Double Injustice: Media Racism

Back in 2003 Imogen Bunting, whose birthday it would have been today, wrote this on the film INJUSTICE by Tariq and Ken. To date the film still has not been shown on UK television, despite all the awards and media acclaim and THE RELEVANCE OF IT STILL TODAY.

Originally posted 2006

MEDIA RACISM

This piece was written by Imogen for a possible book on the film Injustice. We approached 19 publishers for the book, but while screenings do occur now, because the film was banned/threatened for so long by the court injunctions of the Police Federation, no publisher seemed able to risk a publication. As you can see from below, the failure of the publishers (some respected left wing houses) was not because of the quality of the writing – here as ever Imogen was on the case.

Media Racism:
Reporting black deaths in the British press: Injustice and the right to reply.

‘Black deaths do not have a good press, especially when they occur in the custody of our custodians…the media leads the public to believe that our guardians can do no wrong. Racism leads them to believe that blacks can do no right. The silence of the custodial system is compounded by the silences of racism’ (Sivanandan).

It is from within these silences that Injustice speaks. As Sivanadan’s resolute remark suggests, the film was, in part, a necessary response to the media’s selective and often dubiously scarce reportage. Why is it that the one thousand deaths in custody that have occurred since 1969 can largely have slipped through the pages of our national press whilst at the same time the deaths of Stephen Lawrence, Victoria Climbe and Damilola Taylor have, for instance, frequently made the front covers of both broadsheets and tabloids? When the key suspects in the murder of Stephen Lawrence were charged with committing a racist attack on an off duty black police officer the Daily Mirror’s front page announced ‘GOTCHA! Two down, three to go, as justice finally catches up with racist Lawrence thugs’. And yet, in the post-Macpherson world it is all too easy perhaps to be seduced by such jubilance. After all, justice for the death of Stephen Lawrence never did catch up with his killers. The justice just delivered was for a racial attack on a police officer. And, if we are to be cynical, it mostly provided a perfect space for the press to celebrate an apparently reformed Metropolitan police.

The same week however, on page eight of the Guardian we are told that when Christopher Alder died face down in a police station in Hull in 1998, he was surrounded by police making monkey noises. In a letter to his sister, the CPS reported that ‘it is not possible to infer that there was a racist motivation here’. This, less impressive judicial decision is far from the front page – ‘black deaths do not have a good press’. Injustice was a way of exposing the long and continuing history of (black) deaths in custody where a politically correct rather than a politically [engaged?] press had not been adequate. Exploring the press’ handling of the cases featured in the Injustice provides a way of understanding the sticky politics of reporting deaths in custody and may open up a space in which to re-view the cases.

Whilst it is probably a truism for those involved in the campaigns for justice of people who have died in police custody, it is worth noting at the outset a point all too often forgotten when Britain celebrates the freedom of its press and the quality of its news, that is:

‘The media do not simply and transparently report events which are ‘naturally’ newsworthy in themselves. ‘News’ is the end product of a complex process which begins with a systematic sorting of events and topics according to a socially constructed set of categories’ (Hall et al 1978:53).

Deaths in custody are reported within a wider media context of black deaths, which more often than not, are associated with crime, gangs and drugs. The furore over guns from the ghettos at the concerts of the So Solid Crew was synchronous with the trial of the killers of schoolboy Damilola Taylor. And, whilst providing stark contrast to one another, together portrayed a kind of black underworld where, as the Guardian noted, ‘Gun crime in London is at an all-time high, and black violence against black people of particular concern, with 21 deaths last year’. A few months later, rising crime rates were the front cover of all the national press, and the shadow home secretary announced that ‘everyone on the estates in our inner cities knows…it is gangs and drug dealers rather than the forces of law and order that are in charge’ (Guardian 12/7/2002).

When gangs and drug dealers have been repeatedly inferred as being black, the violence of the police force towards to black people, or the disproportionate figures of black deaths in custody can be seen not as racism but rather as the inevitable result of black criminality. This might be one of the ‘socially constructed set of categories’ within which black deaths in police custody are reported, or not. And what it effectively creates is the idea that the force of the police is ‘reasonable’. However, when the controversial stop and search laws make it five times more likely to be stopped if you are black, then already there is a disproportionate chance that in being stopped, the police feel that a certain degree of force is reasonable. Indeed race and crime are so closely associated by the media that the Guardian chose to quote the Voice editor calling for more stop and search in the face of rising street crime and gun related offences,

‘Most people would prefer not to be stopped and searched, but increasing crime is warranting that and the majority of people who have nothing to hide won’t mind very much’ (Guardian 5/3/2002).
So, Mike Best, portrayed as a spokesperson for black people, has reiterated the most cunning of media tricks, creating the functional equivalent of the deserving and undeserving poor. The emphasis is shifted from the fact that stop and search, undertaken by a self confessed ‘institutionally racist’ police force is a dubious and dangerous tactic. And again, it obfuscates the fact that people stopped and searched, such as Brian Douglas, or arrested on suspicion of robbery such as Wayne Douglas, are dead. It is not even that the people who ‘have nothing to hide’ always get off lightly. Moreover, following the theme of the deserving and undeserving, a great deal of post-Macpherson media spin has played on the idea that the police are now too afraid of being accused of being racist that they won’t stop black people. The delight with which the nation mimicked Ali G’s ‘Is it cos I is black?’ was a serious indicator of how little the term ‘institutionally racist’ had been taken seriously and, like Mike Best, black M.P Paul Boateng was showcased demanding that:
‘The power [of stop and search] cannot be removed – it is a vital tool in the armoury of the police. We must never lose sight in our response to the Lawrence report what brought it about – a gang of thugs on the street obsessed by knives. The police must have the power to stop and search for knives’ (Observer 28/2/1999).

In fact this ‘gang of thugs’ were a white racist fraternity and yet stop and search renders black people five times more likely to be stopped. Indeed this kind of neutralisation of the police in the press is common. A crucial aspect of deaths in custody is that, by their very nature they might provoke terror and anger in the public eye as we are forced to ask who can protect us from those who are there to protect us? And yet, deaths in custody have repeatedly been portrayed as almost an inevitability, or the just deserves of a minority of people on the wrong side of the law. An example might be a report of the death of Shiji Lapite that appeared in the Sunday Telegraph which ran:

‘Mr Lapite was arrested outside a nightclub in Stoke Newington, north-east London. During a struggle he was pinned down and his larynx partially crushed. He died of asphyxia and cocaine intoxication.’

In the same way, the Times made sure to note that Brian Douglas was, at the time of his arrest, thought to be ‘under the influence of either drugs or drink’. Whilst the Sunday Telegraph described how, when Joy Gardner’s mouth was gagged with 13 feet of surgical tape, the police had arrived at her home,

‘with an arrest warrant, restraining equipment…and the information that she tried to evade deportation before and had a record of violence’.

This is perhaps the most telling account in that it shows how a criminalised history or an inference of involvement with drugs is a resource that can be used by the police in the same way as an arrest warrant might be. Similarly, both Joy Gardner and Shiji Lapite were described first and foremost as asylum seekers. Read within the context of a media who infamously echoed Enoch Powell’s speech of Britain being ‘flooded’ by immigrants, it is easy to see how these deaths might have been construed.

A demand for information, accountability, and justice that might arise through reporting a death in custody is augmented by an inference of criminality. In these instances, police action no longer, it seems, is under such scrutiny. Middle England, reading the paper over their breakfast can rest assured that it won’t be them on the floor of Stoke Newington police station. Whilst, bombarded with spectacular reports of rising crime, drugs and guns, the police must be justified in their actions.

Looking at the press reports of all of the cases featured in the film exposes a pattern in the press’ handling of both deaths in police custody, and the relationship between black people and (usually violent) crime. When these issues converge, deaths in custody, rather than being an outrageous – and in this sense – morbidly newsworthy issue, become part of publicising the police in favour of ‘mentally unstable’ (Press release from Stoke Newington police the night of Colin Roach’s death in the foyer of the police station) ‘immensely strong’ (Daily Telegraph quoting P.C Wright’s description of Ibrahim Sey 26/1/1996) ‘violent’ (Sunday Telegraph quoting P.C Brian Adam’s description of Joy Gardner 30/11/1997) victims. Such dramatic adjectives are an example of how

‘media forms produce the urban (ghetto) as lawless, anarchic and violent…[and] from pop videos, Hollywood cinema, American police series and surveillance videos, the black male body has been an object of scrutiny’(Sharma and Sharma 2000:109).

Victims who have died in custody are somehow posed as Goliaths to the Metropolitan’s Davids whose political and technological strength is creatively overlooked. The figure of the big, black dangerous criminal becomes mythical and the police can be posed as heroes, risking their own safety to keep the streets safe.

An example of this use, by the police, of the media might be found in a report such as that in the Daily Telgraph whose headline was ‘Met officers to be given body armour and C.S gas’. Here, the death of Brian Douglas, following his arrest is noted within the context of police deaths. The article reads:

‘all members of the metropolitan police are to be issued with body armour in the wake of gun attacks that have left seven officers dead in the past five years’.

The implosion of Brian’s death with the death of police officers seems to suggest three key themes. Firstly that death is inevitable within police work. Secondly, that the death of a police officer on duty might be equivalent to the death of a citizen who is, for any reason, stopped by the police. And, thirdly, that the death of an officer is enough to warrant the introduction of more repressive measures [technologies?]. It is the press who have juxtaposed the stories of Brian Douglas death and the police death and, in doing so, have occluded the seriousness of both the frequency and similarity in the death in custody cases. The 1000 deaths since 1969 are not of course, juxtaposed with the 7 police deaths in 5 years, a statistic that might put the police death rate into some kind of perspective.

Breaking up the continuity of black deaths in police custody through intermittent reporting distracts the public from the chilling similarities in the cases. Beyond that however, for those families, friends and allies involved in campaigning for justice, the press’ spectacularisation of particular cases is extremely damaging. It sets up a dis-jointed politics where alliance must be traded for sympathy. Whilst the Guardian headline of a report into the death of Roger Sylvester was ‘Another death in custody, another family mourns’ (24/1/1999), what the article actually stressed was to not see the death as another of the same. Yet again, another family mourns, and yet ‘they are wary…of Roger Sylvester’s death becoming another Stephen Lawrence or Michael Menson case’. The fact is that in many respects, the death is already another Stephen Lawrence or Michael Menson case. The depoliticising of yet ‘another death in custody’ happens through the emotiveness of a family, in obvious disbelief, who, it was reported, in response to questions over a demonstration held outside the High Court said, ‘it had nothing to do with us’.

Along similar divisive lines, a large part of a BBC Newsnight report after the death of Michael Menson in Stoke Newington police station in 1983 was given over to P.C Paul Pacey, who demanded that:

‘you go out and talk to those people on the streets, just in the normal course of your duty and they’ll…talk to you about the police and about what happens to you back at Stoke Newington station…and they’ll say, “things happen to you back there” and you’ll say “well what?”, “well, I’ve heard stories…”, “Well, who off?”, “Well, people”, “ Has it happened to you?” “Well, no…” And its very hard to find. In fact I can’t find these people its happening to’.

Death in custody becomes the urban myth of a paranoid black community rather than a serious and discrediting narrative in the history of Stoke Newington police station. Injustice found the families and friends of ‘these people its happening to’ and in calibrating the deaths that have occurred over the last thirty years fill in the gaps left by the media.

These gaps are, it seems, so easily maintained because the usual model of reporting is impossible. When death occurs in the ‘custody of our custodians’ what ‘actually happened’ is only known by the police involved. The ‘news’ of a death in custody is framed by information given by a whole brigade of officials from the police, to the police coroners, to the Crown Prosecution Service, to the Police Complaints Authority into the nature of the death. Stuart Hall (et al) has noted that,

‘what is most striking about crime news is that it very rarely involves a first-hand account of the crime itself…Crime stories are almost wholly produced from the definitions and perspectives of the institutional primary definers’ (1978:68).

Within this are assumptions about the relationship between race and crime, crime and violence and violence and state-protection. So, from a pre-established context, it is really only the police who have a voice on a particular case. This process may be highlighted by the extent to which the press uses direct quotes from the police officers involved in the deaths. Cloaked in the officialdom of their speaking position, deeply subjective descriptions are used:

‘P.C Wright : “He [Shiji Lapite] was immensely strong. I was in fear for my life and P.C Macullum’s life”…P.C Wright believed the suspect’s “tremendous strength” might have been the effect of crack cocaine’ (Daily Telegraph 26/1/1996).

‘“She [Joy Gardner] was the most violent woman I have ever encountered”, said P.C Brian Adam’ (Sunday Telegraph 30/11/1997).

There is no space for counter comment – for an opposing claim. Both the ‘facts’ of the death and opinion or comment are given by the state. Disentangling this tightly woven knot of (mis) information becomes the private struggle of each family rather than a public and publicised campaign. The silencing of Injustice is another thread in this cloth, where each time a screening was due to take place, the cinema was threatened by the Metropolitan police lawyers. In privileging the voice of the state over and above the voice of those harmed by the state, the media reaffirms the position of an institutionally racist police.

‘we are now at the very heart of the inter-relationships between the control culture and the ‘signification culture’…In this moment, the media – albeit unwittingly, and through their own ‘autonomous’ routes – have become effectively an apparatus of the control process itself – an ‘ideological state apparatus’(Hall et al 1978:76).

Indeed there is a curious levelling mechanism that needs to go on with cases of death in custody. The Metropolitan police, especially after the Stephen Lawrence case, has worked incredibly hard on its image. It is almost as if the sympathy of the press is needed in direct proportion with the violence of the police. As Cohen has noted,

‘The more resources allocated to increasing the efficiency of repressive policing, the more manpower has to be poured [in]…to restabilize the public image of the force’ (quoted in Jefferson 1991:171).

A thousand deaths in police custody since 1969 is not a statistic that might enhance the image of the police. The double movement of repression and promotion is mediated by the press who, for example, in reporting the death of Joy Gardner at the hands of police and immigration officers explain how ‘sticky tape was wrapped around her head to stop her biting more officers’ (Sunday Telegraph 30/11/1997). The police restraining technologies are laconically justified despite the fact that they were fatal for Joy Gardner. The press have maintained the police framing of the event to such an extent that the possibility of alternative opinions, transgressive questions and redressive actions are edited out. ‘In this lost world of politics without conflict, division or debate, the spin doctors are always right’ (Gilroy 1999:12) and the only sniff of disagreement reported surrounds the suitability of particular technologies in particular cases. The fundamental questions of race, class and institutionalised violence are obscured by the histrionics of endless police reviews.

Relying on a benevolent media however, also has its dangers and limitations, precluding the politics and economics of why there are deaths in custody and of why black people are five times more likely to die in custody. A sympathetic press may have its own agenda within the status quo. In a global and historical level, the story of Stephen Biko, the anti-apartheid activist killed in police custody in South Africa in 1977 is best known perhaps by the film Cry Freedom, which, instead of telling the story of Biko, actually tells the story of Donald Woods, a sympathetic white journalist who tried to expose the killing of Biko in police custody. We can see that the story becomes one of a sympathetic white media rather than of the political economy of black death within the apartheid regime. The connections between the media as an apparatus of the state are eroded in portraying a laudable exception to the rule. Similarly, the problem of the media’s treatment of death in custody can not possibly be solved by having more black journalists, just as the police won’t stop being racist if there are more black officers. As Hall has pointed out,

‘The media do not only possess a near monopoly over ‘social knowledge’, as the primary source of information about what is happening; they also command the passage between those who are ‘in the know’ and the structured ignorance of the general public’ (1978:64).

Alternative media such as Injustice, made in collaboration with the families of those killed and screened in cinemas, social centres, political meetings and festivals reconstitute the desiccated narratives of deaths in custody. Marxists are not imagining things when they note that the ideological state apparatus of the mainstream media will always voice the opinions of the ruling classes. Hoping for a sympathetic report is, it seems, both naïve and insubstantial. However, it is crucial that the press are interrogated, challenged and disturbed by other voices, voices normally excluded from the debates. For deaths in police custody, the problem will always be that the victim is criminalized, and, ‘the criminal by his actions, is assumed to have forfeited, along with other citizenship rights, his ‘right of reply’ (Hall 1978:69). Restoring this right of reply has been, in a sense the project of Injustice. As it traces the struggles of the families of those who died, it recreates the space of comment – it re-collects the testimonies, it redefines the parameters of the debate.

Imogen Bunting

Afzal Guru Protest: JNU under Police Action, NDTV Reports (which is ironic since they are in part to blame for the travesty under protest here).

NDTV have a record on this topic which is, erm, unenviable. For example, they had run a phone in poll to see if their audience wanted Afzal Mohammed Guru hanged, held before the court gave its verdict, on what was a frame-up according to many, and the ‘torturer for the nation’ proudly proclaiming his role in getting Afzal’s confession… So it is deeply troubling that even now Police action cracks down on legitimate dissent. Cultural event! Maybe there is more to it, but it looks dubious to me – what threat was this demonstration to the nation? Kanhiya Kumar  zindabad.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 11.29.01

Full story here.

G. N. Saibaba’s Bail Cancelled, Contempt Notice Slapped On Arundhati Roy

Countercurrents.org – 24 December, 2015

The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court cancelled the bail of Delhi University professor G. N. Saibaba and asked him to surrender before the police by 25th December. The Wheelchair-bound Saibaba who is over 90% disabled will celebrate Christmas in jail. A single judge bench of Justice Arun Choudhari also charged Author Arundhati Roy for criminal contempt for writing about Saibaba’s imprisonment and the court’s denial of bail in her article “Professor P.O.W.” in Outlook magazine in May. Arundhati Roy has to reply to the notice by January 25, 2016.

Prof. Saibaba was arrested by Maharashtra police in May 2015 for alleged Maoist links. On July 3, a two-judge bench of the Bombay High Court at Mumbai had granted Saibaba bail on reports that his health was deteriorated severely after 14 months in Nagpur jail. He has been paralysed from waist-downward since contracting polio in childhood. Since obtaining bail in July, Saibaba has been undergoing treatment at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in New Delhi. He had an angioplasty in August.

The order canceling Saibaba’s bail says that there is sufficient material for the court to consider that the allegations made against Saibaba under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as true and thus, to cancel his bail order. It states that the Revolutionary Democratic Front of which Saibaba is a member, though not banned by the central government, “could be called as frontal organization of the CPI (Maoist)”.

The order cites several pages of Roy’s article and notes that the article had a “mala fide motive to interfere in the administration of justice”.

“Instead of challenging the orders passed by Sessions Court and the learned Single Judge of this Court, the author appears to have invented a novel idea of bashing the Central Government, the State Government, the Police machinery so also judiciary and that was, prima facie, with a mala fide motive to interfere in the administration of justice.

The language used by the author in her article against the Government and the police machinery is as nasty as it could be and one really wonders whether the same would befit to the prestigious awards the author is said to have won. Calling the Government and police as being “afraid” of the applicant, “abductor” and “thief” and the Magistrate from a “small town”, demonstrate the surly, rude and boorish attitude of the author in the most tolerant country like India…

…The author has even gone to the extent of scandalizing and questioning the credibility of the higher judiciary by giving examples of the orders of bail granted to “Babu Bajrangi”, “Maya Kodnani” and “Amit Shah”.

Does the author know that the grant of bail depends on the facts and evidence in each case and there cannot be any such comparison. Is it not the fact that the Central Government, the State Government, the police machinery and the armed forces are fighting for prevention of unlawful and terrorist activities in the country when the Naxal plague has taken a pincer grip.”

Arundhati Roy said she will respond to the order in court.

New York actions. STOP Police Terror Which Side Are You On?

3 Days of Mass Resistance
Oct 22-24 NYC: 
STOP Police Terror
Which Side Are You On?
Thurs, October 22, No More Stolen Lives, Say Their Names
Fri, October 23 “Shut Down Rikers!
Sat, October 24: National March to STOP Police Terror: Which Side are You On?

Initiated by Carl Dix and Cornel West, #RiseUpOctober will bring together 100 families who’ve lost loved ones to police violence, prominent voices of conscience, students, clergy, artists, and more. These 3 days, and the massive Saturday Oct 24 march, will launch a more defiant, more determined resistance aimed at nothing less than stopping

the epidemic of illegitimate police terror and murder targeting Black and Brown people. This is a resistance that refuses to turn a blind eye to the thousands of lives stolen and families shattered, that will not be cowed by media and government vilification or pacified by empty promises of change, but insists Stop Police Terror! Which Side Are You On?
The 3 Days:
No More Stolen Lives, Say Their Names
A Public Reading and Remembrance: A Demand for Justice.

Over 40 families of people killed by police will gather to tell their stories, accompanied by prominent voices of conscience reading the names of just some of the 1000s of lives stolen.

Details here.

2:00 pm, Borough Hall, Brooklyn: National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Murder, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.
Friday, October 23 9:00 am
“Shut Down Rikers!”
A mass, nonviolent direct action. People of conscience are putting their bodies on the line to call for this torture chamber to be shut down. Details here.
Saturday, October 24
National March to STOP Police Terror: Which Side are You On?
11:00am – Washington Square Park, NYC 11 am DETAILS HERE 
1:00pm – March
4:00pm – Closing Rally at Bryant Park
Students, religious congregations, contingents from housing projects, and people from all across the country – we will gather in the thousands and tens of thousands with the demand: Terror and Murder By Police Must STOP.
RiseUpOctober.org   646-709-1961

#RiseUpOctober Advisory Board:
Carl Dix, Cornel West, Gina Belafonte, Eve Ensler, Jamal Joseph,
Arturo O’Farrill, Rev. Stephen Phelps
 
Many prominent voices of conscience have endorsed the Call for #RiseUpOctober including:
Ed Asner; educator Bill Ayers; Harry Belafonte; actor Ty Burrell; actor Mark Ruffalo; Noam Chomsky; theologian James Cone; actor Peter Coyote; lawyer Martin Garbus; Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Bernard Lown; activist Cindy Sheehan; Green Party candidate Jill Stein; David Strathairn; Quentin Tarantino; artist Hank Willis Thomas; singer Dan Zanes, and many others.
Artists and writers: Ken Burns, Shepard Fairey, Alice Walker, Cornel West, and Gilbert Young have donated their work to the $100,000 Indiegogo campaign to bring 100 families from across the country to NYC.
Many dozens of faith leaders from across the country are organizing with hundreds of students, grassroots activists and organizations.
____________________________________________________________________________
Statement from physicians: challenge to donate to Rise Up October:
Confronting the cancer of racism, silence is intolerable if we wish to remain human. Since the founding of our nation, this malignancy has been eating away at our pretensions of democracy. The reason for its persistence is not merely a cultural and social legacy of slavery. It relates to a system of governance that appropriates wealth to a few while ignoring the dire needs of the many who produce the wealth. As Dr. Martin Luther King, in his memorable speech at the Riverside Church in New York City nearly 40 years ago stated, “The time comes when silence is betrayal.”
                            Bernard Lown, M.D.  (winner 1985 Nobel Prize for Peace)

We are physicians who join with Dr. Lown in this match challenge. With love and solidarity with these Stolen Lives families who have suffered so much and are so courageous. Rise Up October!

Sai Baba hunger strike

Often spoken as our guest in London. It was always difficult to get him a visa, and/or permission from his college to visit, and their shabby treatment of him in relation to accommodation… Now this… [he is in prison for having links with Maoists allegedly, and for being a member of a proscribed terrorist organisation – see link http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Delhi-University-professor-GN-Saibaba-arrested-for-alleged-Maoist-links/articleshow/34887926.cms to mainstream press. More as I get it]




POLITICAL PRISONER, G NAGA SAIBABA ON HUNGER STRIKE FROM SATURDAY, 11TH APRIL, 2015

Dr, G N Saibaba, Delhi University Professor, who has been in incarceration since 9th May, 2014 has commenced an indefinite hunger strike from 11-04-2015 demanding proper medical treatment and food, both of which are being denied to him by the authorities of the Nagpur Central Prison.

 Dr. Saibaba, who is presently lodged in the notorious Anda Barrack of the Nagpur Prison has been denied bail twice by the Sessions Court, Gadchiroli and once by the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court. 

In the last order by the Sessions Court dated 4th March, 2015 the Sessions Judge referred to the reports of the Superintendent and the Chief Medical Officer of the Nagpur Central Prison which, while admitting the delicate medical condition of Saibaba, stated that he was being treated at the Government Medical College Hospital as well as the Super Speciality Hospital in Nagpur and that they were providing food supplements as per his medical requirements. 

It was on the basis of such reports that bail on medical grounds was denied to Saibaba.

However, despite such claims by the prison authorities made before the court, the prison administration has not only continued to deny him proper medical treatment and food supplements, but also now even stopped certain items that were earlier allowed to him.

Faced with a situation of a steady deterioration in his health condition, Saibaba has decided to protest and has completely stopped taking food from Saturday.

His lawyers, who met him on Monday, 13th April, 2015, immediately submitted a memorandum to the DIG (Prisons) East Region, the prison authority under whose jurisdiction the Nagpur Prison falls. 

The official however merely received the memorandum and refused to respond to the issues raised by Saibaba. He did not even indicate any willingness to allow the essentials that the prison report to the court has stated that they were providing.

Immediate action is called for to protect the life of Dr. G N Saibaba and obtain his release.

 
 

 

Time Served: Discipline & Punish 40 Years On. CFP

Hey, you might want to go to this, even give a paper at this… get in touch with Sophie here.

11-12 September 2015, The Galleries of Justice, Nottingham, UK

Call for papers
40 years after it was first published in French, the impact of Michel Foucault’s seminal text Discipline and Punish on theories of incarceration, discipline and power remains largely unchallenged. The aim of this conference is to revisit the text in light of the past four decades of penal developments, public debate and social consciousness on incarceration as it continues to constitute society’s mode of punishment par excellence.
In addition to thinking through the legacy of Discipline and Punish and its continued relevance today, specific focus will be given to the text itself, its position within Foucault’s wider critical project and its important relationship with his activism most notably the work of the GIP [Groupe d’Information sur les prisons] during the early 1970s. For example, the publication in 2013 of his 1973 lectures at theCollège de France on La Société Punitive, calls for a return to this period and a new engagement with Foucault’s work on prisons, not least in its pursuit of a more openly Marxist critique of the relationship between incarceration and bourgeois capital accumulation.
Here, attention should also be paid to Foucault’s methodology in researching and writing the text. Discipline and Punish marks his movement from an archeological to a genealogical approach towards what he terms the ‘history of the present.’ What is at stake in this shift and how effective is his genealogical method for thinking through the material and discursive structures of incarceration operating within our own society and moment? How does the juxtaposition set up between the torture and killing of Damiens and the prison timetable of the book’s opening raise important questions not simply about punishment but the role of representation – images and narratives of incarceration – in framing public consciousness about the space of the prison?
It is hoped that the conference will bring together a range of participants: scholars working in the fields of philosophy, sociology, criminology, urban geography, architecture, history, literature, media studies as well as artists, writers and activists involved in projects based in and about prisons and their conditions.
If you would like to offer a paper or other form of intervention, please send us a 250 word abstract along with your name, e-mail and (if relevant) institutional affiliation. If you would like to organize a panel of 3 or 4 presenters, please also send a panel title along with the abstracts and contact details.
Deadline for abstracts: 1 March 2015
The conference is organized by Nottingham Trent University and will be held at the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham.

Nuh Köklü. Statement from Yeldeğirmeni Dayanışması.

Lun

Can a snowball hurt you?

Istanbul/Turkey

‘This ought to be a dream’ – Nuh Köklü’s dying words, after he was stabbed by a shopkeeper. The shop-keeper’s window had been hit by a snowball.

On Tuesday night, February 17th 2015, Nuh and his friends were taking part in a protest against the Internal Security package, which is in the process of being legislated by the AKP government. The Internal Security package threatens the democratic life of people, those who are not on the side of the AKP, by giving the police powers to counter unarmed protesters with live ammunition, and other measures.

The protest was not large – it was cold, peaceful, there were women in masquerade masks dancing, singing songs, talking. Amongst them was Nuh Köklü with his girlfriend and comrades from Yeldeğirmeni Dayanışması and Forza Yeldeğirmeni – local organisations, formed out of the Gezi-Park movement. Nearby a water cannon and a gang of police, greater in number than the protesters, ready to intervene – obviously they were expecting a much bigger protest, and therefore awkwardly standing around.

This took place in Kadıköy district of Istanbul, and afterwards Nuh and his friends were walking home, happy about the joyful and peaceful action, excited by the snow falling in thick flakes, they engaged in a playful snowball fight. The fun was suddenly stopped by a loud voice. The owner of a spice shop, his window hit – but undamaged – by a snowball, told Nuh and his friends to stop. ‘How dare they have a snowfight in the street near his shop’. Although the snowball hadn’t even left a trace on his window, the shopkeeper was furious.

Nuh and his friends were trying to calm the shopkeeper down, but he got more aggressive, swearing at the women of the group. This of course as everyone knows nowadays is a sensitive topic after the brutal murder of Özgecan the week before and the respective protests and comments of the President on equality and more. Next thing the shopkeeper took out a baseball bat from his shop, throwing himself at the surprised group. The group managed to take the bat from the shopkeeper’s hands, still trying to calm him down, ready to leave, but the shopkeeper got a breadknife from his store and advanced upon anyone in reach. A woman narrowly managed to duck from his knife, another friend of Nuh’s saved himself by throwing himself backwards, letting the knife only cut his coat. When the shopkeeper trapped a third person in a corner, chasing him around a rubbish bin, Nuh hit him from behind, but slipped on the snow and fell. The shopkeeper turned around and stabbed Nuh. Nuh stumbled away and his friends gathered around him, calling an ambulance, trying to stop the blood.

But the situation was far from finished. The shopkeeper didn’t seem to be surprised or shocked about what he had done, and continued to attack the people around him, shouting the words: ‘I have a psychology report, I will not be arrested and am going to walk free tomorrow.’ Then he retreated to his shop, washed the knife, talked on his phone, grinning self-confidently out through his window. By then Nuh was on the way to the hospital in a taxi, since neither ambulance nor police had arrived. When the shopkeeper came out of his shop again and was still aggressive against the gathering crowd of 150 people, he was restrained by the police.

Nuh Köklü died in hospital. His friends were questioned by the police. The shopkeeper was arrested. But still this terrible story is far from finished. During the questioning the police position towards the incident became clear and was expressed by some parts of the media the next day. The incident was portrayed as if a leftist group had provoked the shopkeeper, smashing his window, and the shop-keeper had stabbed Nuh in defence.

Nuh’s friends and their community are now beside themselves in grief. Organising commemorations and related events for Nuh, as well as insisting upon a true depiction of the incident and a just prosecution of the shopkeeper.

Security camera footage from the ATM by the shop is now unavailable, all that lawyers and the public can see is a recording from a student, showing Nuh defensively confronting the shopkeeper.

In Turkey today, Nuh is dead, our tears freeze in the cold, and the shopkeeper is comforted by a slogan of President Erdoğan, which says: ‘My local shopkeeper is soldier, police and judge, if necessary’

A snowball ended a life. A dream turned into a nightmare. But the ultimate responsibility for this lies with a government which encourages action, and even legislates police powers, which legitimizes aggression against anyone with a point of view that does not conform. This aggression not only stops playful fun in the snow, but also suppresses the aspirations of an entire generation – a generation able to see life in a society like this as a dream. A generation that wants to stay alive to dream a better world.

Let us support these people, let us remember Nuh Köklü, let us fight for just punishment of the murderer, let us throw snowballs at each other, not knives, water-cannon or bullets.

Please repost. Send consolidations, tweets, comments, pictures, anything related #NuhKöklü

Contact Yeldeğirmeni Dayanışması via yeldegirmenidayanismasi@gmail.com.

‘The Killing of Blair Peach, Anti-Racist Protest and Police Brutality’

Defend the Right to Protest present

‘The Killing of Blair Peach, Anti-Racist Protest and Police Brutality’
with David Renton and Tony Warner
Wednesday 15th October, 7pm

Hausmans Bookshop Kings Cross London.
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase

Blair Peach was a 33 year old teacher killed on a demonstration on 23 April 1979 at Southall against the National Front. He is one of just three protesters to have been killed by the police in Britain since 1945. He died from a single blow to his head by a police officer, as Peach was retreating from a protest which had finished.

In 2010, following Ian Tomlinson’s death, the government published the Cass report into Peach’s killing. Cass identified the six police officers who were present when the fatal blow was struck, and recommended that three of them should be prosecuted for obstructing his enquiry. The Cass report was never disclosed to the Inquest into Peach’s death, and its central reports were kept hidden for 30 years from the jury, from the press, and from Blair Peach’s family.

David Renton will be discussing his new pamphlet ‘Who Killed Blair Peach’ (published by Defend the Right to Protest, 2014) which sets out why exactly Cass reached his conclusions, how his reasoning casts a light on the identity of Peach’s killer, and calls for a fresh inquest into Blair Peach’s killing.

David will be joined by founder of ‘Black History Walks’ Tony Warner who will consider contemporary cases of police racism and brutality. Using archive footage, newspaper reports and personal testimony Tony will cover cases of black deaths in custody from 1960s to the present day, with relation to geography, community resistance, international history and white media representation of the ‘black body’.

About the speakers
David Renton a barrister and a member of the committees of Defend the Right to Protest and the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers.
Tony Warner is a historian and founder of ‘Black History Walks’.

PART OF ISLINGTON BLACK HISTORY MONTH

RELEASE JONATHAN BOARD – [Maoist] political prisoner in Kerala

Jonathan

India: Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners : An Appeal to International Community on behalf of Jonathan (Bold) Board

The Arrest of the Swiss citizen Jonathan Board who came to Kerala on tourist visa, by Kerala police on flimsy grounds, is highly discriminative and with ulterior motive.

After the arrest in order to justify the same Kerala police is fabricating canards, that Jonathan has link with Maoists and he has come to attend the memorial meeting organized by Maoists to show the respect towards the Maoist Guerilla fighter Sinoj who became martyr in an accidental explosion took place on june 16th of 2014.

The police also alleged that Jonathan addressed the meeting hence violated Foreigners Act.

The police has taken a case against him and incarcerated in the dungeon hole named Iringalakkuda Sub Jail,Thrissur District,Kerala.

I was the Chairperson of the Sinoj Memorial Committee that organized the meeting and was a main Speaker.

As the Chairperson I wish to state that Jonathan was neither an invitee to the meeting nor a speaker.

And he did not addressed the meeting as the police was trying to depict with a sinster view.

According to Jonathan, he came to the meeting only out of curiosity as he is a left lenient person.

He got the information of the meeting from an English Daily News Paper.

He listen to the speeches delivered in the meeting up to the end.

In the meantime he also purchased some English handbooks.

As the meeting was formerly over Jonathan himself approached the organizers and expressed his wish to introduce himself to the audience who was started disbursing.

Out of the same curiosity as the Chairperson I agreed to his longing.

He introduced himself and expressed that he also share our sorrow caused by Sinoj’s martyrdom. It was only a casual talk,any humanitarian from any corner of the World can express.

The police and the state which is a culprit in granting V.I.P treatment to the Italian marines who had violated the international water laws as well as Indian laws and shot two fishermen to death is now taking a different approach to meet their narrow political ends.

It is deplorable.

And I/We regret for the unfortunate faith met out with Jonathan, though created by state , and request to the progressive and democratic forces and personalities of International Community to intervene in Jonathan’s affair and put pressure on the India/Kerala governments and see that his release from the Jail unconditionally.

M.N Ravunni Vice President, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners
Kerala, India

Key ring terror distractor trinket

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Tucked in a side street in London Bridge today, a police stand handing out devices which I suspect.

I suspect an effort to distract from this evening’s BBCLondon report that Scotland Yard’s heavily redacted Operation Tiberius investigation covers up the exposure of 42 senior cops (and 19 former cops) for close links with drug crime and contract killings.

It is our duty, we are told: if you suspect it, report it.

J’suspect!

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On offer: this little show-bag of stuff from the dodgy non-uniform suits who refused to be photographed. I guess the key ring for terror is handy because I so want to be carrying that number around with me as a permanent anxiety reminder. That it came in what seems to be a used gram bag may only be coincidentally linked with the – let me repeat – exposure today that 42 members of the senior police were well paid crime syndicate stooges – as revealed in documents from Operation Tiberius previously heavily redacted by Scotland Yard but exposed tonight by BBCLondon.

The pen speaks for itself, was it previously used to sign payola cheques perhaps? I suspect it, so I report it.

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And this one just really is the perfect Fathers Day Trinket, no?

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FFS, I say, for fucks sake. Get these people a water cannon as soon as possible. Anyone need a news item to distract from the – did I mention – massive exposure of senior cops linked to crime syndicates?

Trinketization as damage control.

state execution by neglect?

This from Tom Henri. It looks to me to be an attempted State premeditated murder, aka Capital Punishment, for a minor offense. There is also an open letter to the Ministry of Justice, signed by various luminaries.

Scrubbed to death

Daniel Roque Hall suffers from Friedreich’s ataxia, this debilitating and fatal illness means he requires around the clock care.  In 2011 Daniel pleaded guilty to smuggling cocaine into the UK.  The judge sentenced Daniel to three years in prison, on the proviso that a prison place could be found which would meet his health care needs.  The Governor of Wormwood Scrubs (widely regarded as the London prison with the worst health facilities) stated that his prison could meet Daniel’s needs.  After three weeks of neglectful treatment in the Scrubs, Daniel was rushed to hospital and placed on a life support machine.  Without exaggeration, the care (or lack of) that Daniel received in prison nearly killed him.  His man has a fatal degenerate disease, he requires full-time care, he is no harm to anyone else and he need to be with his family – NOT in Wormwood Scrubs.  Earlier this week, Daniel and his family won a seven day reprieve on Daniel’s return to jail.

You can read more about Daniel’s story at http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/02/disabled-daniel-roque-hall-injunction-return-prison

Two Augusts and Several Monuments

Screen shot 2012-12-01 at 11.27.04Abstract for Lisbon keynote – On the Life and Afterlife of the Popular 4.12.12

Two Augusts and Several Monuments

To evaluate the popular, and its returns, I will contrast two Augusts of recent English summers. In 2011 there were three nights of youth rioting, which might otherwise be called a popular uprising that was both an expression of anger at austerity, and not without links to the student protests of 2010 and the various events in the wake of Tunisia and Tahrir Square that pass under the name of Arab Spring. Whether in Tahrir Square or in London these popular uprisings were met with significant and unpopular police violence. In the subsequent period, across the Arab world, and in London in August 2012, the policing of the popular has taken divergent paths. In August 2012 London’s major security effort was the operation to protect the Olympic Games, universally recognised as a success (despite problems with G4 and much carping before the opening ceremony). In Libya, Syria, and arguably Egypt, a less popular mode of policing, indeed a counter-revolutionary war, has been the order of the day.

I cannot make a full assessment of the Arab Spring in this talk, but note it as a context for a possible angular appreciation of what the Olympic Games achieved for London. To make a point about the politics of popular festivals I will do a Vasco De Gama (viewed from the tower built for Expo 98) and take three examples from outside Europe, intentionally looking elsewhere for perspective, and finding it in carnival (Mela) films from India. With a historical perspective drawn from Indian film theorists like Madav Prasad and Arvind Rajagopal a possible critical perspective on the austerity cycle of power and performance, bread and circuses becomes more clear. The Ferris Wheel of the Chicago World Fair, the Eiffel Tower and the London Eye will be associated images.

Contexts for Distraction (abstract)

abstract for an article with Tom Henri:

This paper discusses the events of August 2011 through our reading of a series of reports and responses by academics and commentators. These are critically and collectively evaluated as lacking insofar as we see the deployment of gang-talk, the promotion of role models, narrow-cast notions of race and platitudes about the justice system as a distraction from wider issues. Providing context for ‘reading’ the riots/uprisings, we suggest that at stake in each case we see the limits of a scholarly commentary that remains unprepared to address the conflict and turmoil of ‘Big Society’ austerity thinking.

Keywords: gangs, race, violence, complicity, distraction, crisis

Note for August paper

The so-called riots/uprising of August 2011 may not have been provoked as a dress rehearsal for possible disturbances a year later at the Olympics, but no doubt there were some police commanders who thought there were lessons to be learned. Similar opportunism without regard to civil liberties will have been involved after the student and anti-austerity demonstrations of 2010.

If there was a Left resurgence (!) it might fight for the permanent dismantling of any possibility of such state renegade/retrogressive opportunist – training programme/pogrom) activity. Suburb by suburb activists would show that Government legitimacy and its Police backing is unworkable. The youth of August 2011 actually already showed that, irrespective of analysis and theory. But now, rather than a civil war and decline into chaos, as engineered in Libya, Syria etc., here the uprising must dismantle authoritarian rule by repeating the ‘riots’ – cops on the back foot etc. In the absence of any Left initiative on this, the olympic jingoism was an insult but probably deserved – a pause, and advert, a product placement interlude – so fake. But they got away with it – so far. My Lords, the Nuremberg rally at the end, with George Michael singing ‘Freedom’ (tell it to Helmand Province) and Eric Idle mimicking ‘Indian Dancing’ with his ancient bullshit only the PM likes. Yes, its an ideological war made of bread and circuses – the major initial targets must be the compliant press and complicit broadcast media. What would it take to really close the Games?

Note: Our examination and condemnation of self referential commentaries as merely promotional is not an anti intellectual position, so much as it is an attempt to question the ways in which intellectual declarations, including claims for more and better analysis, are often left unexamined as regards the privilege of making, or at least publishing, any analysis at all. We have no illusions that our own work, insofar as it can be valued as ‘work’, is also subject to a certain privilege, even if we are not put forward as talking heads on Newsnight or pundit-writers on the Guardian’s Comment is Free.

* image = while Gove sells off school playing fields for profit, the aberration that is Cameron declares real sport under threat from ‘Indian dancing or whatever’ (Guardian 14.August 2012). The man is unaware and un-fucking-coherent. As a certain ma-in-law said: ‘wouldn’t it be great if the second half of the #closingceremony had been some huge Bollywood number’ – instead of the caricature it was. Did David Cameron do PE at school, or was his idea of exercise running errands for the dominatrix prefect for which he was fagging? Sorry, I have nothing but contempt for the weed.

August plus 1 year

Some sentences/notes that will probably not make the final cut of an article on the August 2011 uprisings, with Thomas Henri:

Further work to be done on:

–       the production of a class of pundit commentators more or less in the pay of property, capital, privilege and Bentham

–       that a lumpen-proletarian street-level analysis and insight seized the day, and did not have, nor need, theorists to spell it out (of course the break of exchange value and use value had its opportunist and adventurist moments, but so?)

–       that austerity as context is underpinned by a cynical neoliberal moralism where the coalition and its corrupt media mates in elite suburban and rural green zones, with draconian policing, prevail (as the Tory Taliban)

–       that signs of organizational impact spread terror amongst the already anxiously-guilty ruling classes, and their liberal allies, which could only be soothed on the third day with the deployment of Jenkels (we also note massing of Jenkels at Nottinghill Carnival later in the summer: just saying)

–       that there is an air of waiting, of anticipation, because everyone knows, with varied assessments, that this has happened before and can all easily happen again, and it’s the more likely consequence, and perhaps only the weather can save them

La Haine and Injustice double bill 6pm Goldsmiths 13.2.2012

La Haine and Injustice double bill

6pm-10pm Goldsmiths RHB 137a

all welcome

La Haine: dir. Mathieu Kassovitz, France, 1995, 97 mins

Injustice: dir Ken Fero & Tarig Mehmood 2001, 98 mins

these two screenings on police and deaths in custody in conjunction with the Centre for Cultural Studies, Capital course, Text and Image course and the No Borders Convergence. All welcome.

UC Davis Pepper Spray Surprise.

If you are gonna pull out your weapon, you gotta use it. For me, this means that there should not have been anyone arrested – those dragged off should have been retrieved. They let them off lightly – my meaning will become clear if you watch this all the way through, not just the first few outrageous frames.

If it will not show as an embedded frame, try: http://youtu.be/WmJmmnMkuEM

Plod Pods

The micro drone is not the only sci fi spin off boggling the goggles these days (its a hunter-seeker from Dune). This below, at first, I thought was a put up job. I thought it was mad enough to be a photo-shopped diss, but it seems all too true: as this story from Harlem, of course, confirms.

I was alerted to this new fold in the panoptic street-scape by Jeff Heydon, who owes us more text soon (Jeff?). And am thinking we need to watch the Star Wars films again to learn the tactics and logistics needed to topple these monsters.

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Movin’ On Up

A significant amount of my research deals with surveillance and the idea of the panoptic. That it is the current model for most first-world prison systems or that it applies to the datafication of the entire populous of the planet under the weight of the digital revolution is well established. What I find fascinating is the way in which the idea of the panoptic can indeed conform to different national cultures.New Yorkers are so often derided for being obnoxious, Starbucks-swigging, quasi-cultured faux-European poseurs that it’s genuinely nice to come across an example that indicates the Big Apple is just as capable of fusing laziness, an unnatural attachment to Star Wars (think of the AT-STs from Empire), the automobile obsession and the assertion of freedom through overt dictatorial mechanisms as the rest of the country. The following photograph, taken by an ever-vigilant friend of mine, will better illustrate my point:

What we appear to be witnessing in this instance (and, to be fair, I haven’t been thinking about this object for a very long time) is the stop-and-search equivalent of the drive-thru window. The realization that the guard tower can now be driven to the point of concern and the dynamics of the total surveillance prison can be enacted anywhere on the street adjusts our relationship with systems of power in two ways.

The first is obvious: the ability of the police to view, capture and develop a case against a citizen is mobile, technological and allows the traditional, permanently fixed globe of the CCTV camera to shift from one location to another location. The physical aspects of the city are less stable than before – our relationship with objects that indicate power no longer fits to the object/stable – human/mobile dynamic … or not as clearly as before anyway.

The second is a bit more interesting. SkyWatch (the name of the tower) offers an opening in our understanding of urbanity from a public perspective. The necessity of a tower that is mobile might function as an indication of the fallibility of a power structure that encourages us to think that it is omniscient. There is a desperation that emerges from this thing; the need to turn the urban landscape into a potential prison block at the drop of a hat might indicate to us just how much of the landscape is a permanent blind spot on the security system’s radar screen.

The use of SkyWatch is problematic at best. The option to erect a guard tower anywhere on an urban map at the whim of the police puts all of us in the position of a potential prisoner. With that in mind, it might just be how obvious this thing is that makes me chuckle at it rather than feel a genuine sense of concern. More likely, though, that’s an indication that I’m becoming far too comfortable with the sensation of being watched at all times for no good reason at all …

Dan Cull ‘Riot Pron and links’

Dan Cull has done the round-up, found thanks to a ping-back, its well worth circulating, for the record, so to speak. Thanks Dan. More news anyone? Look out for the next round up which surely has to be of prisoner support, and 10,000 articles condemning the Cameron-Clegg-Milliband-Robocop repression…

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riot pron and links

Chavez Campbell Predicted Trouble:

Eyewitness accounts:

The voiceless find their voice:

Anarchist perspectives:

Other viewpoints

Comics Respond:

Netwar:

Trade Union Response to Riots:

Community Responses:

Famous Academic Shows his Racist Side: 

✪ 11 more notes on ‘the disturbances™ in London’

The first 11 notes were here.

12. It is too easy to complain that the ‘rioting’ youth are merely obsessed with trainers and plasma TV. To say this misses the point, but it is more difficult for journalists to parse the process by which circulation, valorization, exchange, value extraction, surplus labour, alienation, and the fetishism that disguises social relations as relations between things operates. The ‘reporter-campaigner’ press is no longer on the job.

13. The insurrectionary youth seem to understand better than most what these goods are – theirs. They grasp the fetish character of commodities and the theft of property as time. In a radical way, the youth grasp, and break, the distinction between use value and exchange value. Fat cat neoliberals have thrived off expropriation, but now as the roosting pigeon heads homeward, with them having mortgaged the future to short-term gain, they seem perversely ignorant of causes. The sorry spectacle has them flapping about trying to fix the leaks where they see their interests and profits must be defended, as ever with a bolstered repressive apparatus, and having ransomed everyone else for their sorry survival.

14. In this context, jokes about ‘aggressive forms of late night shopping’ (ex cop on TV) are hypocritical ventriloquy of ruling class ideas, in that nearly every ‘older’ person I’ve heard talking about this first wishes the youth had a ‘cause’ (like they do!) but then wants to know where to buy one of these cheap hot plasmas, though without having to go to Tottenham for the pick up. Distorted and alienated interests are interests nonetheless – they are not the interests of Capital. Cut through this phantasmal comedy and it’s illusions of civic responsibility, morality and myths of political representation – contemporary Capital is nothing less than theft and plunder and should be hounded into the annals of history.

15. Lack of role models! The role models aren’t Kate Middleton and knowing what she wore, nor Beckham and his grooming products – the parade of privilege and property has them only as a window-dressing facade. The weapons trade, the mining industry, the micro-processing and conductor sweatshops, the off-shore processing zones, the anti-union, tax-free, labour intensive low-wage hell camps… These are the role models, also critiqued by the broken windows – the targets are tangential, but the sentiment is shared. Some are making the connections, and they are not just crusty old Marxists.

16. The youth hate the cops with good cause. Deaths in custody is a trigger, but stop and search, surly attitudes, bus dragnets, corruption, payola and more are not endearing plod to anyone. Defending prime property while letting lesser capital burn is an outrage, but expected given where we are just now in the volatile process of cyclical accumulation. The valorisation/conversion of expropriated surplus value through circulation within a stag-flationary recession that favours write-offs and fire-sales (primark, tkmaxx, budget airlines, and now many so-called ma-and-pa shops) means petit bourgeois traders suffer while big capital strives to recoup what minimal profit can be scarpered away before the fire sale season ends. The super rich survive, only slightly singed by scandals (dear Rupert), to then pounce to buy up the scorched earth as a bloody trophy upon which a new phase of accumulation is inaugurated. Class and location maps onto race and privilege to differentiate the cartography of valorised capital under this restructuring, so-called ‘crisis’ we are all in together. Some zones of manufacture and circulation entail very small margins with very large numbers – ahh, plastic goods – and if this mode of production, and a sharp end understanding of it, isn’t political, then what is?

17. The technique is refined in war. Invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and gleeful opportunism after the Arab spring (Cameron visits an arms fair) follows the model of army and camp followers. The cowboy corporations rush to provide security services, building contracts, democracy-capacity-building workshops…

18. We do not necessarily need commodity chain analysis or a critique of colonial history to understand that here and there, local and global are co-constituted in an embrace of death. Seems like only the politicians have a vested interest in saying this is not political – and they criminalise all youth, and all revolutionary zeal, with the same golden Bullingdon toilet brush (I am still reeling at Boris Johnson’s image of Britain as ‘a broken washing machine with black fluid leaking out the back’ – even disavowing this version he reveals his gutter mind).

19. The looting is not political because the youth pick up on a general discontent, it is not political because police tactics are repressive and biased and will be extended on the back of this, it is not political because parenting and family values have been lost back in some nostalgic fantasy of the good war, it is not political because the cuts to services mean there’s nothing else for the youth to do. It is political because all of the above make it an insurrection. Our very own intefada part one.

20. It is not a blind passages a l’acte, comrade Žižek. In his book on violence, Žižek says (after the deaths of Bouna Toure and Zyed Benna on October 27, 2005 and the thousands of cars set alight): ‘the fact that there was no programme behind the burning Paris suburbs is thus itself a fact to be interpreted’ (Žižek 2008:64). That this might be described as a ‘blind acting out’ seems itself ironic and myopic, even when SZ is correct to mock the sociological ‘search for deeper meaning or messages hidden in these outbursts’ (Žižek 2008:65), especially if these searches are undertaken from the comfort of the television viewing room. Žižek himself spends two further pages explaining that the youth wanted to be recognized as French, and yet locates this events in a particular and peculiar way. I expand the parameters of the quotation already used earlier:

“The Paris riots need to be situated in a series they form with another type of violence that the liberal majority perceives as a threat to our way of life: direct terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. In both instances, violence and counter-violence are caught up in a deadly vicious cycle, each generating the very forces it tries to combat. In both cases we are dealing with blind passages a l’acte, where violence is an implicit admission of impotence. The difference is that, in contrast to the Paris outbursts which were a zero-level protest, a violent outburst which wanted nothing, terrorist attacks are carried out on behalf of that absolute meaning provided by religion” (Žižek 2008:69).

We cannot be sure Žižek has understood Paris here, nor should we be detained by his assertion that religion is the absolute designation of terrorism, but the ascription of ‘nothing’ as the meaning of the Paris riots certainly suggests some problems with commentary.

21 Media reportage as the official line, paving the way for more cops, more repression, less commentary, less critique – we have long known the idea of the independent campaigning journalist reporter has been swallowed up by embedded, churnalistic, press release and sub-tabloid eaves-dropper automatons. Recycled heavy rotation police reports and edits (let me see more of Mayor Johnson being hounded out of Clapham by rightly angry shopkeepers). That this 24 hr news cycle stresses recycle of items is just yet another cut in the stagflationary moment.

22. The ‘Lumpen R Us’. Well, not quite, but it does not hurt to have an aspiration. In his early text ‘A Report from Hunan’ Mao praises the ‘Movement of the Riff Raff’ (Mao Selected Works Vol 1 p29). The ‘riff raff’ are the ‘utterly destitute’ lumpen peasantry who we find in China as:

“completely dispossessed … People who have neither land nor money, are without any means of livelihood, and are forced to leave home and become mercenaries or hired labourers or wandering beggars” (Mao Vol. I P 32)

Mao then provides a detailed report on the achievements of these peasants as revolutionaries able to transform an uprising into Red self governance. Mao’s ‘Report from Hunan’ is a great example of engaged reportage and it provides a more balanced evaluation of lumpen elements. His amusingly titled section ‘“Its Terrible” or “Its Fine”’ is equally judicious. Mao is praising the ways the peasants had banded together to dominate the landed gentry in Hunan, how their organisation established the basic conditions for a defence of the gains, and the template for the pattern of protracted guerrilla war. His unconditional approval for the ‘Movement of the Riff Raff’ is unstinting in its praise for the violent suppression of counter-revolutionaries. He does not ever want to say they ‘go too far’ when they defend the revolution (Selected Works Vol. I).

Thus – build the revolution…

11 more points soon

The first 11 notes were here.

The best 11 you should know by heart – the point is to change it.

Bouna Toure, Zyed Benna, chased by Police, and dead – comment by Abdellali Hajjat

On October 27 2005 in Paris, 15 year old Bouna Trouré and 17 year old Zyed Benna were electrocuted after taking refuge in a power station while being chased by Paris Police.

“On October 27th, Bouna and Zied died of electrical burns when they fled from the police. Riots broke out in Clichy-sous-Bois and other housing estates across France. This is the first time since May 1968 that there has been urban violence of this magnitude; it is also the first time that young people from the neighbourhoods have risen up together, realizing that they share a common fate. This fate can be summed up as having no future but unemployment, low-income housing, daily humiliation and police racism, a ghetto culture that makes us outcasts, but which on a certain level is also a source of pride, because it’s ours” – fromhttp://atouteslesvictimes.samizdat.net/ – accessed Dec 22005

Sarkozy called them racille – scum, rogues:

“But Sarkozy is not the only one who shows contempt for the popular suburbs. When certain “left-wing” leaders talk about “savages” or the “little Le Pens from the suburbs,” they are adopting the same approach of constructing dangerous classes. It is true that the social and political causes of the riots have been widely discussed in the French media (which for once avoided, for the most part, talking about the “fundamentalist menace,” unlike Sarkozy), but some left-wing sociologists and journalists also noted the “vacuum” or the political “desert” in the popular suburbs, where a majority of the descendants of post-colonial immigration live (either French or foreigners). They claim that France has been the scene of “jacqueries,” [translators note: “peasant insurrections”] like in the 19th century, carried out by the “lumpen of the lower proletariat,” “without class consciousness.” The implication is supposed to be that if some political force could only organize this rebellion, then all of its subversive potential could be directed in a revolutionary direction. From the comfort of their positions in the media and/or the universities, they do not hesitate to deplore the rioters’ “handicap”, for unlike class conscious workers there is no place for them in the Marxist framework. But in explaining this lack of political organization, they do not deal with the question of why the French left has been incapable of appealing to the people who live in the suburbs, and more specifically the fate of immigrant activists.” (by Abdellali Hajjat – France’s Popular Neighbourhoods Are Not A “Political Desert”).