Thugs…Criminals… Professional Anarchists. These are some of the words people in power use to describe those who are rebelling against the criminal injustice system and destroying stuff. This may seem reasonable — a call to protect people and property — but the truth is the powerful tactically call those who struggle for civil rights criminals and thugs because they want to maintain the status quo. Just look at MLK.
In Michelle Alexander’s seminal book The New Jim Crow, she outlines how conservatives in the 1950s and 1960s tied civil rights opposition to a law and order message:
“For more than a decade — from the mid-1950s until the late 1960s — conservatives systematically and strategically linked opposition to civil rights legislation to calls for law and order, arguing that Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of civil disobedience was a leading cause of crime. Civil rights protests were frequently depicted as criminal rather than political in nature, and federal courts were accused of excessive ‘lenience’ toward lawlessness, thereby contributing to the spread of crime.”
Fast forward to today and people are on the front lines of a new battle for civil rights, and the politicians are claiming the moral high ground while they’re standing on the ocean floor. Just today I saw the news of a black man shot in the back while walking away. They call for peaceful protests while they allow state actors to carry out violence and injustice after injustice with impunity. Peaceful protests are the last things we need, and they in themselves do not work to effect change. It often just makes the protestors easier targets to beat, pepper spray, and round up.
Take the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. Despite being largely peaceful and itself being declared a peaceful movement, it was monitored by the FBI and the DHS’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. For months they sat there and nothing happened. Finally the mayor and the NYPD got tired of them and ran them off. The movement was crushed without their goals being met. Peaceful protest can and should be used, but a society should never let the ruling class, who have no interest in changing what they’re doing, determine how and when it protests.
Malcolm Gladwell once wrote that “our definition of what is right is, as often as not, simply the way that people in positions of privilege close the door on those on the outside.” The American people are banging on the doors of the powerful. The question is will they open the door?
Or does America need to kick it in?
To contact me by mail:
Joshua Wood #1189105
Buckingham Correctional Center
PO Box 430
Dillwyn, VA 23936
Please check out Virginia DOC’s policies regarding mail on their website before sending a letter. They can be very particular.
You can also use the name and state number above to contact me through email via jpay.