As is the pattern for so many growing towns, my home of Dripping Springs, TX now bristles with cameras. The latest is a rolling ticketing machine presented as part of a school zone safety program. American Traffic Solutions operates the machine. For a taste of their reputation, check out reporting on their activities in Scottsdale, AZ. Revenue enhancing relationships between local government and companies like ATS deserve skepticism. Safety is often a cover for cronyism. We need some journalism in this town. Who is making what off of this deal? Who is spending the generated revenue, and on what are they spending it? What non-revenue generating methods were considered and dismissed?
Originally posted on Longreads Blog:
In 1968, essayist, novelist and activist James Baldwin spoke with Esquire about racism in America, Dr. Martin Luther King, poverty and police brutality. In our current era of high profile police violence in communities like Ferguson, Missouri, and protests in Baltimore, Maryland, Baldwin’s words sound as prescient and, unfortunately, fresh as they did forty-seven years ago, proving the slow pace of progress in America, and how much hard work we have left to do. Below is an excerpt from the interview:
Q. How would you define somebody who smashes in the window of a television store and takes what he wants?
BALDWIN: Before I get to that, how would you define somebody who puts a cat where he is and takes all the money out of the ghetto where he makes it? Who is looting whom? Grabbing off the TV set? He doesn’t really want the TV set…
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Some of my favorite civil liberties books from the past decade-ish.
Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces
Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age
The Torture Report: Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program
The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power
False Idol: Barack Obama and the Continuing Cult of the Presidency
State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration
Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War
Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent
Carry On: Sound Advice from Schneier on Security
Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield
No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State
Humane and Pro-Growth: A Reason Guide to Immigration Reform
Justice Brennan on no-knock raids, castle doctrine, and the Fourth Amendment in Ker v. California.
The recognition of exceptions to great principles always creates, of course, the hazard that the exceptions will devour the rule. If mere police experience that some offenders have attempted to destroy contraband justifies unannounced entry in any case, and cures the total absence of evidence not only of awareness of the officers’ presence but even of such an attempt in the particular case, I perceive no logical basis for distinguishing unannounced police entries into homes to make arrests for any crime involving evidence of a kind which police experience indicates might be quickly destroyed or jettisoned. Moreover, if such experience, without more, completely excuses the failure of arresting officers before entry, at any hour of the day or night, either to announce their purpose at the threshold or to ascertain that the occupant already knows of their presence, then there is likewise no logical ground for distinguishing between the stealthy manner in which the entry in this case was effected, and the more violent manner usually associated with totalitarian police of breaking down the door or smashing the lock.
Back in 1963, Brennan was prescient on no-knock raids and police militarization. See chapter four of Rise of the Warrior Cop for more.