Security services probe whether ‘British’ child carrying out ISIS execution is son of jihadi Sally Jones
Security services were last night probing whether a British boy seen carrying out an apparent execution for Islamic State is the young son of punk-rocker-turned-jihadi Sally Jones. Anti-terror cops are looking at whether the light-skinned boy, dubbed Abu Abdullah Al-Britani on a sickening video, is 11-year-old son of Kent mum-of-two Jones, who fled to Syria to fight for ISIS in 2013. Jones has since made numerous online threats towards the West and is said to be a major recruiter of women jihadis.
She took son ‘Jojo’ with her when she fled the UK and is said to have renamed him ‘Hamza’. During the gruesome propaganda clip a row of men kneel with young uniformed soldiers standing behind them with guns. They are believed to be somewhere in Raqqa, Syria, one of the few remaining IS strong-holds.
British child “Abu Abdullah Al-Britani” featured executing man in new ISIS video from Raqqa
The youths make statements in Arabic before raising their handguns and apparently shooting the men in front of them in the back of the head. All the men in orange jumpsuits are Kurds, the boys say, who are apparently being punished for recent Kurdish advances in Syria and Iraq.
The horrific footage is part of a longer nine minute propaganda clip posted by the terrorist organisation that features a number of other killings. The video claims the other children are from Egyptian, Kurdish, Tunisian and Uzbek backgrounds.
Gruesome clip was part of longer propaganda video
Other Brits who have used the al-Britani title include Assad Uzzaman, originally from Portsmouth, who was 25 when he was killed in Syria last year. Abu Rahin Aziz, 32, from Luton fled to Syria after he stabbed a football fan in the eye with a pen.
He was reportedly killed in an American drone strike.
Abu Abdullah al-Britani, said to be one of the IS Beatles
William Hasmo Clinic, who as well went by the pseudonym, also died fighting for IS.
The jihadist – who was feared to be one of The Beatles militants behind US journalist James Foley s killing – had previously claimed Allah makes beheading victims easy .
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has plugged staffing gaps that caused long security lines earlier this summer at major U.S. airports. The agency has also addressed lapses revealed last summer in its ability to screen passengers for weapons and explosives, said TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger.
This past summer we were struggling with what were very large congregations of people on lines at security checkpoints at some of our largest airports, acknowledged Neffenger, who addressed the Air Line Pilots Association (Alpa) air safety forum August 25 in Washington, D.C. When you think about public areas of airports, it was rightfully a concern of people that there were large lines, he said, noting that he was at Brussels Airport in March when terrorists exploded bombs in the departure area, having arrived on a United Airlines flight. I think you ve found that this summer we did a pretty good job of fixing that. To alleviate the staffing crisis, which became nightly news on television, Congress allowed the agency to reallocate $34 million in funding, of which $26 million was used to triple the amount of overtime and increase the number of part-time hours paid to transportation security officers (TSOs) at high volume airports, Neffenger told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in June. Airlines and airports also supported the TSA, including hiring contractors, to help reduce the lines at security checkpoints. The agency is now graduating 192 uniformed TSOs per two-week course nearly 3,000 this year from an academy it established in January at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga., Neffenger told the Alpa conference. For the first time in five years, it has also started hiring new federal air marshals who travel on commercial flights under cover to protect against terrorism.
We really dramatically changed the way we operate, said Neffenger, who came to lead the TSA in June 2015 after serving as vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. We established a national command center to think differently about the approaches to the checkpoint managing the approaches as a separate security issue from the checkpoint itself and then to do so from a national perspective by providing resources as necessary. I think we got ourselves well ahead of the problems we expected to have. We had eight days over the past two weeks where we had larger travel days than any of the largest Thanksgiving holidays in history.
There were some drawbacks to the effort, however. Neffenger said that he deferred funding to create a new training facility for the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, which trains pilots to use firearms to defend against flight deck incursions, because I really needed to get some more staff on board to deal with the problems that we had. But I assure you that was not any attempt to show any lack of support for the program, it was just the exigency of the summer challenges. The TSA has also addressed screening lapses identified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general s office last summer, Neffenger said. The DHS, its parent organization, reassigned acting administrator Melvin Carraway after investigators managed to smuggle banned weapons and explosives past TSA luggage screeners in 67 out of 70 tests.
The first six months I was on board was spent really trying to understand what those inspector general results meant, Neffenger said. We did a true root-cause analysis, not just a bandaid fix where you go and you remediate the people who may have had the failures. We did a stand-up across the entire agency. It started off with an eight-hour training (course); we ve since done a number of others. This was for all 60,000 (employees), including myself. Among fixes, the agency found that its 3,000 standard operating procedures were too many for TSOs to master, Neffenger said. Those procedures have now been simplified, comprising a binder of about 20 pages.
- ^ when terrorists exploded bombs in the departure area (www.ainonline.com)
Yikes! Five years after she was acquitted of allegedly murdering her baby girl, some people STILL can t stand the sight of Casey Anthony. SO much so that a new report claims Casey was assaulted at a public bowling alley, which is NOT even a rare occurrence! Find out what went down here.
Back in 2011, Casey Anthony, 30, was acquitted of allegedly murdering her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, however, she still deals with angry members of the public on the regular occasionally even getting verbally assaulted by those who will never forgive her for what they think she did to her child. One such incident happened at a bowling alley on July 8.
The 30-year-old was enjoying a night of bowling with friends, drinking beer, and laughing, at Greenacres Bowl in Lake Worth, Florida when fellow patrons began saying negative things to her and verbally attacking her. Alleged witnesses told In Touch magazine that people definitely weren t happy to see her there and one woman even called her a baby killer.
She was having fun, one bowler, Katie Pennica, revealed to the publication. [She was] acting like a normal person. But according to the mag, Casey s outing was anything BUT normal. In fact, as soon as she walked in, people started saying they wanted to beat her up. Katie continued. Apparently one angry patron even hissed, Here she comes, the f ing baby killer! Lucky for her, Casey was apparently accompanied by a police officer and didn t seem bothered at all by people s vicious comments. She couldn t stop smiling, a witness said. However, that just seemed to anger those around her even more. The people in the lane next to us just wanted to hit Casey for what they believe she did to her child. They still think she got away with it, Katie said. I heard five moms saying, I would love to hit that baby killer. People were disgusted she was there. And this is reportedly not a strange occurrence for Casey, whose daughter s skeletal remains were discovered stuffed in a garbage bag near her parents home in Orlando nearly eight years ago. Casey was eventually acquitted of the murder, but to this day many still believe that she killed Caylee.
The public will never forgive Casey for what they think she did to that child, an insider revealed to the publication. She ll forever be the most hated woman in America. Just two days after the bowling alley incident, Casey was allegedly approached by a woman while dining with friends at Royal Palm Beach s Hilary s Restaurant.
The woman asked Casey if she had ever read The Shack, a book about a man who kidnapped a young girl and disposed of her body, a fellow diner said. The woman then told Casey who was unfazed and being watched over by what appeared to be a security guard that God forgave the man but God is better than she is.
Basically, the woman was telling Casey that she can never be forgiven. Casey just looked away and continued her meal without comment. Some have even said Casey s food gets spit in by restaurant staff members when she eats out. And people at her gym have threatened to cancel their memberships.
Tell us, HollywoodLifers how do you feel about Casey appearing to be super happy while out in public?
GOTEMBA, JAPAN – AUGUST 25: Tracer bullets ricochet off their targets as Japan Ground Self-Defence Force armoured tanks fire their machine guns during a night session of the rehearsal for annual live firing exercise at the JGSDF’s East Fuji Maneuver Area on August 25, 2016 in Gotemba, Japan. (Photo by Yuya Shino/Getty Images)
PESCARA DEL TRONTO, ITALY – AUGUST 25: Rubble surrounds damaged buildings on August 25, 2016 in Pescara del Tronto, Italy. The death toll in the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that struck around the Umbria region of Italy in the early hours of Wednesday morning has risen to at least 247 as thousands of rescuers continue to search for survivors. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 22: Eighteen-month-old visitor Jose Tavarez of Dover, Delaware, watches a California sea lion at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park August 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Bei Bei, the youngest giant panda cub at the zoo turns one today. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Aerial view of the village of Saletta in central Italy, Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, where a strong quake hit early Wednesday. Strong aftershocks rattled residents and rescue crews alike Friday as hopes began to dim that firefighters would find any more survivors as donations began pouring into the area and Italy again anguished over its failure to protect ancient towns and modern cities from the country’s highly seismic terrain. (AP Photo/Localteam)
A woman and child pass a fire set alight during a protest in Harare, Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. The demonstration organised by opposition political parties calling for reforms, is the first time that the fractured opposition has joined forces in a single unified action to confront President Robert Mugabe’s government. (AP Photo)
Smoke still rises from the scorched landscape, burned by forest fires near to the small village of Artajona around 40 kilometers (27m miles), from Pamplona northern Spain, Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. Every year, Spain suffers several forest fires during the summer season. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
A man sits on a bench after spending the night in a makeshift camp set up inside a gymnasium following an earthquake, in Amatrice, central Italy, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The civil protection agency set up tent cities around the affected towns to accommodate the homeless, 1,200 of whom took advantage of the offer to spend the night, civil protection officials said Thursday. In Amatrice, some 50 elderly and children spent the night inside a local sports facility. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A small child plays at a fountain in front of the Old Opera in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Devotees form a human pyramid to celebrate the festival of Janmashtami, marking the birth anniversary of Hindu Lord Krishna, in Mumbai, India August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Aerial view of Amatrice in central Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, as it appears after a magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Ian Thompson looks up at a large tree uprooted in his neighborhood Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, in Concord, Mass. A tornado briefly touched down in the historic Massachusetts town, uprooting trees, knocking out power, and causing damage to dozens of homes. There were no reports of injuries. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Afghan security forces stand guard after an attack on the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The attack has ended, a senior police officer said Thursday, after several people were killed. Kabul police Chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said the dead included one guard, and that about 700 students had been rescued. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Smoke from a wildfire shrouds mountain peaks in Grand Teton National Park, Wyo., Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. Some tourists heading to Yellowstone National Park during the busy summer season were facing an hourlong detour Wednesday as a wildfire in neighboring Grand Teton National Park kept a highway closed. Firefighters hope cooler weather slows the flames over the next couple of days. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
The sun at dawn illuminates mountain peaks as seen from Signal Mountain in Grand Teton National Park, Wyo., Thursday, Aug 25, 2016. Thursday marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Former Mississippi firefighter Patrick Hardison, 42, gets teary-eye under television lights, during a press conference marking one year after his face transplant, Wednesday Aug. 24, 2016, at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York. Hardison, who has light-sensitive eyes as his new face continues to thrive, was disfigured while trying to save people from a house fire in 2001 and received the face of a Brooklyn cyclist who died in an accident in July 2015– a surgery successfully perform by a team of doctors at NYU Langone. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
A worker uses his smartphone in a construction site in Beijing, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. A local market research released last Friday said sales of smartphones in China during the second quarter surged 24 percent from last year on higher demand from the rural areas. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A large dust storm rolls through the Phoenix metro area Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
A Kashmiri protester throws a tear smoke shell on government forces as he reacts to the Sunday’s killing of a young man in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. A security lockdown and protest strikes continued for the 45th straight day Monday, with tens of thousands of Indian armed police and paramilitary soldiers in full riot gear patrolling the tense region. The killing of a popular rebel commander on July 8 sparked some of Kashmir’s largest protests against Indian rule in recent years. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)
A test-fire of strategic submarine-launched ballistic missile is seen in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang August 25, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally in Manchester, N.H., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A horse stands in flood waters in front of the closed gate of a house in Allahabad, India, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. Incessant monsoon rains in northern India have caused major rivers Ganges and Yamuna to overflow submerging many low lying areas. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
People take photos near the Singapore Flyer observatory wheel shrouded by haze August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A wildfire is seen from a Ministry of Environment and Forestry helicopter over Kubu Raya, near Pontianak, West Kalimantan, Indonesia August 25, 2016, in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Jessica Helena Wuysang/via REUTERS
Rescuers work in the night at a collapsed house following an earthquake in Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A tiger named Laziz stands in its enclosure before it is taken out of Gaza by Four Paws International, at a zoo in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip August 23, 2016. Picture taken August 23, 2016. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Congolese soldiers arrest a civilian protesting against the government’s failure to stop the killings and inter-ethnic tensions in the town of Butembo, in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe
Israeli soldiers rest just outside the Israeli-Gaza border near kibbutz Nir Am, Israel August 23, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
ATTENTION EDITORS – VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATHA man stands near bodies of his young relatives after an airstrike in the rebel held Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria August 22, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh TEMPLATE OUT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System, is seen in an undated artist’s impression released by the European Southern Observatory August 24, 2016. ESO/M. Kornmesser/Handout via Reuters
A doctor holds a baby as they disembark from Italian Navy ship Sirio in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta, Italy, August 21, 2016. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A woman carrying a child flees a site after an air strike on the rebel-held besieged town of Douma, eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria August 20, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Fireworks explode over Danube River during Saint Stephen’s Day in Budapest, Hungary, August 20, 2016. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People are seen in silhouette as they cool off in water fountains in a park as hot summer temperatures hit Paris, France, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
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SS7 allows an attacker to use just a phone number to gain access to calls and texts to and from that phone and can be used to undermine the security of WhatsApp and Telegram.reader comments 37 Share this story
A documented weakness in Signaling System 7 has been shown to allow widespread interception of phone calls and text messages (SS7 is the public switched telephone network signaling protocol used to set up and route phone calls; it also allows for things like phone number portability). This weakness in SS7 can even undermine the security of encrypted messaging systems such as WhatsApp and Telegram. In an April segment of 60 Minutes, Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California allowed hackers to demonstrate how they could listen in on his calls. In light of the mass leak of congressional staffers’ contact information by hackers, Congressman Lieu is now urging the Federal Communications Commission to take action quickly to fix the problem with SS7. The hackers are purportedly tied to Russian intelligence. The vulnerability in SS7 was revealed in a presentation at the RSA security conference in March. It exploits the use of SS7 by cellular networks to handle billing and phone location data for call routing. The vulnerability is open to anyone with access to SS7 signaling. This includes not just telecommunications companies that have “roaming” relationships with a phone’s primary carrier, but any state actor or hacker who has access to those companies’ networks. Using SS7, an attacker could create a proxy to route calls and text messages. He could intercept them and record them without the knowledge of the people on either end of the communications. An attacker could also spoof texts and calls from a number.
“In light of the recent cyber hack at the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] that released cell phone numbers of all Democratic Members of Congress reportedly conducted by the Russian Government our foreign adversaries can now acquire cell phone voice and text data of over 180 Congress members with impunity,” Lieu wrote in a letter dated August 22. “This problem is particularly acute given reports that Russia is trying to influence elections in America.”
Ordinary calls and texts aren’t the only communications potentially at risk. The SS7 flaw may have been leveraged in a recent Iranian crackdown on users of WhatsApp, Telegram, and Instagram, in which 450 people were arrested or summoned. The people “were carrying out immoral activities, insulted religious beliefs, or had illegal activities in the field of fashion,” a website tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard reported. Researchers recently demonstrated that they could break the security of WhatsApp and Telegram by using SS7 to redirect SMS traffic and obtain security codes to gain access to accounts.
Lieu urged FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to “expedite investigation of the SS7 flaw” and report back on the progress of the investigation to Congress “so that we can respond appropriately to the recent hack… The SS7 problem is no longer a theoretical threat. Because we don’t know how long hackers have had access to [congressional cell phone numbers], it is very possible that nearly half of Congress has already had voice and text data intercepted.”
- ^ 33 posters participating (arstechnica.com)
- ^ allowed hackers to demonstrate how they could listen in on his calls (arstechnica.com)
- ^ revealed in a presentation (www.rsaconference.com)
- ^ were carrying out immoral activities (news.sky.com)
- ^ recently demonstrated (www.forbes.com)
- ^ break the security of WhatsApp (www.ptsecurity.com)
A former security guard contracted to work at a Memphis Area Transit Authority station was sentenced Friday to three years of diversion for the 2014 assault of bus passenger James “Semaj” Gray, who entered into a coma and died months later. Adicus Mitchell, 52, apologized Friday to the victim’s family and friends, and to his own family. For diversion, charges are dismissed and the record expunged if the defendant pays court costs and follows the conditions of the diversion. Judge Lee Coffee ordered conditions that include a GPS monitor for a year, 150 hours of community service, anger management and maintaining employment.
Gray was unconscious when he arrived at Regional Medical Center on May 6, 2014, according to court documents. He died that August at age 69. A witness to the assault, Shretha Woodley, said she heard the security guard tell Gray to “get off the bus,” and “when the victim did not get off the bus in a timely manner, (the guard) pushed (Gray) in the chest real hard off the bus causing him to fall on the concrete face first,” according to an affidavit. Attorneys for Gray’s estate said in a lawsuit that Gray had a disagreement about the bus fare, and the bus driver called for security.
Mitchell “boarded the bus and immediately began to abusively confront Mr. Gray without provocation,” wrote attorneys Henry E. Reaves III and Donnie Allen Snow. “The unprovoked confrontation escalated when (Mitchell) began yelling at Mr. Gray … After a few minutes, (Mitchell) escalated the unprovoked confrontation further by violently pushing Mr. Gray through the door of the bus …”
Gray suffered “catastrophic injuries,” including a traumatic brain injury and broken bones, the attorneys wrote. Lawyers for Mitchell and the security company in court records denied that account of events. Mitchell responded to a request from the driver about an “unruly” passenger,” who was apparently intoxicated, wrote attorney William S. Walton for Pro-Tech.
Gray “was disruptive and did not comply with the request of the security officer to leave the bus,” Walton wrote. Friends of Gray told The Commercial Appeal after his death that Gray had struggled with alcohol abuse and mental illness that resulted in outbursts. Mitchell, who had no criminal record, pleaded guilty in March to aggravated assault involving the serious injury of Gray.
A charge of aggravated assault resulting in Gray’s death was dismissed. That charge, which is not eligible for diversion, would have carried a sentence of three to six years in prison at 75 percent and a possibility of earning a 15 percent reduction through credits, programs and behavior.
Mitchell was working for Pro-Tech Security, which MATA contracted for security at the William Hudson Transit Center where Gray was assaulted. Ambassador Worldwide Protection Agency guards later took over at the terminal located on North Main.
About Katie Fretland
Katie Fretland is a journalist for The Commercial Appeal covering the legal system. Her reporting has been published in The Guardian, The New York Times, Vice, Esquire and on NPR. She has appeared on MSNBC and Al Jazeera. She is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.
Texas High vs. Arkansas High ticket sales, game day shuttle service and pre-game festivities announced
TISD and TASD are encouraging Tiger and Razorback fans to get their tickets early for the showdown of the season to be played on Friday, September 2 at 8:00 p.m. in Tiger Stadium at Grim Park. No tickets will be sold at the gate on game night. Arkansas High fans can purchase reserved tickets from Monday thru Friday, August 29 through September 2 at the Arkansas Razorback Athletic Office (1920 East 18th Street). Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. 4:30 p.m. Tuesday thru Thursday and 8:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m. on Friday. Ticket prices are $8.00. AHS Student (high school only) game tickets will be sold on Thursday during all lunch periods that week for $5. For Texas High fans, game tickets will be sold in the Sullivan Performing Arts Center (3941 Summerhill Road) beginning Tuesday, August 30 through Thursday, September 1 from 8:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m. or until sold out. Ticket purchases are limited to ten (10) tickets per person. All tickets are Reserved Seating and cost $8.00. Senior citizens with a TISD Gold Card will need to pick-up their tickets during this time as well. THS Student (high school only) game tickets are available for $5.00 and can be purchased during lunch periods on Wednesday and Thursday at Texas High School. All students must present their ID to purchase a ticket. Student ID s with free admission to football game on back of card will be honored.
Free Shuttle Bus services to and from Tiger Stadium will be offered by TISD and TASD. Riders must have a game ticket for boarding. Seats will be offered on a first come first serve basis and security will be provided at all parking sites during the evening to watch over vehicles and to assist fans with any questions. All shuttle riders will go through security screening upon boarding and bypass stadium security screening. Arkansas High fans will board at Razorback Stadium starting at 6:30 p.m. and be dropped off at the Southeast side of Tiger Stadium. Shuttle riders must have a game ticket for boarding with seats offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Return shuttles will begin at half-time and run until all fans are returned to their vehicle. Texas side shuttles will begin at 6:00 p.m. and run continuously through the evening. Tiger fans will board the shuttle at the THS Student Parking lot (4001 Summerhill Road) and will be dropped off at a special North side entrance at Tiger Stadium.
Pre-game festivities for AHS will be on Friday, September 2 at Razorback Stadium. The annual Orange Crush and Tiger Tails Breakfast will begin at 7:00 a.m. with the Pep Rally at 2:45 p.m. Admission is $3
Texas High will hold their annual Bacon Fry, hosted by the THS Senior Class, on Friday, September 2 at 7:45 a.m. in the THS Caf Courtyard. Breakfast will include eggs, bacon, biscuits and orange juice for all THS students and staff. The Pep Rally will be at Tiger Center beginning at 2:45 p.m. During the fun-filled Pep Rally, the winning teacher/administrator enjoys the opportunity to Kiss the Pig live and performances will be given by the HighSteppers, Color Guard, Tiger Band, Drumline, Varsity and Junior Varsity Cheerleaders.
Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu is worried that publicity about Sunday s headline-grabbing Port Huron Float Down will mean even more participants next summer. She said Friday she believes officials need to be planning for the next time the event turns into a rescue mission. The MP said she’s happy there were no series injuries this year, but added nearly 50 organizations and agencies, on both sides of the river, were involved in Sunday’s response.
People need to be aware that while everyone had fun, and I appreciate the boost for tourism, we need to think about public safety, and we need to think about what’s going to happen next year, she said.
That’s particularly a concern if the widespread publicity about Sunday’s float down and rescue attracts more participants.
What if we got 10,000, for example? she asked.
Do we have a plan? Are we resourced to handle that? Gladu said she has been speaking with federal officials in Ottawa, as well as with agencies involved in Sunday’s operation, and heard from the U.S. Coast Guard that 40 people got taken out of the water with varying degrees of intoxication and hypothermia. A four-year-old was among those rescued, Gladu said.
She also noted a Michigan man died two years ago during the event.
My concern is that while it’s fun, it’s also dangerous and somebody has to think about the public safety, first. The unsanctioned event doesn’t have an official organizer, and past attempts by U.S. officials to end it weren’t successful.
Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard have approached the folks in Port Huron before, and offered them what they need to do to have it be a sanctioned event, Gladu said.
But they’ve not wanted to take that responsibility, and so you end up having these 49 organizations that have to call their people out on the weekend. Gladu said she believes it’s unrealistic to expect that we’re going to soak up costs for this.
She praised the response by agencies on both sides of the river, but added, Neither country wants to have 1,500 people show up without any identification, without any money.
It’s a concern. More than 1,000 U.S. participants in the annual unsanctioned event on the St. Clair River were blown off course Sunday and ended up landing on the Canadian shoreline in Sarnia. The float down attracts thousands of participants who go into the water at Port Huron on inflatable rafts, dinghies and inner tubes, with the aim of floating down the Michigan shoreline to an end point at Marysville.
But winds and river conditions this year sent many off course, turning the float down into a rescue operation and agencies on both sides of the border scrambled to assist floaters who were stranded or in distress. Officials estimated 1,300 to 1,500 U.S. citizens ended up in Sarnia where they were helped from the water, rounded up by Sarnia police, loaded on Sarnia Transit buses and delivered to U.S. border officials on the Michigan side of the Blue Water Bridge. The Canadian Coast Guard has estimated that its response cost $21,700.
In response to media questions, it said in an e-mail Friday that the estimate included overtime, fuel and provisions for an on-scene command vessel, the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Limnos. The coast guard also has several fast rescue craft on the river that were used to assist the float down participants.
The Canadian Coast Guard and other federal, provincial and municipal authorities worked together in the weeks leading up to the event to ensure a coordinated response effort, spokesperson Carol Launderville said in the e-mail. She added the estimate doesn’t include the costs of other agencies on the Canadian side of the river, including the OPP, RCMP, Transport Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency.
Fire services in Sarnia and Point Edward also had rescue boats in the water Sunday. Earlier this week, Sarnia officials said the city’s costs for the Sunday rescue total just over $8,100. Joe Wiedenbeck, a Marysville resident, launched an online gofundme campaign on Tuesday to help Sarnia cover its costs. As of Friday morning it had raised more than $4,700 (US) from 287 donors.
Some donors posted messages on the gofundme site, www.gofundme.com/2z4bbf5t, including Jason Oles. It’s only fair, Oles posted, along with a $10 donation. That way Sarnia will hopefully be willing to help when it happens again. A website, porthuronfloatdown.com, traces the history of the event back to the late 1970s, and a Facebook page posted a link to a straw poll Thursday on whether or not the float down should become an international event. By late Friday morning, 94 per cent of those responding said they thought it should.
VIENNA, VA — Arrest Police were called twice Sunday for reports of someone shooting a gun. Police investigated the incident and arrested and charged a Vienna man from Center Street South, for a firearm weapon violation.
Police said they determined the man didn’t point the handgun at anyone, but did discharge the firearm into the air. The 40 year old man was arrested and charged for two counts of reckless handling of a firearm and was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, according to police.
The following summary contains various incidents of general interest handled by the Town of Vienna, Virginia Police Department from August 19, 2016 August 25, 2016. Readers are reminded that an arrest is based upon probable cause and does not always mean that someone was physically taken into custody. Furthermore, it does not mean that an individual is automatically guilty of a crime. Judicial outcomes and post-arrest proceedings can be researched through the appropriate court s website.
(VIENNA POLICE HIGHLIGHTS is not meant to be a listing of every incident or call handled by the Vienna Police, but merely a more substantive summary of several incidents, which may be of interest to the community. Some reports may be outside the date parameters due to extended investigations or other circumstances. Some cases are not included at all due to ongoing investigations. Please contact PFC Pat Kiley for further information at [email protected])
Arrest Driving While Intoxicated 16-007114: 100 Block Maple Avenue, East August 19 1:48 a.m. Sgt Sheeran and Ofc. Hylinski responded to the listed area for an accident. When they arrived they determined the accident was a hit & run. Ofc. Hylinski found the striking vehicle and conducted a traffic stop with the vehicle. As Ofc. Hylinski spoke with the driver he detected signs of possible impairment. The driver of the vehicle was offered standard field sobriety tests, which they failed. The driver was transported to Vienna Police Department for an official breath test. The 48 year old female driver from Plum Street SW, Vienna was arrested for driving while intoxicated and hit & run. She was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
Assist Fire EMS 16-007115: Amma Vegetarian Kitchen 344 Maple Avenue, East August 19 2:24 a.m. Ofc. Sterling assisted Fairfax County Fire & EMS with traffic control at a commercial building fire.
Domestic Dispute 16-007140: Park Street, NE August 19 7:44 p.m. Officers responded to the listed area for a domestic dispute between a male and female subject. When they arrived they spoke with both subjects who stated the dispute was only verbal, not physical. No signs of physical violence were observed by the officers. Both subjects agreed to remain in different parts of the residence. They were provided information about counseling services.
Police Service 16-007146: 600 Block Hillcrest Drive, SW August 19 10:50 p.m. Officers went to the listed area to assist a family with child care issues. When officers arrived they spoke with the mother of the family who advised her son was unfit to care for his child. Officers spoke with the son and determined he was fit to care for the child. The son stated his mother called Vienna Police Department because she wanted the child out of her residence. The son left the residence with the child and the child s mother.
Animal Case – Quarantine 16-007158: 700 Block Hillcrest Drive, SW August 20 11:33 a.m. A citizen called stating she had been bitten on the back of her ankle by a dog. MPO Lose met with the female subject who stated she was walking when a dog came from a yard and bit her. The injury to the female subject was minor. MPO Lose spoke with the owner of the dog and placed the dog in 10 day quarantine.
Grand Larceny 16-007160: Social Burger 350 Maple Avenue, West August 20 12:53 p.m. The owner of the listed business called to report their bread bin had been stolen.
Traffic Stop 16-007172: 1100 Block Maple Avenue, East August 20 9:10 p.m. Ofc. Post observed a vehicle make a traffic infraction. As she attempted to conduct a traffic stop with the vehicle, the vehicle accelerated and fled Ofc. Post at a high rate of speed. Officers searched the area, but were unable to locate the vehicle.
Open Door Window 16-007176: 500 Block Walker Street, SW August 20 10:20 p.m. A resident called to report an unknown subject entering the listed address. When Ofc. Herrera arrived he determined the residence was unoccupied and up for sale. He found an open door and searched the residence. He found nothing suspicious or signs of squatting.
Civil Dispute 16-007178: 500 Block Creek Crossing Road, NE August 20 11:03 p.m. Officers responded to the listed area for a dispute over a child custody order. When officers arrived they spoke with all parties involved and after reviewing the custody order issued by a judge, determined the child would remain at the residence.
Police Service 16-007187: 900 Block Maple Avenue, East August 21 3:09 a.m. Officers responded to assist Fairfax County Police Department and Virginia State Police with a vehicle pursuit that entered the Town of Vienna. The subject was apprehended by Fairfax County and Virginia State Police Departments.
Property Found 16-007192: Locust Street and Cottage Street, SW August 21 10:21 a.m. A citizen turned in a black toolbox they found in the listed intersection four days prior to the report date.
Domestic Dispute 16-007195: Park Street, SE August 21 12:10 p.m. Officers responded to the listed area for a domestic dispute between a male and female subject. Both subjects stated the dispute was only verbal, nothing physical. Officers did not observe any signs of a physical altercation. The male subject stated he planned to leave the residence for the rest of the day. Both subjects were provided with counseling resources.
Arrest Domestic Assault 16-007200: Fardale Street, SE August 21 3:34 p.m. Officers responded to the listed area for a domestic assault in progress. MPO Lose and Ofc. Slebonick arrived and found the assault was no longer in progress and both the male and female subject had separated. Officers spoke with both subjects and determined the male subject had physically assaulted the female subject, as well as, preventing her from calling 911. The 33 year old male Subject from Fardale Street, SE, Vienna was arrested for domestic assault and preventing an emergency call. He was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
Arrest Drunk In Public 16-007201: 200 Block Cedar Lane, SE August 21 7:16 p.m. A security guard for the listed area reported a possibly intoxicated male subject passed out in a vehicle. MPO Smith arrived and found a male subject inside a vehicle with an open alcoholic beverage container. MPO Smith spoke with the male subject and detected signs of possible impairment. The 49 year old male subject from Talking Rock Drive, Fairfax was arrested for drunk in public and issued a summons for drinking in public. He was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
Grand Larceny 16-007204: 1200 Block Cottage Street, SW Between August 12 at 8:00 a.m. and August 21 at 8:00 a.m. A resident returned home from a vacation to find several items stolen from their open-air carport.
Civil 16-007223: 400 Block Ridge Road, SW August 23 8:01 a.m. Ofc. Sterling responded to the listed area for a civil dispute between a landlord and tenant. When he arrived he spoke with both parties and determined the tenant was moving out of the residence and the landlord was unhappy about where they parked their moving truck. Both parties reached an agreement on how the tenant would remove their items from the residence.
Vandalism 16-007225: 500 Block Delano Drive, SE Between August 22 at 10:00 p.m. and August 23 at 8:00 a.m. A resident reported someone had thrown eggs at their residence.
Animal Case 16-007226: Hope Center 140 Park Street, SE August 23 8:15 a.m. A technician reported they were bitten on the thumb by a dog while performing a procedure. The female technician stated she did not suffer any serious injury. The dog was released to the owner prior to ACO Barker taking the report. ACO Barker will forward the information to Fairfax County Animal control.
Traffic Stop 16-007231: 300 Block Maple Avenue, East August 23 9:17 a.m. Ofc. Sterling observed a vehicle make a traffic violation. When he spoke with the male driver he determined his driving status in Virginia was revoked. The male driver consented to his vehicle being searched. The male driver was issued a summons for driving on a revoked driving status.
Domestic Assault 16-007247: Frederick Street, SW August 24 5:07 a.m. MPO Lyons responded to the listed area for a domestic dispute between a male and female subject. When he arrived he spoke with the male subject who told him the female subject slapped him across the face. MPO Lyons did not observe any signs of an assault or markings on the male subjects face. The female subject had left the area prior to MPO Lyons arrival. The male subject was explained the process of obtaining a warrant.
Police Service 16-007252: Park Terrace Court, SW August 24 10:05 a.m. Officers assisted a female subject who stated her passport had been taken by family members. MPO Lose got the passport and returned it to the female subject.
Trespassing 16-007257: Verizon Store 301 Maple Avenue, West August 24 3:31 p.m. A store employee called to report a male subject refusing to leave the business. Officers spoke with the male subject and informed him he had to leave the business. The male subject was trespassed from the business in the presence of the officers.
Animal Case 16-007258: 300 Block Cabin Road, SE August 24 4:06 p.m. ACO Barker responded to the listed address for two dogs that killed a bat. ACO Barker arrived and found the two dogs had killed a bat in the backyard of the listed address. He informed the owner to keep the dogs confined to the residence and to get a rabies boaster shot right away. ACO Barker transported the bat to the Health Department for testing.
Petit Larceny 16-007262: 200 Cedar Lane, SE August 24 6:49 p.m. A resident reported they had some personal documents stolen. The male resident stated a female subject he knew took his personal documents without his permission.
Assist Fire EMS 16-007270: 200 Block Cedar Lane, SE August 24 11:57 a.m. Officers responded to assist Fairfax County Fire & EMS with a male subject who appeared to have injured his head. When officers arrived they were advised by witnesses the male subject had been drinking alcoholic beverages at a bar. When he exited the bar it appeared he fell and hit his head. The male subject was transported by Fairfax County EMS to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Arrest Narcotics Violation 16-007281: Lawyers Road and Upham Place, NW August 25 9:51 a.m. MPO Lose observed a vehicle make a traffic infraction. As MPO Lose spoke with the driver of the vehicle he detected an odor of marijuana coming from within the vehicle. After MPO Lose confronted the driver about the odor he handed MPO Lose the suspected marijuana. The 23 year old male driver from Laurel Glade Court, Reston was issued a summons for possession of marijuana and operating a motor vehicle without a valid operator s license. He was released on his signature.
Arrest Drunk In Public 16-007296: Oakmont Court, NE August 25 7:26 p.m. Officers responded to the listed address for a tenant-landlord dispute. When officers arrived those spoke with a male and female subject. As officers were speaking with the male subject they detected signs of possible impairment. The 35 year old male subject from Oakmont Court, NE, Vienna was arrested for drunk in public. He was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
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AUGUST 26, 2016
BASHAUN BROWN: In prison, one way you know if somebody s trying to get close to you is if they bring out their photo album. Drug dealers and hustlers will start showing you things: This is my jewelry. This is my car. This is the type of women I get with. This is where I m from. I m more than these browns I m wearing now. I m more than these robes of disgrace. Even though my commissary doesn t stay packed, even though I may have to borrow a soup sometimes when I m out there, I get it.
I was in a Connecticut state prison for more than six years before I was released to a halfway house. I had time to study the culture of the place. I tried to adapt to it without letting it change who I was. I don t think of myself as a bank robber. I was a little desperate, and I robbed a bank out of desperation. I m not proud to say I robbed a bank, but while I was locked up I would reveal it when I needed to. I used the story to create an image of myself. There s something about telling someone it puts them on their heels. I got something out of it. Being in control of the story is a kind of power.
For four of my years at Cheshire Correctional Institution, I was a student in Wesleyan University s Center for Prison Education. Taking a class about American literature, reading seedy old books like Moby-Dick, I could see how writers had tried to articulate, in the first-person point of view, what it means to be an American individual, trying to hold true to the principles of liberty, justice, and equality. They were using stories to create images of themselves, too.
At the end of the class, my professor, Caleb Smith, brought in a draft of a book he was editing, The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict, by Austin Reed. The author was a free black man from Rochester who wrote his story in a New York state prison in 1858, when most African Americans were still in slavery. Reed writes about growing up as an indentured servant and a juvenile delinquent, how he became a criminal, and what he suffered as a prisoner. Haunted Convict is the first prison memoir by a black writer, but for Austin Reed, being a convict is its own identity.
I think writing a book was Reed s way of getting out the photo album. He might not have said it this way, but all his actions revealed that he chose his thug life. He would do crimes. He would shoot dice. He would hustle. I don t know if pride is the right word, but he shows you that he s going to do what it takes to survive. He s not going to go down without a fight.
Reed is doing two things. On one hand, he is showing you, I m a convict, I m a criminal. On the other hand, he is showing you why: I came in contact with this institution, the department of punishment, and nothing was ever the same. This is how I became a convict. There s a way to tell your story with one stream but hit two different targets. Reed wanted sympathy, and at the same time he wanted to be proud of his transgressions.
People who are powerless, people in prison, want to have their stories told. Maybe the punishment system compels us to give first-person accounts of ourselves confessions, testimony, plea bargains but often we are eager to give them. Austin Reed never got to publish his story while he was alive. When Haunted Convict finally came out in print this year, Caleb and I decided to write something together about literature and the lived experiences of prisoners, past and present. Here s what we had to say.
CALEB SMITH: Austin Reed wrote Haunted Convict under a pseudonym, in a blank journal and on loose sheets of paper. His manuscript was in private hands, unknown, for a century and a half before it surfaced at an estate sale in Rochester, and Yale s Beinecke Rare Book Library acquired it in 2009. I had been writing about the cultural history of the American penal system for a long time, but in trying to reconstruct Reed s life and circumstances, I had to call on experts with many different kinds of knowledge conservators who knew the histories of ink and paper; a paleographer to analyze Reed s handwriting; a specialist in African American genealogy to find whatever might remain in the records of Reed s family. I brought it into our classroom at CCI to see what you all could teach me about how to read the book. I wondered what it might mean to the work of prison activism and education now.
BASHAUN BROWN: My first impression of Reed was that he was in for doom, from an early age. He was going to be a troubled kid. I think more important than Reed s formal education, or equally as important, is the education that he received from other inmates, and from his experience. He was educated into vice, into crime, into torture, into the darkness.
CS: Prison education is full of contradictions. On one hand, the original prison reformers saw it as a way to domesticate incarcerated students, to impose a discipline that would lead them away from the bad kinds of miseducation you re describing. On the other hand, Reed sees how his education gives him ways of thinking and writing against the institution. He emphasizes that it was another inmate at the House of Refuge, not the schoolteacher, who taught him how to read, and he says he was punished for having more than one book in his desk. He presents even his formal education as something that the inmates are taking from the institution, instead of something that is being imposed on them.
BB: I never looked at it that way, but you re right. He was taught by another inmate. His education gives him power over himself. It was definitely something he took pride in, and it made people think he could be better, that he was wasting his intelligence. Plenty of times the guard or the warden said, You re the ringleader of the vice and crime that s going on in this institution.
CS: When people find out you re reading something that was written by a prisoner in prison, they sometimes expect that it s going to be a journal or a diary, but Reed is recollecting his life and shaping his story. He knows where it ends.
BB: Absolutely. Looking at his life in the rearview mirror, I guess he couldn t help but to have this spirit of doom around the beginning of the story. It just gave off that vibe: this is not going to end well.
CS: He has that sense of being haunted, of being surrounded by ghosts.
BB: Yeah, ghosts that sometimes jump in his body and take over.
CS: You think he gets possessed?
BB: From minute to minute. He could talk about not wanting to serve liquor, and in the next sentence talk about putting a bullet in someone. So you have this duality that lives within Reed. I m pretty sure that we all have these contradictions, but with him it was obvious. It works both ways, hot and cold. He gets a hot temper, but then he gets super godly, real quick, when it comes to sins like masturbation or drinking. He calls himself a man of Temperance.
CS: He can be preachy. There s a lot about becoming a man and gaining control over your appetites and over your body but of course Reed finds out that no amount of self-discipline is really going to give him control over what happens to his body. No matter how much he tries to seal himself off, the prison keeps cutting him open. Even before he goes to prison, his condition as an indentured servant exposes him to being whipped. That s one place where he makes the connection to slavery explicit. He says the farmer he was apprenticed to tied him up and lashed him like a slave, and this provokes his first crime, a crime of revenge: he tries to burn down his master s house.
BB: I think what really motivates him to commit the arson, to set fire to the house, is the fact that his rights are being violated. He s like, I m a free man, an American citizen, and you cannot do this to me. He prided himself on being a free black man. For Reed to have to suffer like a slave must have been terrible. He didn t just want to burn down the house. He wanted to kill someone.
CS: It matters that Reed came from a free, middle-class family. He was born into a certain amount of status, and after his father s death he feels the loss of that relative security and autonomy. One of the things that s most disturbing, for those of us who want to read his book as an episode in the prehistory of racialized mass incarceration, is his relation to some of the other African American characters he encounters. He doesn t tend to identify with them.
BB: He calls them nigger. He doesn t hesitate to say it. He is cut off from them, an individual without a strong connection to his race. He never called himself a nigger, so it was almost like it was a term that he used to define someone s class. When we talk about mass incarceration now, it seems like it s racialized. Looking at Reed s book, it doesn t seem as though incarceration was about race. It was more of a class dynamic, where you had people from a certain class flooding the prisons. This is probably still the case today. Yes, black men are incarcerated at a higher percentage than white men, but there are a lot of white men in prison, too. If you keep it racialized, people can get into identity politics. In reality, it s everyone s problem. What I see in Haunted Convict is that Reed s friendships weren t determined by race. His white friends suffered from the cat s lashes too.
CS: He has a special feeling of affection and solidarity for the Irish.
BB: Absolutely. The Irish were oppressed too. They flooded the United States and found themselves at the bottom of the social hierarchy. The last immigrant waves always befriend black people, because we re always at the very bottom. It just happened to be the Irish during Reed s time. Later, somebody would have probably had that same feeling for the Italians, for any wave of immigrants, because they re going to start at the bottom, and we re always going to be at the bottom. Some individuals may rise, but not the group, not the black community in America.
CS: One fascinating thing about Reed is how sophisticated he is in positioning himself as a performer, especially for white audiences. There are some moments of scripted performance. At the House of Refuge, he acts in an Indian play on stage, in a fancy costume. At the American Hotel, he recites an antislavery poem. And then there are other moments that we might see as performance, even though they re not literally theatrical. When he needs a ride on the steamboat, and he doesn t have any money, he lifts up his shirt and shows the captain his scars. He gets a sympathetic response and a free ride up the river. Scenes like that make me wonder how Reed is thinking about his own readers.
BB: He was writing for a specific audience, just like Freddy D. At the time, some black men were marketing their writings to the Temperance movement. I think they felt that they would get the most sympathy there. One section of this book is all about the adverse effects of alcohol. Through the whole thing Reed was saying he was a man of Temperance. That s a performance in itself. But he performed for the inmates, too. When he suffered from the lash, it was his thing to make it seem like it didn t hurt.
CS: That s true! He says, I didn t flinch. I didn t cry. It s the opposite of the sentimental response that we see in those other situations, where he recites the antislavery poem and people cry. He s demonstrating that he can control his affect in the moment when the prison wants him to cry. It s an act of refusal.
BB: He knows his audience well. It depends on who s the spectator. When he wants to, he can cry on cue. It seems like every time a man in a position of power around him gives him some words of wisdom, he cries. Let s quote him:
As he said these words, I wipe the tears from my eyes with my coat sleeve and went into the shop with a determination to do better during the remainder of my time in the prison. As I entered the shop door, I met with just what I expected from the inmates, and nothing but scorns and sneers and derisions was my companion during the working hours of the day. You know, it s hard for a convict.
CS: He goes through a cycle of reform, transgression, and reform again. Later, one of the prison officers, Colonel Ritchardson, tells him that his suffering is his own fault, and he needs to learn how to be a man and take responsibility. Reed writes:
Listening to the good advice of this venerable old man, I made up my mind at once that I would go on and try to reform and become a better man and from that day to this I have had no trouble nor no punishments, for the terror of that day seems to prick me still to the heart. And then, in the very next line, he says this:
But in that day when I shall stand before God, I ll show him my back where the tyrant has printed it with the cats, and I will point him to a dark and a gloomy dungeon where I ve laid my head many a cold night [ ] and I will point him to the showering bath and tell him of the water that has been showered on my head. I will show him the tyrants that has tortured and tormented me during my confinement within the gloomy walls of a prison. Those who might have done me a heap of good turned to be my destroyers.
Just as he says he s finally going to reform, he imagines testifying in front of this higher judge, the heavenly court, and what does he imagine doing? Lifting up his shirt to show his scars. The same thing he did for the steamboat captain, earlier. He feels that he s going to be exonerated when he appears before God. Not because he was innocent of the crimes that he s been convicted of. He never claims that he was innocent. But because the suffering and the torture inside these institutions have made him what he is. This is the argument he s making: it s not that the world needs prisons to deal with its criminals. It s that the brutality in prisons turns people into hardened criminals, into haunted convicts.
BB: It s like, If you want to know why I did what I did, you have to know what I ve been through. This is why I am the way I am. This is what I ve been through, and this is what makes me who I am. Reed does an excellent job of showing how your humanity is alienated when you come into prison. There s a passage where he writes about not being able to talk to another inmate, not being able to look people in the eye, not being able to share your food. These are the essential qualities of humanity. Communicating, sharing food, things of this nature. And these things are taken from you during your stay in prison. Reed shows you how the prison can be a spectacle, too. The warden and the guards invite visitors into the workshops and charge them a quarter to see the inmates at work. Reed has the feeling that he and the other inmates are being put on display. It s a zoo-like atmosphere: Twenty-five cents! Come see the show! Come to the zoo, where we keep our animals. We got em busy at work. They don t even talk. We got em trained.
CS: Reed feels that what has happened to him is unjust, even though he never claims to be innocent. It s an easy thing to protest wrongful punishment. The way Reed sees it, this system is excessive and extreme even for people like him, who have committed some crimes of vengeance or petty crimes of poverty.
BB: He clearly paints a picture that this is hell on earth, right in front of your eyes. If you ever hope to imagine hell, come to a prison, and I ll show you what hell is like. Most people just couldn t imagine their bodies being tormented in the way that his body was tormented. Obviously, one might argue that Reed got himself into the situation by his own actions, where slaves didn t have a choice. But both institutions took your humanity. Both institutions were brutal. Slavery was identified as not being fit to exist, while prison is still operating. That s something to look at. For me the true power of the book was that, here it is 1840, and it s eerily similar to the prison of today. The process Reed went through upon entering prison is the same process I went through. The intake interview. Putting on the clothes of disgrace. I don t know what color clothes he was wearing, but in Connecticut we wear browns, and it s definitely the clothes of disgrace. I can totally relate.
In a lot of ways, prison is softer today. You have more distractions. Reed talks about the conversation between the old convict and the newcomer, and the newcomer has to do four and a half years, and the old-timer tells him it s going to feel like 10 years. It s the opposite nowadays. The new-timer will come in with 10 years, and the old-timer will tell him, That s nothing, that s going to go by fast. They softened it. They make prison a little more bearable, I guess. You can buy a TV, a radio. You can go to commissary for food. Unless you re determined to change yourself, unless you decide to get an education, you can sit there and waste your day. Austin Reed was forced to work. Now it s a privilege to be able to work in prison. If you can make 90 cents a day, you re doing good. People sell their mother down the river and tell on everything just to keep that job.
CS: Auburn State Prison, where Reed spent most of 20 years, was the birthplace of penal servitude. The whole system of discipline in the 1840s and 1850s was designed to extract labor from the inmates, to make a profit for prison contractors and to cover the cost of running the institution. By the Civil War, penal servitude was so ingrained in the system that it was written into the 13th Amendment: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States. The South would figure out how to use the exception to build huge prison farms in the late 19th century, and some of those are still operating, and so is Auburn, in its 201st year. But for the most part the prison system today isn t really about exploiting labor in that same, direct way. The money goes through other channels prison construction and supplies, all the fees and expenses that people charged with crimes are expected to pay. So you re right: the continuities between Reed s time and ours have less to do with labor and more to do with exclusion and incapacitation, with dehumanizing certain groups on a massive scale.
BB: It was good to see the similarities and the differences. One of the similarities is that you re set up to fail. You spend all this time in prison, and you get a little gate money to get home, but what do you do next? You re out here in the world. You have a felony. You re marked with the scar of Cain. And we still have the same basic prison set-up, where we re throwing people into spaces with a bunch of like-minded people who are most likely according to statistics going to return to prison. You could see from 1840 that that method didn t work. Here is Reed, explaining what happens when you send a malleable person into this setting, what type of person can come from that. I ve seen it so many times. This is constantly happening. What other institution would you allow to operate like that, if it was being counterproductive? I think I know why Austin Reed s book never came out in his lifetime. Reed represented a new kind of black man, one who just wasn t going to bow down every time somebody stamped their feet. He wasn t just fearful Sambo. He wasn t that type of guy. Do what you ve got to do. Hurt me. But I m going to do what I ve got to do. Can you imagine extrapolating his attitude to the population of free and enslaved black people? White people wouldn t want the world to know that black people like this existed. If I was the one in control, if I wanted to keep everybody in their place, I would have tucked that book away, too.
- ^ Bashaun Brown is co-founder and CEO of TRAP House a business incubator that helps drug dealers become legal entrepreneurs. (lareviewofbooks.org)
- ^ Caleb Smith is professor of English at Yale University and the author of The Prison and the American Imagination and The Oracle and the Curse. (lareviewofbooks.org)