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Why Is Government Better Protected And Served Than The People?

“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

For the past fifty years, an epidemic level of black on black homicide has been raging through black communities. If federal resource allocation directed at mitigating this epidemic was done on the basis of measurable effects, e.g. a strictly quantifiable bodycount, and resources to combat this epidemic were proportionate to the resources allocated to combat “domestic extremism” or “domestic terrorism” – then in the humble opinion of this writer – the black-on-black homicide epidemic would have been remedied more than a decade ago. 

So Much Concern For Domestic Terrorism And So Little Concern For Urban Street Violence

In the entire United States in 2022: domestic extremists killed 25 people in 12 separate incidents. 21 of the 25 were linked to white supremacists, which was unusually high and primarily due to mass shootings. The issue of extremist-related mass killings is of growing and special concern due to the increase of such events over the past decade. https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/2023-02/Murder-and-Extremism-in-the-United-States-in-2022.pdf

https://ourworldindata.org/terrorism

Domestic terrorism in the United States is a vanishingly small problem. Yet vast federal, academic, private, and media resources are continuously allocated to the detection, deterrence and prosecution of domestic terrorism. Less than 1% of deaths are attributable to interpersonal homicide. Less than 0.05% of deaths are attributable to what is loosely defined as “terrorism”. 

“Federal criminal law defines domestic terrorism as acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of U.S. criminal law, occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and which appear intended to (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population, (ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or (iii) affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.1 According to its legislative history, the “domestic terrorism” definition was included “for the limited purpose of providing investigative authorities (i.e., court orders, warrants, etc.) for acts of terrorism within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”2

While there is no federal crime of domestic terrorism, individuals whose conduct involves domestic terrorism may be federally prosecuted under a wide range of criminal statutes. For example, federal prosecutors can charge firearms violations or interstate threats when applicable. Moreover, if domestic terrorists are convicted of certain federal crimes, prosecutors may seek sentencing enhancements that can result in such individuals receiving longer sentences.24 Lastly, states are not required to use the federal definition of domestic terrorism and may enact state-specific definitions or criminal offenses.25 See appendix II and IV for more information on the federal definition of domestic terrorism, selected state laws, and charges brought in domestic terrorism related cases.” https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-23-104720.pdf

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 interpersonal violent crime. (in the process of implementing these measures, a significant amount of non-violent crime will be eliminated, as well) 

Missouri Has An Activist Attorney General And State Legislature

Missouri is very quick to sue the federal government. AG’s Eric Schmitt and Andrew Bailey have filed dozens of lawsuits against the Biden administration covering a range of issues with which Missouri’s elected political leadership is at odds with the United States’ Federal elected leadership. 

Republican politicians often treat it as an established fact: Where they are in power, crime is low. Where Democrats are in power, crime is high. “Republican-run cities are doing very nicely because they arrest people when you have crimes,” Donald Trump told Tucker Carlson last week.

“The cities and these left-wing states allowing criminals to run wild on our streets, that doesn’t work,” Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, said in March, citing New York in particular.

Crime Is Nonpartisan – https://archive.ph/zIlaM#selection-343.0-347.69

In 2022 Kansas City recorded 169 homicides. https://www.kcpd.org/media/4413/final-daily-homicide-analysis-2022.pdf

As of 8/28/23 Kansas City has recorded 130 homicides. 75% of these were black on black murders. 

Kansas City does not have local control of the KCPD. Jefferson City exercises control over the Kansas City Police Department. Does it therefore stand to reason that either a). Majority Republican Jefferson City is soft on crime? b). Majority Republican Jefferson City is indifferent to the suffering of the state’s two major urban centers resulting from epidemic violent crime and criminality?

Why Aren’t Our Activist Politicians VERY Concerned About Epidemic Urban Street Violence?

The effect on the Missouri economy of urban street violence in cities like Kansas City and St. Louis is complex and multifaceted. Crime and violence have both direct and indirect economic consequences, and its impact can vary depending on the scale and severity of crime, as well as the responses of businesses, residents, and policymakers. Here are some of the ways in which street crime affects the economy:

Reduced Economic Activity: High levels of street crime deter businesses not only from operating in certain neighborhoods – but leads them to avoid entire cities, as well. This can lead to reduced economic activity, including decreased retail and commercial investment. Lower economic activity can result in fewer job opportunities for residents.

Property Values: Crime lowers property values in affected areas. This results in reduced property tax revenue for local governments, which impacts their ability to fund essential services and infrastructure projects.

Increased Security Costs: Businesses and individuals incur higher costs for security measures such as alarms, surveillance systems, and private security personnel. These additional expenses can reduce disposable income and business profits.

Loss of Tourism: High crime rates deter tourists from visiting an area. Kansas City and St. Louis are perceived as unsafe, leading to a decline in tourism, affecting the hospitality and tourism industries.

Healthcare Costs: Crime leads to injuries that require medical attention. High rates of violent crime strain local healthcare systems and increase healthcare costs for individuals and governments.

Reduced Workforce Productivity: Employees are less productive if they are concerned about safety or if they have been victims of crime. This impacts business productivity and overall economic output.

Impact on Education: High crime rates negatively affect the quality of education in affected areas. This limits the future earning potential of residents and hinders workforce development.

Public Resources: Law enforcement and criminal justice resources are diverted to address and prevent street crime. These resources could potentially be used for other purposes, such as community development or education.

It’s important to note that the impact of street crime on the economy can be mitigated through effective law enforcement strategies, community engagement, and economic development initiatives. Reducing crime rates can lead to economic revitalization in affected areas, as businesses and residents become more willing to invest in and contribute to the community.

Politicians and law enforcement alike know that a scientific method of policing called focused deterrence works. The logic is simple: if you are the type of person who goes out and commits crimes with others, you are probably connected to people who commit crimes with some frequency.  And that puts you at risk of getting murdered, because people who commit crimes sometimes murder others who become inconvenient, or who just get in the way. Minor adjustments to the political and regulatory framework are all that would be required to engage the problem at its root via technical surveillance, social network analysis – studying who knows who and how they interact, and drawing up and vigorously pursuing networks that reveal the clustering that results from various criminal commonalities.

By focusing on high-risk individuals and groups, engaging with community members, and providing support services, this strategy has demonstrated significant promise in reducing crime and improving public safety. Empirical evidence from various cities supports the effectiveness of focused deterrence, with studies showcasing notable reductions in violent crime.

As A Citizen – I’m VERY Concerned About The Impact Of Urban Street Crime On My Quality Of Life

At the beginning of the summer, Governing carried a book-length dissertation on political incompetence and status quo gridlock between the police and Kansas City local political leadership. The article concluded with exaggerated and childish finger pointing between the new police chief Stacey Graves and City Council woman Melissa Robinson: https://www.governing.com/community/kansas-city-launches-plan-to-reduce-crime-amid-rising-gun-violence

“We find it difficult to take KCPD seriously when they claim they’re ‘listening’ — after contributing to a legacy of racism and violence in our communities. The police consistently prioritize their own agenda, and we believe in communities coming together without the police to imagine solutions that are informed by the community,” Cook said.

That chasm played out following a listening session where Graves told the 100 attendees that she was disappointed by a couple city leaders who were too quick to say they lost the trust in KCPD.

While Graves did not name specific individuals, in an April 17 letter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Kansas City Councilwoman Melissa Robinson asked federal prosecutors to investigate the shooting of Ralph Yarl. The teen, who is Black, was shot and seriously injured by a white man when he went to the wrong house to pick up his siblings in a Northland neighborhood.

The shooting angered many in Kansas City and across the country who felt that race played a role in how long it took local enforcement to arrest and charge Andrew D. Lester, 84, for the shooting.

“Those words are divisive, counterproductive and ultimately hurt their constituents who experience violent crime and welcome police in their neighborhoods. I can’t say this enough – we need to work together, in all times, specifically the difficult times,” Graves said.

“This statement was not in regard to asking for a federal investigation, nor would I ever dismiss the racial component and sensitivity of the Ralph Yarl shooting. As Chief of Police, I am trying to bring people together and work to make Kansas City safer.“

Robinson told The Star she was “deeply troubled” by Graves’ comments.

“I continue to fear and will always challenge the dangers of unchecked bias in policing,” she said. “As a Black mother of two sons and as an elected official, who represents a community who disproportionately depends on the protection and service of Kansas City Police, I spoke the truth.”

“I encourage Chief Graves to focus on improving relationships with the community instead of spending valuable time degrading public officials. We have a lot of work to do,” she said.

As unfortunate as the shooting of Ralph Yarl by Andrew Lester was, it was an even more vanishingly rare occurrence than any one of the 25 incidents across the U.S. in 2022 attributed to domestic extremism. Andrew Lester was extremely frightened of young black males and Ralph Yarl was an entirely innocent young black male. That same week in Robinson’s district, there was a shooting within a few blocks of a very large KCPD precinct which injured four and killed one, one of the injured being a five year old child. The following day  there was a retaliatory killing. https://news.yahoo.com/6-people-were-shot-3-024417289.html

In the time it took Melissa Robinson to write the U.S. Attorney about an unfortunate incident well outside the district she represents – she could have been caucusing with Kansas City’s legislators in Jefferson City to craft legislation that would move the dial forward on mitigating epidemic urban street violence IN HER DISTRICT.  It is a flabbergasting mystery to me that our black state representatives and senator have sat idle on the topic of crime and violence that has such devastating direct effects on the constituents they purport to represent.

Why Doesn’t Urban Crime Matter Enough To Politicians For Them To Do Something About It?

Urban street violence has long been a complex and contentious issue in Kansas City. While often attributed to socio-economic disparities, racial tensions, and criminal elements, it is also important to recognize the role that urban street violence plays as a tool in city and state politics. Urban street violence is manipulated and exploited by various political actors to achieve their own political goals. 

Historical Context: Rioting and Civil Unrest

The 1960s witnessed a surge in riots and civil unrest in cities like Los Angeles, Detroit, and Newark. These riots were often sparked by incidents of police brutality against Black individuals and were fueled by deep-seated frustrations over racial segregation and limited opportunities. Political actors recognized the potential of these uprisings to draw attention to social issues and exert pressure on the government to implement reforms. 

Exploiting Fear: Law and Order Politics

In the 1960s and 1970s, “law and order” politics gained prominence as a response to urban street violence. Politicians, particularly conservative ones, capitalized on public fear of violence and crime, positioning themselves as strong defenders of order and safety. Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign famously employed this strategy, using coded language that associated racial unrest with criminality. This approach resonated with segments of the population who sought a forceful response to urban violence, ultimately shaping policy decisions and influencing voting behavior.

Divide and Conquer: Racial and Partisan Politics

Urban street violence is also exploited to deepen existing divisions along racial and partisan lines. Political actors use dog whistles and coded language to stoke racial animosity and amplify fears of the “other.” This tactic aims to create a sense of in-group solidarity among certain segments of the population, positioning themselves as the protectors of a particular identity. By framing urban violence as a consequence of opposing ideologies or minority groups, political actors can galvanize their base and consolidate power.

Policy Responses: The Politics of Criminalization

Policy responses to urban street violence often reveal the political motives behind their implementation. The “War on Drugs,” for instance, disproportionately targeted communities of color, leading to the mass incarceration of Black and Hispanic individuals. This approach not only perpetuated cycles of violence but also reinforced racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Political actors often advocated for tough-on-crime policies as a means of demonstrating strength and appealing to law-and-order sentiments, even when evidence suggests that such approaches are ineffective in addressing the root causes of violence.

Media Framing: Sensationalism and Polarization

Media plays a crucial role in shaping public perception of urban street violence. Sensationalist coverage often focuses on the most violent aspects of protests and demonstrations, perpetuating negative stereotypes and overshadowing the underlying causes of unrest. This framing serves the interests of certain political actors who seek to delegitimize social movements and maintain the status quo. By presenting protesters as unruly and dangerous, these actors can justify increased police presence and repression, further exacerbating tensions.

Andrew Lester’s shooting of Ralph Yarl happened because Andrew Lester doesn’t have a single black friend. This old man’s view of young black males is shaped exclusively by what he has imbibed on local television news. 

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses. The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press. It will make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” ― Malcom X

 

Politicians At All Levels Are VERY CONCERNED About Their Own Personal Safety

Overview of America’s Top 10 Fears 2022

Christian Grevin (Political Science and History, ‘22) compiled the list from the work of Wilkinson College Undergraduate Research Fellows in the Henley Lab and Babbie Center (including Grevin) who have also completed research papers based on their participation in the Study of American Fears. This year’s topics range from fear of being the victim of mass shootings, to fears related to Jan. 6th and the violent overthrow of the U.S. government to fears related to immigration and gun control. Fears are ranked by the percent of Americans who reported being afraid or very afraid.

Top 10 Fears of 2022 % of Very Afraid or Afraid

  1. Corrupt government officials 62.1
  2. People I love becoming seriously ill 60.2
  3. Russia using nuclear weapons 59.6
  4. People I love dying 58.1
  5. The U.S. in another world war 56.0
  6. Pollution of drinking water 54.5
  7. Not having enough money for the future 53.7
  8. Economic/financial collapse 53.7
  9. Pollution of oceans, rivers, and lakes 52.5
  10. Biological warfare 51.5

General Overview of America’s Top 10 Fears 2022

The top 10 fears found in the 2022 survey suggest that Americans’ fears center on five main topics: corrupt government officials (number 1), harm to a loved one (numbers 2 & 4), war (numbers 3, 5, & 10), environmental concerns (numbers 6 & 9), and economic concerns numbers 7 & 8).

Corrupt Government Officials

Fear of corrupt government officials has remained the greatest fear for yet another year since first landing in the spot in 2015. The fear, however, has experienced a steep drop from 79.6% (2020/21) to 62.1% (2022), the lowest it has been since 2016.

This Is Why Politicians Are Concerned About Domestic Terrorism And Political Extremism

A year after a pro-Trump mob ransacked the Capitol in the worst attack on the home of Congress since it was burned by British forces in 1814, a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll finds that about 1 in 3 Americans say they believe violence against the government can at times be justified.

The findings represent the largest share to feel that way since the question has been asked in various polls in more than two decades. They offer a window into the country’s psyche at a tumultuous period in American history, marked by last year’s insurrection, the rise of Trump’s election claims as an energizing force on the right, deepening fissures over the government’s role in combating the pandemic, and mounting racial justice protests sparked by police killings of Black Americans.

The percentage of adults who say violence is justified is up, from 23 percent in 2015 and 16 percent in 2010 in polls by CBS News and the New York Times.

A majority continue to say that violence against the government is never justified — but the 62 percent who hold that view is a new low point, and a stark difference from the 1990s, when as many as 90 percent said violence was never justified.

While a 2015 survey found no significant partisan divide when it comes to the question of justified violence against the government, the new poll identified a sharper rise on the right — with 40 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of independents saying it can be acceptable. The view was held by 23 percent of Democrats, the survey finds.  Acceptance of violence against the government was higher among men, younger adults and those with college degrees. There was also a racial gap, with 40 percent of White Americans saying such violence can be justified, compared with 18 percent of Black Americans.

People’s reasoning for what they considered acceptable violence against the government varied, from what they considered to be overreaching coronavirus restrictions, to the disenfranchisement of minority voters, to the oppression of Americans. Responses to an open-ended question on the survey about hypothetical justifications included repeated mentions of “autocracy,” “tyranny,” “corruption” and a loss of freedoms.

The growth in the share of Americans willing to accept violence against the government identified by The Post-UMD poll may be partly due to methodology. Previous surveys were conducted by phone, while the new poll was largely conducted online, and studies have found respondents are more willing to voice socially undesirable opinions in self-administered surveys than when asked by an interviewer.

Recent surveys, though, have identified a similar trend, and subsequent interviews of some of the 1,101 respondents who participated in the Dec. 17-19 Post-UMD poll found that the events of the past two years have prompted people to reconsider their views. (The new poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/01/1-3-americans-say-violence-against-government-can-be-justified-citing-fears-political-schism-pandemic/

Conclusions

It has been a privilege and pleasure to hold forth in Kansas City’s historic The Call newspaper on the topic of failed governance in Kansas City MO. Over the past month we have looked at:

 

  1. Failures Of Transparency, Accountability, and Governance – Green Impact Zone Promises Broken – What do we have to show for Obama/Cleaver’s $166 million investment in jobs, weatherization, and smart grid? Who’re you going to call now that Evergy is playing havoc with rates and taking as long as ten days to restore power after storm related line breaks?
  2. Iron Law of Oligarchy – How Political Hierarchy trumps Democracy Every Single Time – or how less than 10% of the city’s voters turn out to pretend to choose from the same tired roster of candidates who’ve failed to get anything done the past three decades. Why don’t we have transparent and highly accountable policing in Kansas City?
  3. Facts, Logic, Data, And Truth – Why Aren’t The People Protected And Served? – Could it be that 19th century policing is not the way to go about solving a 21st century crime problem? Are their methods and means at “our” disposal that could make expeditious short work of the hard core of violent criminal social networks plaguing our community?
  4. Why Politicians Care More About Political Extremism Than Violent Urban Crime? Domestic terrorism laws have been enacted since the Patriot Act and FISA to enable more methodical surveillance, detection, deterrence and prosecution of political thought criminals. Political thought criminals killed 25 people last year nationwide. Regular old violent criminals killed 169 people in Kansas City alone last year. It’s conspicuously obvious to the casual observer that the latter problem dwarfs the former problem in severity of effects. 

As a Kansas City resident for three decades, I bear witness to the serial repetitive failure of our politicians to engage in hard talk, devise logical and sensible solutions, and deliver on promises of constituent serving policies. Under the stewardship of our congressman, state legislators, mayor, city council members, (I haven’t gotten around to the school board yet – but having worked for KCPS for nearly a decade, trust and believe there’s much to say).

If we don’t begin talking among ourselves in earnest, deviating from the constipated contemporary norms that suppress rational criticism of repeated political/policy failure – then we wind up with Pretty Pistol Posses left fending for themselves. (No criticism whatsoever of the PPP is intended here – I respect and admire their gumption) But if, in the interest of comity and pretend unity, we fail to hold our politicians to account for their constant and continued failures, then we will get exactly the caliber of political leadership that we deserve. That caliber of political leadership knows that it has failed and it knows that we know that it has failed. This is why our politicians are more afraid of us – and spend hundreds of $millions – getting ready to defend against an angry horde of us – than they are of criminals who prey on all of us.

“When in the course of human events the government no longer represents the people, and there is no recourse, then it might be time,”  https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript

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Craig Nulan

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