When Did Dissent Become a Crime? America's Police State on Steroids at the Conventions
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There is a strategy to this. Vitale says, “We are producing urban spaces in many cities that are hostile to dissent. The summits accentuate that by adding in a layer of barricades and intensive policing.” The purpose of the intensive policing, he argues, is to insulate the rich and powerful who attend the conventions “from the rabble.” He adds: “Dictators have been doing this sort of thing for generations.”
I asked Vitale if these conventions are pop-up police states. He countered, “I’ve been to police states, and you get shot if you demonstrate, not spend a night in jail.”
That’s true -- for most Americans. But at a rally against voter suppression in Tampa, Life Malcolm, a member of the Black People’s Advancement and Defense Organization, described his hometown.
“Tampa is a police state," Malcolm said. "Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week we are under constant surveillance. We see the police on every street corner, in their cars, on their bicycles, or on foot patrol in our communities. All night long their helicopters are whirling overhead when we are trying to read with our children, put them bed or be romantic with our mates. The police beat us up, scare us, lock us up, harass us. You can’t even walk down the street being black, drive down the street being black.”
As a consequence, said Malcolm, “In our neighborhoods nobody comes outside. Everybody is boarded up in the house because they are afraid to come outside the house and be caught by the police like some kind of animal. In the state of Florida, they used to make their money off oranges, now they make their money off people in orange jumpsuits.”
Long after the media and politicians are gone, dozens of local and state police agencies will be back at work, showered with new weapons, technology and laws to contain troublemakers and undesirables. No matter who wins in November, the march toward a police state will continue unabated.