At this point, my one question is: again? Why do these situations keep occurring? Sometimes I think to myself, why do we have a justice system that keeps failing us? Another victim dead, another authority figure left unscathed. But this is not the first time, so that brings into question the system we currently have set up.
I posted a video above but in it you see Eric Garner initially talking to the police. Clearly he is frustrated and feels constantly victimized by the police force that frequents the area, and he has a right to be. Garner repeatedly states, “I am minding my business officer.” Initially there was speculation that the officers were there because Garner had broken up a fight. However, one of the police officers approaches the camera and clearly states that it had nothing to do with the fight. So then the question arises: why did they grab him in a chokehold? Why is he dead? From the sources I read, his apparent crime was selling cigarettes without paying taxes on them. Was that the real reason that they put him in a chokehold? Probably not. This appears to me to be another case of a police officer showing his authority, displaying dominance, instilling fear.
Another big question that arises from this case is the use of the chokehold. The Staten Island police district banned the use of the chokehold! So not only did this officer kill a man, but he also did so using a practice that is not allowed. And yet, the jurors did not believe that the chargers were appropriate. WHAT? I am honestly at a loss for words. Nothing can mask my disappointment.
But really, why again? Why does this keep happening? We need to change our system.
This article details the visit of an American woman to a slum in Kenya. The researcher was in the country looking into women’s rights when she just so happened to strike up a conversation with her driver. The driver appeared to be well educated and from a decent background until it was that he told her where he lived. He lived in the slums. She was a little shocked seeing as she would have never gathered that by the way he carried himself. Nevertheless, she was intrigued and wanted to see what his home was like.
She described the slum as being like a whole different city, one with a rather large amount of crime and diseases. The driver, the father of the household, Otieno, told her of the initial struggles of survival. He came to the slum with few skills but eventually, with the help of his cousin, was able to get a license and jobs through that.
When the researcher was leaving she pondered as to why it was that Americans get anxious when they hear about the slums. She came to the conclusion that slums are the result of what people in the western world most fear when they talk about pollution, overpopulation, and urbanization. We fear slums.
The article that I chose to write about focuses on the idea of giving undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses in California. California is a state with a large population of undocumented people, many of whom currently drive without having their license. Recently however, a new law has been instituted that will allow undocumented people to follow the procedures of obtaining a license. They will have to pass the written and vision exam as well as the road test. Once they pass all of those they will obtain a drivers license, but one with stipulations. On the back it will be made clear that this license cannot be used for anything other than driving. It will specifically say, “this card is not acceptable for federal purposes.” While this may not seem like that big of a deal, being granted the right to drive is at least a right that they are being given that they did not previously have.
When the law was looking to get passed in California, only one person showed up and was against the law. Dan Rosenberg, the man against the implementation of the law, was concerned about safety. He was not sure if immigrants would be able to read or understand road signs due to the language barrier. He also thought that immigrants are not experienced enough to drive. Maria Rodriguez, a citizen that intends to take advantage of this reform says that people are going to drive regardless of whether or not they have a license. With this law though, undocumented people feel as though they are granted a small right that they were previously denied- they can begin to feel safe driving their cars.
I chose this article because I thought it highlighted an important part of immigration that sometimes people do not consider- that of lives of certain family members once others have been deported. This article highlights a family that serves as an example of what many others are going through. In the article, there was a family that consisted of undocumented parents, a daughter with partial rights to live in the United States, and a fully “American” son. The mother was deported to Nicaragua and five years later the father was taken. Both the son and the daughter were left alone in the United States under the care of a guardian. These kids were fortunate enough to have a guardian, but many do not. In that event, the kids are often put into the foster care system and forced to relocate to wherever there is space.
The loss of their parents not only has a severe impact on their location, but also on their emotional and mental health. All of a sudden kids go from having the constant presence of some parental family member to not having any. It therefore makes sense that they begin to withdraw themselves from school activities, social circles, etc. These sentiments also lead rise to the question of whether they should go and meet their parents or stay in the United States without them. It becomes a question of reunion with the family or to continue living in the country that to them represents home? Immigrants, and undocumented immigrants face many questions. One aspect that people do not think about as much is what happens to the family members that are left behind in the United States.
I’ve always been interested in knowing what happens behind prison doors- what many of us are never told. There are many stories that can be told about prison, the article I found just so happens to be a very sad and unjust one. My article this week is about a man who was killed in solitary confinement by the prison guards.
Randall Jordan-Aparo, an inmate, was killed in his cell due to a yellow chemical gas sprayed on him by the guards. Aparo had gone to jail for minimal charges and was merely sentenced to 18 months. Aparo had a rare blood disorder and when the nurses refused to let him go to the hospital he threatened “to sue their asses.” The guards felt he was being rude and deserved to serve time in solitary confinement. During his time in solitary he was gassed so badly “that photographs show the outline of his body surrounded by mustard-colored gas all over the cell walls.” The guards tried to defend what they had done by saying Aparo was causing trouble but in the security footage it was clear he was too sick to fight.
Just reading this article I was appalled- not only at what had been done but at the degree of power prison guards have. They, the guards, had the audacity to tell Aparo’s father that his son died of an infection. They knew full well what had happened. This article further demonstrates how blind people are to the system. What goes on behind prison doors is kept quiet and the guards make sure to keep it that way.
In class we have spoken about borders around the world. Most borders are created to separate two different countries or contain a set of ideals or principles. Rarely is it heard of to impose a border within countries to separate the rich from the poor. While there are things such as gated communities, it is rather rare to put up physical barriers separating the poor from the rest of the population.
In Argentina, they make sure to have a physical separation, be that by infrastructure(such as highways) or man-made walls. According to the Huffington Post “These urban islands are separated from the formal city by physical architecture and infrastructure barriers, not to mention social, cultural and economic barriers.” Villas are a way to keep out the under caste, those that are “unwanted” by the state. In certain cases, a villa will be relatively close to a gated community within the city and the government will purposefully cut off services (such as water, electricity) to the certain part of the city that holds the villa. According to the article, villas are not presented on maps of the city either.
Villas ultimately serve as a holding place for the poor. The government has debated for a long time about what to do with them and there is such discrepancy that nothing is achieved. Many articles say there is progress; that the government is working on integrating the people from the villas to the city but in reality nothing is being done. These villas exist currently and will continue to exist because many rich people in the city like the idea of having that separation between themselves and those they see as lesser. In the end, the villas exist because the well off city people impose invisible barriers along with infrastructure barriers keeping the poor out by denying opportunities and thus creating a cycle of poverty.