Friday, October 26, 2018

What do police even do?

This was never really true but there are some old fashioned folks still among us who prefer to think the police should investigate crimes when they happen and otherwise stay out of the way.  Maybe help some old ladies cross streets every now and then.  I guess it's still okay to do the wobble at Mardi Gras. Maybe let's try to get away from that if we can, though.

Again, it's never really worked that way.  American police forces have always existed primarily to protect rich people's property. This has meant everything from tracking down runaway slaves to quashing working class labor and political organizing efforts. Chiefly the police exist to enforce order, most often by means or threat of violence.

There's a quote most often ascribed to Huey Long on the question of whether or not we'd ever have fascism in America. Huey is believed to have said,  "Of course we’ll have it. We’ll have it under the guise of anti-fascism.”  Today we have as violent and sophisticated a police surveillance state as we've ever had. We've allowed it to grow under the guise of "anti-violence."
The city had been using the software since 2012. But in March, former mayor Mitch Landrieu declined to extend the Palantir agreement for a fourth time. And current Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she would not revive it.

Cantrell has kept that promise, but documents obtained by The Lens show that her administration is in the beginning stages of developing a new tool for identifying likely victims and perpetrators of gun violence, partnering with the same criminologist whose research formed the foundation of the Palantir software.

The tool is being developed by the New Orleans Gun Violence Reduction Council, which Cantrell created in May.

In an August op-ed published by NOLA.com, Cantrell said that the council’s central task is “to come up with a plan to execute the violence reduction recommendations produced by my transition team.”
See we have to train cameras on you 24/7 and plug everything we know about you, your friends, your shopping habits, grades, work life, etc. into our algorithm that predicts the future in order to protect you.  This isn't about keeping you in line. This stuff is for your own good, don't you know? Here please enjoy a relaxing session in our meditation room. It's right here behind the metal detector.
Steps from the walk-through metal detector inside New Orleans City Hall are a few beige recliners in a small, softly lit room, where an attached office allows social workers, ministers and other faith-based volunteers to lend an ear to the public and connect people to the city’s spectrum of care.

On Oct. 25, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, city officials and area faith leaders cut the ribbon for a “meditation room,” what Cantrell says is a “safe space for our people to come, to reflect, even to seek counsel if they need it.”
Don't be afraid. We want you feel supported and safe and... wait a minute... looks like we're going off script a little bit.
Another council member, Nathalie Simon, suggested increasing law enforcement resources and capacity for deterrence. “If we solve more crimes, less likely to feel like you can get away with it,” the meeting notes say. Simon is a special council at Laitram, a Harahan-based manufacturing firm.

Even in the absence of an official role in the program, it’s unclear if there’s anything that would prevent the NOPD from accessing the data and identities produced by the new program for its investigations.
Alright we just want to keep you in line, okay?  Does that mean the police have their eyes and ears on everything you do or say? Maybe. "It's unclear if there's anything that would prevent" that.

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