Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage. These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that. Even though there are many more which I can’t include. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”
On Wednesday, a vigil to honor of the life of a transgender woman of color who died there was held on the streets of The Grove in St. Louis. About 100 people attended the candlelight event, and several staged a protest march down one street. During the vigil, a car drove through those marching. Fortunately, only minor injuries were reported. The driver was as of Friday in custody, charged with felony fleeing (I believe that’s the technical term there for “hit and run.”)
The deceased was Kenny “Kiwi” Herring, 30, who leaves behind a wife and son. The cause of death was a police officer’s bullet. There is (hardly surprisingly) disagreement between the official police account and the stories of Herring’s neighbors.
I don’t know anything about Unicorn Booty’s reliability; its address line merely indicates that it is a news source (all kinds of news) which addresses the LGBT community. However, the account is straightforward, free from loaded vocabulary, and appears to represent each party (victim, neighbors, police) fairly. The author links to the Twitter account of David Carson, a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where there is a discussion about the justifiability of running a car through a crowd of people.
I’m not sure what world a person lives tham who thinks that their personal annoyance (or avoiding it) is of more value than the lives of people in the street. The answer to the question, “Is (whatever it is that you are saying is wrong) a capital crime?” for many people appears to be “Yes.” Perhaps these are the same people who think White Christians are the most discriminated against group in the country. It has proven to be pretty well impossible for humans to get through to these people on a level of logic and reason. Megaera, maybe you have a chance.
In a way, it’s almost a relief to turn to a story where the actors are motivated by money. I can kind of understand that. We all need it to provide shelter, food, and other necessities of life. And many of us want a little more because we want to be able to have nice things. But – OK, forget I said all of that. Because I can’t understand wanting so much of it so badly that you need to make other people to suffer to get it.
We all know about the Governor of Florida, Rick
Voldemort Scott, pushing for drug testing of anyone who is desperate enough to want benefits in Florida, and pushing it long after it had been proved to be horribly expensive for the State, saving something on the order of $1 in benefit payments for every $1000 spent (that’s from very skimpy memory, so I’m sure the figures won’t check. But it was on that order of magnitude.) Pushing drug testing – while his wife was the owner of all the drug testing facilities used by the state. This story from Iowa is similar.
Judge Linda R. Reade was the chief judge of the Northern District of Iowa in 2008. Appointed by George W. Bush in 2003, she was married to Michael Figenshaw, who owned stock in both the Corrections Corporation of America (now CoreCivic) and Wackenhut Correctional Corporation (now GEO Group), the USA’s two largest prison companies) as part of his retirement account. Between Reaade’s appontment in 2003 and 2011, when Figenshaw sold these stocks, CA’s stock price rose 434%, and GEO’s rose 642%.
In 2008, in Postville, Iowa, the then-largest workplace immigration raid ever was sprung on the Agriprocessors plant there, which was, at the time, the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the country. Nearly 400 workers were arrested, of whom about 270 were sentenced to five months in federal prison. That was not usual in 2008. It was then customary to charge workers with civil violations and then deport them. So many people were charged that several federal judges, of whom the most senior was Reade, took nine business days to handle their cases. This was not done in courtrooms, but at the National Cattle Congress, a fairground in Waterloo. Five days BEFORE this raid, Figenshaw bought a lot more CCA and GEO stock – somewhere between $30K and $100K.
Not every federal prison is run by CCA or GEO – but a lot of them are. And in my opinion it’s not important to determine which defendants from this circus were specifically sent to CCA/GEO prisons. If they weren’t, they made it possible for others to be.
Judge Reade received a lot of flak for the circus-like atmosphere in which the proceedings were conducted, and for the fact that she had met repeatedly with ICE before the raid. Those meetings were put forward as a reason she should have recused herself. There were a couple of other resons put forward why she should recuse, yet she persisted (it isn’t always a good thing.) Had the stock ownership been publicly known, I’m thinking her failure to recuse might have led to her learning even more about those prisons – from the inside.
Today, dozens of people who were sentenced by Reade while her husband owned prison stock remain behind bars…. In January, Reade was honored for her decade of service as the top federal judge in Iowa’s Northern District at a ceremony at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids. She remains on the bench and has a lifetime tenure.
Tisiphone, do you think this is right?
Meanwhile, Alabama is proving that ignorance and difficulty understanding how government works are not confined to racists. Also, I suppose, that no matter how badly the group you are in has been treated, you can always find another group to misunderstand.
I probably hardly need to point out that none of this story would have happened had our entire country not gone nuts about public education and decided that the only way to assess how the schools are doing is through standardized test scores.
This leads to the spectacle of a State Board of Education member saying at a school board meeting,
“Is it against the law for us to establish perhaps an academy on special education or something on that order,” asked Bell, “so that our scores that already are not that good would not be further cut down by special-ed’s test scores involved?”
This led to a vicious Op-Ed at AL dot com, including
Bell doesn’t seem to have a clue about Alabama’s public education system for special needs students, but she is pretty concerned that those students “bring down” the rest.
Alabama has a process for building out IEPs consistent with LRE requirements. The underlying idea is that our students are better off in the classroom together. The idea that a SBOE member would even seriously ask the question about returning to a practice of institutionalization demonstrates a tragic lack of knowledge and thoughtfulness.
Now, I do think that the author of the Op-Ed may well be overreacting – both because I for one don’t even see “academy” and “institution” in the same ball park – and also because the Op-Ed author doesn’t seem to me to have established his own bona fides of thoughtfulness (he seems to think that Sessions hung the moon, for one thing.) And I don’t think it’s entirely Ms. Bell’s actual qualifications he has in mind, either.
No, I think the true villain of this piece is our national obsession with standardized testing – which has repeatedly been demonstrated to interfere with learning far more than it assists. And I don’t mean the testing interferes so much – it’s the obsession that gets in the way.
Weren’t we already fighting this battle when I was in junior high and high school? I don’t suppose it will ever be permanently settled, but maybe you, Alecto, can help calm things down a little.
I do have one piece of good news I want to share. In Colombia, the indigenous U’wa people, whose ancestral territory includes over a million and a half mountainous acreage in tundra and cloud forests, have long been displaced to a single reservation about a third of that size. They have been working, through legal means and community action, to reclaim some of that.
Last month, ten families packed up and returned to a location from which they had been removed in favor of salt mining. If all goes well, over the next six months, fifty more families will join them, and hopefully, they all can be incorporated into a new reservation.
This is important for us as well as for them, since their presence is the best insurance we have against further climate-destroying development. If you ladies have time to put on your Eumenides hats and drop by, maybe with supplies, it would be greatly appreciated.
The Furies and I will be back.
Cross posted to Care2 here.