Tag Archives: democracy

Militarization of Police and Private Prison Profiteering: the Connection

Occupy UC Davis and the UC Davis Police have suddenly turned militarization of police from an obscure topic to a huge story with more than 3,000 stories found by google news. But what’s the connection between Mic check stops a police riot at UC Davis and CCA charges inmates five days’ pay for one telephone minute? The main cause of the militarization of police is also the main cause of the huge U.S. prison population (5% of the world’s population, 25% of the world’s prisoners: USA #1!). That cause is the failed War on Drugs.

Norm Stanager wrote for YES! Magazine (via AlterNet) 17 November 2011, Police Chief Who Oversaw 1999 WTO Crackdown Says Paramilitary Policing Is a Disaster

Then came day two. Early in the morning, large contingents of demonstrators began to converge at a key downtown intersection. They sat down and refused to budge. Their numbers grew. A labor march would soon add additional thousands to the mix.

“We have to clear the intersection,” said the field commander. “We have to clear the intersection,” the operations commander agreed, from his bunker in the Public Safety Building. Standing alone on the edge of the crowd, I, the chief of police, said to myself, “We have to clear the intersection.”


Because of all the what-ifs. What if a fire breaks out in the Sheraton across the street? What if a woman goes into labor on the seventeenth floor of the hotel? What if a heart patient goes into cardiac arrest in the high-rise on the corner? What if there’s a stabbing, a shooting, a serious-injury traffic accident? How would an aid car, fire engine or police cruiser get through that sea of people? The cop in me supported the decision to clear the intersection. But the chief in me should have vetoed it. And he certainly should have forbidden the indiscriminate use of tear gas to accomplish it, no matter how many warnings we barked through the bullhorn.

My support for a militaristic solution caused all hell to break loose. Rocks, bottles and newspaper racks went flying. Windows were smashed, stores were looted, fires lighted; and more gas filled the streets, with some cops clearly overreacting, escalating and prolonging the conflict. The “Battle in Seattle,” as the WTO protests and their aftermath came to be known, was a huge setback—for the protesters, my cops, the community.

Did anybody consider informing the protesters of the issues and asking for cooperation, or checking to see if there were alternate routes for emergency vehicles, or…. Hey, I’m not a professional emergency responder, but surely there must be a plan B in case some major intersection is out of commission due to a water main blowout, natural gas leak, earthquake, or whatever.

This article was published a few days before the UC Davis pepper spray events, but the author explicitly cites what happened to Scott Olsen in Oakland and the arrests in Atlanta, saying those are continuations of the same problems he experience in Seattle in 1999.

Then he gets into why: Continue reading

This is what democracy looks like at the Chamber @ Occupy Valdosta 14 October 2011

A gentle reminder to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce of what just happened at the polls yesterday.

Myrna Ballard:

I understand that you have something that you’d like to say?

Occupy Valdosta:

This is what democracy looks like!

Here’s the video:

This is what democracy looks like at the Chamber @ Occupy Valdosta 14 October 2011
We are the 99%,
Marching to Occupy Valdosta, Occupy Valdosta,
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 14 October 2011.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

That’s Sam Allen, president of FVCS holding the front Vote No sign; Vote No for the Children is holding another one. Greg Gullberg of WCTV is standing in front of Myrna Ballard, Jade Bulecza of WALB has a camera in the lower right, David Rodock of the VDT is standing behind Myrna Ballard in the video, Desiree Thompson of the VSU Spectator was there, Valdosta Today was there, George Boston Rhynes of K.V.C.I. and bostongbr on YouTube was there, and LAKE was there.


Move on, find other avenues, other projects —Ashley Paulk

Ashley Paulk agrees with my mother about what the Industrial Authority should do.

At the Lowndes County Commission meeting last night, Chairman Paulk discussed the biomass plant with Dr. Noll, and said:

Certain people won’t share it with you, and I don’t think it’s fair.

We were approached … almost three weeks ago by the Industrial Authority and we were asked to … ask them not to extend the contract. Well, it’s not our contract; we could do that, but … we didn’t.

And then last week the Tuesday of their meeting, I received a call … on my way back fromm Atlanta and they had gone up there to talk to Wiregrass Power, because they’d written a letter asking for an extension.

My understanding was that they asked Wiregrass to write another letter to remove that extension request.

These are things, I think should be public knowledge.

There’s more in the video.

Regular meeting of the Lowndes County Commission, Lowndes County, Georgia, 26 April 2011
Video by Alex Rowell for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

He told me several weeks ago about the commission being asked to vote not to extend. Continue reading

Using sludge to build better communities –Matt Flumerfelt

This LTE appeared in the VDT 18 Jan 2011. -jsq
I was recently reading “Masterpieces of Eloquence,” which includes a speech delivered by the fourth Earl of Chesterfield to the House of Lords in Feb., 1743. “The bill now under our consideration appears to me to deserve a much closer regard than seems to have been paid to it in the other House, through which it was hurried with the utmost precipitation, and where it passed almost without the formality of a debate. Nor can I think that earnestness with which some lords seem inclined to press it forward here consistent with the importance of the consequences which may with great reason be expected from it.” He goes on to say, “surely it never before was conceived, by any man entrusted with the administration of public affairs, to raise taxes by the destruction of the people.”

I find this quote applies exactly, mutatis mutandis, to the present situation. The effects of these toxic chemicals are far more devastating to my mind than the effects of gin. The science panel assembled by Michael is more credible than the assurances of the industrial authority expert. In fact, the emissions from the plant are so close to the permit threshold that they could easily exceed that threshhold on occasion. Would the IA expert then continue to hold the position that there is “No health hazard to the public?” I don’t think anyone who favors the proposal is aware of the enormity that could result if the plant goes into operation. They have left the public health out of their equation. They have just enough science, they think, to push the deal through over the objections of an easily deceived public.

Matt Flumerfelt

Democracy in action v. unelected officials –Matthew Richard

This LTE appeared in the VDT 18 Jan 2011. -jsq
The recent biomass meeting was a great example of democracy in action. Concerned citizens gave up an evening to educate themselves and it was heartening to see many in the audience participate. I’m no political scientist, but this must be what the founders of the constitution had in mind in conceiving that document.

The evening was not without controversy. Several speakers spoke passionately, even vehemently, prompting someone to question the tone of some on the anti-biomass side. One wonders how closely he follows events in the area?

Valdostans are frustrated at the blatantly anti-democratic tactics employed by local government that result in our getting things rammed down our throats. Biomass is just the latest example.

Continue reading