Poverty is Not a Crime: New York’s Bail Law Explained
There’s a lot of bad information about the new bail laws. I’m here to give you the facts.
During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, one of the most effective strategies that the federal government used to sow tension and destruction was divide and conquer. It seems so easy to see now, but at that time, no one really had a clear-eyed view of what was going on. All they knew was that things were happening, people were dying, and relationships were changing. The sober truth is that our movement leaders and community folks didn’t fall for this because they were simpletons, they were far from that. And it wasn’t because the government was so brilliant in their approach. The government just used the multitude of tools available to cause fissures where they could find them.
One of the most effective tools they used was the media. With the help of conservative media and white supremacists working as journalists, they used trumped-up stories and false narratives to misrepresent the work that organizers were doing. It’s why you hear more about Dr. King’s “I Had a Dream” speech than you do about his anti-war rhetoric. It’s why people still see the Black Panthers as a “violent group of radicals” instead of the community leaders that started the school breakfast program and registered hundreds of black people in Oakland to vote. It’s why despite years of contrary evidence and even more lived experience, there is still the false idea that black people are somehow more violent and criminal than white people. We aren’t, but our “justice” system would have you think differently.
It’s simple, whenever there is a movement for policy or ideas that will benefit the lives of poor, black and brown people, a counter-narrative comes alive with the goal of doing everything it can to undermine that progress. Why would they do that, you ask? It’s simple: those in power need someone without it in order to remain on top.
During the Civil Rights movement, it was the FBI with COINTELPRO. In modern times, its attacks towards the Black Lives Matter movement, the pro-Palestine movement, and the fight to reform our racist criminal justice system. Recently that energy has been targeted at New York.