DC Mayor’s New Plan to Stem City Violence: More Policing
Glen Ford of BlackAgendaReport.com discusses the plan of DC’s Mayor Bowser to address increased levels of city homicides
JARED BALL, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome everyone, back to the Real News Network. I’m Jared Ball here in Baltimore. Back again is Glen Ford of BlackAgendaReport.com for the Ford Report. Glen Ford is of course founder and executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com, and is back again to apparently share with us something new about the latest proposal of DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser, and her plan to combat rising violence in the nation’s capital.
Glen, welcome back, and please explain for us just what is the mayor’s plan and how appropriate it is or isn’t.
GLEN FORD, BLACK AGENDA REPORT: Thanks for the opportunity as always, Jared.
DC’s Mayor Bowser wants to impose draconian police measures on the people of the nation’s capital, purportedly to counter a big surge in homicide. Those new measures that she proposes would include 200 more cops on the street, and the allowance of everyone who is on parole or probation to be stopped and searched at any time of the day on the street or in their houses. Supposedly the probation and parole officers would be looking for guns. That’s what Bowser says they’ll be looking for. That’s the official rationale. But if the ex-offender is found to have broken any number, any of a long list of rules, then that person can be detained for 72 hours, and then processed for a return to prison.
This would affect 10,000 people in Washington, DC. Over 90 percent of them are black males. And that makes up a huge percentage of the young males in lots of poor, black DC neighborhoods. Parole and probation officers don’t have guns. They don’t go armed. So they would be accompanied by numbers of DC armed policemen. So after only one year in office, Mayor Bowser is escalating the police presence and pressures on the black community, a community that lost its majority in Washington during the last census.
Bowser had intended to announce her new search and detain policy at a press conference last Thursday, but she was booed and shouted down from the stage by people who were chanting Black Lives Matter, and jobs, not jail. Mayor Bowser is of course a black Democrat, and therefore she comes from a long lineage of black misleadership class politicians that have collaborated at every stage over the past two generations in the building of this mass black incarceration regime. They’ve also been deeply involved, deeply complicit, in gentrification. That is, removing their own constituents in favor of affluent whites.
DC Mayor Anthony Williams, he’s the one who left office in 2007, announced very [oddly] and publicly that DC could accommodate 200,000 new residents, and everybody knew that he was not talking about black people and poor people. DC soon after Anthony Williams made that announcement was on its way to losing its black majority. But sections of DC like Anacostia are still too black for some people’s liking, and these police state tactics are designed to create a kind of hostile environment for black habitation. They are preludes to further gentrification, and that is really Mayor Bowser’s mission.
BALL: But Glen, you know, it was reported that this is in part, at least, a response to the fact that DC had reached 103 homicides just the other day, which is two shy of all the killings in that city in 2014. What–there clearly then, from their perspective, needs to be something done to reduce homicide and violence in the city. If not this, what do you think would be more appropriate, what would be more appropriate task to take?
FORD: Well, everybody knows that increased levels of crime are symptomatic of great stress on communities. So the proper question is how do you relieve the stress on the community? That’s why some of the protesters were shouting jobs, not jail. You know, the Constitution is not suspended when crime goes up in white communities. And Southern whites have the highest white rate of crime in the whole country.
So this is a selective kind of response. We know what the results are, and so do the people who impose these kinds of draconian measures. They create a hostile environment, and black folks want to leave such a place where their sons and daughters can wind up readily in the system.
BALL: Glen, thank you again for joining us here at the Real News for another Ford Report.
FORD: Thank you.
BALL: And thank you for joining us here at the Real News. And as always, as Fred Hampton used to say, to you we say peace if you’re willing to fight for it.
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