Jackson’s supposedly “radical” Black mayor wants to make surveillance great again in Mississippi.
“’Virtual policing’ means an all-seeing eye will be fixed on Jackson’s majority poor and working-class residents.”
In recent weeks, Mayor Lumumba proposed and the Jackson City Council approved a 45-day pilot surveillance program that will enlist tech companies to tap into the Ring surveillance camera footage of ten homes and businesses who volunteer to collaborate with the expansion of Jackson’s police surveillance state. The Ring camera footage will be tapped directly into the Jackson Police Department’s (JPD) Real Time Crime Center and available for viewing by JPD at all times as everyday citizens casually go about their routines.
JPD’s Real Time Crime Center is a surveillance hub for various cameras installed during Lumumba’s tenure to provide what they mayor has termed “virtual policing.” Virtual policing means that 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, an all-seeing eye will be fixed on Jackson’s majority poor and working-class residents. Like the surveillance cameras that Mayor Lumumba boasted about being placed south Jackson’s mainly working class and unemployed communities, this Ring surveillance pilot program will not be aimed at capturing the crimes of the more affluent who reside in the exclusive neighborhoods of northeast Jackson.
“An all-seeing eye will be fixed on Jackson’s majority poor and working-class residents.”
In the early stages of the development of the Real Time Crime Center, the “radical” mayor made it incandescently clear that he does not think anything is wrong with surveilling Jackson’s more than 80 percent Black population, who he calls “our people.” The freedom fighting mayor has stated, “…virtual policing is no more intrusive than the world we already live in. Where every camera, everywhere you go there is a camera pointing at you from some private entity or gas station or something else.” The use of surveillance cameras by an individual business owner to monitor activities within a given vicinity that an individual chooses to frequent is much different than when the State employs surveillance to monitor unsuspecting citizens going about their daily lives. There is overlap between the interests of individual capitalists employing surveillance and the State doing so because both have an interest in protecting private property relations. But history has shown that the State also has an interest in tracking the activities of citizens in an effort to snuff out any emerging rebellious activity before it can gain momentum to upset the status quo.
Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Terry Albury and Jeffrey Sterling all have revealed to the public that police state surveillance is not as benign as Mayor Lumumba would have us believe. They all have paid the hefty price of torture, imprisonment, and being labeled enemies of the state for doing so. Mayor Lumumba is part of the Center for American Progress’s Mayors for Smart Crime Initiative, which appears to think it is a genius idea to subordinate the multitudes more efficiently through police state surveillance. Mayor Lumumba intends to surveil Black people while denouncing the FBI’s COINTELPRO. Is this what Mayor Lumumba meant by making Jackson the most radical city on the planet?
“Police state surveillance is not as benign as Mayor Lumumba would have us believe.”
The Lumumba regime is faced with a crisis of legitimacy on the question of crime and violence in Jackson. As the number of homicides increase in the city and his 2021 re-election bid looms closer, he and his advisors are scrambling to make it appear that they can solve a problem that the very nature of the state perpetuates. A city-state, like a nation-state, is a social class hierarchy whose cornerstones are social inequity, exploitation, and competition. In a scramble for survival, the exploited and degraded often cannibalize one another instead of eating the rich and ruling elites who maintain us in our suffering and degradation.
The actions of the Lumumba regime continue to expose the fact that ordinary people have no representation in hierarchical government. The Lumumba administration serves the interests of capital and is on the side of the permanent slaughter. Any pretense of Black radicalism by those who rule above society is mere branding to get the multitudes to place a stamp of approval on their being conquered in the name of Black power.
“The Lumumba administration serves the interests of capital.”
Lumumba and his ilk hold the masses in contempt and are always to looking to repress the multitude’s instincts toward direct democracy (majority rule). And ultimately, this is what the expansion of the surveillance state in Jackson is about. Lumumba’s jabbering in the media about using surveillance to capture evidence of crimes is merely smoke and mirrors. Some are so caught up in a civil liberties discourse around 4th Amendment violations that they can’t see the forest for the trees either.
Rulers fool the people with talk of solving problems that are legitimate concerns, such as crime and violence. But in the words of the hip-hop artist Cool Breeze, “you better listen your corner and watch for the hook.” The same surveillance gadgetry the rulers claim is for the people’s protection will be used to suppress the multitudes when they rise up to throw off the yoke of their oppression.
During the Civil Rights Movement the Sovereignty Commission was sanctioned by the State to surveil and suppress the social motion aimed at subverting the white racial state’s oppression of Black people in Mississippi. Many prominent figures in the Black community volunteered to be its tools. Today, in Jackson, the Black-led government is at the forefront of making government espionage great again in Mississippi. I know some won’t like my saying this, but it’s the truth.
“The same surveillance gadgetry the rulers claim is for the people’s protection will be used to suppress the multitudes.”
Mayor Lumumba is a part of the “new left” that seeks to restore a crumbling American empire through Black faces in high places. He dons African accoutrements that stupefy many as he presides over the police state that surveils, conquers, and kills ordinary people in the interest of restoring the legitimacy of the empire of capital.
Expanding the government’s capacity to surveil and crush any embryonic movement that has the potential to point toward a new beginning, a new society that is based on mutual aid, cooperation, and the subversion of hierarchy, domination and exploitation will not address interpersonal violence. Ordinary people determined to arrive on our own authority can accomplish the task of ensuring our collective safety and security. We relinquished our power to elite rulers and blindly trusted them to accomplish this task in which they have failed miserably. We must reclaim our power and seize the time.
Adofo Minka is a criminal defense attorney. He can be reached at [email protected]
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