Poor People Are Simply Not Important

Last week I advocated some straight up, simple, and plain political action from our elected political leadership on behalf of beleaguered citizens/constituents (of which I’m one) – that have long suffered under a worsening plague of crime and violence negatively affecting our entire city: 

We don’t need to further enhance the political and legal frameworks for dealing with the negligible threat of domestic terrorism, instead we simply need to direct the existing political and regulatory frameworks toward the technical detection, deterrence and prevention of urban street violence. (in the process of implementing these measures, a significant amount of non-violent crime will be eliminated, as well) 

What Politicians Do Tells You Exactly Who The Constituents They Serve Are

This week I want to show you a real world example of just how easy it is for elected leadership to shift its governance narrative in ways that make clear which constituents’ these politicians truly serve. The state of Georgia in the city of Atlanta made a change in its political and legal framework for dealing with protestors at the Atlanta Cop City complex.

Sixty-one advocates in Atlanta’s “Stop Cop City” movement have been charged with racketeering after a Georgia state investigation into their protests.

The Aug. 29 indictment is another iteration of the state’s RICO law that has entangled high-profile individuals, such as former president Donald Trump.

According to NBC News, individuals associated with the “Stop Cop City” movement are facing charges for allegedly permitting violence to seep into their protests against the expansive and controversial police training facility in Atlanta.

Spanning over two years, the protest has highlighted the facility’s possible negative impact on the local environment and its placement in a predominantly working-class, Black residential area.

However, the actions of the protestors have been negatively perceived by some, with Republican Attorney General Chris Carr calling the activists “militant anarchists” for the vandalism and violence that has occurred since the movement began.…,

Protesters are not simply protesters any longer, rather, they’ve become racketeers now covered under Georgia RICO laws that allow law enforcement to protect its own interests and the interests of those backing the blue in Atlanta in the construction of a major police garrison in the middle of a working class black neighborhood.

The already extensive charges do not stop with racketeering. Some defendants have also been accused of domestic terrorism, first-degree arson, and money laundering. The incidents and growing strife between protestors and law enforcement reached new heights after the January killing of 26-year-old activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, also known as Tortuguita, during a demonstration.

Critics of the charges, such as attorneys at the Southern Poverty Law Center, believe the accusations promote “heavy-handed law enforcement intervention against protesters.”

Of course this is diametrically opposed to what I had in mind in Kansas City. Further criminalizing poor and working class black folks is a far cry from what I had in mind – however – it is instructive concerning the ease with which elected leadership can promptly shift policy and regulation in order to achieve specific constituent-serving objectives. Our objective in Kansas City is to detect, deter and punish criminal violence, not to criminalize or further criminalize legitimate political protest. The objective in Atlanta is very different and it’s not votes but political donations that are driving installation of a paramilitary police facility in the middle of a working class black neighborhood. 

Democrat New Mexico Governor Begs For More FBI Agents — Again — Amid Crime Wave

Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham asked the Justice Department (DOJ) to back her petition for further FBI assistance to combat surging violent crime, she revealed Wednesday.

FBI Director Christopher Wray failed to give Grisham more resources when she reached out to him with similar pleas in June, according to a press release. She recently sent Attorney General Merrick Garland a letter that urged assigning more FBI agents to her state.

“Both New Mexico law enforcement agencies and the FBI are partners in addressing and preventing violent crime,” Grisham told Garland, according to the release. “It is therefore imperative to provide the tools and support to achieve our common goal of ending violent crime in New Mexico.”

New Mexico had the 13th-highest homicide mortality rate nationwide in 2020, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data said. Its largest city, Albuquerque, had an estimated violent crime rate of about 1,043.4 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants in 2019, based on statistics collected by the FBI.

Political Leadership Takes Action On Behalf Of Its Constituents

Here’s a more onto example of appropriate and desirable political action taken by elected political leadership on behalf of beleaguered citizen/constituents suffering from a crime epidemic in their jurisdiction:

Why Should Kansas City Ask The FBI For Help Mitigating Urban Street Violence?

Because the FBI sits at the nexus of that vanishingly small domestic terrorism problem along with the Dept. of Homeland Security –  and – it provides assistance to local law enforcement overwhelmed by the burgeoning and epidemic violent crime problems. 

The FBI is not going to do community policing and the FBI is not going to “stop and frisk”. These are old-fangled approaches to cracking down on violent crime which put law enforcement at odds with the communities they’re charged with protecting. The FBI professes to possess a very particular set of skills that could drive a technical approach to the detection, deterrence and prevention of violent crime via social network analysis and technical surveillance.  

Why Would The New Mexico Governor Ask The FBI For Help?

The FBI’s top priorities are national security threats, but the Bureau also continues to play a key role in combating violent crime in big cities and local communities across the United States.

The FBI concentrates on crime problems that pose major threats to American society. Significant violent crime incidents such as mass killings, sniper murders, and serial killings can paralyze entire communities and stretch state and local law enforcement resources to their limits.

The FBI Has Made Bold Claims Concerning Its Results

According to FBI Director Christopher Wray:

So those are some of our top priorities at the FBI, but a topic that remains top of mind for us and all of you these days is of course violent crime.

In too many communities, we’re seeing a disturbing uptick in homicides and violent assaults. Our 2020 detailed crime data—which we released late last year—illustrates this.

Overall violent crime in the United States, which includes not only murder but also assault, robbery, and rape, rose by more than 5%. I want to put that in perspective, because it’s hard to visualize what 5% actually means.

It means in 2020, there were 67,000 more violent crime offenses than there were in 2019. And homicides jumped nearly 30% in 2020, the largest single-year increase in more than 50 years.

You all know what’s driving the violent crime in your states.

Whether it’s a community where a disproportionate amount of gun violence takes place or rival gangs wreaking havoc in a particular region or a handful of well-known trigger pullers who keep finding their way back to the streets, no matter how many times they’re arrested, at the FBI, we want to be your integral partner in the fight against violent crime.

This is why we’re sharing information, working strategically with our state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, and prosecuting the right cases in federal court. Our primary model for fighting violent crime remains our task forces.

Throughout the U.S., we have more than 50 violent crimes task forces; 175 Safe Streets gang task forces, with nearly 2,000 TFOs; 22 Safe Trails Task Forces, which are working to reduce Indian Country crime; and more than 100 Transnational Organized Crime Task Forces, with 600 members.

For some of the cities hit hardest by the recent surge, we’re boosting those efforts by temporarily surging resources to our field offices. These investigative, analytical, and technical resources embed with FBI personnel and support existing initiatives with our law enforcement partners for an immediate, measurable impact against violent crime.

Depending on where they are, the teams might focus on helping to get violent gun offenders off the streets, targeting commercial robbery crews, or taking aim at drug-trafficking gangs and criminal enterprises.

To date we have surged resources to six offices—Buffalo, Milwaukee, Louisville, Memphis, San Juan, and a current deployment in San Francisco. And collectively, these deployments have yielded nearly 150 arrests and the seizure of over 70 firearms from violent criminals.

And we’re seeing promising trends. In Milwaukee, homicides went down 17%, and non-fatal shootings fell by 28% during the resource surge.

And in Buffalo, there was a 50% decrease in homicides during the deployment. Buffalo is a good example of what we can accomplish when we gather intelligence across jurisdictions, surge resources, and build large enterprise investigations.

Buffalo had approached all-time highs in shootings and homicides over the past several years. By taking a hard look at what was driving that increase, we identified a couple of local gangs that were responsible for a number of murders.

We worked with our partners to build the case, and last fall, the 13th member of that gang was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted on two counts of murder in aid of racketeering.

We work shoulder-to-shoulder with our state and local partners in investigations like that across the country every day.

Just last year, our Safe Streets Task Forces made more than 20,000 arrests, seized more than 8,000 firearms, and dismantled over 200 gangs and criminal organizations.

These kinds of joint investigations we can all be proud of, agents and task force officers working with our partners to make communities safer.

Kansas City Has A Department Of Homeland Security Regional Fusion Center

The Kansas City Regional Fusion Center is funded by the Regional Homeland Security Coordinating Committee of the Mid-America Regional Council

The Department of Homeland Security has a regional advisory board. There is no black representation on the advisory board of “our” regional fusion center.

Could this be one of the reasons that epidemic urban street violence in Kansas City is not a high priority? Recall, the same elected political leadership that failed to deliver on $166 Million of Federal investment promises under the Green Impact Zone initiative – had those funds flow through MARC instead of at a grassroots level through the five neighborhoods targetted for improviement. The same politicians who championed the squandering of that opportunity are still in office and still doing a whole lot of nothing on behalf of constituents whom they have serially and repeatedly disserved.

Our Elected Politicans “Talk Black” But Don’t Serve Poor And Working Class Black Constituents

Officially, more than 38 million people live below the federal poverty line.  While that figure should be more than enough to shock the nation, the truth is that it is a gross understatement of our actual situation. 

The official measure of poverty, developed in 1964, doesn’t even take into account household expenses like health care, child care, housing, and transportation, not to speak of other costs that have burgeoned in recent decades. 

The world has undergone profound economic transformations over the last 66 years yet this out-of-date measure, based on three times a family’s food budget, continues to shape policymaking at every level of government as well as the contours of the American political and moral imagination.

Using the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure as a baseline, which, among other things, measures family income after taxes and out-of-pocket expenses for food, clothing, housing, and utilities, there are at least 140 million people who are poor — or just a $400 emergency from that state. 

As poverty has grown and spread, one of the great political weapons of politicians and the ruling elite over the past decades has been to minimize, dismiss, and racialize it. In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” coded it into Republican national politics; in the 1980s, in the years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the fabricated image of “the welfare queen” gained symbolic prominence. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton’s welfare “reforms” enshrined such thinking in the arguments of both parties. 

It is, of course, true that, among the 140 million poor people in the U.S., a disproportionate number are indeed people of color. Yet the reality of poverty stretches deep into every community in this country. According to that audit of America, the poor or low-income today consist of 24 million blacks, 38 million Latinos, eight million Asian-Americans, two million Native peoples, and 66 million whites.


Posted in ,
Avatar photo

Craig Nulan

Scroll to Top