17 February 2012

Guest Post #2: Living In A Mayoral Police State

Living in a Mayoral Police State: The Violence and Intimidation that Underlies New York's Emergence as a City for the Global Elite
by Mark Naison, Ph.D.

No matter where you com 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, 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. 

Image source: www.skyscrapercity.com
There, the city's thug police force, unchecked by the law or 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 attend, 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 so-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.

Mark Naison, Ph.D.
Professor of African American Studies and History
Fordham University
Author Bio: Dr. Mark Naison, Ph.D., is Professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham University (NY) where his course, "From Rock & Roll to Hip Hop: Urban Youth Cultures in Post War America," is extremely popular.. Mark is also Director of the Bronx African American History Project at Fordham. An acclaimed advocate for social justice and education, Mark also publishes op-ed columns in The Washington Post. His book, White Boy, A Memoir (2002) holds a 5-star status on Amazon.com.

Connect with Mark:
Facebook: Mark Naison
Twitter: @McFireDogg
Blog: With A Brooklyn Accent
Wikipedia: Mark D. Naison

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