What a Witch Hunt Looks Like

We were talking about witch hunts in the comments to my recent post on lynching and the use of the language of lynching. I said that it’s important that witch hunts threaten more than one’s reputation and that witch hunters use evidence or tests that are not logically connected to the supposed conclusion of witchcraft (among other criteria). To illustrate what we’re actually talking about, I thought we should not stay abstract about witch hunts any more than we were abstract about lynching: and if you haven’t read that post, it’s not abstract at all. That post cannot be more disturbing because of All The Racism, and this one is potentially less disturbing only because of the lack of pictures.

That said, in a world that includes witch hunting, it is important to discuss it honestly, to understand what a witch hunt actually does, what witch hunters actually do. It is every bit as important to understand witch hunting as it is to understand lynching. So, if you’re ready, I give you two short illustrations of witch hunting from the perspective of a victim and from the perspective of a perpetrator.

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This Is What Fascist Policing Looks Like: Sacramento

In a story receiving ongoing coverage on the blogs Systemic Failure and PINAC, a man was beaten, and beaten severely and viciously, for…

…well, it’s hard to tell if there was anything significantly influential in the lead up to the officer’s decision to beat the man named Nandi Cain. Well, anything that influenced the decision other than Cain’s Blackness.

As always, there’s a narrative here. Cain crossed the street at a neighborhood, uncontrolled intersection. The cop wanted to bust him for jaywalking. Cain acted submissively while the cop acted aggressively. However, Cain did not obey the precise instructions given by the cop. He took off his coat though the cop had not asked him to do so, and he also backed up a few steps as the cop moved on him. This backing up happened at least twice, though during it Cain kept his hands in the air as instructed.  [Read more…]

Fascist Governance: Multi-state Edition

ALEC is a long-condemned organization whose mission is to share regressive and theocratic legislative ideas between states. They have long advocated heightened criminal penalties for behaviors with relatively low social cost, or, in cases of public political expression, with actual social value.

I don’t know to what extent ALEC has been working on issues of shutting down protest and public expression, but it seems to me that the “leadership” of Trump is making ALEC less and less necessary. There is a zeitgeist, and that geist is haunting the Ebenezers in our state governments. There’s no turkey dinner for the cripples at the end of this story, however. The state legislators want to control us, every one.

While there are other topics I could discuss in terms of state legislative trends, I want to particularly call out this growing need to control speech through punitive legislation, through denial of remedy, and, yes, through simply killing protestors.

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This is What Fascist Policing Looks Like: San Diego.

What is the difference between a Steven Soderbergh who creates art including violent imagery and men locked away for an entire string of actual murders?

I’ve been reading about Brandon Duncan’s and Aaron Harvey’s lawsuit against the fascist policing of San Diego and the fascist police RUDY CASTRO and SCOTT HENDERSON: I’m having trouble figuring it out. Soderbergh has sometimes lived in San Diego. He’s definitely created depictions of violence there. Duncan and Harvey have lived most of their lives in San Diego. Duncan has certainly created depictions of violence there. Soderbergh, however, is not suing San Diego and the very, very clever cops Castro & Henderson for violations of federally guaranteed civil rights.

While Duncan, AKA (when performing rap) Tiny Doo and Harvey don’t mention Soderbergh in the complaint filed with the federal district court for the Southern District of California*1, it’s hard to escape the obvious conclusion. Brandon Duncan grew up in a gang-plagued area of San Diego with Aaron Harvey and other friends. Unlike many people with more money and more privilege, Duncan stayed in the same area as an adult. Neither Duncan nor Harvey were gang members in any sense, but they did know some some members of the Lincoln Park Blood gang (“LPK”). These men were people who grew up near Duncan and Harvey, and apparently they remained on friendly enough terms that cell-phone photos were taken of some of these LPK members and Duncan, Harvey or both in the same frame.

What did the photos show? They weren’t mowing down targets at a gun range. They weren’t smuggling drugs across the border. They weren’t, y’know, committing some horrible crime like waterboarding someone or something. Instead, they were merely chillaxing, or other such moderate behaviors as I am told one’s homies, on occasion, will tend to do with one.

But this did not fool the police.

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I would love to continue to rap, but these people have you scared to do anything around here.

Brandon Duncan and Aaron Harvey served eight and seven months in jail, respectively, because of the fascist policing of San Diego specifically, and the United States more generally. I’m working on a longer post about these two (ETA: This post is now up here), who just this week filed a lawsuit under the Civil Rights Act-established cause of action for official violation of citizens’ rights (42 US Code ss 1983).

The cases against Duncan and Harvey (such as they were) were different, though they arose out of the same underlying acts (acts committed by persons who were neither Duncan nor Harvey). The cases against each were ridiculous, and thrown out of court after the two had each spent months unable to post bonds of hundreds of thousands of dollars. While the one against Harvey is arguably much more scary in its plain overreach by police and prosecutors, the case against Duncan has received more attention.

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