Criminalizing California

Abby Zimet

What is up with California? In the wee hours today, the city council in Oakland - home of Oscar Grant, the Black Panthers and a police department famously riddled with racism - passed two measures straight out of Farenheit 451. One bans "tools of violence" like spray cans, fireworks and hammers from protests; the other accepts federal funds for a vast surveillance center, manned 24-7 by police, linking dozens of traffic and surveillance cameras with police and fire dispatch systems, Twitter feeds, crime maps, gunshot-detecting microphones, alarm programs and pretty much anything moving with the Oakland city limits. The so-called Domain Awareness Center - what does that mean?! - would be on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Really. Responding to privacy concerns raised by the ACLU and many residents, the Council argued it would address those issues after they build the damn thing. Really. All this happened mere hours after a judge ruled that the imprisoned father of Oscar Grant, shot down by a Bart officer, can proceed with a civil rights lawsuit against the officer. Small comfort, all things considered.


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