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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Phoenix Police "Red Squad" Detectives.

For those of you not quite so familiar with Phoenix and political protest, I wanted to introduce you to the Phoenix Police Protest Detectives from the Red Squad (also know as the Community Response Team).

Top Row
Lt. Bryan Coley, Det. Rick Tamburo, Det. Dottie Conroy, Det. Al Ramirez, Det. Rick Flum, Det. Tony Davis

Bottom Row
Det. Jeff Wood, Sgt. Mark Schweikert, Det. Jerry Oliver, Det. Chris Wilson, Det. Chris Abril

I found this photo on-line with a memo from the Secret Service thanking them for assuring that everything went smoothly with George Bush's last visit to town (I believe a bunch of people were planning to arrest him for crimes against humanity). Get to know these faces now, so you recognize them casually chatting it up with our less-alert buddies in the street.

These are the folks who are supposed to convince the r
abble that the cops really aren't so bad after all - I mean, look at Al. Everyone loves Al. He just wants us to have a safe protest experience - he's really there to protect our first amendment rights, not inhibit them....right? In fact, he was the first Phoenix Cop to give me the okay to chalk the sidewalks ("just keep it clean, off private property, and on the ground" were the parameters I got).

Thanks for that, Al. I probably wouldn't be facing felony charges for graffiti today if you hadn't nurtured my blossoming artist within when I still thought of you as one of "the good guys"...hmm.

Anyway, this is to remind folks that the real job of every cop - no matter how sweet their smile or gentle their touch when they cuff you - is to maintain order - and that's the same order that has so many people hurting and dying at the bottom with a few living at the top in the luxury they stole from our labor (which we thank them incessantly for the opportunity to provide them at cut rates as we clean their toilets, wipe their asses, and tend their rock gardens...)

That's the order that even the nicest cops maintain for society, and they'll do their duty and haul you off to jail if you disrupt it. A little chalking and chanting from 11am-1pm is okay; channel our energy that way and it helps keep us from launching any meaningful resistance. These guys will almost always police us with a smile (don't be mistaken that that's precisely what they're doing), but that doesn't mean they wouldn't use every other weapon at
their disposal, if they have to. In fact, I think they pull them all out for the Anarchists when the Nazis come to town just to keep their training current.

It's been increasingly my observation that - as a rule of thumb - if you're a community organizer and have a "friendly" relationship with your own Red Squad, it's probably a sign you've been co-opted, and your resistance is only enough to make both you and the cops look like you're doing your jobs. In fact, if that's the relationship, then they're keeping you and your people down more effectively than anyone is rising up. If you're really posing a threat to the status quo, even good old Al will come after you and try to take you out - so be heartened if he ever does. Overt tension with the protest detectives seems to worry some folks across progressive and even some more radical movements, but trust me, hearing an occasional "fuck the police" fly through the air - followed by a canister of tear gas being returned to the owner - is a really good sign of resistance.

In Phoenix, for the most part, the Left is much too friendly with the Red Squad, which is employed in the service of the Right (the so-called "People" here - not the real human beings). The cops define the boundaries of what's acceptable and what's too extreme for good citizen protest, it seems - and most progressive cause protestors are really just trying to be good citizens, in the end (listen to the language they use). The cops show us where free speech is and isn't allowed, and remind us when it gets to be a little too obnoxious. We politely police ourselves, even, so they don't have to.

Here's an example of diminished resistance. One day, Al actually convinced some protesters who had chalked outside the PLEA Union Hall to clean up after themselves when the action was over. They complied. Now, I flipped out when he asked me to do that, frankly. What's the point of screaming the truth at them across the sidewalk if you're just going to take it back when you get it all out of your system and pack up to go home? (actually, I apologized for screaming about that at Al that day, but that's different...)

They keep us corralled in invisibly-marked "free speech zones" where we can "safely" let off steam and think we fought a good battle before we all pack up for our parties that night and go back to our daily lives the next week, where we may or may not have the time or energy or means to resist until the Nazis march again in Phoenix...
and in that way they have been winning - subduing the restless masses with their paternalism and smiles...maintaining the illusion that we are a real democracy because the people can protest...

Tell me, though, Red Squad - what if Americans, like the young and old alike across the Middle East - seriously demanded more democracy, more equality, more freedom, more justice - and threatened to kick our government out by force if we didn't get it in this election cycle? What would our police state look like then? Would it not look much like theirs?

See, I think that's precisely what we need to be doing, as too many of us have grown too numb to the growing human rights and civil liberties crises around us - much like some of us have stopped actively resisting the fact that we are still at war...too many wars.

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