[News] Obama Supports the Racial Surveillance That Killed Trayvon

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 24 17:14:33 EDT 2013


  Obama Supports the Racial Surveillance That Killed Trayvon

Wed, 07/24/2013 - 15:09 --- Glen Ford
http://blackagendareport.com/content/obama-supports-racial-surveillance-killed-trayvon

"/Blacks are hyper-surveilled from damn near cradle to the grave, both 
within and outside their communities."/

President Obama pretended to cross over to the Black side for a few 
minutes, _last week 
<http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/19/politics/obama-zimmerman-verdict>_, in 
response to near-universal Black rage at George Zimmerman's acquittal in 
the stalking and murder of Trayvon Martin. According to a Washington 
Post-ABC News _poll 
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/07/22/zimmerman-verdict-86-percent-of-african-americans-disapprove/?print=1>_, 
87 percent of African Americans believe the shooting was unjustified, 
compared to only one out of three whites. Blacks made their outrage 
visible in hundreds of demonstrations and vigils across the country, 
prompting even Obama's most hardcore apologists to beseech their icon to 
say /something/ to put the angry Black genie back in the bottle.

Beginning his performance with "Once the jury's spoken, that's how our 
system works," and an endorsement of the propriety of the trial, Obama 
half-mumbled _2,100 words 
<http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/19/politics/obama-zimmerman-verdict>_ 
designed to indicate that he is aware of "a history of racial 
disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the 
death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws" -- and then almost 
immediately washed his hands of the matter with the caveat: "The 
criminal code and law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and 
local levels, not at the federal levels." Stand Your Ground laws are 
something that might be reexamined "if they are designed in such a way 
that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and 
tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential 
altercations." Mostly, Obama was concerned with reestablishing "trust" 
in the system. "I think it would be productive for the Justice 
Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about 
training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of 
mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists."

"/The groundswell of furious Black protest forced Obama to recall a time 
when he used to be Black, too."/

Obama insisted, in closing, that "things are getting better" in America, 
despite the proliferation of _Stand Your Ground 
<http://www.propublica.org/article/the-23-states-that-have-sweeping-self-defense-laws-just-like-floridas>_ 
laws designed to justify precisely the vigilante murder and acquittal 
that occasioned his "impromptu" press conference.

The fact is, Trayvon Martin's death was quite ordinary, as was the 
impunity granted to Zimmerman -- once by cops, the second time by jury. 
What was extraordinary, was* *the groundswell of furious Black protest, 
a response so fierce it forced Obama to recall a time when he used to be 
Black, too.

His cop-out -- that most laws are made at the state level -- belies the 
fact that Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are champions of mass 
incarceration, insulating the federal prison system from austerity, even 
as he slashes Medicare and Medicaid budgets and the sacred cows of 
defense and Homeland Security. While state prison populations have 
declined, overall, mainly due to budget pressures, the federal prison 
system "continues to grow by about 3 percent a year," according to 
_Mother Jones 
<http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/obama-federal-prison-budget>_. 
For this administration, mass incarceration is top priority.

Filling up those prison beds with Black and brown bodies requires the 
maintenance and expansion of a monstrous system of hyper-surveillance -- 
the foundation stone of the Incarceration State. Racial surveillance, 
transforming whole communities into Constitution-free zones, is the 
feeder system of the American Gulag. It is the reason that one out of 
every eight prisoners on planet Earth is an African American, and that 
one out of three Black American men will wind up with felony records. 
Study after study has shown that young Blacks use illegal drugs with the 
same or less frequency than whites, yet Blacks are far more likely to be 
arrested and incarcerated for drug offenses -- due to massive racial 
surveillance. You find the crime you look for.

"/For this administration, mass incarceration is top priority."/

When the president told the nation, last week, that "African-American 
young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice 
system," he was attempting to frame white fears of Blacks as somehow 
practical and commonsensical, rather than racist. (Obama denied that 
racism is "endemic" to the U.S. in his _Philadelphia speech 
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/18/obama-race-speech-read-th_n_92077.html?view=print&comm_ref=false>_ 
on race, in March, 2008.) In the real world of pervasively racist 
America, Blacks are hyper-surveilled from damn near cradle to the grave, 
both within and outside their communities. "Involvement" in the criminal 
justice system is all but inevitable.

Hyper-surveillance places the assumption of guilt on the peoples and 
communities that are targeted -- which, in the U.S., means all Black 
people (even Barack Obama -- "until I was a senator," he said). 
Hyper-surveillance -- its justification and practice -- stripped Trayvon 
Martin of the presumption of innocence, marking him with a fatal 
presumption of guilt. _Two-thirds 
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/07/22/zimmerman-verdict-86-percent-of-african-americans-disapprove/?print=1>_ 
of whites still believe his death was justified, despite the clear facts 
of his innocence. That's why his death is ordinary -- because ordinary 
white people routinely condone such killings.

"/I think Ray Kelly is one of the best there is."/

And so, in practice, does Obama, despite his press conference theatrics. 
The president has high praise, and possibly a powerful appointment in 
store, for Ray Kelly, the New York City Police Commissioner who has 
overseen and defended over _five million 
<http://www.bqbrew.com/2013/04/11/nys-stop-and-frisk-election/>_ 
stop-and-frisks since 2002, overwhelmingly targeting Black and brown 
men. Obama is looking for a new head of Homeland Security. "I think Ray 
Kelly is one of the best there is," _Obama said 
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2013/07/18/would-obama-consider-ray-kelly-for-homeland-security-amid-stop-and-frisk-controversy/?print=1>_.* 
*Kelly proudly justifies his management of the 
Mother-of-All-Stop-and-Frisk operations, as intended "_to instill fear 
<http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/senator-kelly-stop-frisk-instill-fear-blacks-latinos-article-1.1304763>_" 
in young Blacks and Latinos that they may be patted down by a cop 
whenever they leave their homes. Kelly also created a massive program to 
_spy on Muslims 
<http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/raymond-kelly-defends-spying-calling-essential-safety-strategy-city-article-1.1032607>_, 
not only in New York City but in other localities, and arranged for CIA 
agents to be embedded in the NYPD to conduct domestic surveillance -- 
which is illegal.

Obama is, of course, well aware of Kelly's huge contributions to the 
cause of racial and ethnic hyper-surveillance, and has given his 
wholehearted endorsement. The First Black President encourages the 
killing of more Trayvons throughout the "Homeland," just as he orders 
so-called "signature" mass murder-by-drone of males of a certain age in 
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia (along with whatever women and 
children may be within the missile's kill zone).

The rage that forced Obama to don his "Black" identity must be channeled 
into sustained political action -- a Movement -- that directly confronts 
the dehumanization and targeting of Black America at its root: the 
mega-profiling of hyper-surveillance. Otherwise, it's all sound and 
fury, signifying...not much.

/BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at 
/_/Glen.Ford at BlackAgendaReport.com/ 
<mailto:Glen.Ford at BlackAgendaReport.com>_/./

-- 
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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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