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Thursday, April 20, 2006

A potpourri and a call to action

Sorry for the delay in posting lately. My usual schedule has been hard to keep up with as my hours at work soared to 50 a week over the last three months! I did my best to keep up, but as I'm sure is obvious, I did kind of fall off there at the very end. Fortunately, though, the boss finally hired someone new, so I actually got some time off for a change. I've tried to keep the newswire updated this whole time, so hopefully that counts for something. I should be back on track now, and my hours should go back to a more manageable amount, allowing me to return to my regular writing schedule.

Anyhow, as many readers will know, I usually don't post personal information on this site, primarily because that's not what it's for, and secondly, why do the work of the police for them? But, this post will be an unconventional one, partly because I know I am long overdue, and partly because circumstances dictate it. Rather than my usual essay, this will be more of a potpourri.

First, I want to point out the coming anti-Minuteman protest this Saturday. Come out and give it to those fascists, who will include local racist celebrity JT Ready. For those who don't remember would-be Mesa city councilman Ready, check out this East Valley Tribune link. The mysterious case of the councilman who shot at an "illegal" and got away with it is moving through the courts, heading towards a possible deal - one which will likely keep the man Ready shot at, Efrain Martinez, in jail, while Ready remains free to attempt murder again. From the Tribune:
Martinez was interviewed by police and was read his Miranda rights in English, even though he warned them he couldn’t speak it well. Police failed to bring in a translator despite having Spanish speakers on staff.

In addition, Ready is a member of several civilian border patrol groups and a concealed weapons instructor. He has admitted to following a red truck full of what he described as “Mexican gangbangers” because he felt they were suspicious — something several local activists call “vigilantism.”

Marisol Perez, an attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said Arizona is a “hotbed” for civilian border patrol groups that try to take the law into their own hands. That creates a dangerous situation because vigilantes generally aren’t trained in law enforcement, she said.
For Martinez' side of the story, read this article, also from the East Valley Tribune. In it, Martinez, who sat in jail for almost three weeks before being assigned a lawyer (who was paid $165 for his service), explains his situation.
Ready has told police that he saw Martinez emerge from a red truck full of Hispanic passengers, point a gun at him and pull the trigger.

He said he shot back with his gun and called 911.

Although he admits having a BB gun, Martinez has repeatedly denied pointing or shooting it.

He said he was at a park shooting at plastic bottles with a BB gun he had recently purchased at Wal-Mart.

He was not with a large group as Ready suggested, but was walking by himself.

He also said he was not traveling with the people in the red truck. He said he doesn’t know them and that they approached him to ask for directions.

Then he saw Ready’s car approaching. It appeared to be following the truck. Martinez said Ready emerged from his car and fired a shot at the truck.

Martinez said he ran away and sought help from the red truck, but the driver wouldn’t stop. He called out for help in broken English to a police officer, he says.

Police pulled over the red truck, which had about 10 people inside, according to police reports. They searched for weapons and when they found none, they let everyone go. They were not questioned, although the driver told police she did not know Martinez — a claim that could have corroborated a portion of Martinez’s story.
Further, the investigating detective admits interviewing Martinez in English even though he knew that Martinez spoke little or no English. And, it seems, Martinez didn't even understand that he was being detained for anything other than an immigration violation and possession of a BB gun. That's justice in Arizona.

The protest starts at 2 PM at 23rd Avenue and Camelback in Phoenix. Aside from putting some heat on the racist Minutemen (who now want to build a private border fence), the event has the secondary benefit of being located right across the street from Rusty Childress' Buick dealership. According to a recent Washington Post article,
Rusty Childress, who owns a Buick-Kia car dealership across the street from the consulate, sees that long line every day, and it drives him to distraction. Childress has emerged as one of the leaders of the anti-immigrant movement, which includes the self-appointed Minutemen who patrol the border and even a group called Mothers Against Illegal Aliens. "Mexico is trying to reconquer this country without firing a shot," Childress says, and he is speaking without irony.

"We're just pressing the issue to enforce the laws that are already on the books," Childress says. People aren't supposed to cross the border without proper documents. Employers aren't supposed to hire them. The government is supposed to deport them, not provide them services. It's that simple.
There have been several protests in front of what I can only assume is Childress' public subsidy-free (consistency?) dealership over the last year or so, including one very large demonstration called by Immigrants Without Borders that was very inspiring to a lot of us who went. Childress was a major backer of Proposition 200, a racist law that, now passed, seeks to deny undocumented immigrants access to public services. La lucha sigue.

I'd also like to point out an interesting article in USA Today about the rise of municipal wireless and the technology's general failure to live up to the promises made to the public. The other day, I linked to an editorial from Marketwatch.com, in which John C. Dvorak points out what ought to be by now the painfully obvious limitations of free wireless, especially in the cash-strapped, revenue-crazy environment that dominates most city governments these days.

The interesting thing about the USA Today article is that it supports a claim I have made on here many times about municipal wireless. As a consumer technology, it hasn't delivered as promised. But, it turns out, that probably doesn't matter.
Firefighters, police and other officials in Nevada, Mo., are big fans of the town's Wi-Fi network, which helps them do their jobs while moving through the community of 8,600 people.

But that wasn't the reason the network was built in 2003. At the time, no traditional broadband, such as cable modem or digital subscriber line (DSL) service, was available in town. Officials built the Wi-Fi network, through a partnership with service provider NeighborLink Broadband, to provide access to citizens.
Municipal wireless is about increasing the power of the police in an era of globalization, where local middle classes in the core of the Empire have become less important to the maintenance of democratic capitalism. With this outright assault on what was the bulwark of American democracy (the white, reactionary middle class), something has to keep us all in place. The rise of the anti-immigrant movement suggests that the old white supremacist argument still holds sway in the working class, but the massive investment that elites have made in control technologies suggests that, in the new era, they may be hedging their bets. The rising precarity carries with it, of course, the implicit threat of revolt. And, as the prime enforcers of class domination, of course the police love it.

Obviously, I point this out not to make a defense of democratic capitalism or the middle class, but rather to offer more evidence of an economic transition in this country, and to advocate for a stronger anarchist analysis of it and the political responses of the elite to our resistance to it (without forgetting that they are the transition's prime manufacturers). Not many people, aside from the business press, seems to be looking at this transition too closely. This needs to change. The elites are clearly thinking about it, as evidenced just this week by the Department of Homeland Security's moves into RFID regulation of border crossers, as well as Wal-Mart Chief Information Officer, Rollin Ford, evangelistic endorsement of the technology this week. "There will be no slowing down. RFID will transform the way we do business," he said in a public statement.

Lastly, I would like to point out that I added a PDF of a new PI poster in the newswire. It's in a large format, good for display in a variety of settings. I'll be posting more in the weeks to come. As usual, your feedback, emails and article links are always appreciated.

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