What’s so bad about the Ferguson, MO, shooting, anyway?

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St. Ann Police Lieutenant points rifle at civilians in Ferguson, MO. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Work by Darmokand.

So what’s the big deal about Ferguson police shooting an unarmed black man?

Aren’t people getting shot by the police in this country all the time without even a ripple of attention in the mainstream media? Aren’t they disproportionately black? Aren’t they often unarmed?

It’s really difficult to get solid answers to these questions but there is good evidence that the answer to all of them is “Yes!”  Still, the attention to Ferguson is important for a number of reasons: The shootings and subsequent police response to protesters are symptoms of much larger problems, and like most symptoms (e.g., chills, fevers), violent behaviors can be signs of more than one illness.

For example, the lethal police actions in Ferguson are symptomatic of several pathologies that ought not to be ignored:

*rampant racism, which disproportionately kills people of color and is life-threatening in many ways less obvious than the firing of guns.

*erosion of gains made during the Civil Rights Movement, as described here by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

*this country’s glorification of violence

*the turning of civilian police forces into swat teams and other sorts of military units

So, there’s a lot that’s bad about Ferguson and all it represents.

Most of you know that ignoring symptoms (e.g., the cough that accompanies smoking, the weight gain that accompanies poor eating habits, the mindless behavior that can follow excessive drinking) can lead to worsening problems.  What kinds of problems can you foresee from ignoring the symptoms that Ferguson exposed?

 

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Profiting from Prisons: The Evil Corporation Connection Part 2

 

Demonstration at Red Cross building in Hebron, Palestine, on February 20, 2012, against Israel’s policy of “administrative detention” and demanding that international society recognize Palestinian prisoners as Prisoners of War. Available under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

This is Part 2 of a series by Dot Walsh.

My research on for-profit prisons   brought me to a G4S site  advertising security products and services in 125 countries. Intimately connected with the military,  G4S actively recruits and hires veterans for their programs and has partnered with U.S. Army’s Partnership for Youth Success.

G4S is a major security provider to the Israeli government, operating security patrol units that secure oceanic facilities, transport routes, and buildings and equipment of the security and finance industries .  Previously, they also manned checkpoints until there was such negative publicity and outrage that this service was ended.

G4S operates the entire security system for many of the prisons designated for Palestinian political prisoners, with one major prison incarcerating a population of 2,200. Some of these prisoners have not been charged yet and some are administrative detainees. Prominent people around the world who have spoken out against the brutality and torture conducted within these prisons include Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Noam Chomsky .

In 2012, G4S was cited as violating Article 76 of the Geneva Convention for transferring children from the occupied territories and subjecting them to abusive treatment .  With the current violence in Israel-Palestine escalating, it would seem possible that the United States could play an important role in speaking out against the violation of human rights and the G4S monopoly–if there was enough awareness among the American people to speak out.

Dot Walsh is a lifelong peace activist and member of the Engaging Peace Board of Directors.

Posted in Armed conflict, Children and war, Economy and war, Human rights, Military-industrial complex, Prisons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Prisons for profit: The Evil Corporation Connection, Part I, by Guest Author Dot Walsh

Luzerne County Courthouse, Wilkes-Barre, PA, site of “kids for cash” scandal in which kids were incarcerated for profit. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Flickr upload bot

As I write about the ongoing and never ending connection between the prison industrial complex and the military industrial complex and the association with for-profit corporations, I find myself on edge and angry.  To know the individual pieces is upsetting but to see the entire immoral circle is beyond that feeling.

I was at the U.U. General Assembly a week ago volunteering to help at a booth with the Lionheart Foundation when a gentleman from a southern state approached to talk about what was happening in the largest prison in his area.  Run by a private corporation, the prison was involved in a scandal in which judges in the area were investing in the corporation–which no doubt helped to keep the prison filled to capacity.

This discussion prompted me to look a little deeper into what was happening in the for- profit prison system – a system in which individuals are physically confined or interned by a third party under  contract to a government agency. Private prison companies typically enter into contractual agreements with governments that commit prisoners and then pay a per diem or monthly rate for each prisoner confined in the facility.

Presently, corporations involved in building for-profit prisons as private prisons are profiting in the billions.  The two largest corporations in the United States are Correction Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut (named after the former FBI agent who formed the for-profit corporation).

In 2002 the company was bought out and in 2010 the name was changed to G4S Secure Solutions.  This probably helped to disguise Wackenhut, as it has a negative reputation in the United States and is known for creating contracts with corporate industries and using prison labor for as little as 17 cents per hour.  Many items that are used by the military are made by prisoners in the for-profit prisons–a cozy connection indeed.

For more about for-profit prisons, you can view the PBS documentary at

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/419/video.html

Dot Walsh is a lifelong peace activist and member of the Engaging Peace Board of Directors.

 

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Can we get there from here? Pursuing nonviolence

Trination Mega Festival : Bangladesh India Pakistan Photographs by Faisal Akram Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Discouraging stories, infuriating stories, heart-breaking stories abound.

The media shout out their tales and pummel us with their gory photos, of violence, murder, rape, hatred, and we at Engaging Peace try to provide some different perspectives, regarding events…

In Gaza

In the Ukraine

In Nigeria

In Central America

And in Ferguson Missouri

Engaging Peace has had posts on most of these horrifying stories, but, stubbornly, we have also continued to press the feasibility of nonviolence, most recently with posts from Dr. Ian Hansen and Dr. Majed Ashy as well as reminders from Ross Caputi and Dr. Alice LoCicero of ways in which you can help.

In today’s short post, I invite you to learn more about an important peace initiative aimed at promoting a stable peace between India and Pakistan.

Please be inspired by this model and send your words and images on behalf of peace and social justice—starting perhaps with the work that needs to be done in your own country.

Anyone anywhere can work for peace and nonviolence. The world will be better off if you join the endeavor.

 

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