You could tell he was lying because cops cannot speak without lying

You being safe is kind of the point of all this though

If you missed Monday’s subscriber-only post on the uprisings around the country against police violence you can find it here. It was “One of the good ones.” Thanks for supporting me either way as always.

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Here’s an even smarter and more historically informed read on what I was trying to say in the last Hell World.

Are you a black writer who has an essay or a dispatch from a protest you would like to submit to Hell World for money? I’d like to turn over the keys to the shop here to a couple of non-me writers for a few issues so get in touch.

Today’s post isn’t all about the uprisings it’s about some other bad shit that was going on before and is still going on to the migrants we are as of this moment detaining during the pandemic. Below I speak with Detention Watch Network about some of the protests and hunger strikes inside and outside of our concentration camps and about how things have gotten even worse these past few months for the people we are torturing because they have the wrong papers.

What overlaps are you seeing between the ways immigrants are treated and some of the uprisings we’re seeing around the country right now in response to police violence? Is there a connective tissue there?

I think so. It’s racism against black and brown folks and the criminalization of immigrants is part of this overall racist system. It’s the same struggle against racism and xenophobia and mass incarceration. We see immigration detention as an extension of the criminalization of black and brown bodies. The profit incentive around putting black and brown bodies in jail and cages, it’s really related in that sense. On top of that we see the criminal system is also a pipeline into the immigration detention system, so we see them as very connected and part of the same struggle. 

First a few things!

I posted this to Facebook yesterday. It's corny but I’m trying to speak to normies/cop-adjacent families and Facebook friend type people. Share it if you like. Write something of your own like it if you prefer instead.

This post isn't for my regular readers and lefties and people who always agree with everything I say, it's for my family and old friends who care about me but maybe think I'm "a little out there" or naive or whatever with my socialism and bernie bro shit etc. but still think I'm a reasonable and intelligent journalist etc.

Hi, it's me Luke. I'm here to make a promise to you. Antifa are not coming to your "suburban white" town to ransack your home or break your shit or whatever it is they are telling you is imminently happening. Of all the people you know I'm probably the person that would know this right? I wouldn't lie about this. What do I have to gain by making this up?

I have stood besides "antifa" many times at protests and rallies. I guess I am antifa. Trust me, it's just not happening.

Remember when Al Quaeda was coming to blow up the suburban pizza house after 9/11 or how ms-13 was coming to get you or how the "migrant caravan" was arriving any minute now? There are people who have a vested interest in keeping you scared with all of these boogeymen and they do it very well.

Antifa is not an organization. There are no leaders. There is no one giving out orders. There's never any game plan besides to show up when fascists gather and stand between them and other types of protestors as a barrier. Bouncers of a sort. It's a defensive posture not an attacking one.

Antifa is more of an action than an identity. It's something you do. Are you opposed to police brutality or white supremacists? Great! Put on a mask and some black clothes and go stand with other people opposed to that shit and now you're antifa. Go home after and you're not at the moment until the next time.

So you are safe don't worry. You being safe is kind of the point of all this though.

One thing I would like to see come out of all this besides all the other necessary things is for media to please stop considering the police a reliable source when reporting on activities they themselves are a party to. Journalists are petrified of writing that anything happened without an official government account giving them permission to because they think that provides them cover if it turns out to be a lie. But with cops it almost always is a lie. Police lie. Say that to yourself. Remember it.

When someone is arrested reporters might get a statement from them or their lawyer but it’s considered de facto suspicious because they’re clearly biased whereas the cops’ statement is much more heavily weighted and the similar bias is ignored.

This is why I always say the media consider themselves a deputized branch of the police. And for nothing but deference to power! They got nothing out of it and the rest of us in the public and in particular the ones being brutalized suffer for it.

The rules of objectivity in journalism are fake. People literally just made them up! They aren't the laws of physics. You're already failing your dumb frat pledge honor code of objectivity by trusting the cops so there's no reason why you can't adjust the dial to always start trusting the people being harmed by state violence.

Not that it matters I guess. There isn't going to be any media left besides like five giant corporations soon so who cares.

Please do not do this type of thing below. The banks will be fine. You do not need to save the banks from graffiti. They aren’t going to remember and cut you a break on an interest rate to get you back.

After marching in Boston on Sunday on Monday we went to a protest at the Robbins House a “historic early 19th century house formerly inhabited by the first generation of descendants of formerly enslaved African American Revolutionary War veteran Caesar Robbins, and by fugitive slave Jack Garrison.” It was…nice and well-meaning but also sort of weird due to it’s in Concord which is one of the richest towns in all of Massachusetts with about a 2% African American population. To get there we had to drive in a straight line to cross the highway on some literal “other side of the tracks” shit from our modest town and we almost crashed like five times from gawking at all the mansions that line the streets. Is that a house or an entire Colonial-ass looking hotel I asked like five times.

I think they were houses.

One of the speakers drew parallels between the situation today and Tulsa’s “Black Wall Street” massacre.

A number of black folks from the local community spoke and some of them were powerful and stirring and then they opened it up to everyone and there were a lot of earnest speeches from white people but then a little girl came up and started talking about her coloring book and making the people black and some other woman chided people for beef on the local town Facebook page which was funny to see at a time like this but I believed her because local town Facebook pages are basically Klan rallies and then the cop chief came up and said some shit about disavowing the tactics used on George Floyd but you could tell he was sort of lying because cops cannot speak without lying. Then I had to leave before I did something stupid like go up there and get myself into trouble.

So then we walked across the street to the Old North Bridge the spot where the first American militiamen —organized protestors! — got their shit together to fight back against the British and I thought this is a great place to be right now how moving and powerful and shit and I thought mostly that I could probably go for a really nice jog around here. Then I saw this plaque and I thought lol drag their asses.

Speaking of getting owned it’s not all bad news out there in the world today. I’m sure the new guy is bad too but I just really like the idea of Steve King eating shit and crying into his Klan hood.

If you’re interested the e-book version of The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale is available for free right now from Verso Books. You can find it here.

The problem is not overpolicing, it is policing itself

Recent years have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression. Among activists, journalists and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. Unfortunately, these reforms will not produce results, either alone or in combination. The core of the problem must be addressed: the nature of modern policing itself.

This book attempts to spark public discussion by revealing the tainted origins of modern policing as a tool of social control. It shows how the expansion of police authority is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice—even public safety. Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Alex Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve.

In contrast, there are places where the robust implementation of policing alternatives—such as legalization, restorative justice, and harm reduction—has led to a decrease in crime, spending, and injustice. The best solution to bad policing may be an end to policing.

I wrote this for the Guardian yesterday about our big boy’s truly normal Bible-holding stunt.

What do we know about Trump's love for the Bible?

On Tuesday evening, Donald Trump ordered the area outside the White House cleared of protesters by law enforcement who used teargas and flash-bang grenades to dispel the crowd. The impetus was a staged photo opportunity in front of the historic St John’s Episcopal church, which has already been condemned by religious leaders. 

“Let me be clear, the president just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus,” The Right Rev Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, told the Washington Post.

Asked by a reporter if the prop was his Bible, Trump responded: “It’s a Bible.”

As many other critics of the stunt have pointed out, aside from the disgraceful use of force against citizens to ensure a photo could be taken, the president appeared in images holding the Bible backwards and seemingly upside down, as if he’d never held one before. 

“I just wish he’d open it once in a while,” Joe Biden said in a speech this morning. 

That wasn’t the first such indication that the president is unfamiliar with the contents of the holy book. 

Back in 2015, in the lead-up to his election, Trump frequently named the Bible as his favorite book. At a rally in Michigan Trump asked a crowd how many had read his own book The Art of the Deal. 

“It’s my second favorite book of all time,” he said. “Do you know what my first is? The Bible! Nothing beats the Bible!” 

It became a recurring theme for him on the campaign trail. 

“As much as I love The Art of the Deal, it’s not even close,” he said. “We take the Bible all the way.”

Not long after, the then candidate was asked during an interview with Bloomberg to expound on one of his favorite chapters from his favorite book and he demurred. 

“I wouldn’t want to get into it. Because to me, that’s very personal,” he said. “The Bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics.” 

Asked if he could at least choose between the New and Old Testaments, he again passed. 

“Probably equal. I think it’s just incredible.”

A few months earlier he managed to remember at least one favorite line from the Bible that did stick out to him in a radio interview. 

“Well, I think many. I mean, when we get into the Bible, I think many, so many. And some people, look, an eye for an eye, you can almost say that. That’s not a particularly nice thing. But you know, if you look at what’s happening to our country, I mean, when you see what’s going on with our country, how people are taking advantage of us, and how they scoff at us and laugh at us.””

The next year, at a service in Iowa, Trump attempted to put money in the communion plate. Previously he had said it was a process he was familiar with, saying he would often “drink his little wine and “take his little cracker”. 

In March, a pastor who leads a Bible study group for members of the Trump cabinet, and is reported to be a loose adviser to the president, wrote a piece that blamed the Covid-19 pandemic on gay people and environmentalists. 

Last year, Trump shared a quote from a non-Jewish radio host who likened him to the “King of Israel” and said Israelis “love him like he is the second coming of God”.

“Thank you,” the president responded. 

The president, who has said he does not frequently ask for forgiveness, is not a regular churchgoer. During the impeachment vote he said of Mitt Romney, “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.” 

In 2016, he won 81% of the white evangelical vote.

They are concerned that if they get sick they won't be attended to

We see immigration detention as an extension of the criminalization of black and brown bodies

I shared this piece yesterday as a standalone on the main Hell World page. Be sure to check it from time to time if you haven’t heard from me because sometimes I’ll do that. But I wanted you all to read it here as well because it’s important.

“Immigrants detained at the La Palma Correctional Center near Eloy have become increasingly desperate as the new coronavirus outbreak at the facility has grown into to one of the biggest in the nation,” the Arizona Republic reported over the weekend. 76 of the undocumented immigrants being imprisoned there have tested positive for the virus, making it the sixth largest outbreak in the country. 

Like at many of the other facilities across the country people being detained there say they have been afforded inadequate opportunity to practice proper hygiene or to socially distance from one another. 

“Their letters tell me that they are very concerned and they are very desperate to either get out or get medical attention,” Jill Japan a woman corresponding with two detainees told the paper.  “And they are concerned that if they get sick they won't be attended to. They are afraid they are going to die.”

That comes as yet another hunger strike protesting such conditions has begun at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington. 

“Despite clear medical evidence of the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, ICE continues to transfer people detained in its hundreds of facilities across the country to and from detention centers with massive COVID-19 breakouts,” according to the advocacy group La Resistencia

Since the outbreak of the pandemic there have been twenty hunger strikes by at least 2,000 detainees in ten states around the country according to the Detention Watch Network when I spoke with them last week. More on our conversation in a minute. Two immigrants have died from Covid-related complications while in custody, while a third died shortly after being released. A fourth died of suicide after repeatedly requesting release due to complicating medical conditions

Last week numerous immigrant and undocumented advocacy groups took part in a national day of action to #freethemall with protests inside and outside of the detention centers. Some of the actions included:

New York City, New York: Families for Freedom led a body bag drop outside of the New York Field office at 26 Federal Plaza. Melinda Samuel, a member of Families for Freedom said:

“ICE keeps lying while detained folks are dying. Detention centers are like a petri dish for COVID-19 and to add more misery, they are still deporting people to countries where health resources are limited. They need to free them all.”

Adelanto, California: Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice led a car rally outside of the Adelanto ICE Processing Center. Lizbeth Abeln, Detention Abolition Coordinator, said:

“ICE continues to lie and retaliate against people detained who speak up and resist their harmful tactics. Just last week we submitted a complaint to DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, detailing the horrific reports we’ve been getting from inside the center; ICE is using toxic chemicals, in response to hunger strikers,  to ‘sanitize’ the facility, detrimental to the health of everyone inside. ICE is incapable of caring for our communities, they need to release everyone immediately.”

Tacoma, Washington: La Resistencia led a honk-in car rally and art installation outside of the Northwest Detention Center. Maru Mora Villalpando, community organizer, said:

“While people detained and their loved ones dare speak up either by going on hunger strikes, doing work stoppages, staging a distress call with tier own bodies in the yard, and sending videos and audios showing the truth of being detained while a global pandemic occurs, ICE keeps lying. We demand local elected officials to take people’s lives seriously and do everything they can to force ICE to release everyone in their custody. It’s time to stop believing ICE, and stop a tragedy from happening before it’s too late.”

Fairfax, VA: La ColectiVA and Sanctuary DMV led a petition delivery at Senator Warner’s office. Shamaal Sheppard, from LaColectiVA said:

“We are taking action in solidarity with people inside Virginia’s immigrant detention centers, and echoing their demands to be released back into our communities. Our petition delivery urges elected representatives in Virginia to publicly demand that ICE officials release people in detention. The safety and health of people in detention, and their families, are placed at an even higher risk considering the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the responsibility of our Senators, Governors, and Representatives to protect these lives and not stand complicit with the violence experienced in detention. We will continue until they are all freed.”

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Santa Fe Dreamers Project and Millions for Prisoners led a honk-in car rally. Sylvia Johnson, Creative Director of Santa Fe Dreamers Project, sad:

“We are taking action to amplify the voices of the courageous people behind the walls.  COVID-19 has exposed the abuses of a system that were present before this pandemic, including horrific conditions and medical neglect. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the detention facilities have become literal death traps and the safest thing to do for both those on the inside and the rural communities where these facilities are based is to immediately test and release people. We will continue to act in solidarity and call for the urgent release of people being detained and imprisoned.”

Stephonaé Nelson of Millions for Prisoners, said:

“The abuses happening behind the walls are egregious. Being denied basic sanitary products, being held in close corners in the midst of a deadly pandemic - those are reasons for all of us to protest. People who are incarcerated are speaking out, and it’s critically important that we support them so that they don’t experience retaliation.”

San Diego, California: American Friends Service Committee of San Diego coordinated with other advocates on a statewide call-in and twitter-storm action on Governor Gavin Newsom. Pedro Rios, director of AFSC’s US-Mexico Border Program, said:

In the face of inaction by ICE and their contracted profiteers, we join our statewide partners in calling Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra to investigate the deplorable conduct by private contractors that are profiting off of human suffering and have allowed for the surge in COVID-19 cases at immigration prisons.  The deaths of Carlos Escobar Mejia and Choung Woong Ahn were preventable, and they are a harbinger of what will follow if our government officials side with the Trump administration in concluding that detained migrants are expendable lives during a pandemic.

Today a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is being held, Examining Best Practices for Incarceration and Detention During COVID-19, for which Setareh Ghandehari, the Advocacy Manager of Detention Watch Network submitted testimony.

“The United States is grossly obsessed with incarceration. Whether called ‘detention center,’ ‘facility,’ ‘jail,’ or ‘prison,’ these systems share the same unjust design: to incarcerate Black and brown people and strip them of their dignity,” she told the committee.

She went on:

Both agencies, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have a record of abuse and neglect that has resulted in death. Now, with COVID-19 and rising infection rates in our country's jails, prisons and detention centers, the egregious conditions that are inherent to mass incarceration are exacerbated.

ICE’s shameful record of medical negligence, poor sanitation, and demonstrated inability to respond to past infectious disease outbreaks is detailed in a Detention Watch Network report, Courting Catastrophe: How ICE is Gambling with Immigrant Lives Amid a Global Pandemic.

The agency’s callous behavior not only endangers the health and safety of those it detains, but puts our collective health at risk.

It’s clear that more resources for or dependence on ICE, an agency that is not intended to provide medical care or respond to health needs, is not the solution. There are no real best practices for confinement that will ensure the health and safety of everyone in custody, so instead we must listen to the doctors, advocates, and government officials that have been sounding the alarm for months now. ICE must cease enforcement operations and immediately use its authority to release all people in detention – for their sake and for ours.”

I spoke with Ghandehari late last week about how the situation for migrants being detained has worsened under the pandemic, what she thinks should be done, and some things people like us can do to help.

Maybe it’s just me, but my impression is it seems like a lot of the attention that was being paid to the conditions we’re subjecting migrants to in detention disappeared with the arrival of the pandemic. Is that fair to say?

I think that’s fair. At least in the beginning. It’s the news cycle, right? The pandemic took over everything. Even the election. We’ve been seeing a lot of activity from grassroots organizations for people in detention, and it’s not being covered to the extent we would like to see, but I think there’s a lot happening in terms of people speaking out about it. There has been some coverage but that could also just be that’s where my focus is. 

Broadly speaking what has transpired for people in detention in the past few months? Have things gotten much worse, or has it remained largely the same?

The pandemic has really magnified the situation in immigration detention. As with a lot of things in society it’s laid bare the serious and systemic flaws. I would say things have changed in the sense that... I don’t want to say the stakes are higher, the stakes have always been high, it’s always been life or death. But when you have a pandemic, the fact that ICE has a history of medical neglect, a history of not having adequate access to soap and hygiene, the fact that people are not able to socially distance, which has not changed, all these things that are historically true make the situation that much worse when you’re dealing with a rapidly spreading virus. Once it starts spreading, if people aren’t provided with soap, and can’t socially distance, and don’t have masks and gloves, it becomes a very tragic situation. 

It seems like it was already a nightmare of neglect and abuse to begin with. Adding in this contagious deadly disease must have exacerbated things terribly.

Yes. In 2018 there was an outbreak of mumps. That outbreak spread rapidly because of the way ICE responded, so we know they don’t know how to respond to infectious disease outbreaks. That was mumps, something we know how to deal with. If they couldn’t handle that, what’s the hope of them acting appropriately now? 

Do you have a sense of how many deaths and cases of Covid have been reported in the facilities?

ICE reports on the number of people that have been confirmed to have the virus they’ve tested. Right now it’s something like almost 26,000 people in detention at this moment. They’ve tested a little more than 2,670 last I checked. 1,392 are confirmed with Covid. That’s only the people they’ve tested. There are people who should be tested that aren’t being tested. We can assume the number is much higher than what they’re reporting. 

Do you believe them? I don’t, but what does your group think?

No. We don’t trust them for anything. Is it true that they’ve tested 2,670 people? Maybe. Is it true that of those people 1,392 are confirmed? Probably. But do we trust that everyone who needs a test is getting a test? No. It’s a mixed bag. The numbers are useful in that it gives us a sense of the rate of infection. If 50% of the people being tested are infected, I think it helps us understand how grave the situation is because we know the numbers are likely higher. There have been people complaining about symptoms that don’t get tested, they have fever, or difficulty breathing… How they decide who gets tested I couldn’t tell you. 

You’ve been hearing from people in detention directly?

Detention Watch Network is a member organization. We have members all across the country, from grassroots people working closely with people in detention, to legal service providers, to advocates, so some of our members who work really close with people who are detained get the stories directly. There are some videos out there of hunger strikers from people inside detention available on our Facebook page you can check out. 

There have been a couple of confirmed deaths?

Since the outbreak there have been two confirmed deaths of people who died of Covid-related symptoms while they were in custody. One person died right after being released of Covid-related complications, so he almost certainly contracted while he was in detention, and they released him, and he died shortly after. There was a fourth person who died by suicide, who several times had requested release because he had several risk factors that made him at risk.

Terrible. What sorts of protests are you guys seeing inside and outside of the facilities?

I think that’s really significant. Since March we’ve recorded at least twenty hunger strikes within facilities across the country. Something like 2,000 people have been participating in ten different states. For reference, in all of 2019 there were thirteen hunger strikes. They’re really taking huge risks. The way that ICE has been responding has been retaliating by putting people in solitary, barring them from contacting counsel. This terrible irony, when they’re going on hunger strike for fear of their lives, they’re being denied medical attention. We’ve also heard of work stoppages. People are using different ways of getting their voices heard. 

In terms of organizing on the outside we’ve seen a lot of car rallies. People showing up outside detention centers to show support and make sure people inside know they’re being supported. We’ve people who have relationships with people inside sharing out their demands. Yesterday we a had national day of action. 

What overlaps are you seeing between the ways immigrants are treated and some of the uprisings we’re seeing around the country right now in response to police violence? Is there a connective tissue there?

I think so. It’s racism against black and brown folks and the criminalization of immigrants is part of this overall racist system. It’s the same struggle against racism and xenophobia and mass incarceration. We see immigration detention as an extension of the criminalization of black and brown bodies. The profit incentive around putting black and brown bodies in jail and cages, it’s really related in that sense. On top of that we see the criminal system is also a pipeline into the immigration detention system, so we see them as very connected and part of the same struggle. 

What are a couple actions you are recommending that people who are concerned about this can take? It can feel overwhelming and one might feel helpless. Those of us who are comfortable might be tempted to stick our heads in the sand. 

Obviously the easy one is sign a petition and share it to your people. How much are petitions worth, but it can be a spark for a conversation with your family and friends. That’s an easy one. We have a free them all petition on We’re calling for ICE to release everyone. They have the discretion to do so so if they wanted to they could.  In terms of other concrete actions, you can contact ICE, your local field office directors. And we especially want people to contact their elected officials and ask them to contact their local ICE field directors. ICE has offices all across the country and they have a lot of discretion about who they keep in detention and who they release. We’re trying to build up pressure to get people released at that level. 

The other thing I would say is to get in touch with local groups organizing in your area. There are groups across the country doing this work, so get in touch with them, see how you can get involved. We’re happy to put people in touch if you can’t figure out who those groups are. It’s especially important to follow the lead of immigrant-led groups doing this work. 

The other thing I would say is donate to bail funds. That’s another similarity with the criminal justice movement. We just want to get people out. We want everyone out without strings attached, but sometimes the practicality is someone’s been offered the opportunity to get out on bond, and they need money to pay it. 


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