[*BCM*] Cyclist foils heist, Boston Phoenix 9/28

Jocelyn Burrell Jocelyn at Southendpress.org
Tue Oct 2 12:05:21 EDT 2007

thanks, paul. it's a relief to hear that others were startled by the
under-examined celebration of "law and order" that emerged on the list.
these are complex issues, to be sure, though at day's end i have still
found the police more of a harm than a help in my own lived experience
(not to mention the much broader community/national/global scale). 


From: bostoncriticalmass-bounces at bostoncriticalmass.org
[mailto:bostoncriticalmass-bounces at bostoncriticalmass.org] On Behalf Of
Paul Centro
Sent: Saturday, September 29, 2007 10:31 AM
To: Boston Critical Mass
Subject: Re: [*BCM*] Cyclist foils heist, Boston Phoenix 9/28

I guess my main point was left in the dust.  Let me quote from the BCM
website:  "The Revolution Will Not Be Motorized."  A flip quote maybe,
but I would agree with the premise that a revolution, at least in our
assumptions and ways of thinking, would be beneficial.
It is not that I don't expect that the general population will have the
law and order viewpoint, it's that I would expect this group to have
more in sympathy with a lawbreaker than with the law by the very nature
of your main activity.
I also know the rage that can be sparked by the adreneline rush.  When
an SUV deliberately hit me on my bike in Chinatown, I kept riding
(thankfully I could) because at that moment I could have killed the
driver with my bare hands, I have never been so goddam mad in my life,
but in that instant I learned that I could control that impulse and rise
above the moment.  For me, at least, it was enlightening.
Through my own circumstances I have been pretty close to the street for
most of my life.  At this moment I am involved with a group trying to
address violence in Boston and I am coming up against many of the
built-in realities of our system.  Perhaps my own experiences are what
give me empathy.
I always ask the "why" questions.  Why was the bike being stolen, why
was my car broken into, why was my landlord mugged, and why, for that
matter, the almost universal hostility toward bikes?  But also why is it
so hard to change things.  This incident has shed a little light on that
for me.  

John Hays <jjhays2 at gmail.com> wrote:

	While I strongly oppose all laws against the consensual growth, 
	manufacture, distribution, possession and use of drugs of all
kinds, and 
	I fully agree that drug laws ruin lives, and that drug laws also

	necessarily increase the price of drugs, which can lead marginal
	users to theft -- all of that is COMPLETELY BESIDES THE POINT,
	further evidence, because there's currently no evidence that any
of that 
	applies to this asshole. I strongly disagree that most theft in
the city 
	is fueled by drug addiction, simply because there's far, far
	property theft in the city than drug addicts can account for. As
	who lives in Allston, it's abundantly clear to me that drug
addiction is 
	rarely the underlying cause of property theft. College students,
	young people in their 20s generally, are inveterate thieves, and
	have lots of petty theft wherever large numbers of them
congregate. They 
	are also rarely drug addicts.
	Some people have minimized the severity of crime by scoffing at
	importance of 'property' (conveniently forgetting the assault).
While I 
	think this is misguided for several reasons, I would just point
out that 
	the 'things' we legitimately acquire are the result of the
product of 
	hours of our own labor. If your $300 bike is stolen, and you
worked at 
	$10/hr job to raise the money to buy it, then you've lost more
than a 
	physical thing -- you've lost the 30+ hours of your own time
that you 
	invested into one pursuit over another, perhaps more enjoyable
	in order to acquire it. That is, I think, no small crime.
	I have serious objections to the criminal 'justice' system, as
	as the justice of deliberately inflicting unpleasantness onto
people as 
	retribution for a crime (as opposed to say, a framework designed
	restitution to victims); but what I have no doubt about is that
	bicycle thief has committed a grievous wrong, and I'm not going
	lament his punishment too much.
	- John
	Paul Centro wrote:
	> It might have been interesting if someone had spoken to James
	> the alleged perp, for his side of the story. While I do not
know his 
	> circumstances, let me suggest an alternative read for stories
such as 
	> this:
	> -Drug addict in the throes of addiction needs money for a fix.
	> Doe of Boston who has been unable to find steady employment
due to 
	> arrests in his youth for minor offenses finds himself in
	> desperate circumstances. What started out as recreational use
	> cocaine has become a $50 a day methamphetamine addiction. "I'd
	> to kick, but I cannot afford treatment and all of the
subsidized slots 
	> are filled," says Mr. Doe.
	> "I'm really sorry about the bike, and you have to understand
	> desperate I am, I'm looking at 2 years in jail due to prior 
	> convictions. Running is the only choice I have right now."
	> Is this so far fetched? I would argue that most of the
property crime 
	> in this city is perpetrated for just such reasons. Can we feel
	> that this person was caught? What's to become of him? Jail at
40k+ a 
	> year with no rehab or job training at worst, unable to work
because of 
	> a CORI that will follow him for the rest of his life and vote 
	> dis-enfranchisement at best is what it looks like to me. All
this for 
	> a bike? I see no justice here.
	> Make no mistake, we pay for folks to use drugs and crime is
the method 
	> of payment. Drug laws have a human cost and I think it's time
for a 
	> little empathy in place of punishment. I am disappointed that
	> involved with Critical Mass is so stoked at the result. If
	> folks are unable to see beneath the surface of things, who is?
	> Peter McNeff,
	> Jamaica Plain 
	> Pinpoint customers 
	> who 
	> are looking for what you sell.
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