U.S. Senator Proposes "Crushing" Gang by Mass Roundup and Incarceration
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Mark Kirk, U.S. Senator from Illinois (Republican), recently proposed that the Gangster Disciple gang be "crushed" by rounding up 18,000 of them in Chicago and imprisoning them. He said "I would like a mass pickup of them and put them all in Thomson Correctional Facility. I will be proposing this to the assembled federal law enforcement agencies of the ATF, DEA, and FBI." He said he would promote a national bipartisan coalition to push for a federal role to address the problem of gangs.
What would they be charged with? "Drug dealing" and "murdering people, which is what they do," said Kirk. Apparently he means all 18,000 of them, based on nothing but guilt by association. He said "if they complain" about these mass arrests "just say this is about the death of Hadiya Pendleton," advocating collective punishment for the recent shooting of a high school student. Kirk also said, "I think it is completely within the capability of the United States government to crush a major urban gang." The other U.S. Senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin (a liberal Democrat), stood together with Kirk at the press conference where he made this statement.
Congressman Bobby Rush (who was in the Black Panther Party in the 1960s) called the plan "an empty, simplistic, unworkable approach" from an "elitist white boy." A huge brouhaha was raised against Rush who was attacked as a racist for the "elitist white boy" comment and a hue and cry was raised for him to apologize, while Kirk was broadly given kudos by the media and politicians for this outrageous racist plan to round up thousands without due process. A Chicago Tribune editorial was titled "Can the Gangster Disciples Be Crushed? Kirk's Idea Has Flaws, but Credit Him for Pushing." It called the gangs "a blight on the city and a grim daily affliction for the people whose neighborhoods they occupy." Within a week Rush backtracked, and he appeared together with Kirk and announced that "our hearts are in the same place" and that they were going to work together against gang violence.
To the extent criticisms were raised of the plan, almost all of them centered not on the outrageous immoral, illegal, and genocidal nature of the plan, but that it had "logistical flaws" and was "unworkable" in its current form, because it would cost too much to implement—specifically that it would require large numbers of police and federal forces to round people up and larger prisons to hold them. Lip service was paid to "reducing crime" by improving the schools and creating more jobs, at a time when the Mayor and school board are shutting over 50 grade schools and many Black men have no chance of ever getting hired at a legitimate full-time job—and there are no proposals to "crush" joblessness.
By defining the basic problem of the plan as its cost and the difficulty of practical implementation instead of identifying the real problem as a fascist genocidal program aimed at demonizing and rounding up a whole section of people, the terms are being set in society that it is legitimate to consider that tens of thousands of people, who have already been driven by the system into the margins of society and demonized for it, should be "crushed"—and the only question is HOW to do it. This must be exposed and opposed. Given the realities of white supremacy in this society and all the atrocities committed in service of maintaining the oppression of Black people under this system, if these terms are set and accepted in society, then it's not a big leap for it to "make sense" to decide at some point that the most "cost-effective" way to deal with a whole section of people that this society has no place for is to kill them.
Far-fetched? Christian fascist leader Pat Robertson has called for the death penalty for "habitual criminals." He argues, "Society must pay for the anguish suffered by the victims of crime, then pay again each year to hold the criminal in prison, a cost equivalent to an Ivy League college education. The biblical model is far wiser...the hard-core, habitual criminal was permanently removed from society through capital punishment."
Bob Avakian has written about this, "we cannot avoid recognizing that the logic of Robertson's call for applying 'the biblical model' for crime and punishment involves an unmistakable suggestion of a 'final solution' against the masses of people in the inner cities as well as preparation for the use of extreme repression, and even execution, to punish a broad array of activities which today are treated as minor offenses or as no crime at all." (from "The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy...And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer")
Today in post-9/11 America, in the name of "safety" and "protecting people," people can be tortured and imprisoned for years at Guantánamo without being charged, American citizens can be executed by drones far from a battlefield with no due process, the entire population of the U.S. and much of the world can have their phone calls, emails, and social media surveilled by the government, and now Kirk is proposing that thousands and thousands of people can be rounded up and locked up for supposedly being associated with a gang.
Carl Dix and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network have pointed out that there is already a "slow genocide" of Black and Latino youth going on and that if it is coupled with silence this can lead to fast genocide. This whole plan and the reality behind it must be loudly and widely exposed and opposed.
Stop Mass Incarceration! Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide