‘This innocent country set you down in a ghetto in which, in fact, it intended that you should perish.’ —James Baldwin, ‘My Dungeon Shook—Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation’
‘A favela um inferno, Oh Jerusalém.’ —Asian Dub Foundation, ’19 Rebellions,’ a track about the Carandiru massacre
In 2009 Honduras was the site of the first military coup in Latin America since 1993. In 2012 it has become locus of the worst penal fire ever registered in the Americas. A blaze that started in the prison in Comayagua on 14 February killed upwards of 360 people at last count, including one woman, the fire department chief, and the brother of a police officer. In a prison overcrowded with 800 inmates it is extraordinary that almost half of them perished in a single night (it is not clear how many of the 465 survivors are suffering from suffocation and severe burn injuries). The last time a fire broke out in a Honduran prison was in 2004 when at least 107 inmates were killed.
(“Circle of Truth Hovering over The USA” by The London Police)
On police cooperation with the status quo and occupiers’ cooperation with the police
One of the most heated aspects of the Occupy mobilizations—from the Occupy Wall Street mothership to Occupy Boston (the base of my own direct observation) to Occupy Oakland (site of arguably the worst police onslaught thus far)—is their relationship or non-relationship to the police. Before launching a critique on that matter I wish to present two excerpts, one by a preacher in 1963 and another by a physician in 2011. It is very important that I mention their upstanding professions first, because of the troubling occurrence (and sometimes, though not always, establishment appropriation) of the anarchists versus everybody else. That this discourse is so recurrent in the shadow of a hawkish, conservative Democratic presidency is no great surprise, but rarely do we stop and seriously reflect on what this cleavage means about how we make sense of ourselves as a body politic. Physicians and the clergy are emblems of care and conscientiousness in polite society, while “anarchists” in the dominant lingo imply a shadowy group of subversives (usually men, usually white, usually angry), so it is from this intersection of seriousness of aims and moral purpose, regardless of the dictates of polite society, that I want to read Occupy and law enforcement. Neither letter writer has ever publicly avowed himself or herself an “anarchist” in the definition of the dominant lingo, and neither is a white male.