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States of Surveillance

by Kendall Clark, The Monkeyfist Collective Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2000 at 6:59 PM
kendall@monkeyfist.com 214.520.0959

A police state cannot exist without surveillance of dissenting political expression. And that surveillance is ultimately as threatening as police violence and legal entanglements.

This is a police state! -- Anonymous.

I heard that as a cry of outrage on the streets of Philadelphia. I heard it as a complaint expressed to friends and family, and as the opening bit of analysis from Left intellectuals. But what does it mean? On the streets it was heard in response to some new (or newly egregious) violation by police of what protesters take to be their civil rights (not by virtue of being protesters but by virtue of being citizens): equal access to public space, protection and service from the police, humane treatment in jail, etc.

It was also heard it when the police in Philadelphia, where I spent two weeks protesting the RNC, were practicing surveillance. One thing that triggers accusations of a police state is widespread or vigorous police surveillance, particularly when it's triggered by dissenting political expression. To put it simply: no one wants to be subjected to surveillance because of their political views; it's undemocratic and fascist. It threatens both the dignity of persons and the very existence of public space.

Read the rest at Monkeyfist.com

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