Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's Crime Summit: Searching for Solutions With His Head in the Sand

The Mayor is holding a "crime summit" this weekend. Everyone in New Orleans is concerned about crime. But, the concern seems almost exactly inverse to those who are actually the majority of the victims of it. Those who fret the most over crime are generally those with the most to lose, those hoarding the most wealth in a vast sea of poverty and desperation, not the ones who are the most victimized by it. The rich live lives of fear created by their own greed. 

They tend to be less likely to be the victims of crime, with their private security patrols, gated communities, security cameras, alarm systems, etc... but this does not decrease their fear. Those on pedestals always fear that pedestal being pushed over. When they speak of crime, they don't mean all crimes: they mean crimes of those more disenfranchised against those with more privileges. By "crime," they really mean attacks on privilege. They are not concerned with the crimes of bosses withholding wages, not paying over-time, women being victims of sexual crimes (which has been a largely ignored epidemic for decades), landlords who rent out sub-standard buildings, Entergy price gouging customers, etc...

If we want less crime, we must keep this one idea central:  
While Mayor Landrieu and other such hereditary oligarchs of our city refuse to recognize this, our crime problem will never be solved without us overturning the very system they've conveniently succeeded within. We are the 5th poorest state in the Nation. The summit is a farce. At the same time they are pretending to care about our safety and lives, they are making us less safe by making life harder and more desperate in our city by doing everything from destroying affordable housing, privatizing (instead of fixing) schools, helping businesses succeed that just drain money out of our local economy and pay slave wages (Less than 2% of French Quarter businesses are owned by african-americans, while they make up 60% of our city), and using the prison system to extract wealth from the poor at an incredible rate.

Poverty, in the last Great Depression, was spread amongst blacks, european immigrants, and all other races. Since then, poverty has become increasingly racialized, with poverty reaching new highs among non-white people, who make up a large part of our city, making poverty here even more concentrated, and making poverty even more central to ending crime.

Until we force the Mayor, political leaders, and wealthy oligarchs in our city to recognize that the city won't be safe until politicians stop giving into the insatiable greed of the rich who fund their campaigns, and tackle poverty by doing things like legalizing squatting (when we have many empty buildings, houseless people, and disgustingly high rental prices), repeatedly fining empty commercial properties until they are put to use, ending the racist, sexist incarceration machine of OPP, increasing affordable housing units instead of decreasing them, providing free child care (or paying the women who do it for their relatives already for free) to help women be able to secure jobs and independence, increasing the poverty wages paid to many people for their entire lives in the service industry, etc... These are the ways to build strong communities with dignity and end the desperation that leads to hopelessness and violence.

But, considering the fact that this city is a cesspool of institutionalized violence and a racist, patriarchal, caste society, violence will likely to continue be imitated on crumbling, darkened, sewage filled streets as the best way to survive by those who are on the receiving end of institutionalized violence everyday. That violence comes from a greedy oligarchy of parasites who protect their wealth and privileged positions with a giant machinery of control and repressive violence (police, prisons, poor wages, high rents, etc..).

This crime summit is a joke. Crime could be ended tomorrow, but it would require the dismantling of wealth and the systems that re-produce and extend its existence at the expense of our daily lives, from $5 a minute phone calls from inside OPP to $5 for carrots at Rouse's.

There is a reason there are no murders in gated rich neighborhoods: because people with money have access to solving problems in ways that don't include immediate violence (lawyers, courts, MONEY, etc...). Those options are not available to many people in our city, both because courts and lawyers are too expensive, because we don't have the money to buy all the things we need to survive, and because the outcomes within legal systems have proven to us over and over again that they protect the interests of power and wealth. Those outcomes make perfect sense considering the wealthy have always funded politician's campaigns and gotten those politicians to write laws in their interests. That is how, for instance, it becomes illegal to sleep in an abandoned house, but not illegal to leave a house abandoned while people sleep on the streeets and pay exorbitant rents in a market with less housing supply.
"Before the law, beggars and kings are equally forbidden from stealing bread or sleeping under a bridge."

The law exists to protect the rich and the violence the law commands is how the rich maintain their power while keeping their own hands clean of blood. The poor have no other options but to use violence ourselves to settle our disputes when we've been shown that no one is interested in doing it for us if we don't have any money! Our estrangement from social institutions, a result of the greed of the rich, has created the violence on the streets. To end it, we must end the poverty that creates such estrangement.

This post dedicated to the 14 year old girl who stole a cell phone with a stun gun. Do kids who come from rich homes and go to Country Day school steal cell phones? No. Well, why not? Because they can just have their parents buy them one! And thus, as outcomes beget outcomes, 2 very different life paths reproduce class society.



  2. Apparently you are not the other of a black child here in NOLA. This summit is meant to find solutions to these killing each other. Did you participate or just sleep in that day?

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  5. This was a valid point: being poor does not give you the right to steal anything other than food or a place to sleep. And yes, I am the poster who stated I work with the poor. Go and talk to this young lady's grandmother and see how she feels about robbing someone. This is NOT putting down poor people. This is a post against justifying stealing electronics because one is poor. Nobody NEEDS a cell phone and I can assure you, having worked with many families of these kids, most of their guardians would be appalled by this behavior. To on any level make this okay for this kid, is telling her it is okay to commit criminal acts and it is not. Honestly, how dare you encourage this child to get into even more trouble?? This is insane.

  6. you don't no shit about being poor. if you did, you'd know that it's a whole lot easier to steal things that are worth money that one can use to buy things like food, clothes, rent, etc... than stealing those things outright.

    The point was, that 14 year olds don't steal things just "because they are bad" or some other such essentialist non-sense. they steal because they don't have things. they lack, they want, they feel inadequate, etc... which kids who've been born with a silver spoon in their months don't ever feel.

  7. Plenty of people go wanting without robbing people. You are truly doing these kids a disservice by encouraging this behavior- encourage education. Do not justify bad behavior, which I suppose is a bit silly to say to a person who runs an anarchist blog. And yes, 14-year-olds DO steal things just to do it. Even kids from Country Day steal things. I did not say this kid was bad. She did something really stupid -and bad- and I hope that she does not continue on that path. Again, consider her family and what could happen to this kid if she continues this- she will steal something from the wrong person on the wrong street corner. And you know the end to that story.

    Enjoy your picnic. And your family.

  8. And, really, do you think this kid was going to sell the cell phone to buy food? Please. What are your thoughts on home invasions to steal things and sell for "food?" Good? Bad? Just asking, because I have two kids in jail right now for that very thing. Personally, I think they could have made a better choice for their families, but I could be wrong. You can blame it on the elitist, the wealthy, the greedy corporation, whatever. But these kids need help now- the cause can be looked at, but two kids are in jail NOW.