Friday, February 17, 2012

Living in a Mayoral Police State: The Violence and Intimidation that Underlies New York's Emergence as a City for the Global Elite

No matter where you come from, New York is a great city if you have money. There are great universities and medical centers, unmatched theater dance and music, fantastic restaurants and cafes open all hours of the day and night, cool hip neighborhoods in Brooklyn Manhattan and Queens where you can sample the global counterculture, terrific architecture, beautiful parks, and interesting ethnic neighborhoods to visit if you are adventurous. But it is a very different city if you are poor, or a young person living in the hyper-segregated working class neighborhoods that cover half of Brooklyn and Queens and nearly all of the Bronx. There, the city's huge police force, unchecked by the law, the Constitution, systematically harass and intimidate young people through relentless searches, through armed sweeps of neighborhoods and occasionally of schools, and by the fierce and sometimes deadly application of force not only to major acts of resistance, but innocent, peaceful questioning of police tactics and motives. The result:- young people of color walk in fear in the neighborhoods where they live and in the schools they attended, and rarely dare to enter the prosperous neighborhoods where the global elite live, work, eat and enjoy the city's unmatched cultural opportunities. And this is exactly what the Mayor wants. A city where the working class majority is beaten, cowed, and fearful, providing the labor that keeps the global elite playground humming, but never disturbs that elite's reveries with their presence. Control is the key to Michael Bloomberg's New York, control of the streets through an overpowering police presence, control of the schools through a regime that uses testing and evaluation to compel obedience, not only on the part of the students, but of teachers and administrators as well.

Will this regime of control last? Time will tell. The Occupy Movement has made a small crack in this facade of omnipotence, but the Mayoral Police State, reinforced by the War on Drugs and the sol-called "War on Terror" is confident, wealthy and deeply entrenched and it will take a much higher level of protest than we have seen this far to bring even a modicum of democracy and human rights to the working people of this global metropolis

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