By Rick Ayers | Medium
A book review of Ronald Kitchen’s memoir, My Midnight Years: Surviving Jon Burge’s Police Torture Ring and Death Row (written with Thai Jones and Logan McBride). 2018. Chicago Review Press.
Ronald Kitchen’s memoir, My Midnight Years: Surviving Jon Burge’s Police Torture Ring and Death Row, proceeds with the relentless rhythm of a horror story. You know what you’re getting into from the beginning — you expect a range of jolts and shocks along the way — and yet there’s an unanticipated surprise in Kitchen’s descent into the dungeons and catacombs of our vast prison system: the real horror is all of us. The peculiarly American gulag rides along on our willful blindness, manufactured ignorance, and passive participation.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWK9m2Tfr8w A new campaign called Say Her Name addresses the lack of accountability for the deaths of black women and girls—and puts faces and names to the black and brown women whose lives have been cut short. But what do the survivors and families of victims have to say about the realities of policing black and brown communities?
By Phil Hartsfield | co-published by Praxis Center and Truthout
About 7:45 am on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, I muster the energy to get out of bed and walk the step to the sink from the bottom bunk and I hear it. Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk. “Shit!” I say to myself as my cellmate and I look at each other wide-eyed. We know that sound anywhere. That’s three-foot-long, two-inch diameter solid wood batons hitting the steel bars as “Orange Crush” runs down the gallery clunking every bar along the way as they yell. Though it’s not our cell house, it’s E House right behind us. We’re able to hear them through the utility alley that the cell houses share behind the cells. They’re making their rounds due to an unauthorized pair of headphones found during a cell search in another cell house.
By Scholars for Social Justice
We, Scholars for Social Justice (SSJ) express our outrage over the political assassination of Marielle Franco and Anderson Pedro Gomes, both killed on March 14, 2018 with bullets proven to belong to Brazil’s Military Police. The loss of Marielle Franco is a singular, immense and painful loss for her family, for the black community and for those interested in social justice in Brazil, and around the world. It is also a solemn reminder of the systemic nature of anti-black state violence and genocide.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIhy8cs_cPU New York City has more than 5,000 police officers patrolling the city’s schools—that’s more than the combined number of school guidance counselors and social workers. What happens when students are arrested in the classroom? We look at what many experts call the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Democracynow.org – Democracy Now!, is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on 1,300+ TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9am ET: http://democracynow.org
By Bill Ayers, Crystal Laura, and Rick Ayers
In “You Can’t Fire the Bad Ones“: And 18 Other Myths about Teachers, educators Bill Ayers, Crystal Laura and Rick Ayers flip the script on many enduring and popular myths about teachers, teachers’ unions, and education that permeate our culture. By unpacking these myths, the authors aim to challenge readers to rethink their assumptions about teachers. Praxis Center shares an excerpt from Myth 16: Teachers Are Unable to Deal Adequately with the Disciplinary Challenges Posed By Today’s Youth, and We Need More Police in Our Public School Buildings to Do the Job and Maintain Law and Order.
“Teachers Are Unable to Deal Adequately with the Disciplinary Challenges Posed By Today’s Youth, and We Need More Police in Our Public School Buildings to Do the Job and Maintain Law and Order.”
Public schools are plagued by gangs and ﬁghting, assault and battery, drug dealing, and other criminal behavior, including, in extreme instances, actual shoot-outs between students. All of these hard realities demand an active and alert police presence to maintain safety, order, and discipline.
Schools must be safe havens for all kids, as well as for all school personnel. The good kids who want to learn and feel secure must be shielded from the actions of a minority of bad kids who get no discipline at home and have no respect for their classmates, the teacher, or learning itself. Suspending kids for bad behavior and sending them home may have made sense decades ago, but it’s no longer an adequate control: too often parents don’t believe in strong management and probably aren’t home anyway because the mother may be working two jobs, and in many cases the father isn’t home because he has left or is in prison.
Illinois Deaths in Custody Project
“Those who commit the murders write the reports.” — Ida B. Wells, Lynch Law In All Its Phases, 1893
In 2017, at least twenty-two people died at Chicago’s Cook County Jail (CCJ). This news is not readily available. Rather, multiple Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests filed by the Illinois Deaths in Custody Project (IDCP) with Cook County entities to confirm names and glean a few more institutionally produced “facts” produced the following: Clifford V. Nelson, 49, died while being transferred; Lopez House, 47, collapsed and died at the jail; Lindbert McIntosh, 57, died in his sleep; Jerome Monroe, 56, also died in his sleep at CCJ. By November of 2017, a few of these deaths, somewhat surprisingly, began to make local news.
Yet, the deaths are not actually that surprising. Death is business as usual in our nation’s prisons and jails.
By Mary F. Corey
Detroit, the latest film by Kathryn Bigelow and her screenwriting partner Mark Boal, is not really about Detroit or the 1967 uprising in that city. The film dramatizes an event that took place during the uprising when police stormed the Algiers Motel, responding to a false report of sniper fire from the hotel. The police rounded up the guests — a group of unarmed Black men and two underage white girls who were, as one critic said, “partying like it’s 1966.”
By Aaryn Lang
“Don’t Be a Bystander: 6 Tips for Responding to Racist Attacks”— a 4 minute video created by the Barnard Center for Research on Women and Project NIA— offers an abolitionist approach to bystander intervention in response to racist and transphobic attacks that does not rely on the police. In the seven days following the 2016 Presidential election, the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded 437 incidents of hateful intimidation and harassment around the country with the majority taking place at K-12 schools. This video is part of a broader collaboration with Micah Bazant, Mariame Kaba, the American Friends Service Committee, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace, Black Lives Matter and many teachers and librarians around the country to create and distribute cultural responses to white supremacy and rising racist violence.
Praxis Center talks to Aaryn Lang, “Don’t Be a Bystander’s” narrator, who guides viewers through each of the six tips about responding to racist attacks. Lang is a transgender activist and an HIV/STI prevention counselor in a New York neighborhood community health center.
By Marquise Griffin
“Man, it is what it is.
You can’t understand a man
if you ain’t live what he lived.”
-Method Man “Bulletproof Love”
I have a vivid memory of being in the Chicago Union Amtrak station in 2014, waiting for my next train, while CNN footage of Eric Garner being choked to death by New York’s finest played on a loop on the TV screens. Until that point, I had managed to avoid seeing the video since part of me dies each time I see my brethren unjustly killed. I felt disgusted seeing the video, not only because I was not prepared to view it, but also because of the (non)reactions of the people around me. The ones staring at the screen looked impassive, unbothered by the repeated display of Garner surrounded by several officers, as the caption stated that Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who grabbed Garner by the neck, would not be indicted. It occurred to me that while video footage has provided undeniable proof of police violence against Black and Brown people, the public is nevertheless largely unsympathetic to our lived experiences. Repeatedly showing footage of police killing Black people seems to normalize police violence rather than challenging it. This demonstrates that it’s not enough to show that Black and Brown people are killed by police. Critical Race Theory emphasizes that racism has been invisibly normalized in society and asserts the importance of storytelling in order to provide a counter narrative to the dominant hegemony of White supremacy. It is in this context that Luke Cage, a Marvel Netflix original released last year, truly matters and excels.