Loud cheers erupted in San Quentin housing units as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder and charges of the manslaughter of George Floyd. Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, an action that set off worldwide protests.
“That was the first time I ever rooted for the prosecution,” voices screamed over the five tiers.
More cheers and celebrations exploded throughout the nation when the U.S. Congress and President Joe Biden signed legislation to make Juneteenth (the final end of slavery) a federal holiday.
In spite of all the joy and celebration, Congress still has not passed the George Floyd Act that would ban police choke-holds, no-knock warrants and “blanket” qualified immunity for officers.
Republicans recently have taken the lead in voter suppression with new photo ID laws, limiting the number of mailing voter drop boxes, and the criminalization of giving food and drinks to voters standing in line to vote.
Some Republican-led states have also passed “protest” laws where it’s legal to run over protestors blocking traffic. What?! There are laws being passed to criminalize abortion, homelessness and transgender rights.
But there is no support for a bi-partisan commission on the January 6 Capital riot, where five people died, including police officers. It was just like any other day when people come to visit the Capital, said one Republican congressman.
Confederate flags were waved through the halls, boots were placed on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk, chants of “Kill Vice President Mike Pence” echoed in the halls, and congressmen and–women hid in chambers— yeah! That’s a happy day?
As some of us sit in prison slowly watching the silent criminalization of everyday society, what went underreported was that the New York Police Department marched a 70-pound police robotic dog through a Manhattan public housing complex, according to the New York Times.
The four-legged digital dog was deployed for a hostage situation, reported the Times. The robotic dog has been shown on videos running and dancing with human-like flexibility. It also is strong enough to tow an 18-wheeler.
There are roughly 500 robotic dogs in the field worldwide, said a spokesperson for Boston Dynamics (creator of the robots), according to the article. I grew up watching Robot Cop and Terminator in the ’80s and a lot of times the films did not end well. Just like in the movies, these robotic dogs are remote-controlled (by whom?) with limitless data capacity and cameras for surveillance. But this company said it doesn’t use artificial intelligence, noted the Times article.
There is legislation to ban the NYPD from weaponizing robots as well as drones. We will have to see how that goes. Isn’t it strange that these devices are being introduced into the communities of poor people of color?—where the outcry can be squashed.
Could it just be a testing ground for the rest of society? In prison, there are slight policy changes all the time that can have a major impact. So I can just imagine the effects of the new laws on law-abiding citizens.
Criminalization seems to be grounded in fear, blaming criminal justice and social reforms for the rise in crime. While most people released from prison, mainly former lifers, have processed their traumas and learned some form of emotional intelligence, these things have to be demonstrated to be released by the parole board.
But we are not teaching emotional intelligence in school. The country is busy debating if we should be teaching “Critical Race Theory” (the historical perspective of all races and not just Whites) in school. We have become so scared of each other—people believe their way of life is being threatened. These are the new “culture wars.”
The reality is if one shifts too much to the “Right” or too much to the “Left,” one would become off balance. So, are the country and the state of our affairs off balance? Have we lost so much of our humanity that we have to be guarded by robotic dogs? Why do I even have to ask the question?