March 11th 2018
For your Bits this weekend we get started by taking a look at the United States’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) unchecked abuse of immigrant detainees throughout the detention and deportation process. Detention centers for people awaiting immigration hearings or deportation are managed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) instead of the federal court system and detainees are not privy to the legal rights that characterize the U.S. justice system. Despite regulations that mandate the humane treatment of detainees and a supposed process for filing grievances, there is considerable evidence of both publicly and privately run detainment facilities with “issues, including ‘abusive and inappropriate officer interactions with detainees; medical attention; [and] attorney access to detainees and lack of attorney-client confidentiality and privacy.'” While these abuses existed under the Obama and other previous administrations, “under the Trump administration, it’s like they really don’t care that their brutality is being put on full display. It seems at times they want the reports to come out to instill fear in immigrant communities.”
~ 24 Minute Read
“On the evening of February 9, some of the toilets in the isolation cells at Glades were clogged and spewing sewage on the floor, making them impossible to use. The Somali men in segregation complained, and one of them, Agane Warsame, asked for a mop to clean his cell. In response, officers “sprayed pepper spray through the slots of their cells, making them unable to breathe,” according to court records. “The officers called the men ‘niggers’ and told them to ‘go back to the jungle.’ Glades officers inflicted beatings on Agane Warsame” and possibly one other man, according to court records. ICE refuted this account in court records, and said the “claims of excessive force are meritless.”
The filth caused by the overflowing toilets, unbearable for anyone, poses a special problem for the Somali men, most of whom are Muslim, noted Lehner, the attorney from Americans for Immigrant Justice. “This also raises the issue of the facility’s lack of respect for the Somalis’ religious faith. They are unable to pray when their cells are filthy,” she said, also noting that the facility has refused to provide the inmates with religious-compliant meals. (One Jewish Somali man told his lawyers that he had repeatedly asked for kosher meals and was subsequently placed in isolation, Lehner said.)
Asked to comment on the detainees’ claims, Nestor Yglesias, an ICE spokesperson in Miami, sent a link to the detention standards and wrote, “This link addresses how ICE operates every center.” In court filings, ICE said Warsame was being disruptive by yelling and kicking on the door of his cell while asking for a mop, spurring other detainees to exhibit “disorderly behavior.” Warsame was taken out of his cell “to limit his disruptive participation in the ongoing disturbance within the segregation unit, and he was pepper sprayed outside of his cell, after he became “actively aggressive” and cursed and spit at a guard, according to ICE.
Warsame’s lawyers, after hearing about the altercation, rushed to Glades to investigate. They found him “so injured he cannot walk” and in a wheelchair, with a possibly broken hip, according to court records. An incident report from the detention center included details about the malfunctioning toilets and the pepper spray, but omitted mention of “the documented physical abuse of Mr. Warsame officers,” his attorneys wrote in an emergency motion to the court.
Following the incident, Warsame’s lawyers asked the court to order a transfer of the Somali detainees out of Glades. “We were really scared for people’s lives,” Lehner, who filed the motion, said. That effort was unsuccessful.
Under the 2000 National Detention Standards, ICE officer are “under no circumstances” allowed to use force to punish a detainee and can only use the amount of force necessary “to gain control of the detainee.” Under those standards, medical personnel must examine a detainee after any use of force and immediately treat injuries. Officers can use nonlethal weapons, such as pepper spray, if a detainee is armed or barricaded, cannot be approached without endangering himself or others, or if a delay in using force to control the situation would seriously endanger the detainee or others.
“The use of pepper spray also has to be discussed in advance with medical staff, unless that’s not possible,” said Landy. “In my opinion, pepper spray should only be used against a detainee already confined in a segregated cell only in very rare circumstances.”
At least eight detainees had previously said they experienced abuse at Glades, according to an 88-page complaint the lawyers who are representing the Somalis in their federal lawsuit filed on January 8. The detainees had been subjected to physical abuse, excessive force followed by denial of medical attention, and inadequate medical care, according to the complaint. The Miami-based lawyers, who make the 100-mile trek to Glades as needed, including when their clients report threats to their safety, have been keeping a meticulous log of injuries sustained in detention and the type of medical care that followed.
Warsame said that after he had asked about another detainee who “guards had touched for no reason,” he was found guilty of “inciting a demonstration” and punished with 30 days in a segregation unit. On January 3, Warsame was allowed to take a shower. When a guard took him back to his cell, Warsame stuck his wrist out of a slot in the door so that the guard would remove his handcuffs. “A guard twisted Warsame’s hand so that the handcuff cut into the skin on his wrist, leaving it bleeding and swollen,” according to the complaint. “The next day, a nurse looked at him, but refused to treat the cuts on his wrist.””
Sign Up To Receive Weekend Bits In Your Inbox Every Sunday
Our next article takes a look at how regulations and design standards prevalent in suburban areas of the United States (and other countries, like Australia) create the feeling of living in a “dystopian nightmare.” One of the central features of suburbia is that comfortably and easily living there requires access to a car; this car-first development process results in design and regulation decisions like having large parking lots and “parking-first aesthetics” (e.g. driveways) that make it difficult for people to travel on foot. The prevalence of single-use zoning creates large areas with no shops or other businesses resulting in large amounts of “useless, ugly, wasted space” with no street enclosure or economic diversity. Furthermore, high density residential areas create a “hierarchical traffic distribution” whereby everyone in a set of neighborhoods ends up using the same main roads and causing congestion. All of these decisions reduce population density and decreases the efficiency of public transportation. Despite these drawbacks, suburban sprawl frequently extends throughout many different government jurisdictions adding a layer of difficulty to regional planning that prevents any one city from taking meaningful steps toward creating a happier and more pedestrian-friendly place to live.
~ 16 Minute Read
“1. Single-use zoning
American zoning law (in all but its oldest cities) forecloses on the possibility of mixed-use development. This means traditional design patterns like shops and offices on the first floor with apartments above are impossible. Residences are constructed in special areas zoned for residential construction, while shopping and work take place in altogether different areas zoned for commercial development.
The idea, of course, is that the peaceful slumber of the suburbanite should not be interrupted by the noise generated by the transaction of commerce or any other public-sphere human activities. The result is that running any errand or attending to any need, no matter how small, requires getting in one’s car and driving somewhere else, in many cases several miles or more.
Since separation of commercial and residential zones by vast tracts built at automobile scale (rather than human scale) removes the possibility of accessing useful destinations on foot, it removes any practical motive for walking. Without consequential destinations that are part of normal human activity, by and large, the only people who walk on suburban streets do so for exercise. And the only reason they would do that is because their automobile-powered daily existence does not otherwise compel much movement.”
“5. Economic segregation by building type
It does not bear repeating here that one of the things that makes interesting places interesting is variety. However, one more subtle effect of the enforced homogeneity of suburban residential neighborhoods is economic segregation.
In older and more traditional neighborhoods, multiple types of buildings of varying sizes coexist closely. Yes, it is a universal premise of building regulation and planning that they must be united by some sort of overarching organizing aesthetic principle and geometrically agree in some way or another, but that doesn’t mean they all have to be approximately one type or size. As a result, it’s quite possible for poor, middle class, and rich people to live side-by-side in one neighborhood, with the difference being that the rich people’s houses or apartments are merely bigger.”
“9. No street life or visible human activity
Periodically, people will ask me: “Well, if you’re so committed to walking, why not just … do it?” They mean right here, on the highway, next to six lanes of traffic, in 90 °F heat.
Well, in actually-existing psychological reality, people aren’t going to walk where it’s neither comfortable nor interesting to walk. Contrary to popular Republican-type mockery of the notion, “interesting” doesn’t require a hipster paradise of airy-fairy, frou-frou creature comforts like street cafes (though they do uncannily arise in interesting places). “Interesting” just means there’s some intimation of human presence and activity expressed in the architecture and scenery.
There’s nothing about a treeless six-lane highway that conveys this. I’m going to drive, not walk, because to walk would be boring, tedious, uncomfortable, dangerous, and, in a sprawling geography designed at automobile scale, impractically slow.”
Sign Up To Receive Weekend Bits In Your Inbox Every Sunday
Your last Bit of the weekend takes a look at how the legalization of polygamy is linked to social unrest, particularly when accompanied by patrilineal societies where marriages are sealed by “the payment of a brideprice from the groom’s family to the bride’s.” When polygamy is permitted within these types of societies, the older and wealthier men are able to have many wives both reducing the supply of partners for younger men and greatly increasing the cost of getting married; for example, “in wretchedly poor Afghanistan, the cost of a wedding for a young man averages $12,000-$20,000.” This means that men must spend years saving up money in order to get married and families have an incentive to marry off their daughters at young ages to benefit from the substantial brideprices. These patriarchal societies often provide few rights to women who are married off against their will and can end up in household power struggles where wives compete for the attention and resources of their shared husband.
~ 14 Minute Read
“In South Sudan, brideprices may be anything from 30 to 300 cows. “For young men, the acquisition of so many cattle through legitimate means is nearly impossible,” write Ms Hudson and Ms Matfess. The alternative is to steal a herd from the tribe next door. In a country awash with arms, such cattle raids are as bloody as they are frequent. “7 killed, 10 others wounded in cattle raid in Eastern Lakes,” reads a typical headline in This Day, a South Sudanese paper. The article describes how “armed youths from neighbouring communities” stole 58 cows, leaving seven people—and 38 cows—shot dead “in tragic crossfire”.
Thousands of South Sudanese are killed in cattle raids every year. “When you have cows, the first thing you must do is get a gun. If you don’t have a gun, people will take your cows,” says Jok, a 30-year-old cattle herder in Wau, a South Sudanese city. He is only carrying a machete, but he says his brothers have guns.
Jok loves cows. “They give you milk, and you can marry with them,” he smiles. He says he will get married this year, though he does not yet have enough cows and, judging by his ragged clothes, he does not have the money to buy them, either. He is vague as to how he will acquire the necessary ruminants. But one can’t help noticing that he is grazing his herd on land that has recently been ethnically cleansed. Dinkas like Jok walk around freely in Wau. Members of other tribes who used to live in the area huddle in camps for displaced people, guarded by UN peacekeepers.
The people in the camps all tell similar stories. The Dinkas came, dressed in blue, and attacked their homes, killing the men and stealing whatever they could carry away, including livestock and young women. “Many of my family were killed or raped,” says Saida, a village trader. “The attackers cut people’s heads off. All the young men have gone from our village now. Some have joined the rebels. Some fled to Sudan.” Saida’s husband escaped and is now with his other wife in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. Saida is left tending five children. Asked why all this is happening, she bursts into tears.
“If you have a gun, you can get anything you want,” says Abdullah, a farmer who was driven off his land so that Dinka marauders could graze their cattle on it. “If a man with a gun says ‘I want to marry you’, you can’t say no,” says Akech, an aid worker. This is why adolescent boys hover on the edge of battles in South Sudan. When a fighter is killed, they rush over and steal his weapon so that they can become fighters, too.”
Thanks for checking out the Weekend Bits! If you enjoyed these Bits, why don’t you share it with a friend? We appreciate your support and as always, Contact Us online or send us an email at [email protected].
Have a great rest of your week!