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Law and Justice in Real Time Militarization, Imperialism, and Internal Colonialism

War on Drugs…War on (some) Drugs (possessed by certain individuals)

When I first arrived at this institution, the class sizes and the amount of reading that was assigned did little to concern me. The biggest culture shock was the normalization of drug use. A time before the legalization of cannabis in the state of Washington. I was surrounded by students who spoke of their drug habit with no fear, voicing annoyance that they had to figure out who to get it from, smoking in dorm rooms and right outside of dorm room buildings. Confusion mixed with anger flowed through my mind. I spent all of my youth being conscious of stereotypes and the need to stay clear from the slightest hint of misconduct while still being suspected. Making sure to stay far away from drugs, spending my school years constantly being monitored; banning clothing with too many pockets, limiting backpack and locker usage and being ‘cautioned’ -threatened with sporadic drug dog visits. It felt as if they were sure we would mess up and we always had to prove otherwise.

A constant fear of making a wrong decision that would ruin your life was far from the minds of all these new faces I had encountered in college. In the same months I hear those of a higher social status voice their love of cannabis I hear the tear inducing frustration of a student that spent her youth constantly battling the stigma of her peers. Since she was Mexican and her family had property their success was automatically assumed as having been a result of narcotic involvement.  The stereotype that racial minorities are the root of our drug problem is something that is still being believed as we have noted with uproar of candidate approval to a certain individual. This fear no matter how misinformed is the voice that is being heard creating an enforcement of policies reflective of the misinformed belief.

The early seventies proclaimed drug abuse public enemy number one. Giving birth to the War on Drugs and thus enhancing law enforcement and judicial practices. It has cost one trillion dollars after millions of arrest and has resulted in no changes to illegal drug use. Instead we have 500,000 people incarcerated for nonviolent drug crimes.  This call for action against drugs have resulted in hyperactive policing of poor persons and minorities even though drug usage is similar across the board and  federal studies show more drug use among white youths. Disproportionate arrests that have created horrifying circumstances where white Americans, the majority of this country use crack cocaine more than African Americans but African Americans account for 85% of crack cocaine arrests. A new focus point since the 90s being the arrest of easily targeted poor whites for use of methamphetamine. Not a war on drugs but a war on poverty as displayed by glorified drug arrests.

Early 2000s we have “Pot Princess” Julia Diaco from New York who after multiple drug sales to an undercover narcotics officer facing up to 25 years in prison was sentenced to 5 years on probation. An injustice heightened in this article at the comparison of Ashley O’Donoghue, a black man who was also arrested as a first time nonviolent drug offender who is serving seven to twenty one years. Now nearing the end of  2015 we have Sarah Furay an “adorable drug kingpin” of Texas the daughter of a DEA agent possessing five different narcotics along with packing materials and two digital scales.

After learning about the woman from Texas, her privilege and her narcotic possessions, justice would be that she would get served the life ending consequences that come to racial minorities and those living in poverty. But her arrest does little to the fact that the war on drugs has created a target of brown and black bodies and those who live in poor neighborhoods as the worst and ONLY enemy. These stereotypes have created hyper action to one that grant invisibility to another. So long as we keep drug users and dealers in our minds to a certain stereotype we keep the Sarah Furays of this country profitable in their markets and safe from incarceration and public scrutiny. If this policy were really about protecting our children by confiscating drugs that can hurt them, there would be a lot more drug raids on and around college campuses. Furthermore if the war on drugs is truly about keeping people safe which can be interpreted as keeping people healthy we should address the root of why people are seeking narcotics.







Giordani, E. (2015). Criminal Justice. In Latino stats: American Hispanics by the numbers. New York, New York: The New Press.

Haglage, A. (2015, December 1). When Whtie Girls Deal Drugs, They Walk. Retrieved December 17, 2015, from

Jarecki, E. (Director). (2013). The House I Live In [Motion picture on DVD]. Virgil Films.

Mohamed, A., & Fritsvold, E. (2012). Dorm room dealers: Drugs and the privileges of race and class (Paperback ed.). Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner.
Newman, T. (2006, March 22). NYU “Pot Princess” Sentenced to Treatment and Probation Despite Multiple Drug Sales. Retrieved December 17, 2015, from

“Supply Demand” Graphic. Mike Keefe. (2009).The Denver Post.

“War on Drugs Message” Graphic. Kirk.



Islamophobia: The Stereotyping and Prejudice Towards Muslims Since 9/11

The United States has a long history of discrimination and prejudice that has led to a lot of struggles and negativity for a lot of groups. Currently, our nation holds discriminatory attitudes and practices towards many minority communities. A lot of this can derive from ethnic, religious, racial, and gender prejudices that set our nation back. Ever since the horrific events of September 11, 2001 (the day our nation was under attack), the Muslim community has been under strict scrutiny when it came to people’s fears and paranoia. After the terrorist attacks, Muslims across the nation were immediately looked down upon and many even saw themselves being watched by the American government. During this time (War on Terror), America was essentially seeing a rise in Islamophobia (dislike/prejudice against Islam/Muslims) that would eventually hurt community relations, and scrutinize innocent Muslim Americans. Now with the continued War on Terror (fight with ISIS), America sees itself heading in the same direction with negative Islamic attitudes, as well as outrageous political bans. In order for terrorism to cease and Islamophobia to end America (the government and the rest of non-Muslim society) has to be in more effective community relations with Muslim communities to ensure prosperity, security, and freedom for all is obtainable.

After the 9/11 attacks, many blamed the whole religion of Islam for preaching destruction and violence, without even considering that these hijackers (terrorists) were extreme radicals. In the Times article, “The True, Peaceful Face of Islam,” author Karen Armstrong explains that the the very word Islam is related to a longing for peace (Armstrong, 2011). When the Prophet Muhammad brought the inspired scripture known as the Koran to the Arabs in the early 7th century A.D., a major part of his mission was devoted precisely to bringing an end to the kind of mass slaughter we witnessed in the 9/11 attacks (Armstrong, 2011). However, American society does not tend to see this peaceful side of Islam, but rather mostly sees the skewed version of it from radicals. There are those in American society who see a correlation between terrorism and Islam, yet they fail to understand the idea that there are people who misinterpret scripture and take it to the extreme. Some of these extreme radicals who skew the religion of Islam (to tailor their need to kill innocent in order to get their point across) are considered fundamentalists. Fundamentalists of any religion are the one’s who take the idea of warfare and self-defense to the extreme (making them radical) without even considering a peaceful option (such as Islam proclaims). As Armstrong notes, it would be as grave a mistake to see Osama bin Laden as an authentic representative of Islam (Armstrong, 2011). From already knowing that the many American citizens see Osama Bin Laden (mastermind of 9/11) as a representation of Islam is disturbing, and is the kind of mindset that leads to prejudice, discrimination, and scapegoating of millions of Muslims who wish to cause no harm.

The religion of Islam is often unfairly presented as hateful and violent, which leads to a lot of prejudice and hatred towards Muslims in America. Currently, Americans are tending towards less favorable views of Islam which has led to a lot of negativity in U.S. communities (Zaal, 2015). According to the Council on American Islamic Relations, civil rights violations targeting Muslims in the workplace, at religious institutions, and in schools have escalated (Zaal, 2015). Sadly, many Muslims have overall been looked down upon, and have often been seen as second class citizens. The media is also a big factor in spreading Islamophobia, that includes spreading fear across the nation. Hundreds of images (media) portray Arabs as violent and barbaric (Zaal, 2012). These inaccurate depictions sometimes lead to people taking part in hate crimes against Muslims. Hate crimes against Arab and Muslim Americans have even increased dramatically in the months and years following September 11, 2001 (Cavendish, Disha, King, 2011). Many of these anti-Islamic attitudes showcases people acting in physical and psychological harm, with many Muslims often in fear for their lives. The threats of burning copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 suggest that stereotypes portraying Arabs and Muslims shows that’s negative attitudes towards Muslims is still consistent in American society (Cavendish, etc, 2011). In the eyes of many non-Arabs, a relatively large concentration of Arabs or Muslims may trigger fears of terrorism or mass violence (Cavendish, etc, 2011). Gallup polls have even indicated that almost a quarter of Americans singled out Arabs as being suspicious (Cavendish, etc, 2011). This suspicion that a lot of Americans have would mean that many would want Muslim (Middle-Eastern) people to be consistently watched and checked, as if they can never be trusted. 58 percent of Americans favored a requirement that Arabs have a special and more intensive screening process at airports (Cavendish, etc, 2011). This would mean that Homeland Security officials (TSA) could have Muslim people step aside, which increases racial profiling and prejudice. The animosity towards Muslim people is a huge problem that creates divides in our society and often discriminates (and persecutes) people, which leads to frustration on both sides.

Currently, different political leaders are pushing stereotypes forward. Right now we see some political (presidential) candidates who want to create more barriers for Muslims in our country and around the world. When these negative labels and stereotypes are compared to the actual radicals (of any religion or background) who wish to cause harm and destruction, those radicals can actually use the stereotypes to their advantage. When looking at Trumps ban on Muslims entering the U.S., it’s not only morally wrong to prevent a certain group from coming in, but it can also backfire on our nation. While Trump assumes that stopping Muslims from entering the U.S. would boost domestic security, experts say such rhetoric bolsters the message of extremist groups like ISIS, and ultimately increases animosity and potential retribution attacks against the U.S. (Salhani, 2015). If we ban a specific group of people, its very likely that we will see negativity and retaliation brought onto the United States. Even though Trumps plan only calls for banning Muslims who are currently trying to come into the U.S, it still will lead to a harsh divide (lot of problems) since many of them are political refugees trying to find safety amidst chaos. If a country (America) denies them (based on fear that terrorists will hide within the refugee population), refugees would likely have to turn back and be in the midst of danger; which might lead to being brainwashed to join the terrorists cause. ISIS often gains support by convincing vulnerable youths prone to ideological radicalization that the west is against Islam and the Muslim way of life (Salhani, 2015). Statements like Trump’s latest only reinforce that perception and potentially influences people who are susceptible to ISIS propaganda (Salhani, 2015). By creating these divides with Muslims in our community and around the world, we ultimately make social barriers which might point these people to going in the direction of radicalism.

Discrimination and prejudice is all too common to the United States. Many people of different backgrounds have seen various types of discrimination that have led to a lack of trust and truly understanding one’s culture/background. All American citizens need to realize that our nation is one big melting pot (all sorts of backgrounds coming together) and that there’s no room for stereotyping and prejudice. In some ways, when we hear of a terrorist attack, we automatically think of Islamic people who hold the ideology of seeing America being in ruins (destroyed). However, American society doesn’t realize that these radicals (extremists) can come from any background or religion. As non-Muslim American citizens approach this serious topic of terrorism, they often find themselves fuming in negativity towards Muslim communities. This type of hatred only slows down the process of integration for millions of Muslims who are innocent and believe in American values. Scapegoating Muslims also feeds into the negativity that terrorists groups (like ISIS) preach, which could ultimately make them stronger if Islamophobia persists. Its up to our nation to create more community alliances with Muslims in the U.S. and abroad so that they can feel less persecuted against. America is the land which should symbolize safety and security for anyone, no matter what background he or she comes from.


Armstrong, K. (2001, September 23). The True, Peaceful Face of Islam. TIME.

Disha, I., Cavendish, J. C., & King, R. D.. (2011). Historical Events and Spaces of   Hate: Hate Crimes against Arabs and Muslims in Post-9/11 America. Social           Problems, 58(1), 21–46.

Salhani, J. (2015, December 8). Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Exactly What ISIS Wants. Think Progress

Zaal, M. (2012). Islamophobia in Classrooms, Media, and Politics. Journal of     Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 55(6), 555-558. content/uploads/2012/03/muslim-prayer-1.jpg

The Complexity of the Planned Parenthood Shooting

Unfortunately, mass shootings seem to be the the main headlines in the news on a regular basis recently. There is mourning and prayers sent to those who lost their lives, then we wait for the next shooting to happen and just repeat the cycle. Last month, on November 27, there was a shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs that killed three people. One police officer and two civilians lost their lives. This shooting surfaces a plethora of problems, due to the complexity of the intent of the shooter, Robert Dear. The recent shooting at Planned Parenthood forces us to take a closer look at abortion and women’s rights, domestic terrorism, and gun control and violence.

The obvious issue, gun control, is an issue that has been on the mind of many Americans lately. The map below shows the mass shootings since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. There is a need to protect American’s right to the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, but there is an extremely large need to find a way to protect citizens from the overwhelming amount of gun related violence. President Obama has addressed two key focuses to this issue: to expand the background checks needed to obtain a gun and to fund research to recognize the causes of these mass shootings (Mitka, 2013). Robert Dear had a fairly extensive record, including animal abuse and charges of domestic abuse that were dropped, but was still able to be a licensed gun owner. The link between gun control and violence seems to be evident, but there needs to be steps taken to control this violence while permitting Americans to their Second Amendment rights.

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(Lopez & Oh, 2015)

While mass shootings seem to be the cause of someone who is mentally ill, Robert Dear outspokenly had political motives behind his attack. After his arrest, Dear is quoted to be saying, “Protect the babies,” a clearly anti-abortion and pro-choice expression (Vercammen & Yan, 2015). This raises the issue for many that this attack could qualify as domestic terrorism. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the following is the definition of domestic terrorism:

  1. Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law
  2. Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
  3. Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
    (Definitions of Terrorism in the U.S. Code, 2013).

This attack was clearly dangerous to human life, killing three people. It was intended to intimidate the Planned Parenthood population, influence the abortion policies of the government, and affected the government by a mass killing. The attack occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. This attack seemingly falls into the definition of domestic terrorism, however officials are so hesitant to label it as such. Perhaps we are quick to label those who are not the majority in our nation, for example Muslims, as terrorists, but are fearful to label a white Christian man such as Dear as a domestic terrorist because he represents the majority population.

Below the surface of this attack, the morality of abortion and the rights to healthcare women have is brought to debate. De-funding Planned Parenthood has been a heavily debated topic in legislation today. However, de-funding clinics such as Planned Parenthood would leave women and particularly low-income minority women, disadvantaged and without access to affordable healthcare. Concerning the right for a women to choose an abortion, it could be seen as being protected under the First Amendment. Many religions, including Christianity, the predominant religion in the United States, see abortion as immoral. However, the First Amendment protects freedom of religion, meaning that religious beliefs and morals cannot be used to influence laws, such as an anti-abortion law. On top of that, women are autonomous agents, meaning that they have the right to make decisions regarding what happens to their body. These women have the same rights as anyone else to affordable healthcare, which includes access to the choice of abortion, and defunding clinics such as Planned Parenthood would disproportionately effect women, particularly minority women.

Ultimately, these mass shootings, particularly this shooting at Planned Parenthood, surfaces critical issues towards the safety and rights of Americans. Citizens should know what constitutes as domestic terrorism, and evaluate what changes we need to make in response to domestic terrorist attacks. The debate over abortion rights and the funding of Planned Parenthood will continue, but it is important to keep in mind the rights that the Constitution provides. The link between these mass shootings and gun control is apparent, and it is evident to see that there needs to be a change. These mass shootings, particularly one like the Planned Parenthood shooting that have a political motive, bring rise to all of these issues, and make it evident to see that policies need to be changed for the safety of citizens. Mass shooting front page headlines should not be a regular occurrence.



Lopez, G., & Oh, S. (2015). Mass shootings since Sandy Hook, in one map. Retrieved December 16, 2015, from
Mitka, M. (2013). Search for Ways to Reduce Gun Violence Spurred by Toll of Recent Shootings. JAMA, 309(8), 755-755.
Vercammen, P., & Yan, H. (2015, December 10). Planned Parenthood suspect Robert Dear has outbursts – Retrieved December 16, 2015, from

Police Shootings: Stress or Militarization?


Over the past several years, it seems as if police shootings have become a more frequent current event. Police shootings can occur for a number of reasons; however what the public only knows is not very much. Knowing that a police profession is a stressful career and due to recent implementations of militaristic tactics; could one or both of these be the cause for hundreds, almost thousands of people being shot and killed by police?

Since the beginning of 2015 until the current day, approximately a total of 921* people have been killed by police in the United States. Out of the 921 people who have been killed, only 48% consisted of a white person, whereas blacks made up 27% of the 921 people killed. However, media does not have the tendency to illustrate that whites have been killed by police more than blacks or any other race. No surprises at all, this year thus far, 96% of those killed by police have been a male, where 4% was a female. Roughly, seventy-five percent of the 921 killed was a result from a violent crime. These violent crimes include: shootouts, stabbings, hostage situations, carjacking, and assaults” (Washington Post, 2015). Violent crimes are known to lead to high-risk situations. Events like having to deal with these kinds of situations also, make the profession of a police officer extremely stressful.


Everybody gets stressed out over things whether it is the tiniest thing or some major problem. With that said, police officers are faced with stressful situations daily. From a simple traffic potentially turning south or to having to deal with an outraged individual in the event of a domestic violence call, police are at risk twenty-four-seven. Based upon these situations, depends on how the officer is able to handle themselves when these stressful situation come about. “Stress reactions and burnout also are seen more frequently in patrol officers who must handle large number of calls that involve serious problems which they are not equipped by training or mandate to solve” (Katherine W. Ellison, 1983, 60). Not only that, but, when police respond to a call, they basically are going into the situation blind, not knowing what they are going to find once they arrive on the scene. The best thing police officers can hope for is to resolve the situation as calmly as possible without causing an outburst or causing tensions to rise between the suspect and the officer. Overall, there is a general consensus that police work is stressful.

When the police was first implemented into our society, police were given very minimal number of duties and equipment while enforcing the law. Back then, police were given a baton, handcuffs or some sort of restraints, and that was pretty much all they had. Police today however; carry much more than that. Typically, a gun, extra magazines, a taser, pepper spray, several pairs of handcuffs, a radio, sometimes a baton and more equipment, if the officer wishes to do so, can be found on a police officer in today’s society. In high tense situations, police can be known to breakout the “heavy” equipment. Normally, this can consist of a military grade type rifle (AR-15 or M-4), shields, full body gear, basically, anything possible to cover them from head to toe. This kind of gear usually does not come out unless there is a riot or protesting. “Over the past three decades law enforcement management and policing models have become increasingly militarized in philosophy and practice, which has precipitated a change in the breadth and depth of urban policing” (Daryl Meeks, 2006, 36). Clearly police are trying to improve the tactics in which they use, but, is all this necessary?


Police are constantly going about their day acting like the job in which they do, is not stressful, however; the truth being, it actually is stressful. Similar to that, police today are also, implementing militarization in order to resolve chaotic situations. Was there a connection relating police shootings to stress or militarization? Well, it was unclear in the findings, but, a well-educated guess would conclude in some aspects stress is a major factor however; militarization is not clear-cut as to if it plays a factor into police shooting. Stress can be seen as a result for police shootings because of the high-risk situations the police are headed into when they answer the call of service. The improvement of militarization amongst the police can be seen as last result in hopes of scaring the public; think about it. If you were protesting then see a group of people in full protection coming at you with shields as well, whereas a civilian you basically do not have anything but to turn around and to run as far as possible. In the end, it is believe that stress plays more of a factor in seeing an increase of police shootings.


*Over time statistics are going to change, at the time of writing this 921 was the current number, however; most likely that number has increased. If wanted to see for yourself feel free to by visiting the following link:



Ellison, K., & Genz, John L. (1983). Stress and the police officer. Springfield, Ill., U.S.A.: C.C. Thomas.

Meeks, D. (2006). Police Militarization in Urban Areas: The Obscure War Against the Underclass. The Black Scholar, 35(4), 33-41.

Washington Post (2015). Retrieved: (December 14, 2015).



All images copyright google image search

The Cartel and its Effect on the United States


The Cartel is one of the biggest crime organizations in the world.  They control a lot of what happens in Mexico and what they do not control themselves they are able to pay people off to control for them.  This is a big problem in Mexico and is now a growing problem for America.  The cartel can be compared to ISIS because of the brutal tactics they use the only difference is that money drives the cartel while religion drives ISIS.  How does this affect the United States though? The cartel effects how we patrol the border, our economy and the flow of drugs into the United States.

The cartel is one of the biggest drug manufactures in the world. The flow of drugs from Mexico to the United States is the biggest incomes for the cartel.  The cartel use to bring in a lot of the marijuana when it was illegal and hard to get ahold of.  Now though since marijuana is more accessible the cartel has moved more into methamphetamine.  They are still moving marijuana into the United States but now they are starting to transition into the harder drugs along with cocaine.  This helps fuels the wars on drugs and makes it so that there is continued support for it.  If there is a massive amount of drugs being moved over the border it makes it so there is more drugs in circulation making it harder for police to do their job.  Not only are their drugs going over the border but there are people coming over as well.  This in some places can make it hard for the economy.  Since they are not paying taxes some areas where there are a lot of immigrants this can hurt the economy in these areas.  The cartel charges around one to two grand per person and if they cannot pay them when they get there they kill them.  Lastly while all these things come over the border to us we send money and guns over to Mexico.  They transport all of their drug money back over to Mexico along with any other dealings they have in the United States.  They also bring over to Mexico guns, since they are illegal in Mexico.  In the United States it is fairly easy to get guns in the south.  According to one of the leaders captured from the Zeta cartel gang they got all of their guns from the United States.  As we can see they flood us with drugs and undocumented immigrants and we supply them with money and guns.  It is a never ending cycle with us being the middle man.

It is a hard to break this cycle but there is a way.  The first is to make it harder to transport these things over the border.  If we can cut off their supplies crossing the border it would starve them of money.  To do this though we need to make it so that there is no corruption at the border patrol or positions in government.  This can be very hard though because the cartel can offer a lot of money to people and it can be hard to say no to that.  Lastly to stop this we need to have help from the Mexican government and the FBI to preform raids on known compounds to get them out of areas that they control.  This would loosen the control they have over Mexico making them unable to make cross border trades.



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Picture #2:

U.S. Department of Justice. (2009, October 22). More Than 300 Alleged La Familia Cartel Members and Associates Arrested in Two-Day Nationwide Takedown. Retrieved December 13, 2015, from

Rokhy, R., & Klemack, J. (2013, August 7). Feds Bust Mexican Drug Cartel. Retrieved December 13, 2015, from

Grayson, G. (2014). The evolution of Los Zetas in Mexico and Central America: Sadism as an instrument of cartel warfare. SSI.

Weissenstein, M., & Alicia A. Caldwell , Associated Press. (2013, July 15). Leader of Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel captured. Retrieved December 13, 2015, from

Domestic Terrorism: Implications of a Label

Disclaimer: I pose a number of open-ended questions throughout this post, but I have included my main discussion questions at the end.

In light of recent events, I think it is important we take the time to discuss the concept of domestic terrorism and the roles that race, religion, ethnocentrism and media coverage play in forming public perception. Domestic terrorism is defined separately from International terrorism, according to the FBI:

“‘Domestic terrorism’ means activities with the following three characteristics:

 1. Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;

2. Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and

3. Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.” (

The ambiguity of this definition lies in the skillful use of the word “intended.” Intent can be incredibly hard to prove, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation on behalf of the FBI, the government, and the media. It leaves the incredibly popular “mental health” loophole available. But, that loophole only seems to apply white men who carry out mass shootings. When the media puts the focus on not knowing the intent is when they use race to fill in the story, as demonstrated by the responses to the attack at Planned Parenthood. Additionally, whether or not the assailants “intent” was to specifically influence government policy, the recent shootings have brought the topic of gun control to the forefront of debates that have major implications for future legislation. In that respect, should the intent really matter?

Hopefully at this point everyone is familiar with the shooting that occurred last Friday at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado in which three people were killed and nine were wounded.(Broomfield, Brown & Simon, 2015). The following is an alert from the New York Times that popped up on my phone on Tuesday: “Special Report: The suspect in the Colorado rampage was a recluse who longed for women, and mixed religion with rage.” (Faussett, 2015).They describe him as an outcast, of course we would not want to associate him with all Christians… he was just a random fanatic with an anger problem. I find it incredibly hard to believe that if Robert Lewis Dear was not white or christian, the media would be as hesitant to call it domestic terrorism. The media would hear “anti-government” and run with it.

What I find particularly fascinating is a news story published by the FBI on their website in September of 2009 titled Domestic Terrorism: In the Post 9/11 Era. Here is a short excerpt from the article:

“One particularly insidious concern that touches all forms of domestic extremism is the lone offender—a single individual driven to hateful attacks based on a particular set of beliefs without a larger group’s knowledge or support…We believe most domestic attacks are carried out by lone offenders to promote their own grievances and agendas.” (

Does this not describe Robert Lewis Dear? In 2009 the FBI openly acknowledged that lone offenders could not only be considered domestic extremism or terrorism but was a particularly insidious threat. Does this not include those who carry out these mass shootings and massacres? Even still, the majority of the american public would not acknowledge that threat of lone offenders could apply to races or religions besides white people or christians, the majority response to the refugee crisis makes that very clear. Here is what CNN had to say about the recent planned parenthood shooting: “Dear, 57, told them he has anti-abortion and anti-government views, but that doesn’t mean those opinions were his motive for allegedly shooting up the Colorado Springs clinic on Friday, the official said. It’s too early to tell, as investigators are still processing evidence” (Broomfield et. al, 2015).

As I’m writing this I am listening to live coverage on CNN about the massacre that occurred today. Fourteen people were killed today in San Bernadino, California when as many as three men and women opened fire at a center for people with disabilities. In the broadcast, one of the men on Anderson Coopers panel, (which included Art Roderick, a CNN law enforcement analyst; Lenny Depaul, a member of the US marshall fugitive task force for New jersey and New York; Chris Swecker, former assistant director for the FBI; and Harry Hauck, a former NYPD detective) said the following:

“I will say that we oughta get our terminology straight here, just because it happened domestically doesn’t make it domestic terrorism. 9/11 was an attack on US soil, so was World Trade Center one. If it is internationally inspired, if there is some international inspiration or facilitation that turns it in to international terrorism so I think have to keep an open mind…”

To which Anderson Cooper agreed. The only difference between the FBI definitions for international and domestic terrorism is the final characteristic, for something to be International terrorism it must “Occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.”( So even when we have a perpetrator from a recent shooting confirm his anti-government sentiments, it is too soon to tell if it can be considered domestic terrorism. But when there is an ongoing situation that we know was weaponized, calculated and fatal, we still cannot consider it domestic terrorism, but we should also keep in mind that international terrorism is a totally viable option. I’m really not sure I understand the logic there. Today, multiple men and women wearing tactical gear who were in possession of assault rifles, handguns and pipe bombs entered a building and opened fire on innocent people, very possibly people with disabilities. If that is not an act of terrorism, I don’t know what is.

Q1: Do you think the recent shootings/attacks should be considered domestic terrorism? Does it fit within the FBI’s definition? If not, should the FBI’s definition be more widely applied?

Q2: Are there benefits to not labeling these shootings as domestic terrorism?

Q3: What roles do religion and race play in the media coverage of attacks like these?

Q4: With one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino shootings being a women, do you think gender will influence media coverage in the coming days?

Q5: Do you think domestic terrorism events instill as much fear in the american public as international terrorism?

Q6: We recently discussed some of the pros and cons of militarization of the police here in the US. If American media and society started to classify these attacks as domestic terrorist attacks, what sort of policy/legal implications would that have, if any?



Broomfield, B., Brown, P., & Simon, D. (2015, November 29). Source: Colorado shooting suspect spoke of ‘baby parts’ – Retrieved December 3, 2015, from

In the Post-9/11 Era. (2009, September 7). Retrieved December 3, 2015, from

Fausset, R. (2015, December 1). For Robert Dear, Religion and Rage Before Planned Parenthood Attack. Retrieved December 3, 2015, from

San Bernardino Live Coverage [Television series episode]. (2015, December 3). In 360 with Anderson Cooper. New York City: Anderson Cooper.



The Increasing Militarization of America’s Police Forces: Form of Oppression or a Protection for Society?

In the year 1997, two heavily armed men entered a Southern California bank and began their reign of terror. Armed with automatic weapons, body armor, and ski masks, the two individuals forced their way into the bank and created a chaotic scene in order to get their money. As Los Angeles Police Officers responded, many of them were outgunned as they didn’t have the proper resistance (weaponry) to take on the suspects at large and protect the civilians around them (Orlov, 2012). With responding patrol officers only armed with semi-automatic rifles and 12 gauge shotguns, they were for a long time losing the battle that ended in dozens of officers and civilians injured. From this day that put all of North Hollywood, California in panic mode, police departments started providing semi-automatic rifles (M-16’s) to patrol officers, as well as increasing their use of Special Weapons and Tactics Teams (SWAT) (Orlov, 2012). This sense of ramping up increases in military like models has somewhat divided the country regarding whether to militarize our nations police forces or to demilitarize them. Some argue that equipping police across the country with military graded equipment leads to a totalitarian state with too much power and control of the government/ authorities, while others argue that equipping our police force with whatever they need is essential for the safety and protection of our communities; especially faced with an ever changing threat from those who wish to cause harm to civilians. Despite the appropriate increase of militarization to the combat criminals who pose as lot of risk, paramilitary group been seen to cause a lot of harm with their aggressive tactics; often leading to frustration within the community they are meant to serve. Thus, the militarization of police should not be used immediately, but rather only be used in dire situations.

Ever since the Drug War era and the War on Terror, America’s law enforcement agencies have ramped up militaristic approaches and have led to a warrior ethos philosophy for officers. With a moral panic spreading across cities looking to put a stop to the selling and use of illicit drugs, the government stepped up its funding towards law enforcement hoping to create a deterrence. With many of these law enforcement agencies stepping up its presence in communities across the country, they created more specialized units; trained to handle the problems with strict guidelines of power and enforcement. The Drug Enforcement Agency and many other federal and local agencies put more funding and focus towards units that would rely on a forceful tactic of element and surprise to counter-act crimes (mostly dealing with drug offenses). These specialized unites (SWAT) would often force their way into homes (with body armor, assault rifles, flash-bangs, and a determined mindset to ravage these houses) of suspected drug users and dealers. More communities across the country (mostly poor minority communities) are experiencing heavily armed SWAT teams raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night, often just to search for drugs (ACLU). These police officer’s mindsets of a warrior mentality are often linked with the governments philosophy of “tough on crime.” However, for a lot of these cases the offender didn’t even present a violent offense. Last year (nationwide) police arrested 1.6 million nonviolent drug offenders (Stamper, 2011).  Some of these non-violent drug offenders were taken into custody from SWAT teams assaulting their homes. The mere fact that these people presented no danger (based on intelligence gathering) make these dramatic invasions of the home unnecessary, as well as creates a traumatic experience for the people inside. In very shocking cases of SWAT team raids gone wrong, communities see that wrong houses are hit, as well as innocent people and family pets are shot and killed by the police raiding the homes. (Stamper, 2015). Problems like these where you have non violent offenders facing up against heavily armed men breaking down their doors, along with innocent people/pets getting killed creates an image of a public-safety institution (the authorities/police) at war with it’s own people.

The year 1997 also brought along an updated program, known as the 1033 program (created under the National Defense Authorization Act). This program essentially allowed for the United States Department of Defense to transfer military-grade gear to civilian law enforcement agencies across the country because of the Iraq and Afghanistan war winding down. Through this program, agencies (including ferguson-area authorities) were able to acquire heavy body armor, semi-automatic rifles, armored vehicles (MRAPS and BearCats), grenade launchers, riot gear, tear gas, wet weather gear, and blankets (Fox & Cook, 2014). Through this increase in military style equipment, law enforcement agencies starting using them on a daily basis in order to maintain law and order on city streets. Even though officers use a lot of the equipment for their own safety (officer safety), they have been seen to use it incorrectly and inappropriately. As the Ferguson events were unfolding, the whole area had been on high alert which prompted authorities to shown in force. However, the only problem was many of the protests at the beginning were peaceful and really only needed a uniformed police presence (without the military gear and warrior mindset) to monitor their constitutional rights of free speech, as well as the right to assemble peacefully. After this chaotic scene of what seemed like the people vs. the police, the Department of Justice released their report on the Ferguson Police Department. The DOJ expressed that the police agency had handled the situation in the wrong manner (Reilly, 2015). They described that scene where police snipers were on top of armored vehicles, pointing their weapons at the crowds of peaceful protesters (Reilly, 2015). Many in the community saw these officers as attempting to intimidate and threaten the public they are meant to serve (Reilly, 2015). It’s very hard to understand that the men and women who swore to protect and serve are the same one’s seen on images and video’s already in confrontational tactical positions, as if they are ready to strike protesters (who want to freely express their opinions so that society can advance) at a moments notice. Police are meant to diffuse situations and have taken on the role of solving problems that get in the way of peace. However, recently in our history we have seen those in police uniforms escalating confrontations with their equipment, tactics, and demeanor (Baker, 2011). By playing the role of a warrior in the streets, it really hinders the chance to build ties with the communities they are meant to serve.

America’s law enforcement agencies have such an essential role in protecting and serving the people of the United States. Along with their role of making sure communities feel safe, they are also meant to facilitate protesters who have the right to the freedom of speech, and to assemble peacefully (Library of Congress). However, recently we have seen an increase of the militarization of our police departments, that have infringed people’s rights and civil liberties (especially those who are protesting). When you have peaceful protesters lined up, the officers job should be to dress in non-riot gear, but should instead have it in their cars on hand (in case things get out of hand and escalate). The image of officers lined up in heavy gear with assault rifles presents an extreme intimidation (especially to the majority of protesters who are there peacefully) and causes an escalation of the protests to become violent. Even though officers claim that the paramilitary style tactics and military model help with deterrence and officer safety, it doesn’t help with building community ties; especially when those paramilitary groups seem to be up against the majority of the community. This is not to say that we shouldn’t have paramilitary groups (heavily armed officers) since those special units are needed for emergencies. The men and women who are placed into these specialized groups should be trained well to balance stability and order, along with respecting the rights of individuals. These paramilitary groups should be used as the last resort (when situations escalate) so that the community knows police diplomacy was tried; but failed.

  1. At what point in situations do police need to resort to militaristic approaches? Should tear gas and rubber bullets be used to disperse crowds?
  2. From the events of Ferguson, do you think the police in the area infringed upon the masses civil liberties and constitutional rights?
  3. How does a police officer balance officer safety while not infringing upon individual’s civil liberties and individual’s rights?
  4. At what point does an assembly of protesters become unlawful? Do police departments have too much discretion at declaring an unlawful assembly?
  5. Do you think the police are seen as more of oppressors or people looking out for public safety?
  6. After thinking about Ferguson, Occupy Wall Street, and other movements, should police departments keep military gear/ vehicles on hand? Should this military gear be made visible to act as a deterrent to those wanting to cause harm? Do you think we should have the 1033 program still in place (considering police agencies get the proper training)?
  7. Do you think America’s police force (local, state, and federal) has the most militaristic approach towards crime compared to other countries?
  8. Do you think there is any situation where you believe the militarization of police should be used immediately; as an immediate force of action (EX- Martial Law)?


The Changing Face of Imperialism in the Coming Future

The Imperial model of governance is one that is almost as old as human civilization itself, only superseded in age by tribes and city-states. It is a political system that has changed faces and its technique of conquering a foreign territory for land, people or most commonly for its resources. Ancient Empires were confined to a certain geographic location due to a lack of sophisticated technology. These empires were some of the greatest and most celebrated in history; the Egyptian, Persian, Alexandrian, Roman, Chinese and the Inca empires are all remembered for great battles, great drama and the absolute enormity of their respective territories despite their limitations.

Enter the modern age, and imperialism dawns a new face and a far more efficient method of invading and incorporating territories under the domain of the ambitious European empires. With advances in technology, European governments were able to ‘leap across the pond’, and with gun’s, germ’s and steel were able to colonize almost any country that offered them economic benefit. From the 15th century to the 20th century this was an age known for European imperialism, with major players including, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Russia, Prussia/Germany, Portugal, the Ottomans and some would argue the beginning of the United States imperial aspirations. Most of these empires would fall after the conflicts of WWII, as empires became too much work to maintain. With the fall of the old guard, two new contenders for world dominance emerged from the ashes of the 2nd World War.

Once the Soviet Union and her associates of the ‘2nd world’ were out competed by the US and her associates of the ‘1st world’ a new age of imperialism began again. This time, the United States became an empire by default as she was the ‘unchallenged hegemony’. The United States qualifies as an empire not in the most literal sense of being ruled by an emperor, but by two qualifying factors:


  1. An extensive group of states or countries under a single supreme authority

2. A policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force.


These factors and implications are not meant paint the United States in being the the stereotypical evil force that we often associate with the Galactic empire, but rather by being the powerful country in the world, any use of diplomatic or military pressure on other countries in the interest of the US, its people or its economy is considered an imperial doctrine and action. While I detest the imperial systems of earlier centuries, due to the unnecessary violence and unapologetic actions taken incorporate territories, I find nothing wrong in the name American Empire is these are the qualifying factors. As a realist in international matters, I view the game of geopolitics as winner take all. The American government has a duty to its interests and its people to ensure that the promises of domestic tranquility, common defense, and general welfare as defined in the preamble of the Constitution.

However, America’s time in the imperial spotlight may be nearing a close. As corporations and China begin to invest and purchase land rights from Africa and other under developed nations, we may see a new face to imperialism. As of late the Chinese have been purchasing land rights from African nations in exchange for shotty infrastructure. “China takes our primary goods and sells us manufactured ones. This was also the essence of colonialism,” stated Lamido Sanusi, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria as reported in the Financial Times. We have also seen the rise of corporations, seizing land and hiring what are essentially slaves in the global south. As we watch in the future, America may soon have to share the title of Empire with competitors.



Do you agree that America’s duty to her citizens and interest’s as more important than than to the international community? Do you disagree? Why?

Do you believe that the United States is a true empire or simply an empire by technicality?

Do you believe that there is a way that there is a way for America to not need to apply pressure on other states and still pursue her interests?

Is there a way to rid the world of imperialism and hegemony or are we forced to repeat this pattern?

Would you call the United States of America an empire?


         American Empire. (2014, July 3). Retrieved November 18, 2015, from

          An Introduction to American Empire | American Empire |. (2014, June 22). Retrieved November 19, 2015, from

          Okeowo, A. (2013, June 12). China in Africa: The New Imperialists? – The New Yorker. Retrieved November 18, 2015, from
       Schroeder, P. (n.d.). Is the U.S. an Empire? Retrieved November 18, 2015, from

       What if European Imperialism Never Ended? (2015, November 16). Retrieved November 19, 2015, from


If you could reduce the number of future prisoners, would you?

In the few weeks that we have been in this class I can recall three incidents that have come to my attention involving K-12 students and law enforcement. Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for making a clock, essentially the 14 year old was too intelligent for his own good? After that incident, video of 16 year old Emilio Mayfield  being slammed to the ground by police officers after being struck in the face for jaywalking to catch the bus surfaced. In more recent news we have the student in South Carolina who was flipped out of her desk and thrown across the room by Deputy Ben Fields, who was called in after the student was identified as being disruptive to the class.

I understand that these are all very different circumstances but at the end of the day we have three teenagers having experienced unnecessary trauma of being handcuffed and hauled to a police station with fear and questions of self worth running through their heads. What does it say when you have been conditioned to believe that bad people, criminals, are the ones who get handcuffed and you are the one sitting in the back of a police car after being in a classroom?

These incidents help visualize our far too intimate relationship between institutions of education and institutions of incarceration:

Heightened after fear of school shootings we have 82,000 school resource officers and security guards working in public schools (Brown). Not to say that the safety of students and staff should not be a priority, but what does it say when the students safety is put in jeopardy by the person who is their to protect them? Certain student and law enforcement encounters question the priority:

How do we justify a 5 year old with ADHD getting handcuffed with zip ties on his hands and feet, forced to go to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and being charged with battery on a police officer (Snyder)?

In the end the mother of 5 year old Michael Davis points out that rather than an apology she wishes her son had the proper education catering to Michael’s learning disabilities, the school didn’t offer behavioral services to Michael or his mother, because it would cost the district money.



Education vs Prison Costs

Data from 40 states depict how much government money is spent per year to educate an elementary/secondary school student compared to the cost of keeping an inmate imprisoned.
Data from 40 states depict how much government money is spent per year to educate an elementary/secondary school student compared to the cost of keeping an inmate imprisoned.



  1. After learning the mechanics of the school system feeding into the prison system, do you have an issue with more money being spent on prisoners than students?
  2. In this instance if we address the needs of the students, we would diminish the needs for prisoners by keeping them from becoming prisoners, so why don’t we prioritize education?
  3. Living in a time fearful of school shootings it seems as though police officers will not be leaving the classroom anytime soon. Does this leave us with a new field of criminal justice? Intro to policing K-12? Who takes on this responsibility, the college level, individual police departments, the school?





“American Kids & The School-To-Prison Pipeline.” YouTube. Ed. AJ+. YouTube, 18 May 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.

Brown, Emma. “Police in Schools: Keeping Kids Safe, or Arresting Them for No Good Reason?” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 8 Nov. 2015. Web.

School to Prison Graphic (I):

School to Prison Illustration (II):

Snyder, Michael. “19 Crazy Things That School Children Are Being Arrested For In America.” End Of The American Dream. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2012.

“Stuck In The School-To-Prison Pipeline.” YouTube. Ed. AJ+. YouTube, 20 May 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.

“Taking Back Our Schools: Organizing to Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” YouTube. Ed. Advancement Project. YouTube, 23 July 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.

Yellin, Tal. Education vs Prison Costs. 2013. CNNMoney, n.p.

Police Shootings: What’s Our Current Rating?

Towards the end of 2014 and beginning months of 2015 it seemed as if police shootings were starting to become a more frequent occurrence. For several months, it was a consistency across all media sources, story after story. Currently, as of November 4th, (around 10 am), 829 people have been shot dead by police here in the United States, just this year alone.


With extremely advanced media technology today, these events have erupted across media sources in a matter of minutes. According to what gets placed into the news, it seems as if blacks are seen as the main targets for police shootings, seeing as it gets more attention. Surprisingly, that is not the scenario. Compared to blacks, whites are more likely to be killed by the police. Approximately, 48% (398) of those killed by police in 2015 have been a white person, whereas 25% (211) have been a black person. In comparison to states so far California (150) has the highest number of deaths on civilians caused by police. Here in the state of Washington 14 have been killed by police. To one’s surprise there are two states in the United States which have no record of a police officer killing a civilian (Washington Post, 2015).

(England and Wales police shootings from 2005-2014)

Compared to other countries, the United States statistically rates enormously higher than the rest in the number of deaths caused by police. Police in the United States are taught to shoot center mass, whereas European countries police are taught to aim for the knee caps or shoot at the suspects’ feet; essentially wound and not kill the suspect. Also, some European countries do not allow for police to carry a gun. Without a doubt police work is a highly stressful profession, so not having some source of protection in a heated confrontation would be an uneasy scenario. So if some countries have been successful with this method, why is the United States not? As of June of 2015, England and Wales have had “55 fatal police shootings in 24 years, whereas in 24 days (from January 1- January 24, 2015), there have been 59 fatal police shootings in the United States” (Lartey, 2015). In some cases, the United States has had thousands of individuals killed by police, whereas some countries have only recorded a handful of deaths over fifty plus years. Another prime example is, here in the United States there has been over eight-hundred deaths of a civilian by police in just a little over ten months, whereas in the United Kingdom (England and Wales) has only recorded two deaths the entire year thus far. Just five months into 2015, in Stockton, California, “three people were fatally shot by police, however over 71 years Iceland has only recorded one” (Lartey, 2015).



  1. Do you think police shootings have risen over the past year or two?
  2. Why does it seem like police shootings have become a major issue in recent events? Could it be that once one shooting gets into the news, then it seems like that is all the media wants to display or talk about?
  3. If the United States were to change their police tactics to those like other countries (not aiming center mass for example), do you think the number of people killed by police would decrease?
  4. If police work is an extremely stressful profession, how is it that other countries are able to have such lower police cause deaths compared to the United States? Could it be a population differential? Could it be the militarization training and mentality of “shoot to kill?”



Washington Post (2015). Retrieved: (November 3, 2015).

Jamiles Lartey. (June 9, 2015). “By the numbers: US police kill more in days than other countries do in years.” The Guardian.  Retrieved: November 3, 2015.

Images: (graph)