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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Filtering by Tag: activism

The Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition at SFC

Nickie Phillips

Solitary confinement is torture...and should completely be abolished.
— Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition
The Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition - SFC March 12, 2016

The Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition - SFC March 12, 2016

The Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition - SFC March 12, 2016

Stonewall Uprising: "It was the Rosa Parks moment"

Nickie Phillips

Stonewall Uprising:

"It was the Rosa Parks moment," says one man. June 28, 1969: NYC police raid a Greenwich Village Mafia-run gay bar, The Stonewall Inn. For the first time, patrons refuse to be led into paddy wagons, setting off a 3-day riot that launches the Gay Rights Movement.

Told by Stonewall patrons, reporters and the cop who led the raid, Stonewall Uprising recalls the bad old days when psychoanalysts equated homosexuality with mental illness and advised aversion therapy, and even lobotomies; public service announcements warned youngsters against predatory homosexuals; and police entrapment was rampant. At the height of this oppression, the cops raid Stonewall, triggering nights of pandemonium with tear gas, billy clubs and a small army of tactical police. The rest is history. (Karen Cooper, Director, Film Forum)

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Go here for Nonfics 10 best documentaries about LGBT history.

And, don't miss How To Survive A Plague

Live Stream - The Internet and Free Speech: A Preview of The Internet’s Own Boy Event

Nickie Phillips

The Paley Center will host The Internet and Free Speech: A Preview of the Internet's Own Boy.   The Live Stream will be held at 8:20 pm ET/5:20 pm PT.

For information and tickets to the live event in NYC, go here.

The Internet and Free Speech: A Preview of The Internet’s Own Boy

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 6:30 pm New York

...Variety has stated that the film “may be the most emotionally devastating movie ever made about hacking and the freedom of information....

The event will include:

Brian Knappenberger, Director Christopher Soghoian, Principal Technologist, Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, ACLU Jane Hamsher, Publisher, FireDogLake.com Moderator: Tim Wu, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director, Program on Law & Technology, Columbia Law School

Go here for more information.

Lineage Project: Yoga and Meditation for At-Risk Youth

Nickie Phillips

The Lineage Project, in partnership with Laughing Lotus Yoga Center,  is hosting a raffle to increase their yoga and meditation classes for at-risk, court-involved and incarcerated youth.

Go here for more information.

The Lineage Project:

Through yoga, meditation, discussion and other mindfulness techniques, we help young people to value themselves and feel that they can make a lasting and important contribution to their communities.

We work in juvenile detention centers, alternative-to-incarceration programs and public schools for struggling students.

Tickets are only $10 each or 12 for $100. They can be purchased online or at the Front Desk at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center.

Please note: YogaTeesNYC is donating 10% of all sales to Lineage Project until the end of the raffle on June 22.

 

 

Bearing Witness: Art and Resistance in Cold War Latin America

Nickie Phillips

June 2, 1986, =

Wednesday, 7th of May, 2014 from 5:30pm-7:30pm

Attend the opening of the exhibition Bearing Witness: Art Resistance in Cold War Latin America.

The exhibition runs from May 8, 2014-September 12, 2014

at ANYA AND ANDREW SHIVA GALLERY JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, CUNY 524 WEST 59TH STREET L2.73.14 NEW YORK, NY 10019

Gallery Hours: 1pm-5pm, M-F, or by appointment

While censorship, kidnapping, torture, and murder became common tactics for repressive governments throughout Latin America during the Cold War, many artists from the region responded by producing poignant works of art that speak out against these atrocities. This exhibition brings together three distinct bodies of work that do so through documentation, poetic subversion and revelation.

The Expansionary Nature of Governance Through Fear: Is it Worth it?

Nickie Phillips

NTAS

Part 5 of 5 in a series on Risk-Logic and the War on TerrorAditi Gupta, Guest Blogger

Over the last four weekly posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part, 4), this blog series has been exploring the profoundly social impact that risk-based security policy has on our everyday lives. In using Selchow’s framework, I’m not trying to say that we have no agency in this process, and that we are helpless to stop it – quite the contrary. I feel only individual choice will reverse the trajectory of securitization, suspicion and fear that currently dictates how we view the risk of terrorism. By zooming in on the dynamics of depoliticization, responsibilization, and the separation of political decision-making from actuality, I have tried to break down the main pillars of what risk-logic does when it is the main force driving the governance of threats. I believe if we can understand objectively the forces at play within the networks of power that we engage in, we can decide for ourselves whether viewing the problem of terrorism only in terms of the risk of an attack and not the reasons behind one is benefiting our lives. Is this what we want for our future?

This question feeds in to the last dynamic of risk that is engendered by the dispositif of precautionary risk (DPR) mode of governance: expansion. As Selchow explains, the logic of risk implies an imperative to act. It is this dynamic that spurs the expansion of security; the UK government thus cannot not act. As we can see in the U.K., this dynamic inevitably feeds a process of ever-expanding securitization whereby increasing areas are deemed to harbor security threats. In the UK this can be seen in a variety of ways, stemming from the four rationalities driving the DPR. For example, this can be seen in the shift of the debate around tackling terrorism from addressing violence to extremism, from the physical to the imagined. This shift is one that has essentially ensured the securitization of potential thoughts.

It is no longer necessary for someone to physically carry out an act, suspicion of intent is enough to necessitate punishment. This perpetuates a discourse of ‘misunderstanding’ (as outlined last week) that produces normalized ways of engaging with this perceived risk. In other words, due to the perpetuation of the innate ‘bad’ label given to the archetypal religious Muslim, society is more likely to accept further curtailments on ‘their’ rights. As these risk-based decisions are not ‘tamed’ by an accompanying actuality or any hard evidence beyond the perception of ‘riskiness’, this form of thinking will always produce a sense that there are further uncertainties to be tamed. This can be seen in the steady expansion of who is deemed ‘risky’ since 9/11. From 2001-2005, external, foreign elements were seen to be the primary threat, resulting in the rapid securitization of the immigration system to target asylum seekers and immigrants (Amnesty, 2010). After 7/7, however, threats were expanded to include the panoptic surveillance of British citizens to target ‘home-grown’ enemies. Since then, the yearning for ever greater knowledge has spurred the extension of surveillance to health clinics, schools and universities where doctors and teachers are expected to inform on those under their care. (Liberty, 2007).

Mahdi Hashi

The pre-emptive nature of policies deployed by the DPR means that information is always, and always will be, incomplete. However, the desire to project the appearance of control has led to policies based on the expansion of ever-more vague offenses such as the offenses of ‘glorification of terrorism’ and ‘indirect encouragement’, and non-prosecution constraining measures, such as the Terrorism Prevention Investigation Measures (TPIMs [Annex 3]), in order to trap those who are suspected, but do not meet the evidentiary threshold required to be charged. Indeed, the acute suspicion of foreign nationals suspected of ‘extremist’ thoughts but not guilty of carrying out any criminal act, has very recently led to an expansion of executive power to enable the stripping of any naturalized citizen’s British citizenship. In recent years, this citizenship stripping has enabled governments to stick to the dogma of zero-risk and assassinate terror suspects through targeted drone strikes: if the suspect no longer exists, there’s no need to deal with the problematic prosecution of a crime that hasn’t been committed yet.

How this dynamic effects resistance: power dynamics

Consistent with the other dynamics, this process also precipitates at both the micro and macro levels. At the macro-level, Liberty articulates, ‘politicians feel like they need to be seen to be doing something in response to the terrorist threat, regardless of whether it wise…counter-productive…whether it’s entirely unnecessary’. Amnesty International United Kingdom (AIUK) has commented on the difficulty of fighting expansion of policy due to the combination of future temporality, secret evidence and use of vague offenses. In a 2012 Amnesty International report, resistance to this is seen as ‘shadow-boxing’ where ‘you have no idea if your strategy and points are on the money or wide of the mark’. AIUK has documented how the ‘seepage’ of the use of secret evidence in the U.K. has managed to dampen the successes gained in chipping away the system of pre-charge detention down to TPIMs, becoming an ever-more permanent feature of the civil sanctioning system with the institutionalization of the Justice and Security Act.

Reprieve and CagePrisoners demonstrate the importance of micro-resistance in direct ways with the public. CagePrisoners urge those affected by the expansion of risk-based policy to come directly to them to seek justice together, as well as share individual every-day experiences of these policies on a specially created website ‘www.schedule7stories.com’. They explain that this was done so that Muslims themselves could understand that these policies were not just based on racism, but part of a much bigger problem of governance, thus recognizing the importance of engaging with the macro-level debate.

SoapBNPS_450x350

Reprieve has aimed to expose the sheer expansion of War on Terror policy such as the rendition network through the invasion of public space. For example, through teaming up with cosmetics company, LUSH, and lingerie designer, Agent Provocateur, images of Binyam Mohammad and Sami al Haj appeared in LUSH High Street windows, bath bombs and even on the runway through underwear that stated ‘fair trial, my arse’ (Reprieve, 2008). The use of humor in conjunction with this micro-level contact had a powerful impact that made the name ‘Binyam Mohammad’ shorthand for U.K. complicity in rendition and torture.

The importance of humanizing the nature of risk-based policies at the micro-level and not just applying political pressure at the state and transnational level is caught up in the significance CagePrisoners gives to the role of ‘misunderstanding’. If individual assumptions are not targeted – whether they be about misunderstanding the driver of policy or misunderstanding the indefinability of terrorism – people will carry on being normalized into thinking that to gain security, you have to keep on giving up freedoms.

Conclusion: How the case of HRO resistance in the UK pulls together the threads of risk and power

By analyzing the role of human rights organization (HRO) resistance to the technologies deployed by the DPR mode of governance in what Foucault calls ‘the battle for truth’, it is thus possible to see how risk dynamics are ultimately intertwined with power. Focusing on this site of resistance can see how Selchow’s four dynamics are central to the constant negotiation of the dynamics of power that circulate the ‘regime of truth’ regarding the governance of the UK through the DPR.

Secondly, the example of the work of CagePrisoners and their encouragement of the micro-resistance of the Muslim ‘suspect community’ to supplement the macro-resistance carried out at state-level by HROs crucially reveals that it is not enough to simply focus on macro-, policy-level resistance whether globally, or against the state. This is due to what CagePrisoners deems ‘misunderstanding’ at both the micro- and macro-levels. The creation of the Muslim ‘terrorist’ is a central technology deployed by the DPR through the four rationalities that drive it. In essence, the case of the UK suggests that the perpetuation of a discourse of ‘misunderstanding’ produces normalized ways of engaging with discourses that present the Muslim identity as ‘risky’. In other words, due to the perpetuation of the innate ‘bad’ label given to the perceived ‘archetypal religious Muslim’, it is likely that society will submit to the dynamic of expansion that indicates further curtailments on ‘their’ rights. If it doesn’t affect me - it’s not my problem, right?

By looking at the combined social and political effects of risk dynamics and their ripple effect on relations of power, it can be seen that simply focusing on resistance to top-down frameworks that govern political power such as parliamentary mechanisms and lobbying, is no longer enough. The Foucauldian ‘battle for truth’ is not about absolute truths that are accepted, but about rules by which these truths are constructed and engaged with by society. The importance of going beyond legal frameworks and working at the level of everyday interaction is highlighted by the examples of CagePrisoners and Reprieve in their parallel activities that aim to affect micro-relations. Interestingly, both of these organizations emerged fully-fledged post-9/11, born out of the need to resist the rationalities and technologies deployed by the DPR.

In saying this, this blog series is not saying that state-level resistance is not important. As shown, different HROs take different roles regarding resistance within the DPR system of governance. Organizations like Liberty and Amnesty cannot fulfill the same role as an organization like CagePrisoners as they are not part of the ‘suspect community’. By the same token, Reprieve equally cannot function the same way as CagePrisoners. However, when viewing successful negotiation of power within the DPR such as the joint HRO campaigns on pre-charge detention and UK complicity in torture, it is clear that there needs to be this division of labor. This enables HROs to target the multiple dimensions of the dynamics engendered by the DPR: global, legal, political, social; micro- and macro-.

This series has attempted to highlight the shifting and fluid nature of the circulations of power underlying risk-governance. Risk-logic can’t be reduced to a technical tool used to govern terrorism. The dynamics that this sets in motion have fundamentally altered society-state relations in a profoundly social way. Risk-based security policy has resulted in a wholesale cultural shift that rests on fear and suspicion and doesn’t ask why the problem of terrorism exists. Instead, it simply tries to pre-empt it from occurring through an expansionary process that is slowly destroying freedom of speech, movement and privacy. Ultimately, the question we should be asking ourselves when we ignore this practice is: ‘is this worth it?’

Aditi Gupta

Aditi Gupta graduated with an MSc in Global Politics (Civil Society) from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Autumn 2013.  She has previously worked at Soul Rebel Films and Reprieve and has co-authored reports based on depth interviews conducted for the Indian development NGO, CHIRAG. Aditi has volunteered for refugee and homeless organizations in the UK and is developing a career in the human rights field. This is the last post in her five-part series on Crimcast which began in early January, 2014.

"It's Probably Nothing, But...": How Governments Make Us Responsible For Our Own Security

Nickie Phillips

NTAS

Part 4 of 5 in a series on Risk-Logic and the War on Terror

Aditi Gupta, Guest Blogger

Following on from last week’s post, this week I’ll be discussing Selchow’s third dynamic that is engendered by the Dispositif of Precautionary Risk (DPR), a pre-emptory risk –based mode of governance: the internalization of security issues and the process of ‘responsibilization’. As touched upon last week, the creation of an archetypal Muslim terrorist figure in the U.K. has essentially depoliticized the issue of the governance of terrorism for the majority of the population, while the blame for the root of terrorism has been placed firmly on Islamic extremism and the British Muslim community by association. Thus, it’s evident that the dynamics of depoliticization and responsibilization are intimately linked. Through the governmentality approach, the DPR mode of governance shows that its assemblages of surveillance and risk discourse both work to construct sectors of society that are ‘dreamt up, marginalized and put under suspicion’; and ‘normalize’ the rest of the population, thereby ‘inviting citizens to become security guards, spies and informants’ on the ‘risky’ Muslim community (Mythen and Walklate 2006:390-392). This means that the Muslim community is not only blamed for the problem of terrorism, but are ultimately pressured to provide the solution to the problem by looking inwardly at themselves; effectively, the Muslim community has to internalize the problem of national security in this way, taking it on their own shoulders while simultaneously easing the responsibility of the government to engage fully with the problem.

Those who do not fall under the ‘suspect community’ are responsibilitized in a way that not only allows the continued allocation of blame on the ‘suspect community’, but also places the onus on them to report on anything ‘abnormal’. This dynamic is most clearly seen in government campaigns such as the recent one by the Metropolitan Police emphasizing that it is the Londoners’ responsibility ‘to be vigilant’ for anything ‘out of place in normal day to day lives’.

met police sign

Mythen et. al. (2012:394) thus articulate the core of this politics of normalcy: ‘this requirement to present an outwardly safe identity…reveals the coercive social pressures that a pervasive climate of suspicion has engendered’. Indeed, this has led to ‘checking behaviors’ such as selective use of dialect, clothing and curbing of outward behavior in the public sphere (p. 391). As the 7/7 bombers were ‘home-grown’ from the Muslim community in Yorkshire, the onus of protecting society has fallen hardest on the Muslim communities in the U.K. The consequences of this element of responsibilization via the allocation of blame has led to the targeted surveillance of Muslim communities through stop and search policies, questioning at ports under Schedule 7 of the Terrorist Act, pre-emptory raids, and the pressure to spy on their own communities through the creation of Muslim Community Units through the PREVENT strategy. Notably, even though these pre-emptory actions are based entirely on suspicion of intent, the person who is targeted has barely any rights in place to protect them from the effects of human error in judging their ‘riskiness’. A corollary to this is the 600% increase in Islamophobia since 2001 and its associated increase in violence on Muslim people and mosques (Spalek, 2008:420).

How this dynamic effects resistance: power dynamics

The dynamic of responsibilization can be seen as directly related to the discourses of power surrounding the ‘battle for truth’ regarding justice. Amnesty International United Kingdom (AIUK) iterates that this dynamic makes HRO work safeguarding human rights standards all the more significant: ‘the stuff that is most unpopular is some of the most important…because it’s the issues that others won’t pick up on…that don’t have public support’. As Liberty (2007:16) articulate, it is unlikely that the majority of Britons ‘upon waking up…felt more subject to surveillance than they did yesterday’; however, targeted surveillance over the Muslim community means that they truly feel the interlinked dynamics in Burchell’s (1991) sense of having to change the way they see themselves as governed subjects, due to the way they are governed. CagePrisoners explains, ‘the way the government speaks, the way the media speaks and the way the average person on the street speaks all perpetuate this cycle of fear’, thus responsibilitizing society wholesale through the DPR’s rationalities of zero-risk and shifting of the burden of proof.

However, from CagePrisoners’ personalized responses in interview, we can see that governance through the DPR and the social dynamics it engenders has a much sharper effect on the ‘suspect community’ of Muslims. CagePrisoners explains that this suspicion has a chilling effect on the politics of the community as a whole: ‘if we stick our heads above the parapet, they’re going to come after us next’. It is thus evident that CagePrisoners feels the four interrelated dynamics engendered by DPR in a way that cuts right to the social core of what the application of risk does to society. As CagePrisoners says, ‘wherever you see a threat coming from a community which goes against the norm of understanding of criminal behavior, you will see a disproportionate response to those threats’. CagePrisoners’ responses emphasize that the key role of the organization is to empower the Muslim community to break away from inactivity and submission to the prevailing rationalities of zero-risk and the shift of the burden of proof.

Due to its unique vantage-point as a Muslim organization, CagePrisoners engages in this ‘battle for truth’ on a level that has a much more personal tone than any of the other human rights organizations (HROs) interviewed. For example, in a CagePrisoners article (Balaratnam, 2012) regarding United Kingdom BorderAgency  (UKBA) policy of detaining people at the border for questioning under Schedule 7, the article speaks directly to a Muslim audience and is presented as a Muslim voice. Although not articulated in the terminology of risk, the article essentially asks Muslims to break through the dynamic of responsibilization whereby the allocation of blame on the Muslim community is legitimized through the reflexive internalization of blame. The article asserts it point by provocatively asserting that if the reader is stopped at the border, they have to concede ‘it’s my fault I got stopped today – my fault for being brown’. The form of resistance encouraged by CagePrisoners, therefore, is one that is very different to collective action. It is essentially micro-resistance whereby the individual only resists what affects them on an individual, direct level. Thus, if the affected community itself does not even question the rationalities that legitimize racially-prejudiced forms of profiling and surveillance, CagePrisoners warns that no one will, therefore undermining any lobbying conducted by HROs at the state-level.

This insight is even more powerful when one considers the recent uproar over the detention of David Miranda under Schedule 7 – only when one of the majority non-Muslim population was affected did the media question it, let alone campaign against it. Ultimately, it was only picked up by the media because Schedule 7 affected a Guardian journalist’s partner (Greenwald, 2013). This relation epitomizes the importance of the ‘micro’ level of resistance in countering what is essentially a cultural shift to living through risk, when faced with the multitude of arguments that focus on the global erosion of rights and the need for macro-analyses of power.

Whilst Liberty, AIUK and Reprieve revealed their primary state-level focus by identifying the depoliticization dynamics of secrecy and the narrative of fear as the greatest obstacles to checking government overreach, CagePrisoners stated ‘misunderstanding and blind ignorance’. For them, the social impact of society not understanding the Muslim community, ‘what they’re about and their belief system’ is a major factor in the way government policy is formed. His responses suggest that the government construction of a ‘paradigm of who we are and the way that we engage’ has completely neglected the crucial importance of micro power dynamics. In a reflection of the multitudinal networks of Foucauldian power relations, Asim Qureshi, Executive Director of Cageprisoners, outlines that ‘our identity is not just an identity; it’s a multitude of identities that superimpose themselves one on top of the other’. It may seem logical and practical for the UK government to ask the Muslim community to report on ‘bad’ Muslims through policies such as PREVENT; however, the top-down engagement with only the archetypal ‘good’ Muslim that has been created in the political imagination effectively renders the policy counter-productive and end up pushing away the majority of Muslims who feel they do not fit that rigid definition. CagePrisoners gave the example of Muslims being targeted by the government for simply disagreeing with government policies such as going to war with Iraq. At a recent lecture, CagePrisoners’ founder, Moazzam Begg, spoke of a teenage girl arrested for writing poetry that was seen as ‘extremist’. In their view, the government-led counter-terror policy is ‘dictated by people who are not willing to engage in a way that is useful’, thus simultaneously legitimizing more and more extreme measures against ordinary people in order to secure the state, while creating resentment and isolation among communities who would be willing to engage on their own terms.

Moazzam-Begg-640x360

This insight cuts to the social core of the combined dynamics of risk engendered by the DPR; ultimately, as asserted by CagePrisoners, this ‘criminalization of people based on an assumption of what you think they are’ takes away Muslim agency. It says, ‘you’re not capable of making up your own mind…you’re not capable of engaging with society…and so we’re going to put you all in the same tub and treat you all in the same way’. This is why the policy shift from targeting violent actions to ‘extremist’ thoughts dictated by UK counter-terror policy worries CagePrisoners so much; it is inherently disenfranchising and disempowering.

Indeed, this micro-level understanding of power dynamics in the context of risk-governance and the need to resist them is also demonstrated by Reprieve in a way that connects the global, macro-level power dynamics inherent in the War on Terror; apart from the macro-issues of the rendition program and Guantánamo, they acknowledge that it is ‘Life After Guantánamo’ (LAG) that poses a big social problem (Reprieve, 2009). Their LAG program thus attempts to overcome the social and psychological difficulties experienced by ex-detainees that result from absorbing all four dynamics of risk via pre-emptory policies and the way that society treats them when they are finally released.

The U.K. government’s perpetuation of what CagePrisoners calls a discourse of ‘misunderstanding’ ultimately produces a Muslim identity that is inherently perceived as ‘risky’. Not only does this dynamic force the Muslim community as a whole to feel responsible for the devastation created by terrorist attacks they had no connection with, the government’s attempts to use this community as an intelligence source ends up actually isolating them further. The rest of society, meanwhile, sinks further into a cycle of constant vigilance and suspicion: is the neighbor with the blinds constantly down up to no good? The perpetuation of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘suspicious’ and ‘normal’ labels within UK security practice mean that it is likely that majority society will accept – even crave – extension of security measures and further curtailments on the rights of socially constructed ‘bad people’. The state of constant readiness for the next attack that is physically taken on by the U.K. population thus leads to the dynamic I will be focusing on next week: the expansion of ‘securitization’.

Aditi Gupta

Aditi Gupta graduated with an MSc in Global Politics (Civil Society) from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Autumn 2013.  She has previously worked at Soul Rebel Films and Reprieve and has co-authored reports based on depth interviews conducted for the Indian development NGO, CHIRAG. Aditi has volunteered for refugee and homeless organizations in the UK and is developing a career in the human rights field. This is the fourth installment in her five-part series on Crimcast which began on January 3, 2014.

Piper Kerman Discusses Health Issues in Prisons

Nickie Phillips

Piper Kerman

On December 4, St. Francis College welcomed Piper Kerman to Prof. Montecalvo's "Health Issues" class to discuss health care issues faced by incarcerated women. Piper's book "Orange is the New Black" details Piper's time spent in federal prison for a drug-related offense. Since being released, Piper has been a fierce advocate of criminal justice reform with a specific focus on the challenges women face in prison.

On the overuse of incarceration as a solution to the crime problem:

Over 60% of female prisoners are incarcerated for non-violent offenses.


On the prevalence of mental health issues suffered by those in prison:

The three largest providers of mental health care in the United States are Riker's Island, Cook County Jail, and LA County Jail.

On the treatment of pregnant incarcerated women:

More than 30 prisons allow officers to shackle female prisoners while they are giving birth. Only 18 prisons have passed laws banning shackling.

Piper Kerman (author), Nickie Phillips (director, Center for Crime & Popular Culture)

You can read more about Piper and her activism here and follow her on twitter @Piper

Season 1 of the television series based on Piper's book is available on Netflix.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbf_QGCykEM

5 Pointz Graffiti Space White-Washed!

Nickie Phillips

Photo: Tamara Beckwith

A couple weeks ago Crimcast reported on the saving of the 5 Pointz graffiti space in Queens, New York, from destruction to make way for luxury housing.  In a shocking turnabout, the developer reneged on agreements with community activists and began to paint over the artwork two nights ago under police protection.  A federal lawsuit filed by the artists failed to receive an injunction and so the good-faith agreement was all the community had to rely on-- but only they were acting in good faith.  Shame on developers Jerry and David Wolkoff for painting over a vibrant and historic space for graffiti artists!  What a travesty!  As one 5 Pointz fan put it to the media:

It’s the death of a real cultural institution in the city and there doesn’t seem to be any room for this kind of art anymore.

Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam: Interpersonal Violence, War, Guns, and Green Criminology

Nickie Phillips

By El Mariachi 94 [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest Post by Gennifer Furst, Associate Professor, William Paterson UniversityAs Pearl Jam releases its tenth studio album and celebrates the 23rd anniversary of its first performance, the band’s lead singer, Eddie Vedder and the four other band members (along with musician Boom Gaspar) are making headlines speaking out about criminological themes. From their beginning, Eddie and the guys have never shied away from issues of social justice. In fact, through the band’s Vitalogy Foundation, named after their third album released in 1994, they support the work of non-profit organizations in fields such as community health, the environment, and social change. Two dollars of every ticket they sell goes to the Vitalogy Foundation.

The Early Years

Much has been written about Eddie Vedder’s political commentary delivered during his performances from progressive issues on abortion to anti-war sentiments. Back in March 1992 during the band’s appearance on MTV’s Unplugged Vedder stood up during the performance of “Alive” and wrote “pro-choice” on his arm with a bold black Sharpie marker. The following month, during an appearance on Saturday Night Live, he wore a homemade t-shirt with an image of a hanger  on the front and “No Bush ‘92” written on the back. During the same performance, he changed the lyrics of “Porch”--a song some believe apolitical--to include a message about women’s right to choose. The band also address abusive relationships on one of their band's best known anthems, "Better Man" from 1994's Vitalogy.

The band was an early voice in today’s anti-bullying movement. The lyrics and video for “Jeremy,” one of the band’s most well-known songs from their breakthrough album Ten, brought attention to the issue years before Columbine, often regarded as the school shooting event that started the conversation. More than two decades later the issue of guns and mass killings in schools would again become an issue Vedder prioritized.

Touring During War Time

In addition to their activism on domestic social justice issues, Pearl Jam’s attention to the wars in the Middle East has been on-going. The song “Bu$hleaguer” on 2002’s Riot Act was a clear criticism of George W. Bush’s blatant deception and manipulation of the American public into supporting an unjust war:

A confidence man, but why so beleaguered?

He's not a leader, he's a Texas leaguer

Swinging for the fence, got lucky with a strike

The lyrics are explicit in their denunciation of the Bush administration and their actions. The bush, or minor leagues, is a reference to Bush as inept and unqualified to lead, and as someone who lucked into a position in the major leagues – that of President. Released during the buildup to the Iraq war, and touring during the initial stages of the Iraq invasion, the band experienced the wrath of those unwilling to question authority. For example, Vedder was accused of “impaling” the President

By conguita [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

when during their summer tour in 2003 he appeared on stage wearing a Bush mask. In order to be able to sing, he removed the mask and hung it on the microphone stand. Contingents of concert-goers booed at the gesture. However, the backlash never proved to be as damaging as the reaction to the Dixie Chicks who disbanded shortly after Natalie Maines expressed her dismay at being from the same state as Bush.

Then, as now, Vedder argues his disdain for the wars is rooted in support for the troops. He expresses concern for the victims – the soldiers and the families who have lost loved ones to an unjust war. In addition to meeting veterans and welcoming their stories, during performances he often acknowledges the veterans present. At a concert in Colorado that kicked off their summer 2003 tour (and where the Bush mask made its U.S. debut, having been used in Australia and Japan) Vedder declared,

Just to clarify... we support the troops.…We're just confused on how wanting to bring them back safely all of a sudden becomes non-support….We love them. They're not the ones who make the foreign policy. Let's hope for the best and speak our opinions.

The anti-war message reappeared in 2006 in “World Wide Suicide,” another cut from their self-titled album Pearl Jam (also known as the Avocado Album) that criticized the war and the country’s foreign policy. Quoted in Newsweek Vedder speaks out against the military industrial complex,

It's just not the time to be cryptic. I mean, our tax dollars for this (Iraq) war are being funneled through huge corporations – one of which Dick Cheney used to be head of (Halliburton).

Viewing the United States' involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as criminal, Vedder remains angry about the last presidency, and continues to bring attention to what he views as unjust killing in the name of war,

Those fucking bastards, they put us in this situation and screw up the whole fucking planet and goodwill with every other nation, and they are not going to be held criminally responsible.

Vedder became more personally involved with the criminal justice system when he became a vocal advocate for the West Memphis

CBS News/AP http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31749_162-20094814-10391698.html

3 and the case of Damien Echols. In 1994 three young men from Arkansas were falsely convicted of the grisly murders of three young boys. Echols was sentenced to death. With no physical evidence, the convictions were based on the satanic panic that occurred in a small southern town (see Jenkins & Maier-Katkin, 1992). Echols shares a writing credit for the song "Army Reserve" from the album Pearl Jam (2006), a collaboration that occurred during one of Vedder’s visits to Echols on death row. Vedder remained a staunch supporter of the boys and was present when the three men were released in August 2011 after having served 18 years.

Guns

Vedder would later insert himself into public debate regarding another politically divisive issue: the right to bear arms. During a publicity interview in September 2013 promoting their new album Lightning Bolt, Vedder stated to surfer Mark Richards,

The fact that we're living in a country where 90 percent of the people want further gun laws -- to maybe somehow put a dent in some of this insanity that's happening -- and yet there's no further legislation taking place, it's very frustrating and upsetting.

A snippet of the clip where he went on to say that "I get so angry that I almost wish bad things upon these people," was aired as a stand-alone sound bite and exposed Vedder to criticism. What he went on to say, but was generally absent from most press pieces, was

But I don't have to because it seems like they happen anyways. It seems like every week I'm reading about a 4-year-old either shooting their sister, their dad, their dog, their brother or themselves, because there's fucking guns laying around. But I guess it's 'fun.'

Vedder responded to the criticism regarding his statements about guns at the October 25th Hartford Connecticut show, which took place a mere 50 miles from the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, CT where 26 people were murdered. To members of the audience, it was obvious something was going to occur. The other band members left the stage and Vedder knelt on the stage, collecting his thoughts. He stood up and spoke into the microphone, addressing the crowd of over 16,000 fans who eagerly awaited what he had to say.

Tonight I got to meet three great men, incredible fathers of children who were lost, and it was such a powerful… a very powerful moment to have this chance to communicate to somebody that we had been thinking about so deeply.

And to know that it’s okay, in fact, not just okay, but it’s necessary that we continue a discussion to figure out how to unravel the situation where something like that can happen and make sure the odds of it happening again are very slim.

Vedder made reference to the criticism he received in the press in response to his previous comments about the need to protect people from gun violence. He framed the need for a discussion about firearms as a First Amendment issue. He defended his, and everyone else’s, right to voice an opinion about our personal security and well-being. Vedder encouraged the members of the audience to have the courage to demand a public discourse on the issue.

And you know, as well as I, you have to be very careful when talking about something like this. Because they want to defame your character or take away your right to speak, I mean while they’re protecting the second amendment they also don’t think you have the right to speak as an American as a taxpayer as a father, as a parent.

We’ve got a right to speak on this issue when the safety of our children is directly affected. And you will take some hits if you put it out there, but that’s the thing.

PearlJam_MindYourManners

Lest anyone think Eddie and the band were putting their opinions out there for the public in an uninformed or ignorant way, Vedder let the crowd know they consulted with experts and scholars. He used a critical approach to explain why the public may be swayed by those in favor of relaxing gun regulation.

I just want to clarify and we’ve done some research and I’ve talked to some very, much smarter people than myself – there’s a lot of them – that the myth that the gun lobby is the most powerful lobby in our is a myth. That’s a myth. The money is not the most money. The amount of people – it’s just in the millions.

It’s a myth, but it’s just because they’re louder. They’re louder and they’re very tenacious and if you speak up against them they will jump on you, they will tear you apart, and make it so that nobody else wants to say anything, or they want them to be fearful that…I mean we’re talking about, I’m gonna stop. You know what they’re talking about.

Vedder galvanized the crowd by telling people what they can do about the issue. He reminded everyone to exercise their right to vote (an issue the band has long-supported; for example, they performed in Rock the Vote concerts in swing states in October 2004). As with his message about the wars, he told the crowd that pressure from voters, using the power each person has to voice an opinion, is what brings about social change.

So, if all the research is saying, and all the polls conducted, you know, and not just people reacting to what happened, but you have to not just react you have to prefect. You have to go into prevention mode. So what we have to do, if the majority of people agree that there should be more legislation just to make it a little harder. We’re not taking away the right, just a safety issue – a safety precautionary, the same things you have to do to get a driver’s license or a car. It can’t be as easy as buying a pair of shoes. All I implore you, and I don’t mean to be preaching to the converted, but sometimes the choir has to sing louder, and that’s one of these issues.

He summarized by saying,

If we were louder, it can happen, we just have to be louder  and we have to let the politicians know that they will be reelected if they do what we ask, and we are asking for them to do it now. Cause what we don’t want is for any of those children’s lives to be wasted.

The band followed with a powerful performance of “Life Wasted” from their 2006 self-titled album. In the five-plus minutes that Vedder spoke during the band’s break in the show, he used the word “gun” only once, when he was referring to power of political lobby groups. Perhaps he meant to protect himself from the inevitable criticism he knew would result. Without using the term “gun” it becomes more difficult for his words to be taken out of context by those who would try to manipulate his message.

Green Criminology

Environmentalist of the Year

Green Criminology is the study of harms to, crimes against, and laws that regulate the environment. Green criminology examines how human behavior threatens the environment. Green criminologists study not only environmental pollution but also mining, poaching, and timber crimes and the ensuing effects on humans and non-human species.

Vedder is advancing these issues that are important to green criminologists. Since 2003 the band has worked with scientists to calculate the amount of carbon dioxide output on their tours. They then invest in various carbon-offsetting environmental projects. In fact, Pearl Jam was named 2011 Planet Defenders by Rock The Earth for their environmental activism. Vedder, a known surfer, has been a long-time participant in a variety of environmental groups that work to protect oceans and other waterways.

During his October 26, 2013 appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Vedder used the opportunity to bring the issue of environmental contamination into the fore of people’s minds once again. Fallon played a clip from his July 2012 appearance featuring the two singing a duet called “Balls in Your Mouth” which Vedder joked should now be seen as “an environmental anthem.”

The oil spill, BP

Has left tar balls, all over the sea.

So don’t go swimming, down in the south

Unless you want, tar balls in your mouth

Balls in your mouth, balls in your mouth

Don’t swim in the ocean you’ll get balls in your mouth.

Vedder interspersed information about the Department of Justice trial against BP and the large amount of tar uncovered by the Coast Guard after Tropical Storm Karen hit the Gulf Coast, while Fallon riffed on the idea of “large balls” being found after the recent storm. Vedder remained on point and urged viewers to recognize the long-term effects of the BP oil spill.

But there’s this thing called the Gulf Restoration Network that you can look into and we were one of a group of people that tried to raise money for this organization so they could keep putting out information that was truthful and maybe was a different account than the kind of shiny happy commercials that the oil companies were putting out saying that ‘it’s all fine’ and ‘it’s all taken care of’ which if you did the research it would be interesting to see what you’d come up with.

As with his comments about guns, Vedder again referred to research as a source of truth, or at least as a source of information that stands in contrast to commonly held beliefs.

As the spokesman for Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder has used his ability to reach tens of thousands of people during a concert to promote issues of social justice. Over the band’s two-plus decades history, Vedder has educated his fans about a range of topics. He not only speaks about these important subjects but, of course, he also sings about them. By incorporating them into music culture he is marking the sociopolitical landscape of the time.

Vedder and Pearl Jam donate their time, names, and profits from their concerts to support these causes. They were early advocates in the fight against interpersonal violence, in the form of both bullying and domestic abuse. Vedder challenged the decisions of leaders and spoke out against the war during a time when many chose not to question authority. As the stories about gun violence stack up each day, Vedder and Pearl Jam are expressing their concern and urging their fans to as well. While green criminology is a relatively nascent area in the discipline, these criminologists may find allies in popular culture ready to advance their causes. With Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder continues to not only make music but also make a progressive mark on society as well.

Further Reading

Jenkins, P., & Maier-Katkin, D. (1992). Satanism: Myth and reality in a contemporary moral

panic. Crime, Law and Social Change, 17, 53-75.

Pearl Jam (2011). Pearl Jam Twenty. NY, NY: Simon & Schuster.

http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/254/233

http://www.wm3.org/

5 Pointz Graffiti Space Faces Redevelopment

Nickie Phillips

photo credit: 5ptz.com

While New York City was going gaga over a month-long visit by Banksy, a homegrown virtual gallery of artistic street-tagging was on the brink of destruction.  5 Pointz, an area of abandoned industrial spaces in Long Island City where graffiti artists have covered all available spaces with their art, faces redevelopment that would destroy the art. Luckily, it won't be destroyed completely.  On October 10th, a deal was reached which will preserve the graffiti at the base of the buildings and remove and save other facades for auction.

The owner of the building originally planned to create 600 luxury apartments sans graffiti.  The tagging community was up in arms that their living museum was under threat, holding a number of community meetings and demonstrations earlier this month.  Although the deal is not ideal, it represents a compromise that the graffiti community can count as a win-- their community activism and outrage made a difference. 5 pointz can be seen from the elevated 7 train and grew up organically.  Easily, and some not-so-easily, scaled facades of completely abandoned had been abandoned for the last two decades and therefore, have been the perfect canvas.  As one Long Island City resident and blogger has written:

...5 Pointz—subtitled “The Institute of Higher Burnin’”—is a haven for what [taggers] and many others consider an inherently valid art form, one that needs no apology or context.

The buildings are covered in a mosaic of styles, colors and messages that have been added to, covered over, and embellished over the last 12 years.  Losing this treasure would have erased the work of hundreds of talented artists.

And as graffiti ethnographer Gregory Snyder has argued in his book

Graffiti Lives

, for many, what begins as street-tagging can spin-off into viable a career in the visual arts.  In essense, 5Pointz is the space where future new media moguls are potentially practicing their skills and perfecting their aesthetic.  Crimcast hopes that the spirit of 5Pointz lives on through the redevelopment phase  and that home-grown NYC graffiti lives on.

Is Your College Professor a War Criminal?

Nickie Phillips

CUNY students protest the award given last night to former General David Petreus, honored by John Jay College under the theme

...And if so, is it an educational opportunity or a travesty?

Dozens of students protested John Jay College's Educating for Justice Gala award given to Former General David Petraeus on October 16th. Petraeus had already ignited a City University of New York (CUNY) controversy over his stint as an adjunct professor at Baruch College, teaching a seminar called "Are We on the Threshold of the North American Decade?" where he was originally slated to earn approximately $150,000. The Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee who organized the demonstration explained their outrage at his justice gala award:

"...this for a man who brought the 'Salvador option' of death squads and torture centers to Iraq, where the forces he commanded slaughtered hundreds of thousands. As commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Petraeus rained death on Afghan civilians. As CIA chief, he was the architect of almost 3,000 'targeted killings' by drones. This is the spymaster, mass murderer, death squad and torture organizer the CUNY Board of Trustees appointed to 'teach' public policy... Now he is being feted at a veritable 'war gala' that makes a bloody mockery of the words 'education' and 'justice.'"

The faculty union, PSC-CUNY, maintained critical pressure on the university and pointed out that public, tax payer money was being used to pay Petraeus over 30 times the market rate for an adjunct professor. He subsequently agreed to being paid only $1. Meanwhile, six students were arrested and caught on video being beaten by NYPD cops during protests against the Petraeus professorship last month. As a result, CUNY is tightening its "Expressive activity" policy, a draft of which is working its way through university governance now-- and so far appears to be designed to protect the Petraeuses of the world over the student demonstrators.

In some ways, it might be interesting to learn from Petraeus about the decision-making behind the War(s) on Terror even if one thinks he acted criminally-- how better to understand unpunished crime and deviance than to meet a perpetrator face-to-face in a safe environment? Academia is sometimes a place that gives the pulpit to less than savory characters for the purposes of open debate and education, much like the controversial talk at Columbia University by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a few years back.

But an award for justice? Crimcast thinks this goes too far-- as did many John Jay faculty and students who were surprised to hear Petraeus was even being considered for an award, let alone being given it. Unfortunately, because the fund-raising gala is entirely under the purview of the college's auxiliary corporation (a non-profit private entity connected to the college for purposes of raising funds), the decision to award Petraeus occurred outside the normal shared-governance process and was decided by a few administrators and token members of the community who sit on the auxiliary corporation's board.

Sadly, John Jay College, in seeking to raise its profile and pad its coffers, lost sight of the moral problem of honoring a controversial person who has blood on his hands, lending a veneer of respectability and even moral commendation to drone attacks and military home invasions. Of all the people out in the world epitomizing "justice," it would seem there were hundreds, if not thousands, of better choices than a man who orchestrates wars. Was the Dalai Lama not available?

Environmental Justice at Stake in Canadian Provincial Election

Nickie Phillips

Sierra Club of Canada

Crimcast caught up with environmental activist John Wimberly who alerted us to an upcoming critical vote for the anti-fracking movement in Nova Scotia, Canada. As the documentaries Gasland and Gasland II have shown, regular people's access to fresh, clean water and unspoiled natural spaces have been threatened in U.S. states like Pennsylvania and North Dakota where corporate interests have been making big money off a risky form of extracting natural gas from deep underground in a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Recent protests in England flared up at the prospect of fracking companies operating there for the first time. Canadians are wrestling with the same problem-- is short-term profit worth risking a natural habitat in the long-term? As John Wimberly explains:

Preventing fracking is tremendously important, especially in a small province like Nova Scotia. We have varied geology and nowhere to retreat if we experience a worst-case scenario event, like a spill of waste-water or a polluted water table. As such, many citizens have been pushing for a ban or moratorium on the practice of hydraulic fracturing.

Unfortunately, a legislated moratorium or ban does not have any guarantee of stopping it from happening. These laws are made by the provincial government and can be removed by the provincial government if it so suits its interests. The only way to prevent fracking is by having a provincial government that is committed to the same goal.

NS fracking

With a provincial election nearing its final week, this is where I point out who the best option will be. It’s the New Democratic Party (NDP), the current provincial government and Canada’s foremost left-leaning political party. By a long-shot. No fracking is going on in Nova Scotia because they created a moratorium. They’ve also initiated two studies into fracking on the environmental and human health impacts. Beyond treating fracking as a public relations issue, it fits in line with their environmental policy: banning uranium mining, hugely increasing the amount of protected lands in Nova Scotia, and moving us toward renewable energy. This is all in stark contrast to the alternative, the Nova Scotia Liberal Party, who – if the polls are any indication – are likely to form the next government.

The Liberals are directly misinforming Nova Scotians in their platform by claiming they were the ones who initiated a moratorium that the NDP opposed. On fracking, they’re even lying in their platform. Their leader, Stephen McNeil, opposed the NDP’s expansion of protected land, suggesting that what we needed was a “moratorium on protecting land.” McNeil and the mining industry were the only ones opposed to this protection – and now he might be the next premier.

Of the greatest concern is the Liberal plan for U.S.-style deregulation of Nova Scotia Power. While there is certainly support for his broadly-stated call to “break the monopoly” of Nova Scotia Power, there are obvious consequences that directly undermine the interests of Nova Scotians – especially those concerned about environmental issues, fossil fuel use, and our contributions toward climate change. The Liberal plan to deregulate would remove our ability to continue to mandate a switch to renewable energy – which is both an environmental and fiscal issue for our province, as the cost of the coal we’re currently using is quickly increasing.

Infographic by Lucy Kim

And who makes up each party? The NDP, while not delivering a perfect environmental record, have environmentalists as a core-constituency and they occupy the highest levels of the party. They have also spent the vast majority of their political capital on switching to renewable energy – popular for being clean, green, and providing stable rates, but very unpopular for being more expensive than the coal we burn now.

The Liberals candidates and record is deeply troubling. One of their Halifax candidates declared that Nova Scotia should become a world innovation capital for fracking, and that he would pursue “green fracking”, a process that even the most unapologetic oil baron hasn’t suggested as ‘something that exists.’ In rural Nova Scotia, they have a candidate who has promised to bring liquid natural gas ports to the coastal community for trans-Atlantic shipping. Poorly thought-out plans like “the free-market will solve the problem” U.S.-style deregulation, combined with candidates that seem squarely opposed to moving away from fossil fuels, leads me to believe that the right decision for voters is clear-- go with the NDP.

The NDP have been far from perfect, and they have, especially recently, been very open about that. They didn’t live up to the expectations many of us had for them. But they remain the best choice for Nova Scotians, especially those concerned about environmental issues.

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John Wimberly is a social, political, and environmental activist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He works for the NDP and also as a freelance writer. He is a regular contributor to Crimcast.

Brooklyn Aesthetics - Writers on Writers: Graffiti, Poetry and Narrative

Nickie Phillips

SFC presents: Brooklyn Aesthetics - Writers on Writers: Graffiti, Poetry and Narrative Please join us for Writers on Writers, a panel discussion on parallel notions of literature and

Writers on Writers

graffiti as narrative constructions. Participants include Adam Mansbach, New York Times bestselling author of the graffiti novel Rage Is Back; Jean Grae, prominent underground hip-hop artist and producer; and Brooklyn graffiti legend Blake ‘Keo” Lethem.

The evening’s wide-ranging conversation will explore narrative and identity in both literary and graffiti cultures; the relationships of both literature and graffiti to authority; and the persistence of "beef" across the genres. Participants will also confront the notion of a hip-hop aesthetic, discuss the importance of codes and code-switching, and discuss the parallel evolution of graffiti, hip-hop, and new literary cultures in New York City.

Adam Mansbach is a NY Times bestselling authorMansbach's latest novel, Rage is Back, set in NYC graffiti culture, was named a Book of the Month by Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, and is currently being adapted for the stage by Mansbach and award-winning playwright Idris Goodwin.

Jean Grae is an internationally recognized underground hip hop artist. She has released 9 solo albums since her debut in 2002. Throughout her career she has collaborated with major hip hop artists, such as The RootsTalib KweliMos Def, and Styles P.

KEO TC-5 is a bona-fide Brooklyn legend in the realm of NYC graffiti and hip hop. SCOTCH 79 came of age in the Brooklyn of the 1970s and learned his craft in the tunnels and yards of the MTAs subway system.

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 5pm Founders Hall

Urban Utopia in Southwark, London: The Lake or The Shard?

Nickie Phillips

20130909-224018.jpg

Wandering around South Bank London on a damp evening, Crimcast stumbled upon a compelling sight-- a small lake constructed out of timber in the middle of an urban scape.  Nestled next to a stone archway for commuter trains to and from Waterloo station, "The Lake" featured lounge chairs, a cafe, and playground.  A sign indicated that this was an urban oasis, built by architects, carpenters, and other artistic visionaries to bring the notion of being on holiday directly to the people.  Had we arrived just a couple days earlier we would have seen the many community members enjoying some late summer sun and floating homemade model sailboats. The privately owned land has been donated to a collective called EXYZT whose manifesto calls for utopian imaginings and community experimentation.As such, the gates are open for all comers who may wish to relax, enjoy a tea, or take on a project in one of the many work spaces underneath the railway arches.  We particularly liked a piece in the gallery space created by a local artist featuring a baby stroller resting on a treadmill on cardboard.

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Architect Nicolas Henninger explained that the members of the collective, who have spaces throughout Europe, live on-site and bring their brand of enthusiasm for building social capital to local people.  "We had families here throughout the summer who made small boats and enjoyed themselves.  It's  temporary installation so we will have something new next year."

Whether the The Lake, or previous years' projects featuring gardens and faux Lido seasides, the zeitgeist is one of anti-commodification and collectivism through art and design.  Playing and building together forms a key part of the collective's modus operandi.  A game of "Anti-Monopoly" was ready to go in the tea shop.

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A passing bicyclist who stopped to explore along with us couldn't help but notice The Lake stood in poetic contrast to The Shard looming above it-- a brand-new sky-scraper, purportedly the tallest in the European Union.  It houses a hotel, residences and offices. Talk quickly turned to the hundreds of millions of pounds it cost and that one can buy a small space there for a mere £8 million.  The bicyclist was concerned that The Shard would create problematic traffic flows for the area and that once inside the complex it would isolate people from interaction with the existing Southwark community around it.

The_Shard_on_Opening_Night

Although Southwark has come a long way from its Dickensian roots, the borough's revitalization is happening in two distinct ways represented by The Lake and The Shard.  One envisions social capital the other panders to global capital.  One empowers locals to work and play together in a low-key, creative space; the other is a silver cage for the cosmopolitan elite, rising above the neighborhood and barely grounded in it.

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Redeeming the Dream: Reflections on the March on Washington

Nickie Phillips

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It was a day to commemorate a watershed event in civil rights history and the thousands at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington yesterday soaked it all in-- from inspirational speeches to demonstrations and sign-waiving from groups such as the NAACP to lone protestors standing up for a $15 federal minimum wage or an end to Stand Your Ground laws.

march handout

Though Crimcast hoped to live-tweet impressions from the speeches, we were not able to get in ear-shot of them (so we caught up later with news clips).  We were also thwarted by elaborate anti-terrorism fencing that dispersed people widely.  We arrived after the event had started and the crowd flow was confusing, so we ended up side-lined behind the Lincoln Memorial and later at the WWII Memorial--both areas were filled with supporters and demonstrators (who made the most of the day with signs and mini-marches and music and spoken word).

The majority of our tweets were crowd impressions and photos of signs and slogans.  Below see some of our favorite shots of calls for jobs, justice and freedom.  The big takeaway from the day: the civil rights movement is needed now just as ever before.  In light of Trayvon Martin and the recent SCOTUS decision on voter registration, to name just a couple such events, people must continue to speak up for an America that provides the promises of democracy and equal justice for all.  Redeem the dream!

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Crimcast to Live-Tweet from March on Washington, Saturday August 24

Nickie Phillips

photo (3)

Crimcast, along with thousands of Americans, will descend on Washington tomorrow morning (Sat. Aug. 24, 8 a.m. EST) to stand up for justice, jobs and freedom in commemoration of the historic march 50 years ago.  Follow us on Twitter as we tweet our impressions of the pre-march rally, including speeches by Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, John Lewis, Nancy Pelosi and many others.  We will also tweet our impressions of the crowd and share our favorite signs and slogans.  Crimcast, of course, is partial to calls for justice!