Anaheim and the Disney-Style Rebranding of Deadly Police Violence

humanformat:

“We’ve been protesting here at Disneyland for weeks,” Theresa Smith told me. “Because of the recent shootings, now everybody’s starting to pay attention to what’s happening here in Anaheim.”

Smith, a longtime Anaheim resident whose son, Caesar Cruz, was shot and killed by police in a 2009 incident that she still demands answers about, persists in peacefully protesting before the Magic Kingdom because she has to. Thanks, in no small part, to living just a short drive from the vast entertainment empire symbolically centered on Harbor Boulevard, Smith and other Anaheim parents know what what the world outside of Anaheim will soon come to realize: that if they are to protect their children from further extreme violence from the police, Latinos here and across the United States will literally have to defend themselves from Mickey Mouse and his militarized minions.

The current crisis in Anaheim began following a surreal and shocking incident in which Anaheim police unleashed a K9 police dog on and shot rubber bullets at a crowd of local small children, mothers with babies and terrified parents protesting against the police who shot and killed their unarmed neighbor, Manuel Diaz. In the wake of these violent incidents, street-level reality and Disneyesque fantasy are fusing in uniquely dangerous and strange ways. The response to the situation by both the Anaheim police and the media has magically moved reports of violence away from the concerns of Smith and other residents and on to the “violence” of “outside protesters”—kicking police cars, burning garbage cans, vandalism.

When viewed from outside of the very poor, overwhelmingly Latino community in Anaheim, Disneyland itself initially looked and felt like a funny foil for jokes that lightened the gravity of the bloodshed in the tiny city, where a militarized police department has killed three men in less than a week. But in a span of days, all this changed.

The spectacular contrast between the image of police “protecting” children in Disneyland and the images of those same police shooting rubber bullets at Latino children in Anaheim have made more obvious the lesser-known, local role of the “Happiest Place on Earth:” Creating a Disneyfied image of a city in which huge swaths live in deep poverty and under constant harassment of the Anaheim police and other security forces.

In the aftermath of the shooting of Manuel Diaz, Anaheim has, for many Latinos, come to symbolize the institutionalization of official police efforts and extra-official corporate efforts to distract, distort and deny the bloody on-the-ground realities that Smith and other local residents are desperately trying to keep in the public mind.

Just when we thought that the images coming out of Southern California could not get any more bizarre, Anaheim police decided to engage in their own imagineering. After more than a week of protests, the Anaheim police deployed officers dressed in military outfits and wielding military equipment, including what appeared to be hand-held rocket launchers capable of launching wither rockets or beanbags. The military fatigues, camouflage, boots and heavy weaponry caused many to wonder were we watching a repeat of the images of national guardsmen deployed during L.A.’s social explosion in 1992.

Though the display of militarized police power ran the risk of moving the situation in Anaheim to tragic-comic proportions, the move by controversy-ridden Anaheim police Chief John Welton served multiple and very strategic functions. Consider how, for example, the deployment instilled fear among local community members. Gabriel San Roman, a reporter with the Orange County Weekly and Anaheim native who still lives in the affected community, told me he thought the operation resembled a “military psyop,” or psychological operations like those used in Afghanistan and other counterinsurgency settings across the world. Other Anaheim residents report increased fear of protest, as well.

At the same time, the deployment of the militarized-police deflected from the true source of deadly violence in Anaheim—the Anaheim police. By positioning themselves in front of Disneyland for all the local, national and global media to see, Anaheim PD is trying to divert media coverage away from images of a department shooting at a crowd of children and toward those of brave troops protecting the Happiest Place on Earth from marauding Latinos. And the local media, including media owned by Disney, appear more than willing to join them, as much of the reporting in Southern California includes images and stories about police “clashing” with “violent” “outsiders” described in the city’s press releases.

Though the roots of the Anaheim conflicts lie in little-covered police violence taking place in working-class Latino neighborhoods, the media treatment of the violence and protests there resemble more the frames and reportage that were eventually applied to Occupy: police-military “cleaning up” after the violent acts of unruly, dirty and anonymous subversives threatening the public good, in this case the public good embodied by Disneyland.

Though Disney remains officially silent about violence and protests (except for a tweet dispelling rumors that visitors were forced to remain behind the gated confines of the Kingdom), Disney and its multiple and intersecting media businesses wield direct institutional power in the life of Anaheim.

Disneyland—the motor of the local tourism and entertainment economy—is the digital age equivalent of the all-controlling Octopus in the classic California novel by Frank Norris. It controls (and owns) or profoundly influences local media, the land, the city council and, of course, the local police of this small city. On the ground, the ginormous power of the company is on display nowhere better than in its successful effort to block 1,500 units of affordable housing near the hallowed area known as “the Resort Area.” Whatever disturbs the flow of the local entertainment economy centered around the Resort Area is deserving of whatever police deem necessary, a mandate readily boosted by local media.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has invited the president of Disneyland to lead the Anaheim business community in taking “a leadership role” in moving the city out of the current crisis. The effort may well become Anaheim’s own “Rebuild L.A.,” the largely forgotten and failed effort led by Disney and other corporations that were supposed to “rebuild” South Central Los Angeles and the rest of the city after the LAPD’s violence sparked a social explosion.

But there is good news in all this: The Latino community is losing its fear of the violent police in Anaheim and across the country, a theme not reported or commented on. Among the less-reported themes and images coming out of Anaheim are those of Latinos clamoring for justice. Powerful images of Latino children, youth and families standing defiantly before the police capture the only force that can bring an end to the official violence: protest and people power.

Fantastic analysis.

(Source: jayaprada)

humanformat:

occupyallstreets:

Gayane Chichakyan of RT interviews Thomas Andrews Drake. Drake was a senior executive of one of America’s biggest intelligence agencies at the beginning of the 2000’s.

He was an expert on electronic eavesdropping and had top secret security clearance. He was also a decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran, computer software expert, linguist, management and leadership specialist. Then Mr Drake essentially sacrificed his career to blow the whistle on his agency’s wrongdoings, as he saw them.

He was then charged under the Espionage Act, and only last year the charges were dropped.

In 2010, the U.S. government alleged that he ‘mishandled’ documents, one of the few such Espionage Act cases in U.S. history. His defenders claim that he was instead being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project. He is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling and co-recipient of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award.

On June 9, 2011, all 10 original charges against him were dropped. He rejected several deals because he refused to “plea bargain with the truth”. He eventually pleaded to one misdemeanor count for exceeding authorized use of a computer; Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, who helped represent him, called it an act of “Civil Disobedience.” The interview makes for very interesting listening, as they discuss the fact that the NSA (National Security Agency had a secret deal with the White House after 9/11, that made the NSA responsible for a secret surveillance program. They also discuss the current situation with whistleblowers and also with the Flame and Stuxnet viruses, created by the U.S. government.

“You go after the messenger because the last thing you want to do is deal with the message. You’re talking about all the activities, the secret surveillance, the warrantless wiretapping, torture, rendition, drone strikes, and a whole host of other measures that I would assert are extra-constitutional. Not only do they violate our own law, but they also violate a number of international laws.

Go after the messenger and not the message because to actually discuss or address the message becomes very uncomfortable. Essentially, what’s happened is that law—and we’re a nation of law—if we start to part (which we have in a very significant way), moving away from being a nation of laws and simply leaving it up to policy as a substitute, we’re going down a very slippery slope in the United States of America.”

FBI Is Building a Database of Iris Scans

pieceinthepuzzlehumanity:

By 2014, the FBI plans to test a database for searching iris scans nationwide to quickly track criminals, according to budget documents and a contractor working on the project.

The Next-Generation Identification system, a multiyear $1 billion program already under way, is expanding the server capacity of the FBI’s old fingerprint database to allow for rapid matching of additional physical identifiers, including facial images and palm prints.

Today, iris scans conjure images of covert agents accessing high-security banks and laboratories. But law enforcement agencies are increasingly spending state and federal funds on iris recognition technology at jails to monitor inmates. Some Missouri prisons are buying the same system the FBI acquired, partly so that they can eventually exchange iris images with federal law enforcement officials. And many counties are storing pictures of prisoner irises in a nationwide database managed by a private company, BI2 Technologies.

The FBI expects to collect many of these state and local iris images, according to B12 officials and federal documents.

A May 17 budget justification document states one of the “planned accomplishments for BY13 — the budget year that begins Oct. 1 — is to demonstrate iris recognition capabilities via the iris pilot.”

A June FBI advisory board memo that Nextgov reviewed states, “supervised release/corrections are candidates for the pilot, being that many already have the capability in place. The additional goal is to start to build an iris repository.”

Iris recognition is a helpful identification tool, according to the memo, because it “is very accurate,” does not require human intervention and “the hardware footprint is also very small [due] to the size of the iris image.”

The aim of iris recognition at corrections facilities, according to law enforcement officials, is to promptly catch repeat offenders and suspects who try to hide their identities.

Read more.

Surveillance Society: New High-Tech Cameras Are Watching You

beatyourselfup:

In the era of computer-controlled surveillance, your every move could be captured by cameras, whether you’re shopping in the grocery store or driving on the freeway. Proponents say it will keep us safe, but at what cost?

[…]

Pathmark archives every transaction of every customer, and the grocery chain is hardly alone. Amazon knows what you read; Netflix, your taste in movies. Search engines such as Google and Yahoo retain your queries for months, and can identify searches by IP address—sometimes by individual computer. Many corporations log your every transaction with a stated goal of reducing fraud and improving marketing efforts. Until fairly recently it was impractical to retain all this data. But now the low cost of digital storage—you can get a terabyte hard drive for less than $350—makes nearly limitless archiving possible.

So what’s the problem? “The concern is that information collected for one purpose is used for something entirely different down the road,” says Ari Schwartz, deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

This may sound like a privacy wonk’s paranoia. But examples abound. Take E-ZPass. Drivers signed up for the system to speed up toll collection. But 11 states now supply E-ZPass records—when and where a toll was paid, and by whom—in response to court orders in criminal cases. Seven of those states provide information in civil cases such as divorce, proving, for instance, that a husband who claimed he was at a meeting in Pennsylvania was actually heading to his lover’s house in New Jersey. (New York divorce lawyer Jacalyn Barnett has called E-ZPass the “easy way to show you took the offramp to adultery.”)

On a case-by-case basis, the collection of surveillance footage and customer data is usually justifiable and benign. But the totality of information being amassed combined with the relatively fluid flow of that data can be troubling. Corporations often share what they know about customers with government agencies and vice versa. AT&T, for example, is being sued by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group, for allowing the National Security Agency almost unlimited access to monitor customers’ e-mails, phone calls and Internet browsing activity.

“We are heading toward a total surveillance society in which your every move, your every transaction, is duly registered and recorded by some computer,” says Jay Stanley, a privacy expert with the American Civil Liberties Union.

[…]

The debate over surveillance pits the tangible benefits of saving lives and dollars against the abstract ones of preserving privacy and freedom. To many people, the promise of increased security is worth the exchange. History shows that new technologies, once developed, are seldom abandoned, and the computer vision systems being adopted today are transforming America from a society that spies upon a small number of suspicious individuals to one that monitors everybody. The question arises: Do people exercise their perfectly legal freedoms as freely when they know they’re being watched? As the ACLU’s Stanley argues, “You need space in your life to live beyond the gaze of society.”

Surveillance has become pervasive. It is also more enduring. As companies develop powerful archiving and search tools, your life will be accessible for years to come in rich multimedia records. The information about you may be collected for reasonable purposes—but as its life span increases, so too does the chance that it may fall into unscrupulous hands.

Several months after I stayed at the Talbott Hotel, Derene, my editor, called Troy Strand to ask if he still had the security camera images of me at the hotel. He did. My niece Emma’s Statue of Liberty shots are probably stored on a computer, as are the records of all my Pathmark purchases. Ramos could query my shopping trip of, say, Jan. 13, 2005, and replay video keyed precisely to any part of the register tape—from the fifth item scanned, pork chops, to the tenth, broccoli. That’s innocuous and even humorous on the surface, but the more I thought about the store’s power, the more it disturbed me.

“I would never do that,” Ramos assured me. “But I could.”

Googler Wants Error 451 for Government Censorship

thinksquad:

In an interview with The Guardian, Google employee Tim Bray said that he’s recommending to the Internet Engineering Task Force to use error code 451 when a website is blocked by the government.

For those who don’t recognize the symbolism, the number pays homage to the late Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 which was first published in 1950. The story warned of a dystopian world defined by government-imposed censorship which arrived in the form of burning any house that contained books.

We are looking at border security using UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) research, law enforcement, firefighting, just to name a few. There are going to be more and more uses for unmanned aerial vehicles to be able to do the surveillance and photographing that have taken helicopter pilots and small general aviation and even large aircraft to do in the past.

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Congress Welcomes The Drones

The ACLU, for one, is concerned that with all this talk of taking limits off drone use, there’s no talk about putting limits on how they’re used.

“Congress — and to the extent possible, the FAA — need to impose some rules (such as those we proposed in our report) to protect Americans’ privacy from the inevitable invasions that this technology will otherwise lead to,” writes the ACLU’s Jay Stanley. “We don’t want to wonder, every time we step out our front door, whether some eye in the sky is watching our every move.”

(via humanformat)
The emails uncovered by KTVU depict the fact that there’s a conspiracy between mayor Kwan and Howard Jordan when it was written, “I don’t know how you want to share this good news of the crime [rate] decreasing by 19 percent since Occupy because it’s in opposition to our message that Occupy is increasing the violence.” These are the types of thing that make me question the ethics of those who have been elected to represent and protect the community, and furthermore, makes me wonder in what ways will the funds be used, especially since there’s no guarantee that there has been any legitimacy to the allocation of the funds thus far.
Bella Eiko, January 17th Oakland City Council Speech (via humanformat)

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.

But at any rate, they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

George Orwell, 1984 (via humanformat)
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