Law and Disorder

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  • Law and Disorder: Law and Disorder August 10, 2020
    by brickforest@verizon.net (Law and Disorder) on August 9, 2020 at 5:00 am

    The Young Lords: A Radical History Protests in the streets in the wake of police killings of Black Americans have sparked a multi-faceted societal reckoning with racism. Challenges to entrenched systems of inequality and white supremacy are taking many forms, from the tearing down of confederate statues, to calls for police reform and the defunding of certain police functions, to Merriam Webster dictionary expanding its definition of racism to include structural forms of bias. Historically, the role of street protests is so intrinsic to reform in this nation enshrines protection for mass assemblies in the Bill of Rights. Yet one vibrant and impactful group of revolutionary activists in protest history has received virtually no attention, namely the Young Lords. The children of poor and working class Puerto Rican migrants who had been massively displaced from the Island of Puerto the US mainland after WW II, the Young Lords grew up in neighborhoods like the South Bronx and East Harlem,. They were radicalized by the civil rights and black power movements and the Vietnam War. This generation of socialist youth make it their top priority to bring about revolution in the US and on the island of Puerto Rico. Scholar and activist Johanna Fernandez's new book, The Young Lords: A Radical History is the definitive history of this militant group of community organizers. In a presentation at Baltimore's Red Emma worker cooperative bookstore in early 2020 Professor Fernandez discussed the long-lasting impact of their theatrical street initiatives. The Young Lords transformed the relationship between white people and people of color in the US, and made it acceptable to questions how the US government conducts foreign policy. Their activism has been credited for the the passage of anti-lead poisoning legislation in the city and they drafted the first known patient bill of rights--they did no in concert with nurses, doctors, and hospital workers at Lincoln Hospital which they occupied 50 years ago on July 14, 1969, to protest healthcare for profit in America and the poor conditions in the delivery of healthcare to black American and Puerto Rican patients in that Bronx hospital. As Professor Fernandez writes in her book, "The New York Young Lords formed part of a cohort of young working-class people--and people of color among them, in particular--whose unprecedented access to higher education sharpened their latent critique of society and afford them an infrastructure for dissent.....they challenged what many believed were old, soul-slaying social norms and standards of behavior that constrained personal freedoms in the U.S. Known collectively as the New Left, these diverse movements were built by a generation whose activism radically changed the cultural and political landscape of the United States." ---- Aerial Investigation Research Pilot Program And Persistent Tracking As the nation erupts in protests against racially-infused police violence, the Baltimore Police Department has just launched a six-month, day-time aerial surveillance experiment. A Texas billionaire has funded the project that is being operated by an Ohio-based company, Persistent Surveillance Systems. The plane flies overhead and records the movements of everyone in the city. Michael Harrision, Baltimore Police Commissioner, has justified the nearly $4 million experiment by saying, There is no expectation of privacy on a public street, a sidewalk. The Aerial Investigation Research Pilot Program is, by contract, limited to monitoring such felony crimes as robberies, car jackings, shootings and homicides. Images recorded are, in theory, to be used solely in criminal investigations and will be stored for 45 days. A first prong of the program was conducted covertly in 2016 under a different police commissioner. The ACLU of Maryland calls this initiative the most comprehensive surveillance of a U.S. city in history. ACLU Senior Staff attorney David Rocah said, Its the virtual equivalent of having a police officer follow a resident every time they walk out the door, and if that happened in real life, all of us would understand the huge privacy implications in doing that. Guest " ACLU Senior Staff attorney David Rocah has worked on a number of significant cases involving free speech, police misconduct, privacy, election law and more. In 2011 he was an inaugural recipient of the James Baldwin Medal for Civil Rights. David previously worked as a Senior Trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division at the US Dept of Justice, focusing on police misconduct and conditions in prisons, jails and other state institutions.

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