Protesters blockade Vancouver International Airport to prevent deportation of Lalibar Singh, December 2007. via No One is Illegal Vancouver.
Things are often clearer from the outside. I currently live in Mexico, where the stakes of a Trump presidency are so obvious that his unexpected victory has provoked the worst collapse in the peso in nearly a decade. Here, the left-wing daily La Jornada recently put things as clearly as they need to be put: “There is a difference between legal and legitimate,” and the outpouring of street protests that greeted Trump’s election have made this difference perfectly legible. Just because Trump was legally elected doesn’t mean we need to accept his presidency — and much less his racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic ideas — as legitimate.
Brett Story's film The Prison in Twelve Landscapes depicts the variety of ways in which incarceration and criminal punishment shape the American landscape, both urban and rural — without ever showing a penetentiary. It begins its New York theatrical run on November 4th at Anthology Film Archives.
Below, Story recommends five books on carceral geography: an approach to analyzing incarceration and policing in spatial terms, drawing from the discipline of human geography.
From The Prison in 12 Landscapes
1. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis and Opposition in Globalizing California by Ruth Wilson Gilmore (University of California Press, 2007)
Regardless of your interest in space or place, if you read only one book to help make sense of mass incarceration, it should be this one.
In April, Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, spoke in Chicago about why police violence has returned to the center of anti-racist activism. The text of her talk, below, was first published in Socialist Worker.
Protests on I-94 in Minneapolis following the killing of Philando Castile. Via Unicorn Riot.
Why the issue of police brutality?
Police violence against Black people is not new. In 1951, a multiracial contingent of activists in the Civil Rights Congress raised the slogan "We charge genocide" to characterize the depth and consequences of police murder and the silent complicity of the state. The preamble of their petition read, in part:
(From a meeting of Baltimore activists during the week of the curfew. Photo by Marisela Gomez)
“Last year’s uprising has created this space for my family to have this conversation. Albeit painful, its also provided us with the choice to grow from these experiences that go way back beyond the uprising.” —Daughter of a storeowner in West Baltimore, April 2016
It’s been one year since the uprising in Baltimore that followed the arrest, murder, and funeral of Freddie Gray. Mr. Gray died in police custody after a rough arrest and “rough ride”. It’s not the first time a rough ride — in which police leave a handcuffed or footcuffed person deliberately unsecured in the van, resulting in uncontrolled movement and potential injury — has accounted for the injury and death of a black man in Baltimore police custody. Following his arrest on April 12, 2015 and his death on April 19, peaceful protests occurred. After his funeral on April 27, residents of Sandtown-Winchester — Mr. Gray’s community — and others in West Baltimore affected by police brutality rose up in protest. Some protestors became violent, throwing bricks at windows, looting, and setting fire to property. The National Guard was called in, the city was placed under curfew, and tanks rolled around as if it was a war zone.