Saturday, July 21, 2012

Peace, cooperation - and the militarization of London



London, with private militarization combined with official English troops, is now more armed for the Olympics than its current occupying forces in Afghanistan (see below).

The Olympic torch is a symbol of peace and cooperation among nations. Is there peace and cooperation in London?

Seamus Milne, a Guardian reporter, comments that London resembles 'a militarized occupation zone. East London has become lockdown London.'" See here.

Sharon Spencer, a member of JENGbA (joint enterprise no guilt by association) sent me a report of a meeting in the House of Commons, which concluded with some ugly laughter that young people – in fact, despised and disregarded – are not rebelling right now because of the weather. Despising "criminals" (Diamond of Barclay's? Rupert Murdoch? Rebekah Brooks?...himself?), David Cameron has cut back the programs that help young people and has made London “secure” for the Olympics.

No one will be able to move without a police presence.

If Beijing had smog (cut down for the occasion, but still, many athletes wore oxygen masks), London has the police.

As Sharon relates, one young man from Luton, who got lost in Birmingham at the time of the riots, was detained and sentenced under joint enterprise to life (eighteen years).

It is our loved ones, she says, who are in danger of being shot down by the police as Mark Duggan was.

In the House of Commons, there are no measures suggested for changing any of this.

Her words are worth taking in.

The New York Times editorial below concerns how with the privatization of prisons and an incentive to jail, imprisonment for debt, a literal meaning of debt-slavery, is now, though plainly illegal and unconstitutional, being practiced in the United States. There are ordinary standards of decency – non-murderousness, habeas corpus, non-torture, non-imprisonment for debt – which the rule of law is designed to uphold.

In London and the United States, the rule of law is faint, the military and prison-industrial complexes increasingly overbearing.*

Privatization of what must be and remain genuine public functions in any decent regime is one leading reason. Failure to make available jobs - public spending during an economic crisis and not austerity - and education (the latter is just a restatement of the first point) to all and particularly the poor - a failure of the government to defend a common good - is another.

With the horror in Aurora – my son had planned to go to Batman with his friends at another theater in Denver – the madness of militarization and privatization is coming home. Even those who were spared on the scene will feel its psychological echo (or ptsd as it is now called). See Rob Prince's comments here.

Perhaps to protect the NRA and the capacity to slaughter from any sensible regulations about large scale weapons, there will now be armed guards (and a mini-tsa) in the theaters….

If at the Olympics, reactionaries may surmise, why not at Batman?

There were 9,484 who died of gun violence in the United States last year, 60 in Spain, 35 in Australia, 17 in Finland (the massacre by the Knights Templar - roughly, tea-party - guy in Norway a year ago today was an exception; yet Norway still upholds the rule of law). These places are all smaller in terms of population.

Still, the problem in America stands out.

For other posts on joint enterprise and complicity, see here, here, here, here and here.

Sharon wrote:

“Just back from the House of Commons on the UpRising (RIOTS) last year, arranged by Diane Abbott, on the panel was Diane Tim Reporter for The Guardian he undertook research in collaboration as there was no public enquiry into the Riot's or major enquiry, they focused on the voices of the rioters as they were not heard, as it was felt it was important to understand why some youth's who had never committed a crime before took part. They studied the policing of the riots, talking to lawyers/barristers/defence/prosecutors/Judges/Magistrates as the sentencing process as it duly harsh for offences, such as a young person stealing a bottle of water. The outcome of this research showed 3/4 major things that primarily OUR Young People felt why they got involved , one they felt marginalised, Alienated, there were no Opportunities for them in Modern Britain. secondly they felt the injustice of the blatant killing of Mark Duggan, so they took control and made reality which they watched and controlled. Thirdly it was consumerism, want, greed, anger, injustice. Young people were fed up with the injustice being stopped & Searched by the police, bankers, MP's fiddling, Phone Hacking they so the injustice that all these people in their positions were committing crimes and were getting away with it, and all they got was high Uni fee's, No more EMA, poxy GCSE's. Issues that came out of it all was One of the Core Aspect of Policing, were there enough Police on the streets during the riots, (i felt good job there were'nt as there would of been more arrests than there were, my opinion.) Community Consultation's are they strong enough between the police and the communities it polices. Trust comes to mind, there isn't any. Simon From Operation Vote Black spoke quite openly & frankly talked about his mistrust of some of the newspapers and how there was a feeding frenzy to the point of being quite salacious, including MP'S. The Cheif Inspector from Tottenham Police Station spoke next, he was in charge the night the UpRising kicked of, he painted a picture of him being a father to two children and how that night will be etched in his memory forever, he was dealing with five other factors that evening that could of also warranted police attention. He said that there was no way that he could of assessed that night it would of started a ricochet of what followed for several days after. I didn't like him but other's may of, he just had a grin on his face the entire time, his Borough Commander was in the audience. I asked the panel what statistic's does it have in terms of young people/adults who have not been sentenced and how many under Joint Enterprise, and named a recent case of the young man from Luton (Campaign to free Wayne Collin-Debe-Nat Taylor) who was in Birmingham when the Riot's kicked of up there, i believe people know the case, he was not involved in the riots, he was lost and scooped up with other's he did not know or could know, why is he now doing 18 years under JE, why are you targeting young BEM men and incarcerating them when Keir Starmer said last year that JE needed guidelines regarding arresting and charging, sentencing needed to be reviewed, so where are the Guidelines and why are we still charging people with JE if there are no guidelines. There was no response apart from preaching to the converted i know what JE means and stands for, i live it every day, tell me something new. Claudia Webb the Chair for Trident talked about black men still dying on our streets, you know when u wanna shout so its ok for the police to kill our loved ones in cold blood though, but i remembered where i was. Anyway Claudia talked that Black men were dying on our streets from bullets knifes, that black lives were cheap and the lives of our black men. There was a need for change, by tackling men of violence, building trust & confidence in the community. We have to look at how the police stop & search, Death's in Custody. She talked about how the Duggan family were treated after the shooting and the failure to inform the family of his death and the disappearance of the Borough Commander on that night, when the family wanted to deal with him rather than the Chief Inspector. The advise received from the Community Activists wasn't listen too, police were saying its intelligence whilst the community were saying it's a feeling, the police said they couldn't act on feelings. Hence civil unrest. Next was Tundi Okewale Barrister from Doughty St Chambers and also Advisor for the Tottenham Riots & Urban Lawyers. He did and Introduction/Poem/Statistic's which i will get him to forward me as they were interesting as 90% of people arrested & charged were male. He has represented People under JE he also represented 8 people for the riot's getting 7 out of the 8 Not Guilty's. Maybe a good source for any future JE charges. Anyway i came away from this as i do with most conferences these days thinking i didn't hear any solutions to these issues, people joked about how the reason the youth's are not rioting again as the weather has been appalling, that may be true but jokes aside, as we know summer holidays are coming up, we've got the army now doing security at the Olympics, millions of other people in the city, this is going to be fun. Sharon”

***

Published on Friday, July 13, 2012 by Common Dreams
Increasing Militarization at London Olympics: Royal Air Force Threatens 'Lethal Force'
- Common Dreams staff

The already militarized tone at the London Olympics is ratcheting up with the Royal Air Force (RAF) stating that it is ready to use "lethal force" against unauthorized aircraft during the games.

A corporal with Britain's Royal Air Force with equipment that will be used in London during the upcoming Olympic Games. (photo: Leon Neal/AFP)

"As a last resort, we will have lethal force as an option," said Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha, the Olympics air security commander, referring to the RAF's power to shoot down aircraft that do not follow the air restrictions and do not heed warnings.

RAF's announcement comes after confirmation that surface-to-air missiles would be set up at six spots around London and the navy's biggest warship would be stationed in the Thames.

Private security contractor G4S, hired to provide security for the games, stated that it was unable to provide the number of personnel demanded and is therefore turning to Britain's military to acquire 3,500 extra personnel.

This means that there will now be 17,000 military personnel, including 11,800 soldiers, patrolling the games, more than the number it has currently stationed in Afghanistan.
NBC news reports that this "is the largest British security operation carried out in peacetime."

Seamus Milne writes that London resembles "a militarized occupation zone. East London has become lockdown London."

This militarized atmosphere is apparently the kind London Mayor Boris Johnson wants to foster. "We have increased the number of people who will be involved and I think anybody who goes to Wimbledon and sees the role of the Armed Services in venue security, making the thing run well, will like it. It will add an element of tone to our proceedings over the next few weeks," he said.

* * *


EDITORIAL (New York Times)
Return of Debtors’ Prisons
Published: July 13, 2012

A tenet of the American legal system is that it treats the poor and rich alike. The Supreme Court made this clear in 1970, 1971 and 1983, ruling that it is fundamentally unfair and violates equal protection under the Constitution for a judge to lock up an indigent or unemployed person because he cannot afford to pay a speeding ticket or a fine for a misdemeanor.

Yet judges routinely jail people to make them pay fines even when they have no money to pay. As Ethan Bronner reported last week in The Times, minor offenders who cannot pay a fine or fee often find themselves in jail cells.

And felony offenders who have completed their prison sentences are often sent back to jail when they cannot pay fees and fines they owe because they could not earn money while locked up. Often, these defendants are not told that they have a right to a court-appointed lawyer to challenge their detention.

This devastating problem has gotten far worse the past five years, the result of budget-strapped state courts looking for sources of revenue and ever more poor people becoming ensnared in the court system. For decades, state court systems have gotten short shrift in the budget process and are often starved of revenue. Since the recession began, courts have increasingly had to fend for themselves by imposing fees on criminal defendants to address budget gaps. In Cambria County, Pa., for example, the Court of Common Pleas imposed 26 fees on a woman convicted of a drug crime, including $8 each for postage and judicial computers.

This revenue-oriented approach is made worse by the increasing use of for-profit companies to collect fees owed to the courts. They add hefty fees of their own to make their profits and have gotten judges to issue arrest warrants if someone has not paid up — with no apparent need to consider a person’s inability to pay.

State judicial leaders need to take on these indefensible practices. They should require trial judges to assess individuals’ ability to pay and reduce fines to what an offender can afford or to impose community service time in lieu of fines. They also need to monitor and discipline judges who continue to allow the poor to be imprisoned, flouting the Constitution, Supreme Court holdings and basic fairness.

***

*About torture under President Bush, however, the American military resisted, the "civilians" who were tyrants or fascists, persisted. Civilian control of the military is good when civilians adhere to the rule of law and are not crazed.

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