Police State Update

Prisoner Teachers Can Save California

As all you left-coasters already know, California is really fucked up because they built the world’s biggest prison system with 160,000 inmates and cut taxes, gutting the education system in the process. Says one California teacher, “Every semester, English teachers at Berkeley High must write letters to parents asking them to buy paperback copies of novels that the schools can’t afford to purchase. Many teachers have reduced written assignments because increased class size doesn’t allow them to grade so many papers.”

It’s about time we put two and two together- make the prisoners teach the kids. I’m introducing this great idea in an anarchist-type publication, of course, because I know the idea will really gel with all those young anarchists who always say school is just like jail anyway. And it’s good ol’ Socialism too: Right now all those people incarcerated on public funds are working for peanuts with private industry. Paying them shit to teach our children puts the profits from the prison boom back into our communities.

There are two ways to go about this, or perhaps we can try a mixed approach. One way is to have a little prison in every community where the children can go everyday. Each classroom will be like a visiting room with a screen dividing the teacher from the students. Guards will be hired to control both the teachers and the students. The other approach will be to send children to prisons in the Central Valley ten months out of the year. The children will be housed in dormitories built into the prison complex. This option is sure to go swell with parents who always send their kids to summer camp, but is accessible even to poor families.

But what do our current teachers think of this? “We have no job security anyway. What do I have to do to get one of these new jobs anyway?”

Keystone State Kops Foiled

Last month, Camilo Vivieros was acquitted along with two co-defendants of throwing a bicycle at Police Commissioner John Timoney at the 2000 RNC protest in Philadelphia. For those of you unfamiliar with either person, Camilo is pretty much the nicest person in the world, a housing organizer in Providence, Rhode Island who inspires everyone he meets with his wholesome glow, and John Timoney is one of the world’s biggest assholes, a fanatical hater of protesters who goes from city to city to command police forces against mass actions, most recently at the FTAA in Miami.

The trial was a farce, with Timoney claiming that although he did not see who did it he was sure it was Camilo. While some activist writers claim that Timoney was betting his career on this prosecution, it isn’t so. Timoney was always a paper tiger, or a used toilet tissue tiger. We all knew that he never had the brains to run an urban counter-insurgency, and his federal handlers ran the show. Rest assured, at the next convergence the local daily will feature another stupid human interest story about the gritty street cop turned chief who gets two-fisted tough with those pesky anarchist hoodlums.

Now why did this silly prosecution happen at all? You can’t understand the Philadelphia P.D. until you go there. Before I visited the Brother Lovely City myself I read and heard all about police attacks on MOVE, the Mumia Abu-Jamal case, and couldn’t believe either side’s version of the events. But being there, especially at the RNC 2000 and seeing tactical police collide with each other and fall off their bikes, and hearing the “mainstream” press in the city rant viciously against anyone who disagrees with the police or thinks the Mumia prosecution might have been a little biased. . . It’s not so much that these particular cops are cruel, corrupt, or stupid, which they are to some degree, but what makes them unique is a wild enthusiasm with a reckless disregard for their own safety that gets them injured or shot a lot.

It’s Really Too Bad

Remember the docks protest in April ‘03 in Oakland, where the police blasted everyone with special munitions without any provocation? We had the one year anniversary last month and the port shut down to avoid any trouble and the police kept a respectful distance. The Oakland Tribune article on the front page the next day made it sound like the cops and protesters were all peace and love with each other now.

After it happened last year the Amnesty International and the United Nations were really upset. Which is weird because it wasn’t really that brutal for Oakland. Oakland has traditionally been an African-American city where police insanity is the status quo. Any attempt at militant direct action has always been met by overwhelming force. But now that the whole Bay Area, including and especially Oakland has been subjected to three degrees of gentrification, suddenly the bunch of white protesters getting bashed in a U.N. human rights concern for real! Maybe we’re turning into Berkeley or Amherst here!

But following up on the city response, by reading the Berkeley Copwatch Report online, maybe it’s still good ol’ Oakland. Rather than let the Citizens’ Police Review Board investigate, the City Attorney and City Manager set up a special 5-member panel to investigate. After meeting twice the panel concluded they were given insufficient time and resources to investigate and unanimously decided to disband (Oakland Trib 8/15/03). “It’s really too bad,” said City Council member Jane Brunner of the panel’s decision.