On Napolitano & Kelly

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, despite protests, was approved to be the president of the University of California. On the top of the list to take her place at DHS is New York City Police Department head Ray Kelly. While this is also controversial, logically, they both are perfect fits.

UCLA’s Anthropology and Math departments are the academic brains behind what is known as Predictive Policing, pouring police into areas where crime will happen. Pred Pol was brought to the LAPD by Bill Bratton, who even threw funding behind the research. Pred Pol, like stop and frisk, like the Broken Windows theory, like Comstat, has been credited with dropping crime rates in both New York City and Los Angeles (never mind the shifting nature of crime due to economic changes, drug culture changes, and of course what and who gets labeled as criminal).

Kelly, the inheritor of stop and frisk from former NYC police and Los Angeles Police head William Bratton, has done his best to make sure that the policy of stopping black and brown young people remain the backbone of policing in the Big Apple. Never mind that the majority of those stopped aren’t found to be doing anything wrong. The point is that they could be doing something wrong and may do something wrong so that makes the city safer for everyone else. And let’s call everyone else who they are, white gentrifiers making ethnic and racial enclaves of NYC out of the price range for the people of color communities that have traditionally lived there. By flooding neighborhoods with police, intent on making ticket and arrest quotas, Kelly is doing his part to make sure that people of color leave their homes to cheaper neighborhoods or on a fast track to jail.

This is no different than the immigration policies that Napolitano vigorously enforced under President Obama. Programs like Secure Communities make it the rule of law for local law enforcement to stop those who could be undocumented immigrants, with the hopes that catching an individual without legal status will scare the rest of their family to leaving, i.e. attrition through enforcement, or will lead to fulfilling the DHS bed quota in detention facilities, many run by private corporations, or to deportation, which have reached record numbers under Napolitano.

With Napolitano and Kelly, all roads lead to the prison industrial complex. This is why they are virtually interchangeable parts of the same system that prioritizes the lives of some while denying the basic humanity of the majority. One can expect that with Napolitano at UC, more academic research touting the benefits of profiling (masked in statistical analysis) will be funded, giving credence to policies like Stop and Frisk, spying on would be “terrorists”, and Secure Communities. With Kelly at DHS, one can expect that immigrant communities across the United States will see more “silent” raids, that loudly echo through millions of broken families. The names of who holds positions of powers at academic institutions and government agencies matters very little. The machines function all too well regardless of who pulls the levers and greases the gears. It’s the destructive machinery that needs to be destroyed. I’m not saying that Napolitano and Kelly should not be held accountable for the damage their roles. They need to protested, called out over and over again as long as they hold any position of power anywhere. But they are machinists and as long as they have a system to operate, white supremacy, xenophobia, and racism will keep on keeping on. So let’s not get caught up in cults of personality. They are perfect for their jobs. Their jobs just shouldn’t exist.

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