Evil eye – modern surveillance

Multiple-Eye-of-Horus-Amulet-Egypt-724-31-B.C.E.-Photo-Los-Angeles-County-Museum-of-Art.-1400x987, <strong>Evil eye – modern surveillance</strong>, Abolition Now!
“For thousands of years, the look known as “the evil eye” is said to have afflicted people worldwide. Rooted in numerous ancient civilizations – including those of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Phoenicia, and Greece – and the Old Testament, it’s been believed that with a covetous gaze, a person can curse a fellow human being, their children, or even their property with misfortune, illness, or death.”

by Josef Cadwell

“They were killers and marauders masquerading as artisans of progress.” – Malidoma Patrice Somé

In prison, much like in our over-policed communities and neighborhoods, you find yourself subject to constant surveillance and random, yet regular, physical intrusion upon your person and privacy. Stop and Frisk is the rule of law in here, and out there. Non-consensual touching and searching of the human body – usually a Black or Brown body – is the most common law enforcement encounter in our country.

Remember, even where stop and frisk is not explicitly involved, the “Terry Stop” involved a request for identification and a pat-down search of the body and clothes of the person, has been ruled legal upon the barest of articulated suspicion by law enforcement agents. In prison, the warrantless search of your room might be parallel, in frequency and intrusiveness, by the pretext stops and warrantless searches of vehicles and their occupants in the community. In prisons, like our communities, cameras are ubiquitous. The panopticon is highly functional and effective.

In the neighborhood devices we think of as neutral safety devices, such as traffic lights, are often deployed against us as tools (weapons) of observation, data collection and surveillance. Whether you reside in prison or an over-policed neighborhood, the agents of law enforcement are not there to keep you safe. Despite being nearly omnipresent and perniciously invasive, the police will not be there to protect you. Law enforcement agents will not be there for your safety – not in prison and not on the streets. When you need help they will not be there. When you call for help, response times will be slow and the skill and proportionality of that response will barely be appropriate.

This is the reality of policing in prison and in the over-policed communities and neighborhoods from which most of us inmates come. In prison you are likely to be shot with a taser while defending yourself in a fist fight, while if you are stabbed you are likely to be locked in a shower,  examined by a corrections officer and accused of malingering when you demand immediate medical attention. It is unlikely you will be rushed to the hospital or receive immediate medical attention of any kind, unless your injuries are so obviously severe that a young child can make the correct diagnosis. In fact, in this prison as often as not, those who are rushed to the hospital are in fact already deceased. 

Law enforcement agents will not be there for your safety – not in prison and not on the streets.

Corrections officers, like police on the streets, are ill-equipped, poorly trained, unprepared and not of the mind to properly respond to the majority of calls for help, medical emergencies, mental health emergencies and drug overdoses and reactions. And if you are the victim of violence or crime in these communities law enforcement is rarely your ally. They are only there to momentarily make a show of force and perhaps punish whoever is available. The retribution towards the offender may land upon a guilty party, but surely this will not break the cycle of violence, imprisonment and over policing, that chokehold which is killing us, whether we resist or comply.

Poem: A threat to institutional security

“I stand before you, accused of stringing letters together” – Nganang

Words strung together

Become dangerous contraband

Police. Protest. Killing. We. Us. Should

In this place of programmatic deprivation

Ideas are more dangerous

More dangerous than tasers and electrified fences

More dangerous than gun tower snipers

(Apparently a thinking feeling human is scary) 

(I saw George Floyd murdered slowly on TV)

We should protest police killing us.

I wrote, not thinking this idea in my journal

Was very radical or compelling

Cell shakedown, writings examined

“Yard sergeant to Dublin unit, routine”

Red Dot, laser beam sight activated

Three officers encircle

“Cuff up”

I’m escorted to segregation

The prison inside the prison

My words strung together: dangerous contraband

My offense: Inciting a riot

Teach me how to string words together

That might inspire Humanity

That might become a love

More powerful than fear 

Send our brother some love and light: Josef Cadwell, 339620, 9625 Pierce Rd, Freeland, MI 48623.