Over-policing in Jefferson Parish

Over-policing in Jefferson Parish

Federal oversight of the New Orleans Police Department helped transform the troubled agency, which still needs improvements, into a model of reform. But across the parish line, one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the state has faced no such oversight even though complaints about some officers’ conduct mirrors the abuses that occurred in New Orleans. Richard A. Webster, WRKF and WWNO report in ProPublica:

Here, policing looks a lot like it did in New Orleans a decade ago, with racial disparities in the people officers shoot, little transparency in cases where force is used, and a flawed internal affairs process that critics say protects problematic deputies instead of the public. Records and data collected over the last year by WWNO/WRKF and ProPublica support the claims that many Black residents have made for years: that deputies treat white residents and residents of color in significantly different ways. More than 70% of people who deputies shot at during the past eight years were Black, more than double the 27% of the population that is Black, the news organizations’ investigation found. Seventy five percent of the people who died — 12 of 16 — after being shot or restrained by deputies during that time were Black men.

Spending ARPA money on prisons
The American Rescue Plan Act was designed to help states and cities overcome the economic hardships caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The law, signed by President Joe Biden in March, sent billions of dollars to states to help fill budget shortfalls, upgrade critical infrastructure and aid people and businesses directly hurt by the pandemic. In Alabama, however, Gov. Kay Ivey wants to use $400 million of the state’s allotment to build prisons. The Washington Post’s Adela Suliman reports that some members of Congress are not amused.  

They prompted a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), in which he petitioned the agency to “prevent the misuse of [American Rescue Plan] funding by any state, including Alabama.” “Directing funding meant to protect our citizens from a pandemic to fuel mass incarceration is, in direct contravention of the intended purposes of the ARP legislation,” Nadler wrote. Ivey insisted in her statement Tuesday that the American Rescue Plan Act allows for funds to be used in this way.

Louisiana used much of its ARPA money to bail out the state’s unemployment trust fund, with money also going to ports, water systems, tourism and other projects. 

Tired of being resilient 
Louisianans are often praised for their resilient spirit in the wake of natural disasters and other disruptions. But resiliency can’t substitute for accountability for the industries that contribute to these disasters. The Bitter Southerner’s Jonathan Olivier writes that as climate change takes hold along the Gulf Coast, resiliency will no longer be enough. Instead, it’s time for decisive action. 

Ida was only a weather disturbance three days before it intensified into a major Category 4 storm that decimated entire sections of southeast Louisiana. Towns like Larose, Galliano, Chauvin, and Grand Isle were nearly leveled. This sort of rapid hurricane strengthening is possible due to a warmer world and a warmer ocean, made possible by climate change, made possible by fossil fuels, made possible by industry, made possible by politicians. This isn’t only about cancer or coastal erosion or hurricanes. This is about culpability. For far too long, people have had to pay for industries’ shortsightedness and disregard for their actions. After each disaster, the burden falls on ordinary folks — to rebuild, to pay the costs, to grieve, to wait.

A wake-up call for workers
Covid-19 completely changed the job market and created more space for people to freely choose work to match their needs. Workers have finally had a taste of what it’s like to be able to make choices about where they work. Marie Solis of In These Times reports how the pandemic and unemployment expansion were a wake-up call for workers:  

Some employers are starting to see obvious solutions to their so-called labor shortage: better conditions, signing bonuses, higher wages, stronger benefits. The federal minimum wage is still not $15, but a growing number of companies have begun offering it (including giant corporations like Target, Best Buy, CVS Health and Under Armour). In a press release, Under Armour executive Stephanie Pugliese called the move a ​“strategic decision … to be a competitive employer.” With the federal unemployment extension set to expire September 6, as this issue went to press, the 13% of workers who have refused jobs because of that stable income may no longer be able to simply opt out. Regardless, the new skepticism of work as a de facto good will likely stay. Our time, after all, is our lives.

Number of the Day
89.3% – The percentage of Louisiana’s health and social service workers who would receive a raise if Congress raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. (Source: Economic Policy Institute