[sixties-l] Angela Davis discusses prisons in Berkeley

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 12/13/00

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    Angela Davis discusses prisons in Berkeley
    December 6, 2000
    By Cyrus Farivar
    Daily Californian
    U. California-Berkeley
    (U-WIRE) BERKELEY, Calif. -- Echoing many signs that were in homes across
    the United States during her time as a fugitive in the 1970s, Angela Davis
    was welcomed to Berkeley with "Angela, sister, you are welcome in this house!"
    University of California at Santa Cruz professor Angela Davis was greeted
    with a standing ovation Monday night before giving a speech on the
    "Criminalization of Youth and the Prison System" at Martin Luther King Jr.
    Middle School.
    After citing the cases of some modern "political prisoners" like Leonard
    Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal, Davis began her talk by saying that
    "criminalization" affects all people.
    "None of us who consume news have been unaffected by this criminalization
    process over the last two decades," Davis said.
    Davis cited a recent Justice Policy Institute study dispelling the myth
    that youth constitute a large part of crime.
    She also said the social bias of the criminal justice system is shown by
    the fact that the majority of prison inmates are minorities.
    According to the professor, criminalization is a process that has nothing
    to do with crime.
    "There are other reasons besides a commission of a crime for someone to be
    in jail," Davis said. "We need to talk about a relationship with race and
    class (in relation to criminalization) to think about it differently."
    Davis, a controversial political activist involved with the Black Panthers,
    did not have her appointment as a lecturer renewed at the University of
    California at Los Angeles in 1970 because of her socialist political views.
    Davis was accused in the attempted escape of an imprisoned activist, George
    Jackson, from the Marin County Hall of Justice. Four people, including the
    trial judge, were killed in the incident.
    Davis fled and, charged with kidnapping, murder, and conspiracy, soon
    became the third woman in history to be put on the FBI's Most Wanted List.
    She was later captured and was acquitted of all charges in 1972.
    Davis discussed the founding of the modern prison system in the United
    States, beginning with the Quaker community in the 18th century.
    "Rather than giving democracy to the world, the gift of the U.S. is the
    prisons," Davis said.
    Davis said that traveling around the world has given her the opportunity to
    visit many different prisons and that they are all similar -- they all
    contain minorities.
    "The prisonization of society is pointing the way to establish a structure
    which is dependent on and reproduces racism," Davis said.
    Because of this criminalization process and the "Prison Industrial
    Complex," Davis called for the abolition of the juvenile justice system,
    the death penalty and the prison system, drawing unanimous applause from
    the crowd.
    In response to a question about the recent alleged sexual assault that took
    place at the same school where she was speaking, Davis emphasized her
    previous remarks.
    "It's a complicated situation," she said. "We have to dismantle this system
    which contributes to violence."
    Davis also discussed the topic of the national election in the context of
    the death penalty. She called Gov. George W. Bush's Texas tenure an
    "assembly line of death" and said this issue was not adequately discussed.
    Vice President Al Gore did not escape her wrath either. She said he backed
    down from confronting the issue and should have "troubled the waters a
    little bit."

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