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

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Real Agenda Behind Crucifying ACORN

ACORN is getting some shit these days and I wouldn't be surprised if the Dark Side of the Right has contributed saboteurs a la COINTELPRO (oh yeah, that's not just limited to the government's MO. No matter who you are, if you represent the poor and people of color and seriously threaten a major corporate deal, expect them to malign your reputation, attack your family, create divisions between you and your closest allies, demand criminal investigations into your life and business, set up you or employees in embarrassing situations,  and possibly even have you incarcerated or assassinated for picking on those poor, helpless, well-meaning banks just trying to recover from their own criminal mismanagement...which had something to do with a vast trend - "conspiracy?" - in the industry to screw people of all color and low to middle incomes over on their mortgages, resulting in all these foreclosures ACORN is trying to help people fight... 

Now, where is the Democratic Party? Cringing and hiding as usual. They want to expand the redlining law, but had no comments whatsoever, apparently, for this article. Haven't heard many, in fact, speak up. And I think only one congressional representative from AZ voted to preserve ACORN's funds. A few truly corrupted Democrats show why the party isn't worth diddly to anyone who's oppressed in this country by publicly slapping ACORN around themselves. Those wo stand quietly by aren't much better. Maybe they are worse, actually.

I hate to say it, but the Dems have been pretty useless these past 30 years: they might help tweak things to choke and stall the revolution with appeasements, but the poor keep getting poorer, even though the Government is still getting all our tax dollars (Arizona hits us hard with sales tax) to spend on their armored police tanks, new weapons against peaceful protestors, racial-profiling adventures, and foreign wars (it's the Dems wars too) - not to help save our homes. 

How will ACORN be able to help us fight the courts and the banks - or the harassment of bigots like Arpaio - if the government is making them use all their resources  and energy defending themselves? They happen to be one of the most effective agencies to ever organize people who are poor - of course the GOP's going after them with everything. All those more reason to watch this skeptically and show your solidarity with Acorn early - even if some of their employees screwed up, the agency shouldn't be taken down. hey kill prisoners at the Arizona Department of Corrections, for crying out loud - I don't hear the right wing her clamoring for the whole ADC to be defunded until they no longer have abusive guards.

So hold them accountable on both sides of the aisle. Write or call your stupid legislator if he/she voted to defund ACORN. Tell them ACORN represents poor people better than Congress does, and if they keep going after them, they'll be facing the consequences on - or in the months leading up to - election day. The poor person's vote does not belong to the wishy-washy, "tough-on-crime" Democratic candidate. Let's see you get tough on torture, give us back our homes, and enact MEANINGFUL health insurance reform, then we'll see what else you can deliver. If you can't do that, we have other parties to choose from.

And we can choose no party at all.

Be up on this stuff with ACORN, folks. The right isn't attacking a well-funded darling of the middle class - these folks are real community activists: people who have been HUD tenants, dealt with welfare "reform"s nightmares and hurdles first-hand, started organizing in their churches during the civil rights movement, organized welfare recipients from among their own ranks, and signed up millions of new voters for the 2008 elections. 

They are a grassroots force of mothers and grandmothers and nephews and sons who are connected to their communities like extended family; in their emphasis on empowerment and self-help and their willingness to engage in direct actions, when necessary, to defend justice their effectiveness makes them very dangerous to the government and corporate elite - and thus to the Republican party (who isn't an ACORN supporter because they think people earn what they get in life, and whatever money, goods, resources, time, or breath they have stolen from the working poor of the world, they think is rightfully theirs and should be able to buy access to more capital and power without being interfered with by pests like ACORN trying to keep them from redlining). 

(Dems pretend to support ACORN because they have a stronger sense of collective responsibility in society, and a more liberal agenda that the Republicans - and they would be ripped a new one by the civil rights community if they didn't at least make a show of it.). 

We need to watch their backs REAL CLOSE now. Nobody's perfect, but I don't buy that this isn't pure political persecution for a minute - they just don't like poor people and workers and  prisoners and people of color to have the power of organization and law on their side - and the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act has been one such law. 

And that bit about "shaking down the banks for money"? That's just too much. Funny how the banks are now "victims." That alone makes me want to burn down every single one. Anyone who belongs to a bank - especially Bank of America - should close your account, tell them loudly enough for other workers and patrons to hear that you're leaving because of the shabby campaign the banks are running against ACORN. Then announce your intent to join a credit union. There are plenty of them around, and they are much less abusive and exploitative of communities and families.


GOP uses ACORN to fight bank redlining law

The Associated Press
Updated: 10/12/2009 04:02:57 PM MDT

Washington - Conservative Republicans are capitalizing on the troubles of community activist group ACORN -- ranging from charges of voter registration fraud to embarrassing videos of its employees -- to revive their long-standing fight against a federal law that grades banks on their investments in poor and minority neighborhoods.

The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act was intended to end redlining, a practice in which banks in effect walled off many inner-city neighborhoods from mortgage loans. But some GOP lawmakers say it has outlived its purpose and is being used inappropriately by ACORN to shake down banks for money. They want to repeal the law, scale it back or at least block a Democratic proposal to expand it.

Critics of the law are linking it to ACORN -- a subject many Democrats wish would go away -- at every opportunity.

"Should we repeal CRA? Absolutely," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, a member of the House Financial Services Committee. "Do we have the votes for it today? I seriously doubt that."

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., also on the committee, has described ACORN's actions under the law as "legalized extortion," contending that the law gave ACORN the power to stall or prevent bank mergers or expansions by filing CRA complaints with regulators.

"In order to avoid these filings, financial institutions would either lower their lending requirements to meet the needs of ACORN associates or they would simply pay out funds to one of the many ACORN-affiliated organizations," Royce wrote in an article posted on his House Web site.

ACORN said that nearly all the money it receives from banks is used to provide advice to first-time home buyers or homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosures, and that the money isn't used for political advocacy.

"The Republicans are attempting to intimidate banks to halt monies that are used to help working families become home buyers or save their homes from foreclosure," spokesman Brain Kettenring said.

Archived ACORN testimony on the Federal Reserve Board Web site shows ACORN has spoken against bank mergers, contending that banks weren't living up to the CRA. In at least one case, however, ACORN supported a merger. The group acknowledged in the 1998 testimony that it was unusual for it do so, but said one of the banks involved, NationsBank, was a leader in community reinvestment, and that its partnership with ACORN Housing Corp. had produced at least $236 million in mortgages.

A decade ago, then-Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas unsuccessfully tried to gut the law, describing nonprofits that use the law as "protection rackets."

Recent troubles at ACORN are giving Republicans ammunition in their renewed campaign against the law. Some employees are accused of voter registration fraud. Its founder was forced out last year amid revelations that he had tried to keep quiet his brother's embezzlement of nearly $1 million. Two conservative filmmakers disguised as a prostitute and a pimp caught ACORN employees on camera giving them tax and immigration advice and advising them to disguise the source of their income to get housing aid.

Three Republican congressmen have asked 14 banks to provide details on their dealings with ACORN. One of them, Bank of America, said it wouldn't engage further with ACORN Housing Corp. until ACORN's issues are resolved.

ACORN, short for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, portrays itself as a successful advocate for tens of thousands of low-income and minority homebuyers. It appointed a former state attorney general to investigate the video scandal.

Republicans describe it as a pro-Democratic group that among other things, is violating the tax-exempt status of some of its affiliates by engaging in partisan political activities.

ACORN Housing Corp. and other ACORN affiliates help people land mortgages and fight predatory lending. They also build and renovate low-income housing around the country. The developments include the ACORN Beverly and Desert Rose subdivisions in Phoenix, the ACORN Glenn subdivision in Houston and apartments in Paterson, N.J. ACORN affiliates rehabilitate housing in New York and elsewhere.

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