Opinion | The Scandal of the Predatory City – By Bernadette Atuahene – The New York Times


Ms. Atuahene is a law professor at IIT, Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Credit…Claire Merchlinsky

“I coined the term “predatory cities” to describe urban areas where public officials systematically take property from residents and transfer it to public coffers, intentionally or unintentionally violating domestic laws or basic human rights.

Ferguson, Mo., is one well-known predatory city. As a 2015 Department of Justice report showed, the police in Ferguson systematically targeted African-Americans and subjected them to excessive fines and fees. The U.S. Constitution does not allow judges to incarcerate defendants for unpaid debts without first determining their ability to pay. Nevertheless, local courts issued arrest warrants for unpaid fines and fees without these determinations. Minor offenses, like parking infractions, resulted in jail time, although lawmakers did not contemplate or approve such severe punishment. The Ferguson Police Department and courts prioritized revenue raising over public safety, transforming Ferguson into a predatory city.

New Orleans is another. In 2018, a Federal District Court ruled that the revival of debtors’ prisons in New Orleans violated the 14th Amendment. At the time, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court’s primary source of funding was the fines and fees it collected. This created a structural incentive for judges to aggressively and erroneously pursue payment from those with no ability to pay, turning New Orleans into a predatory city.

Washington, D.C., is yet another predatory city. While civil asset forfeiture laws allow the police to seize property that they suspect was involved in a crime, in Washington, D.C., property owners had to post bonds of up to $2,500 in order to challenge the seizure. If the owner could not raise money in time, the D.C. Police Department sold the property, and the money went into its annual budget. In a two-year period, the Police Department made $4.8 million in profit by seizing money from over 8,500 people as well as seizing 339 vehicles. According to a federal court, this abuse of civil forfeiture laws was illegal.

A Radical Alliance of Black and Green Could Save the World, By James Gustave Speth and J. Phillip Thompson III | The Nation

…. “Civil-rights activists were fond of saying that all human destiny is intertwined. What many indigenous philosophies teach is that the destiny of all life is intertwined. In 1977, the elders of the Iroquois Confederacy issued a remarkable statement, “Basic Call to Consciousness: Address to the Western World”: “The Hau de no sau nee, or the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, has existed on this land since the beginning of human memory…. Our essential message to the world is a basic call to consciousness. The destruction of the Native cultures and people is the same process which has destroyed and is destroying life on this planet. The technologies and social systems which have destroyed the animal and plant life are also destroying the Native people…. It is the people of the West, ultimately, who are the most oppressed and exploited. They are burdened by the weight of centuries of racism, sexism, and ignorance which has rendered their people insensitive to the true nature of their lives…. The people who are living on this planet need to break with the narrow concept of human liberation, and begin to see liberation as something which needs to be extended to the whole of the Natural World.” ”

Source: A Radical Alliance of Black and Green Could Save the World | The Nation

A Young Jesse Jackson Rallies for Jobs

“We wanted to demand that if they were going to build where we live, we should have the trade skills to build. If there were public contracts, we should have the right to have a part of those contracts.The police were there to protect them from us; we should have been protected from them.We were just fighting regular racial segregation, except it was segregation in the unions – as it was in the schools, as it was in the police and fire departments. It was as hostile as anything we faced in the South, maybe even more so.”

Source: A Young Jesse Jackson Rallies for Jobs

The president delivers his single most accomplished rhetorical performance- www.theatlantic.com

— The choice of grace as the unifying theme, which by the standards of political speeches qualifies as a stroke of genius.

The president delivers his single most accomplished rhetorical performance, and it’s one you should watch rather than read.

Affordable Housing, Racial Isolation – The New York Times

“A Supreme Court ruling last week forcefully reminded state and local governments that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 forbids them from spending federal housing money in ways that perpetuate segregation. Communities across the country have been doing exactly that for decades.

Instead of building subsidized housing in racially integrated areas that offer minority citizens access to jobs and good schools, local governments have often deepened racial isolation by placing such housing in existing ghettos.”

via Affordable Housing, Racial Isolation – The New York Times.

Saint Nich: “It should be a scandal that lead (mostly from old paint) still poisons 535,000 children in the United States from ages 1 to 5

My fast from the NYT is over, traveling in Europe, and now I’m back to supporting the writing of Saint Nich:
“It should be a scandal that lead (mostly from old paint) still poisons 535,000 children in the United States from ages 1 to 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disproportionately affecting poor children, it robs them of mental abilities and is associated with disruptive behavior and crime in adulthood. If this were afflicting wealthy kids, there would be a national outcry.”

This year’s win-a-trip journey starts with a stop in Baltimore to look at some of the challenges presented by poverty here at home.
nytimes.com|By Nicholas Kristof

What Bill de Blasio Can Learn From John Lindsay — nytimes.com|By John Guida

“What are some of the similarities and differences between the mayors’ agendas as they came into office?

Both came to City Hall with progressive social agendas, but each was a product of his own time. John Lindsay, who served at the height of the civil rights movement, defined his goals in terms of racial justice. Bill de Blasio, who came to office at a time of growing income inequality, defines his agenda more in terms of economic justice. For Lindsay this meant providing Af

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What can our current mayor learn from New York’s civil rights-era occupant of Gracie Mansion?
takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com|By John Guida