing system, demolishing the existing structures, and turning over the properties to private real-estate developers to make profits.

Based on the discriminatory Federal Court ruling issued on Monday, September 10th, all of the major public housing units in New Orleans are now subject to immediate demolition (the latest report from Monday, November 5th is that HUD will attempt to start the demolition on Monday, November 19th. However, this is being challenged by various legal advocates and will be delayed until at least Wednesday, November 28th pending a Federal court hearing). The first site on the schedule for demolition is the Lafitte housing project.

— My Private Casbah 2007-11-09: All Public Housing Units In New Orleans Set To Be Demolished

Now, I’m an anarchist. As such, I’m also intent — far more intent than George W. Bush could ever dream to be — on destroying the so-called public housing system. I hope to destroy it right along with the rest of the statist system of regimentation, rationing, command and control. But, the Department of Bulldozers’ opinions notwithstanding, destroying the system of control is not the same thing as knocking over the homes that the government controls. The hope is to liberate them and allow people to reclaim their lives from the domination of the State and the exploitation of state capitalism.

As far as these particular public housing units are concerned, the proper question to ask is, who rightfully owns the homes that are set to be demolished? In the eyes of the State legal system, that’s the Housing Authority of New Orleans, a quasi-governmental non-profit corporation substantially under the control of its patron, the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development. But neither HANO nor any other creature of the State can be the rightful owner of this or any other property. States are nothing more than massive criminal enterprises; they have no land and no money except what they expropriate from others by force. Their claim to the Lafitte housing project, like all their other claims, is fraudulent, because piracy is not a legitimate means for acquiring title to anything.

So if not HANO, who are the rightful owners? Well, when property has been lost or abandoned, it rightfully belongs to those who find it and put it to use. In the case of New Orleans and its government housing projects, that means that the people who should rightfully be regarded as the owners are not HUD or HANO bureaucrats, but rather the current tenants. Each resident has gained a legitimate ownership interest in her home, and in the land that it is built on, in virtue of occupying and homesteading it. Radical libertarians should recognize, on free market principles, that the federal government’s interventionist efforts to lock poor people out of their own homes and pass the land along to the nearest professional slumlord for development should be regarded as nothing more or less than State-sponsored theft. Specifically, State-sponsored theft in the name of propping up the political-economic class system of landlordism.

The radical implications of the homesteading principle for urban housing extend far beyond New Orleans. In pretty much every major American city, there is a more or less permanent supply of vacant lots, burned-out plants, condemned buildings, and other land which has been held out of use for years, and will continue to be held out of use for years to come. Part of the reason that so much land remains idle is that formal title has often been seized by the city government or by quasi-governmental development corporations, through the use of eminent domain, and the lots are simply abandoned while they await government public works projects or developers willing to buy up the land for large-scale building. In a free market, vacant lots and abandoned buildings should be available for homesteading by anyone willing to do the work of occupying and using them — which emphatically includes poor people in search of housing, a place to set up shop, land to cultivate for food, or for whatever other use they can put it to. It is only government intervention on behalf of state capitalism that keeps these lots shuttered and keeps them locked up in the hands of government bureaucrats and real estate developers; without statism there would be no political process of expropriation, demolition, redistribution, and redevelopment. Free people would be able to establish property rights in abandoned land, and thus provide their own housing, free of landlords and bulldozers, through their own sweat equity.

It’s because of this that I’ve been following the Take Back the Land movement in Miami with a lot of interest and a lot of sympathy. Their first project, the Umoja Village shanty-town (1, 2), was as good an example as you could like of socializing the land through direct action. And now, Max Rameau writes that their new project is to Take Back the Housing:

October 23, 2007 marks one year since the rise of the Umoja Village Shantytown in the Liberty City section of Miami in response to the crisis of gentrification and low income housing. In the year since this “people power” action, much has changed and much more remains the same. Black and other poor communities are ravaged by the crisis of gentrification and low-income housing while the same government which extracts taxes from us, does nothing to alleviate the crisis. One year later, the issue of community control over land remains fundamental in solving the crisis.

As the real estate bubble explodes around us, vacant foreclosed homes litter our communities and speculators choose to hold onto vacant houses and apartments, waiting for the next market swing in order to make their millions. For it’s part, in spite of all the scandal and crisis, Miami-Dade County doggedly maintains an unconscionable and immoral stockpile of vacant public housing units, units which otherwise would shelter some of the 41,000 families languishing on the housing assistance waiting list.

All the while, the homeless population grows, particularly among the under-housed, those not living on the street, but doubling and tripling up in single family homes, including public housing, where the extra families live illegally, endangering the housing security of the entire extended family, sometimes right next door to a boarded up, vacant unit.

We are forced to conclude that Miami-Dade County intentionally leaves units vacant, or tears down public housing all together—exemplified by the HOPE VI funded Scott-Carver public housing project demolition—as a means of fueling the real estate boom. When governments take units of low-income housing off of the market, the value of the remaining privately held units increases, as families scramble to find new living arrangements. This is nothing short of tax financed market manipulation, designed to decrease supply at a time when demand is sky high, resulting in a government sponsored—not market driven—real estate boom.

… In spite of the crisis, scandal and controversy, the reality is that local governments continue to enrich wealthy developers and have intentionally failed to address this crisis in any meaningful way. Neither Miami-Dade County nor the federal government operates based on the interests of poor Black people. As such, we are left with no other option than to provide for the people for whom the government is not providing.

Take Back the Land, again, asserts the right of the Black community to control land in the Black community. In order to provide housing for people, not for profit, this community control over land must now take the form of direct community control over housing.

Consequently, Take Back the Land has initiated the process of moving families and individuals into vacant housing, whether public, foreclosed upon or privately owned and intentionally vacated.

As of this writing, several families have already been moved into housing and several more are desperately awaiting their turn. We will move families and individuals into vacant housing units all across Miami-Dade County.

— Take Back the Land 2007-10-24: Take Back the Housing

A true free market requires an end to what Benjamin Tucker rightly condemned as the land monopoly, and a radical application of the homestead principle, which means that an awful lot of squatter’s rights can and should be recognized as the basis of a just claim to the land. While I disagree with Tucker on some of the specifics of rightful land ownership — for example, I don’t think that rental contracts necessarily constitute abandonment of land — I do agree that absentee landlordism is artificially propped up by a pervasive and unjust system of government intervention on behalf of the rentier class. Abandoned land rightfully belongs to those who can reclaim it through occupancy and use. So three cheers from this libertarian to Take Back the Land, and here’s hoping that counter-economic urban homesteading will spread — throughout Miami, onward to New Orleans, and throughout every housing market currently clutched in the talons of land monopoly and state capitalism.

Further reading:

Public schooling

One of the worst things about so-called public education, i.e. government-controlled schooling, is that students are forced into an institution that they consistently find unpleasant and boring, whether or not the individual student thinks that it’s worth the trouble. That fact, combined with the fact that the victims are all young and many of them are poor or black or otherwise marked as at-risk youth in need of special surveillance and control, naturally and systematically corrupts the way that the school relates to its students. It leads administrators and political decision-makers to focus on restraining the unruly behavior of the coerced students, by making authority, control, security, and discipline top priorities. In practice this means monitoring, intimidation, and coercion. These facts in turn result in attitudes and institutional practices throughout State schools that are often hard to distinguish from those prevailing in a prison camp.

Here are three stories that have come out, just over the course of the past week, about the practices of administrators and uniformed thugs in American public schools. In particular, they are about three separate cases in which one or the other set out to maintain control over their school by physically brutalizing or sexually humiliating young women.

The first case, from Arizona, happened four years ago. It’s in the news today because the famously liberal Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of appeals recently ruled that Safford Middle School officials were within the bounds of their legitimate authority when they forced a strip-search on a 13 year old girl — because a couple of student snitches claimed that she had some unauthorized ibuprofen on her, and the Authorities had to know for sure:

Safford Middle School officials did not violate the civil rights of a 13-year-old Safford girl when they forced her to disrobe and expose her breasts and pubic area four years ago while looking for a drug, according to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

The justices voted 2-1 in favor of the Safford School District on Sept. 21. The decision upheld a federal district court’s summary judgement that Safford Middle School Vice Principal Kerry Wilson, school nurse Peggy Schwallier and administrative assistant Helen Romero did not violate the girl’s Fourth Amendment rights on Oct. 8, 2003, when they subjected her to a strip search in an effort to find Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug sold over the counter and in prescription strengths.

The girl’s mother filed a federal law suit against the district and Middle School officials because they forced her daughter to strip down to her underwear then move her bra and panties in such a way that her breasts and pubic area were exposed. The mother also asserts that she was not notified of the impending search.

In the opinion written by Judge Richard Clifton, Based on the information available to them, defendants (Safford School District, Wilson, Schwallier and Romero) had reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search of (the girl’s) person would turn up evidence that (the girl) had violated or was violating either the law or the rules of the school.

Clifton wrote that Wilson and the others had reasonable grounds for believing the girl had Ibuprofen based on conversations with two other students.

The other students said the girl possessed Ibuprofen and had distributed the drug to others, according to the court report.

— Diane Saunders, Eastern Arizona Courier (2007-09-26): Court rules school officials acted properly in strip search

The second case is from New York, where — in order to enforce a blanket no-bags policy putatively adopted for the students own health and safety — a member of the school goon squad decided that it was O.K. for him, an adult male ex-cop, to pull 14 year old girls carrying purses out of class and interrogate them about their menstrual cycles:

Grahamsville — Several television news crews from New York City are camped outside the Tri-Valley Central School following the story in today’s Times Herald-Record about what question a school security guard asked a 14-year-old female student.

The girl was called out of class by a security guard during a school sweep last week to make sure no kids had backpacks or other banned bags.

Samantha Martin had a small purse with her that day.

That’s why the security guard, ex-Monticello cop Mike Bunce, asked her The Question.

She says he told her she couldn’t have a purse unless she had her period. Then he asked, Do you have your period?

Samantha was mortified.

She says she thought, Oh, my God. Get away from me. But instead of answering, she just walked back into class.

At home, she cried, and told her mother what happened.

It appears that at least a few other girls were also asked the same question.

On Sept. 21, Martin and other girls were called to the office of Principal Robert Worden. Lisa Raymond, the assistant superintendent for business, was also there, Martin said.

They just asked me what he (Bunce) said. I told them, and they said thanks for coming, she said.

The small Sullivan County school has been in an uproar for the last week. Girls have worn tampons on their clothes in protest, and purses made out of tampon boxes. Some boys wore maxi-pads stuck to their shirts in support.

After hearing that someone might have been suspended for the protest, freshman Hannah Lindquist, 14, went to talk to Worden. She wore her protest necklace, an OB tampon box on a piece of yarn. She said Worden confiscated it, talked to her about the code of conduct and the backpack rule — and told her she was now part of the problem.

Tri-Valley Superintendent Nancy George, who has refused to meet with any reporters today, yestedar said that when Worden, Bunce and another staffer did the bag check, they were telling students to put the bags in their lockers. The administration is investigating whether they said anything more to some girls.

I have had some parents talk to me personally, and they gave me the names of some students who were asked, she said. We’re certainly not going to make light of this. It’s a very sensitive issue, but it needs to be handled. Parents with more information should call her directly, she added.

Raymond and Worden failed to return calls yesterday for comment. Bunce was not working yesterday, and his home phone number is unlisted.

Bunce was forced to retire from the Monticello Police Department in 2002 after he and the former chief were caught running their process-serving business on village time.

School board President Lori Mickelson declined comment.

The school banned backpacks in the halls this year for two reasons, George said: Student health, because heavy bags could hurt the kids’ backs or people could trip on them; and for security concerns, felt nationwide, about concealed weapons.

— Heather Yakin, Times Herald-Record (2007-09-28): The Question’ causes furor at local high school

Clearly the Authorities concerns about small purses and their contribution teenagers’ back problems outweigh minor considerations like the dignity and sexual privacy of 14 year old girls.

The third case comes from Palmdale, California, near Los Angeles, where a member of the school goon squad slammed Pleajhai Mervin, a young black woman at Knight High School, down on a table, twisted her arm behind her back, and broke her wrist — after she refused to follow his bellowed orders to make a fourth try at cleaning up the last bits of a slice of cake that she had accidentally spilled on the lunchroom floor. According to Mervin, the uniformed thug yelled hold still nappy head at her during the course of the attack. The fifteen-year-old young woman was then ticketed for littering, expelled from school, and arrested for battery against the beefy uniformed security thug who was breaking her wrist while other security goons hovered around. Two other black students — a 14 year old boy and his 16 year old sister — were tackled, held down, shoved around, handcuffed, and arrested for daring to film what was going on using their cell phone cameras.

School security guards in Palmdale, CA have been caught on camera assaulting a 16-year-old girl and breaking her arm after she spilled some cake during lunch and left some crumbs on the floor after cleaning it up.

… The girl, Pleajhai Mervin, told Fox News LA that she was bumped while queuing for lunch and dropped the cake. After being ordered to clean it up and then re-clean the spot three times, she attempted to leave the area out of embarrassment but was jumped on by security who forced her onto a table, breaking her wrist in the process.

Steve Watson, InfoWars (2007-09-28): School Guards Break Child’s Arm And Arrest Her For Dropping Cake

Mervin says a security guard slammed her against a table at a lunchroom at the high school and twisted her arms behind her back so violently, he broke her wrist. Her wrist is in a cast.

He put my arm behind my back and he started raising it until it hurt, so I told him, Stop, it hurts. He had slammed me on the table and told me to hold still. He called me a nappy-head, and that’s when I just started crying, said Mervin.

Mervin claims she was roughed up simply because she failed to pick up every crumb of a birthday cake she accidentally dropped on the floor of the lunchroom during a lunch-hour birthday celebration for a friend. She says she thought she cleaned up the mess, but the security guard thought otherwise.

He said, You have to come pick the rest of this cake up. So I said, I picked it up. He gets on his walkie-talkie, he got a call, so I just started walking to class, and that’s when he grabbed me, said Mervin.

Mervin says when the security guard realized he was being videotaped, he tackled the student shooting the video. She says another student captured photographs of that incident. She says the whole incident was unnecessary.

Leo Stallworth, KABC Los Angeles (2007-09-26): High School Security Guards Accused of Excessive Force

One security guard twisted the arm of 16-year-old Pleajhai Mervin behind her back and slammed her against a lunch table, fracturing her wrist, parents said.

I want justice, said Mervin’s mother, Latrisha Majors, who also was arrested. I want justice for my daughter. I want the guards to be held accountable for their actions.

Majors and her daughter were arrested in the Sept. 18 lunchtime incident, along with Joshua Lockett, 14, who videotaped the fight, and his sister, Kenngela Lockett, 16, who also suffered a fractured wrist.

Both Mervin and Kenngela Lockett attended the protest with their arms in slings.

Joshua Lockett, who was on probation for robbery, remained in juvenile custody on suspicion of violating his probation, sheriff’s deputies said.

We come to get an education, not to be hurt by security guards, said Kenngela, who said she tried to pull guards off her brother and was hurt while being handcuffed.

One guard, whose name has not been publicly released, has been placed on leave with pay pending an investigation by the Antelope Valley Union High School District. Attempts to reach the guard were not successful.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies said the guard told them he felt threatened by Mervin.

There was resistance by her, Sgt. Darrel Brown said. He went to control her.

— Karen Maeshiro, LA Daily News (2007-09-29): Rally protests security guard acts.

Mainstream media sources such as the Los Angeles Times, KABC in Los Angeles, KSN (a local NBC affiliate), and the LA Daily News have repeatedly described what happened as a tussle … between a security guard and three students, as a scuffle with security guards, a melee with security guards, mayhem, etc. This apparently is what passes for accurate description of a professional uniformed security goon battering two high school girls and a fourteen-year-old boy, while he’s backed up by another security goon hovering around the area and clearly outweighs all of his victims. You can watch part of Joshua Lockett’s video of the scuffle at MyFox Los Angeles (2007-09-26) and MyFox Los Angeles (2007-09-28).

Oh No A WoC PhD (2007-09-30) has a YouTube montage of more photos and videos from this so-called melee, and also the contact information for school and city officials.

(Stories thanks to feministing 2007-10-01, Women of Color Blog 2007-09-30, Oh No a WoC PhD 2007-09-30, The Superfluous Man 2007-09-28, Radley Balko 2007-09-28, feministing 2007-09-28, and Majikthise 2007-09-28.)

State schooling, institutional racism, blanket zero-tolerance policies, and increasing police and security presence in schools have ensured that many if not most American schools are no longer primarily places of learning. They are guarded institutions whose primary focus is on command and control.

Further reading: