Saturday, September 8, 2007

This video is just further affirmation to my already deep-seated belief that the United States is under a carefully constructed police state. Disgusting and sickening.
I feel like I've had this conversation several times in the past year, and the thought just terrifies me more and more each time. Earlier today, I was sitting in Conway Park, Baltimore with a woman who worked as part of the exploited custodial staff in Camden Yards Stadium. The stadium is the largest employer in Baltimore of temp-workers (mostly homeless), and happened to be paying sub-poverty wages to their workers, for a quite a while.
I've been a volunteer to help this campaign by the United Workers Association (UWA) to get these people the living wage they are entitled to as workers ever since Maryland's passing of the Living Wage Act. On Thursday it was announced that there was a 4-1 vote on passing a binding contract to give these people what should have been rightfully theirs from the get-go. ["Cleaning Up After the Orioles"]

Anyway, so I was sitting with this woman who was apparently apart of the initial group of workers to bring this situation to light, and as we waited to direct people away from Conway Park to the new concert location behind the AFSCME offices in Pigtown, I was compelled to ask.. "What's next?"
She informed me that the UWA would be moving onto more worker violations in the area, as seen in the public schools and in jails and other correctional facilities. I'm all for worker rights, and believe that no one should ever endure any exploitative circumstances for any reason, but it's especially hard for me to find a soft spot for correctional officers.
Although I already knew the answer, I couldn't help but ask if they were doing anything for the exploited prison inmates. While it's somewhat of a controversial issue, they are workers, unconventional workers, but workers nonetheless. Since they are essentially forced into slave labor to rebuild roads and participate in other physically demanding tasks, I would have to say they fit the criteria. And not to mention the constant violence they face either from fellow inmates or more often by the police. How can we ever expect to move away from the escalation of crime in this country when, during their time in 'correctional' facilities, the police (the only figures they make contact with regularly) perpetuate violence in a persisting manner? This is leading by example? It's maddening!

While I truly hate to generalize and lump people into stereotypes, correctional officers tend to fall into a group of individuals in this country that start out as well intended people, just trying to do the right thing. Without much time they turn into overwhelming beasts of ego and instead of helping the people they set out to initially protect, they now seek out those same people to harass and wrongfully punish, all in the name of the law. A person tends to forget their ethical boundaries when they're saturated with such a tremendous amount of authoritative power. Examples:
Amadou Diallo
Human Rights attorney, Michael Tarif Warren and wife Evelyn Warren
Raymond Smoot
Abu Ghraib

It's wildly terrifying. It's especially terrifying that there are laws in place specifically set to protect police interests, and really none at all to curtail indiscretions committed by the police and other law enforcement officials.

This is all withholding police actions at protests. Those are the scariest of all, and pose the greatest potential threat to myself. Protesters very rarely act in a violent manner and for the most part assemble in the most peaceable way possible. It boggles my mind why the police have historically always reacted to protesters in the most brutal way in an effort to protect institutions that go far beyond protecting themselves. I have a guess, but I'm hoping that I am just hopelessly wrong.


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