On Graffiti and Bullies
Dear Mayor and Council,
You brought up graffiti last night and I wanted to comment. First, it was targeting “graffiti” that was the bedrock of Broken Window Policing in NYC Subways in the early 1990’s.
From Broken Windows policing, we also had the generalized dehumanization of an entire class of human beings that has lead to police killings nationwide. Though not so widely discussed, the shooting death of Kathryn Johnston, 92, in her own home, in 2006 epitomized outcomes of Broken Windows Policing.
Though the Atlanta PD engaged in “reform” there was absolutely no change in the targeted killing of black people and other people of color for the next 15 years, as you well know. Ask Chief Skinner about this history of reform’s failure, lead by such discredited training organizations as the “Force Science Institute.”
This dehumanization has been our standard for policing for 50 years, rising from the Voting Rights Act and transformed into the “war on drugs” under Nixon as a means of voter suppression. Can it be seen as a backlash against the Antiwar movement during Vietnam? I believe so, since the black vote began turning away from American foreign imperialism as expressed by Martin Luther King Jr in his Riverside Church Speech and succinctly by Muhammed Ali.
Broken Windows Policing has created the carrots of gentrification enjoyed by a few landowners, like Donald Trump, and the sticks of incarceration experienced disproportionately by millions of black and brown people. It is the standard and the foundation of policing in Eugene, even if Chief Skinner attempts to “rebrand” it “community” policing. And we see Broken Windows Policing in full effect with the $6.9M Public give away to Private interests at 1059 Willamette.
In discussing graffiti, a number of you used the term, bully. This is the point I wanted to address. It seems that you don’t understand that you are the bully. You are the one’s using a platform to destroy, undermine, and manipulate the will of the people of Eugene, and the graffiti you see, on your doorsteps, is a reaction against that.
I’ll note that the City’s “summary” of public comment on policing was “Law Enforcement” even though over 90% of those who spoke were speaking out against further funding for EPD. Only three people spoke in favor of police funding, political insiders, and yet the city represented the “feedback” as neutral. It was far from neutral.
When the City Manager’s Office, who is suppose to be impartial, faithlessly expresses a bias, in this case a pro-policing bias by suggesting citizen neutrality, that propagation of disinformation is bullying.
All those people, citizens of Eugene, 90 or so, who spoke against further funding of EPD were nullified, disappeared, and rendered without a voice. And that nullification is violence.
Another example is your acceptance of the monopolistic proposal by deChase/Miksis in regard to 1059 Willamette. We might see your tolerance of bureaucratic bullying as complicity.
That is the bullying of a power structure and a bureaucracy of which you are an integral part. You are a part because you tolerate it and further propagate it.
Of course, the people know they are being violated and manipulated. And you know you are doing it to them. That this is done without subterfuge is particularly disturbing. You don’t care what the people want. OK. But it is also clear that you don’t even hide that fact. That can only mean you will finally depend on violence to suppress that will. Your objective is to make the people afraid.
Calling out graffiti protesters as “bullies” from your public platform is also stochastic terrorism. I’ve noted your use of stochastic terrorism before in Mike Clark and Chief Skinner’s targeting of the BIPOC mural downtown. Though I’ve drawn your attention to the use of stochastic terrorism, here we find the Mayor, Mike Clark, and Randy Groves doing it again.
There is and always has been a reason for graffiti. To say it is “cowardly” is partly right — because the people who use it are afraid, but they are afraid of the power you wield as a bully — power they don’t have. And power you demonstrate continually.
And I understand the purpose of your discussion. Some of your new Councilor’s might not understand your bully system, that it is one of continual slant, bias, and manipulation, that targets dissent and favors yourself and your political cronies. Mayor Vinis is a skillful practitioner of this propaganda, leading the way in the socialization and indoctrinate your fellow council members. But it is also a message, received loud and clear, by the public that you will use the power of your platform to target dissent.
The basic system of propaganda always remains the same — cast dissenters as irrationally violent monsters. Use that “character assassination” and dehumanization to ease the violence used against dissent.
Of course, you should begin to ask the question of why? Why graffiti? Why these actions against you? If you were able to look, you might see — people are trying to get through to you. They are trying to be heard. Refusing to hear the people and re-enforcing your bubble, as you are doing, is an escalation.
But your continual response is that you will not hear. And you will malign dissenters to your power, and you will treat them with the same violence that we’ve seen over the last 50 years — both the economic violence of privatization and the physical violence of policing. You, in effect, threaten the people. And when you threaten, then you are the bully.
You continue to make me sick, and I’ll continue to support graffiti artists and all types of expression that stand up to bullies.
Sincerely, Otis Haschemeyer