"The film brings you up close inside Cornel West's and Bob Avakian's dialogue: the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, the revolutionary substance. Two courageous voices modeling a morality that refuses to accept injustice – pouring heart and soul into standing together challenging all of us to fight for a world worthy of humanity."

Andy Zee,
co-director of the film


BA Speaks

"No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."

BAsics 1:13

Do you know anyone else—any person or organization—that has managed to bring forth an actual PLAN for a radically different society, in all its dimensions, and a CONSTITUTION to codify all this? — A different world IS possible — Check out and order online the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).


The Police Murder of Walter Scott: Enforcing Child Support Warrants and the New Jim Crow

May 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Police chase down Walter Scott and murder him.
Police chase and execution of Walter Scott.

The most lasting image of the police execution of Walter Scott in South Carolina is of Scott desperately running away from a cold-blooded cop who slowly takes aim before wantonly taking his life. The connection between that moment and the hundreds of years of slavery and Jim Crow segregation was captured vividly by the poster at that superimposed another picture next to it—the infamous drawing of a slave desperately trying to escape from a slave catcher.

What was Walter Scott trying to escape from? According to his brother, Walter’s life had gone into a tailspin decades earlier when he was first sent to jail for two weeks for being unable to pay child support. As a result, he lost what he called the best job he ever had—making $35,000 a year with a filmmaking company—which sent him into drinking and depression. And the pattern kept repeating itself. He lost another job while doing five months in prison, again for not paying child support. Scott once asked a judge, “How am I supposed to live?” The judge reportedly replied, “That’s your problem. You figure it out.”(See “Skip Child Support. Go to Jail. Lose Job. Repeat,” New York Times, April 20, 2015.)

“You Figure It Out”

When parents are separated, the burden of financial responsibility for raising the children is supposed to be shared by the parents. In most cases, the mother takes custody of the children, which makes the financial burden on single mothers especially difficult to manage without support from the children’s father. But laws passed decades ago—supposedly intended to put pressure especially on fathers who could afford to pay child support but were refusing to do so—are now used to ensnare men with no ability to pay into the custody of the criminal “justice” system at staggering rates.

For millions of fathers scrambling to make ends meet, the choice is often between eating, having transportation and a roof over their heads, or making child support payments. According to the New York Times, a study done by the Urban Institute in 2007 found that 70 percent of people in nine large states who are behind in their child support payments earned less than $10,000 a year. And they were expected to pay 83 percent of their income for child support! Once warrants for non-payment are issued, any encounter with law enforcement will land you in jail.

This system is brutally enforced by the thugs with badges, with the support of those with power, who—not so unlike the slave catchers of centuries earlier—are rewarded for rounding up and taking off to jail these so-called “criminals.” The New York Times reported that in South Carolina in 2009, one in eight inmates had been jailed for failure to pay child support! In Georgia, 3,500 parents were jailed in 2010; 1,800 parents were jailed or given ankle bracelets in New Jersey in 2013.

Criminalizing Poverty

The laws have become much more vicious against the poor and oppressed in this country since Ronald Reagan’s election as president in 1980, which ushered in a backlash against advances made through the 1960s and early 1970s in how people viewed the government’s responsibility to help those at the bottom of society and to overcome the history of the oppression of Black people. Since that time, poverty has become increasingly criminalized. Now, if a mother has to rely on public assistance, she becomes suspect, and the husband or father is pursued to force him to repay it, whether he is able to or not. Automatic paycheck deductions have become enforced. In some jurisdictions, the size of payments required is based not on actual income but on the income that would be expected for someone with a full-time minimum- or median-wage job.

In the media the terms “deadbeat dad,” and for women, “welfare queen,” were popularized to change public perception of poverty, and to attack and eliminate public assistance to those straining to stay above water. So in order to receive public assistance, women are forced to assist the government’s pursuit of husbands or the children’s fathers, even when that’s the last thing they want to do. In a companion piece, the New York Times ran an article by a journalist who went to court to get her ex-husband’s $38,000 debt for child support forgiven. Talking about how disappointed her daughter was when her father couldn’t be at her junior high graduation for fear of being arrested, the mother said, “I would have paid the $38,000 myself if I could to remove that look from her face.” She added, “I don’t want the father of my children to be criminalized or to live in fear of prison.” (See “Forgiving $38,750 in Child Support, for My Kids’ Sake,” April 19, 2015.)

Criminal Justice System Used to Enforce Social Control

What this highlights is the crucial role the criminal justice system plays in the enforcement of a system of social control that forces millions of Black people into lives governed by prison, unemployment, broken homes, and broken dreams. This system of ‘“in-’justice” is in fact one of the pathways to mass incarceration.

In On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, Alice Goffman reports on a sociological study she carried out in inner city Philadelphia. She herself spent years living there, experiencing up close the life of the young men. She described how, for them, it was assumed that you were always on the lookout for the police, because any encounter could end with you going to jail either because of an outstanding warrant for failing to pay a fine of one kind or another, or for nothing. In their part of the city, everyone ran at the sight of the police.

Michelle Alexander discusses the devastating impact of these conditions on the lives of millions of Black people in the inner cities of this country in the introduction to her booki The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. She argues that, for Black people, the criminal justice system itself serves as a “gateway into a much larger system of racial stigmatization and permanent marginalization,” which she calls mass incarceration. A system that:

locks people not only behind actual bars in actual prisons, but also behind virtual bars and virtual walls—walls that are invisible to the naked eye but function nearly as effectively as Jim Crow laws once did at locking people of color into a permanent second-class citizenship.

At the same time, the perception has been created that it is “legitimate” for the police to see a young Black man—any young Black man—as a “suspect;” and cause enough for the completely illegal stops by police that have resulted in the police murders of Walter Scott in South Carolina, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Omar Abrego and Ezell Ford in Los Angeles; and countless others.

Enough! No more! These crimes, and the system responsible for them, Must Be Stopped—Now!


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