I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Sunday, October 4, 2009

i WATCH: Your Neighbor May Be A Terrorist!

This is creepy. How about an iWATCH that has people looking after their neighbors' needs - like do they have enough food? do the kids need medicine? is ther an elderly widow living alone who might need a ride to the store when you go? That's neighborhood watching. That's taking care of eachother. And that kind of community-building facilitates trust, not fear. I guess the state loses power once we lose all our fear. 

This program has elements that I think are worse than the PATRIOT Act. I don't want to be looking at all my neighbors as potential terrorists, and I don't want them making notes of my comings and goings. What will this mean for new Middle eastern or Muslim families moving into an iWATCH neighborhood, where they're the only "strangers"? Will children be taught about how to surveille neighbors in school? Police are boud to respect cetai constitutional right - even though they often don't. 

But what about iWATCHERS? Will they have a code of ethics? Skilled supervision? Will they be prevented from spying on me, following me, looking to see who sends me mail when I'm not there to get it?Will stalking laws apply to iWATCHERS, or will they get special privileges extended to them, kind of the Sheriff's posse? Will there be any limit to how much they can intrude into their "suspect's" life to find evidence of terrorism? Will there be any restrictions on what technology they can employ? 

Will anyone be watching THEM to make sure they aren't just perverted voyeurs, closet minutemen looking for their next targets, or simply disturbed individuals suffering from paranoid delusions? Innocent people have been in Guantanamo (and god know what dark sites we have on this earth) for years without being charged because the government was encouraging - paying- folks to turn in their neighbors. Did their accusers follow them all the way back here so they could face them in a court of law?

This is pretty messed up.

And who will be watched? People who speak with foreign accents ( like non-citizens). People who "look Muslim" or MiddleEastern. People who "look like" they could be running guns, or smuggling drugs, or maybe even just smoking pot (if it came over the border) could all be called terrorists. People who demonstrate in support of peace with Iran or political prisoner rights are surely in sympathy with terrorists, if not actutally in league with them.

Will the FBI have a mole in every neighborhood?Will we use this program in AZ to round up migrant advocates and accuse them of terrorism for trying to undermine our economy or use "force" (millions of peaceful marchers, maybe?) to pressure the government into changing immigration policy? Will iWATCHERS become as proficient racial-profilers as the MCSO deputies have, snaring so many innocents and failing to solve so many real crimes? I wonder if Minutewoman Shawna Forde fancied herself as something of an iWATCHER when she blew that family away? (Allegedly).

This does not make me feel one bit safer. I don't want this nation raising a whole new generation of FBI and COP wannabes becoming an army of informants and inevitably, vigilantes: but perhaps breeding that kind of dis-ease among us at the neighborhood level is precisely what they want to do: as long as we spy on eachother, we can't pay attention to them... 

We need to start organizing our own communities now to keep these people out!

Some of you out there are pretty up on this stuff - this is the first I've heard of iWATCH, but it's been in phoenix at least a year. So, if you know more that I should be posting on about it - especially about the Phoenix PD program - shoot me an email and tell me what you've got. 

Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton, acting in his capacity as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, unveils the community component of a national terrorism-prevention program.

Today, October 3, 2009, at the annual Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) meeting and in conjunction with the Annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, LAPD Chief William J. Bratton unveiled the latest tool in the fight against terrorism, iWATCH.

The program, says Bratton, “is the 21st century version of Neighborhood Watch. iWATCH is designed to enable members of the public to help protect their communities by identifying and reporting suspicious behaviors that have been known to be used by terrorists. iWATCH is the next evolution in an integrated terrorism-prevention plan that works in conjunction with the Suspicious Activity Reporting System.

In the months and years following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies overhauled their processes for responding to threats of terrorism. The sheer number of local governments created a unique challenge for capturing usable information. Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) was developed by the LAPD’s Counter Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau (CTCIB) in 2007. The SAR program sets standards for reporting, categorizing and forwarding information obtained by line-level officers while ensuring that fundamental privacy and civil liberty protections are recognized and implemented appropriately.

Police officers are trained to recognize behaviors and activities with possible links to terrorism. Established in December 2008, the National SAR initiative was launched in 12 major agencies in locations such as: Los Angeles, Miami Dade, Boston, Chicago, Albany New York, Virginia, Las Vegas, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle, Washington DC, and Maryland. The National SAR Initiative established a unified and integrated approach for all agencies, with consistent and clear intra-agency policies.

iWATCH was developed to complement SAR as law enforcement cannot be everywhere and see everything.

iWATCH adds another tool to assist an agency’s predictive and analytical capability by educating community members about specific behaviors and activities that they should report. “An alert community can act as a deterrent to terrorism, and an educated and trained public can feel more in control of their lives if they partner with law enforcement in the fight against terrorism,” said Bratton.

iWATCH was developed under the direction of LAPD Commander Joan T. McNamara, who credits a broad range of volunteers, including Reserve Officers, for creating a program that can be used in any community anywhere in the United States. “iWATCH was made possible by countless volunteer hours by incredibly talented people,” said McNamara. “iWATCH and its training component were developed with the input from civil liberties and advocacy groups.”

The iWATCH program is designed to be easily adopted by law enforcement agencies nationwide. The marketing materials, which include the iWATCH brand, a community training video, Public Service Announcements (PSAs), brochures and posters, can be modified to reflect any particular city or community, and create an iconic image that can become the umbrella program for the nation.

“Any street cop will tell you that crime prevention occurs best at the local level and terrorist-related crime prevention is no different,” said Chief Bratton. “The problem has always been that individuals have varying thresholds at which they feel compelled to notify authorities when the activity is not overtly terrorist related. The iWATCH program is a giant leap toward overcoming this problem and literally provides millions of new eyes and ears in the terrorism prevention effort.”

Each city or agency can create its own iWATCH website where the public can learn more about the program, educate the public on specific behaviors and activities, download videos and brochures, and set up a reporting process.


  1. Maybe we now need iWatch-Watch!!


  2. How about an iWATCH that has people looking after their neighbors' needs - like do they have enough food? do the kids need medicine? is ther an elderly widow living alone who might need a ride to the store when you go? That's neighborhood watching. That's taking care of each other. And that kind of community-building facilitates trust, not fear. I guess the state loses power once we lose all our fear.

    Yes! that is indeed the kind of neighborhood watch/community building that we need! Thank you for articulating that so wonderfully.