Crime & Punishment: Imprisoning Justice & Political Repression in the U.S.

Crime & Punishment: Imprisoning Justice & Political Repression in the U.S.
Instructor Adam Carpinelli
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Course Description: The purpose of this interdisciplinary course is to explore transformations in the criminalization of dissent in the United States from the last quarter of the 19th century to present. How have groups been repressed and incarcerated for their political beliefs/activities and what can we do to stop it? The dimensions of political repression will be discussed focusing on change over time in context of 1) how activists have responded to repression 2) how the government has responded to civic engagement and activism by developing new state apparatus and 3) how non-governmental/corporate entities have influenced decision making and programs for criminalizing dissent.

The first unit of the course will focus on the how and why people have been historically and contemporarily incarcerated for their political beliefs. We will focus on analyzing the prison industrial complex and the history of movements that have been targeted in the past such as the legacy of the FBI’s programs in the early 1900’s to J Edger Hoovers led counter-intelligence
programs that attacked groups in the 60s and 70s. The second unit will focus on more recent events dating from the Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization in 1999, the first decade of the 21st century Post-911 to todays new laws such as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and realities of refined tactics of repression such as the most recent law for detaining citizens. This course will have an online component for video conferencing, repository for articles as well as messaging threads for online discussions of course materials and topics. This will include “webinars,” live chat sessions, recorded lectures, powerpoints, provided readings,
case studies, videos, radio clips and guest lectures. Focus will be paid to particular examples and strategies for what have been useful approaches to resisting repression such as knowing your rights, cop watching, jail/Political Prisoner support, how to network with legal folks and beyond.

Skills/understanding that activists will have for organizing and opposing militarism after taking your course:
1) Gain a deeper history regarding the legacy of political repression in the U.S. including how the Prison industrial Complex has been structured.
2) Develop strategies around what has worked and what has not in the face of political repression
3) Gain critical thinking skills around ideas surround crime and punishment in practical and also intellectual contexts as well as alternatives to the dominant paradigm.
4) Become familiarized with popular materials in the are of focus, organizations, writers and other activists in the field.
5) Become familiar and/or more well versed in the social and environmental justice movements based in the U.S. that have faced serious political repression.

Week 1- Theory and Praxis: Examining ideas about Political Repression
Unpacking definitions of political repression, crime and terrorism

Churchill, Ward, and Jim Vander Wall. The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars against Domestic Dissent. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1990.

Churchill, Ward, and Jim Vander Wall. Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1988.

Week 2- Connecting the Dots: The Prison Industrial Complex and other State Apparatus

Davis, Angela. Are Prisons Obsolete? New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003.
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.

Week 3- History of the Movements and FBI Programs

Bukhari, Safiya, and Laura Whitehorn. The War Before: The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith in Prison & Fighting for Those Left Behind. New York City: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2010.

Carmichael, Stokely, and Michael Thelwell. Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture). New York: Scribner, 2003.

Jackson, George. Soledad Brother; The Prison Letters of George Jackson. New York: Coward- McCann, 1970.

Film: Derias, Liz, et al. Cointelpro 101. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2011.

Week 4- Responses to Repression: Strategies for Resisting and Political Prisoners

Glick, Brian. War at Home: Covert Action against U.S. Activists and What We Can Do About It. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1989.

James, Joy. Warfare in the American Homeland: Policing and Prison in a Penal Democracy. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.

James, Joy. Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture. Minneapolis, Minn: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Williams, Kristian. Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America. Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press, 2004.

Williams, Kristian. American Methods: Torture and the Logic of Domination. Cambridge, Mass: South End Press, 2006.

Week 5- Activism in a Post 9-11 World: New Threats to Freedom and Democracy
Discussion will feature contemporary organizations and movements that have been successful in resisting repression as well as supporting Political Prisoners such as the Jericho Movement, Civil Liberties Defense Center, National Lawyers Guild, organizations.

Bio for Adam Carpinelli:
Adam Carpinelli is an activist scholar.  He is the NW regional organizer for the Jericho Movement for Political Prisoner Amnesty and founder of Oregon Jericho. He is also an active member of the Leonard Peltier Offense Defense Committee (Portland, OR Chapter), Portland Central America Solidarity Committee and Portland Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. He is also active in student organizing with various NW student groups, food-sharing programs such as Food Not Bombs and Homeless advocacy. Moreover he works with local Portland coalitions around issues related to political repression, anti-corporatism and climate change. He currently organizes with Occupy Portland’s N17 spokes council (Portland Action Lab) where he was arrested with his affinity group for shutting down a Wells Fargo in November 2011 while engaging in non-violent civil disobedience. Moreover he is the co-founder of the Law & Disorder Conference, an annual event that focuses on anti-oppression work. He is currently a doctoral student in the department of history at Washington State University Vancouver focusing on African cultural retentions and memory systems of the African Diaspora in the Americas during the time of enslavement. His historical analysis of trans-Atlantic linkages between Africa and the Americas primarily looks at cultural expressions in folklore, art, music, drumming and dance, resistance and religion. He received his MA in Pan African Studies at Syracuse University in 2007. His thesis about the Saramaka people of Suriname, South America revealed how, in the quest for freedom, many enslaved Africans fled from the plantations into the Surinamese rain forest where they set up independent communities.

He is interested in how neoliberal globalization, socio-economic and political changes impact human memory. His intention is to contribute to this area of historical scholarship by providing trans-Atlantic thematic approaches that will enhance our understanding of the era of the slave trade and the tremendous impact it has on the world today. His publications include:

“Fighting “Modern Slavery”: Securing Land Rights for Saramaka People of Suriname”, Perspectives on African Environment and Technology: From Pre-colonial to the Postcolonial Period, Edited by Maurice Amutabi and Toyin Falola, (Africa World Press), 2012. “The Cowrie Shell”, Commodities, Culture, and History: The Products That Have Changed the World, Edited by Heather Streets-Salter, (New York: Facts on File) Forthcoming (2012). “Political Developments in Central Africa: 1750-1880”, Encyclopedia of World History (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO), 2010. “Taino Survival and Caribbean Archaeology”, Co written with Dr. Pedro Ferbel-Azcarate, Proceedings for the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 2003.