The U.S. Is a Political Prison, Kamala Harris Is a Prison Guard

By Daniel Haiphong
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Harris protects police unions, the courts, and the stakeholders of the mass incarceration state.”

Black Agenda Report and other independent media sources have repeatedly been called “fake news” or “Russian propaganda” by the political gatekeepers of the U.S. empire. Trump has been used as a convenient excuse for the ruling elites to discredit those who tell the truth about the ruthlessness of the system. This became even more evident after journalist Marzieh Hashemi was indefinitely detained for over a week by the U.S. government without any formal charges against her. Last week, I wrote that Hashemi’s incarceration and treatment is a product of the U.S. imperial war on independent journalism. The crime committed against her is also a reminder that the U.S. itself is a political prison.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the U.S. empire’s most famous political prisoner, was recently granted the right of appeal after the courts ruled that his trial was rife with judicial bias. Several boxes labeled “Mumia” were found in the District Attorney’s office soon afterward, although the boxes reportedly did not possess exculpatory evidence. Despite these positive developments, the fact remains that Mumia Abu-Jamal has been in prison for thirty-seven years for a reason. District Attorney Larry Krasner caved to pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and appealed the favorable ruling on Abu-Jamal’s case. A potential retrial for Abu-Jamal will now be delayed by a time-consuming legal process.

Once again, Mumia Abu-Jamal shows that the U.S. is a political prison from which the police are treated as a protected class. Police officers and their unions occupy a status in society that reigns above the humanity and rights of the people they supposedly “protect and serve.” Police departments murder nearly 1,000 people per year in the U.S. without political or legal consequence. It wasn’t until the Black Lives Matter insurgency arose that police departments began to come under fire for the near daily homicides that they commit against Black Americans. Even then, the Obama Administration and both political parties united to protect the police from federal investigation.

The U.S. political prison has placed 2.3 million people in cages and twice that many under “correctional control.”Forty percent of prisoners and close to fifty percent of those placed in solitary confinement, an internationally recognized form of torture, are Black American. Solitary confinement is the prison state’s weapon of choice when it comes to its political prisoners. Political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier of the American Indian Movement, and Russell Maroon Shoatz of the Black Liberation Army have endured decades upon decades of solitary confinement. New research on solitary confinement indicates that the practice permanently damages the hippocampus structure of the brainand imposes a form of social death onto prisoners.

The conditions faced by U.S. political prisoners reveal the true face of the U.S. political prison. This prison has draped itself in grand narratives of exceptionalism to hide the fact that it is the most repressive and exploitative system in human history. Prisoners in the U.S. represent a disposable class of the poor, mainly the Black poor, whose existence has been relegated to the margins by the nation’s exceptionalist tales. The racist criminalization of Black Americans and the explosive growth of the prison population beginning in the 1980s in the U.S. share both political and economic origins. Economically, the U.S. system of capitalism that sustains the prison fell into a permanent state of overproduction and lost the ability to raise the standard of living for any section of the working class. Politically, Black American resistance was targeted by the state to make way for the imminent neoliberal disaster to come. And out of the ashes of repression, political prison guards such as California Senator Kamala Harris were born.

Kamala Harris announced her bid for the Democratic Party presidential ticket in the upcoming 2020 election on the Martin Luther King holiday. The Howard alum has served as the political prison guard for the U.S. prison regime as District Attorney, Attorney General, and Senator of the California state gulag. Harris has championed herself as “for the people.” What she hasn’t mentioned is that she is for only a certain class of “people” in the U.S. political prison. That class of people includes the police unions, the courts, and the stakeholders of the mass incarceration state.

Under Kamala Harris, California saw an exponential increase in the number of drug convictions. Harris also punished Black families for truancy and appealed a federal judge’s decision to eradicate the death penalty. She has furiously protected the police from prosecution and refused to investigate police officer abuse, violence, and murder perpetrated mainly against poor Black Americans. Harris is a cop for the U.S. political prison, as are most members of the self-serving Black misleadership class. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) voted in favor of the 1033 program that arms police departments with military weaponry from the Department of Defense in 2014 and followed up this vote in 2018 by supporting a federal “Blue Lives Matter” bill.

As part of the CBC, Harris certainly possesses credentials that the ruling classes desire. Not only has Harris played an instrumental role in the mass Black incarceration state, but she has also been paid handsomely to protect the banks. As Attorney General, Harris refused to prosecuteTrump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s former corporation, WestOne, for imposing illegal foreclosures. Mnuchin awarded Harris with a generous contribution to her political campaign in 2016. And if that weren’t enough, Harris is sure to project U.S. imperial interests abroad given her numerous speaking engagements with the powerful Israeli lobby AIPAC and her cozy relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. Harris, in other words, is Obama personified as a self-identified Black woman.

Kamala Harris’ bid to become the commanding prison guard of the U.S. comes amid a crisis within the entire prison system. The U.S. prison economy, capitalism, is in a state of decay and stagnation. Finance capital and high-tech, globalized production has placed downward pressure on wages to make up for the rising costs associated with technological advances. Fewer and fewer jobs are required to maximize profitability. The combination of a growing “surplus army of the unemployed” and low-wages has led to a crisis of overproduction and a fall in the rate of profit that credit and debt cannot relieve, no matter how many millions of Americans are forced into the red. What has ensued is near poverty for eighty percent of the U.S. population and an intensified thirst for austerity on the part of the rich.

Of course, austerity in the U.S. political prison does not apply to the military state. The U.S. spends trillions to fortify its military hegemony worldwide at the expense of the self-determination of oppressed nations. With over 800 military bases around the world and potentially hundreds more uncounted, the U.S. political prison is in possession of the largest military empire in history. As more and more Americans demand policies such as Medicare for All, the U.S. political prison will continue to extend its global military reach without hesitation. This will inevitably mean more destruction and death for the Global South and more austerity and repression for workers and poor Blacks.

Kamala Harris in the 2020 election is vying for Trump’s presidential seat in order to quiet the potential rebellion to come. However, it is quite clear that no relief can be expected from the prison guard Kamala Harris. The Democratic Party apparatus is a legion of prison guards holding Black and other progressive constituencies in political captivity. The best hope for the masses lies in the destruction of the Democratic Party, which can only be realized by another DNC attack on the likes of Bernie Sanders. Expect Kamala Harris to participate in that attack when Sanders finally announces his decision to run if doing so will increase her chances at the nomination. Leftists must avoid falling into the pressure of supporting another Democrat and instead take up the fight to expose those who keep political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal locked up indefinitely. Out of this struggle should come the recognition that the U.S. itself is a political prison which cannot be elected or reformed out of existence.

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