on the birthday of angela davis, the new york times promotes more profiling and police

by Tim Phillips

In 1970, the FBI put known radical Angela Davis on its Ten Most Wanted list, because a kidnapping intended to free three inmates turned into a fatal shootout and involved a gun registered in her name. She went underground for approximately two months, was captured, and was incarcerated for 16 months while awaiting trial. An all-white jury in San Jose, California, acquitted her of all charges in June 1972.

Davis subsequently helped start Critical Resistance (CR), an organization dedicated to abolishing the prison industrial complex, which CR defines as the “overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.” As today’s New York Times article by John Tierney points out, “the United States has the world’s highest reported rate of incarceration.” Tierney’s article supports hiring more police officers and focusing on ‘high-crime’ areas to prevent crime from occurring, as a way to reduce the number of people sent to prison.

Yet that approach would result in even more intense police surveillance, further controlling people through the fear of violence or punishment. Davis, in contrast, supports drug treatment and mental health programs, demilitarized schools, a living wage, and decriminalization of specific populations (e.g., undocumented immigrants). According to Generation FIVE, we can “organize and expand community-based models of justice that move beyond restoration of ‘normal’ conditions and instead seek to transform the conditions that perpetuate … forms of violence.”