How cops crush dissent
Phil A. Neel’s recent piece on ULTRA, “New Ghettos Burning”, excellently laid out the geographical and historical context for the popular uprising that Ferguson, Missouri has seen over the last two weeks. Neel draws on this context to propose some reasons for the unique (in recent US history) persistence of popular demonstrations against the police. However, the success of last night’s sudden change in tactics by state forces has prompted me to make a few comments in conversation with the piece. In order to examine this, I’ve reproduced much of the second half of his piece—which primarily offers reasons for Ferguson’s apparent success compared to other events—below.
Police killings have sparked outrage and limited riots in many cities in the US in recent memory. But none of these events have been able to take on this same character, and none have been this difficult to suppress. An urban counterpart to events in Ferguson was the 2013 Flatbush riots in New York. These riots, similarly sparked by a police murder, were crushed much faster than the riots in Ferguson, despite the fact that they seem to have attracted larger protests and garnered greater immediate and active support from the surrounding neighborhood. So what accounts for the difference? Why did Flatbush not create the type of national atmosphere that Ferguson has?
‘No more art!’, 1963
and that’s my cue to get off tumblr
"Certain prison systems, such as that in Texas, responded to overcrowding by redesigning their jails along the lines of an open-plan office, replete with cubicle partitions. Prison inmates employed by the company with the classic 1990s name Unicor were set to work manufacturing cubicle walls and occasionally the chairs that people sat in in those cubicles. At night, while others left their cubicles to go back home, some prisoners by contrast left the manufacturing plant to go back to their cubicles."
-Nikil Saval, Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace