Monday, December 19, 2011

Uh oh, Sheriff Joe. Hello Mr. Harper.

The US Department of Justice has issued a report taking the bigot Sheriff Arapaio of Maricopa to the cleaners. The document makes really interesting reading in its descriptions of the systemic profiling and abuse of Latinos in Maricopa county. Hispanic residents are routinely and disproportionately targetted through random arrests and harassment by Joe Arapaio's deputies. It makes for interesting reading, and one does start to wonder how long the miserable little prick will remain outside of his own prison cells.

But something else struck me when I read the following bit on pages 11 and 12.

Contrary to standard policing practices throughout the country, MCSO supervisors have made a variety of statements undervaluing the usefulness of statistics and data collection for effective law enforcement. MCSO does not require deputies on patrol to keep a log of their activities, but instead requires them only to enter a highly limited amount of data into the Computer Aided Dispatch system and to produce records only for their citations and arrests. Consequently, whenever one of its deputies stops a motorist without issuing a citation, MCSO cannot review the basis for the stop, nor can it directly track the ethnicity of the stopped driver. MCSO's decision to allow its deputies to go about their traffic work without having to report many of their stops ensures that MCSO will be unable to properly monitor its deputies' traffic work or identify officers engaged in racial profiling. In the jails, MCSO has no reliable practice of documenting which inmates are LEP, leaving detention officers to guess at the language needs of the inmates.
MCSO has failed to put in place meaningful oversight and accountability structures. Such structures include systems for documenting deputy or detention officer activity and for handling complaints. MCSO departs significantly from generally accepted policing standards in its implementationof these systems...Consequently, MCSO does not track complaints directed at deputies or units within the organization. Further, because deputy misconduct often reflects poorly on the actions or inactions of the first-line supervisor, MCSO's system of relying on first-line supervisors places the critical determination of whether to go forward with an investigation in the hands of someone who has an inherent conflict of interest in having a matter thoroughly investigated.
I was reminded of the Harper regime's behaviour around information and data. They are as know one of the most secretive governments this country has ever seen. They ignore crime statistics and research and dismiss the heretofore mandatory nature of census compliance. They deal in smarm and lies about climate change and economics. They target women and, like Arapaio, visible minorities, in direct spite of the Constitution.

The obvious rationale here is that the Harper government does not care for the collection of information which may contradict their claims and policies. But if you look at the example Arapaio's goons, without detailed records of their actions or the requirement to keep them, they gain greater licence for individual thuggery.

Like Arapaio's department and the Hispanic population Maricopa County, the Harpermacht sees itself at war with most of the Canadian population in general and specifically certain groups within it such as women, LGTBQ identified people, Aboriginals, and Muslims. Two things happen here.

First, "winning" any war tends to involve a great deal of effort to destroy the command, control, and communication systems of the enemy, and strike fear and disarray into rank and file. Dismantle or defund, women's groups, target Muslims with legislation and rule changes, and seize control of troubled First Nations communities. These tactics do great harm to the capacity of target groups to organise and collect intelligence and use it against their harassers.

Second, these tactics strategically socially 'other' the target populations and make it permissible to openly discredit them in the public discourse. The frothing nutters gain implicit permission to froth and nut. Over time, the enemies become de facto second class human beings and citizens. Sure they might officially have the same rights and privileges as everyone else, but when they are publicly and specifically named and sanctioned by the government, it sends a message that is is now OK to discriminate against them. This discrimination then becomes much harder to show as the government will have eliminated funding and resources (e.g. Census) that can be used to show explicit or systemic bias.

We're a hopefully a long way from angry mobs torching neighbourhoods, let alone pink triangle or yellow star arm-bands, but the combination of these elements with this government points us in that direction. They've already trialled mass detention in Toronto and now they're building mass prisons. They've put forward legislation that compels prison for minor and victimless offences. Whether there is calculated intent or this is simply the nature of reprehensible people who cannot help themselves, they are fast creating the social and legal infrastructure for a very dark turn.

4 comments:

Beijing York said...

I too share your fear, Boris.

Too many people seem to forget the radical conservative beliefs that gave rise to the Reform Party. The racist, homophobic, misogynist and religious fundamentalism was the glue that bonded them. That part of their background history seems to have been purged.

The sanitized version is little guy populism, libertarianism (hatred for government interference, taxation and regulation), western/rural alienation and tough on crime. And the emergent Conservative Party has not been tempered by a "merger" with the Tories. That farce was a corporate raid by the Alliance as led by Harper. The last PC standing is that lying, entitled traitor MacKay.

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