Several days ago, the police set up a “bait truck” filled with Nike and Louboutin shoes around Englewood, a predominantly black neighborhood in Chicago. Knowing the struggles and tendencies of the youth, they chose to execute a sting operation in order to make arrests by luring in potential thieves.
Whichever way you try to swing it (whether you see it as a clever tactic of purging the neighborhood of criminal activity or a petty set-up to criminalize black teenagers), to me, there is something sinister about an institution who swears to protect and serve a community and then uses that very community as an example.
How all too quickly we’d reprimand a parent for using the curiosity of their child to teach a lesson. Say if I bedazzled a power socket, then placed my child’s playpen right next to it. Or put a step stool under a poisoned cookie jar.
I’m not too terribly focused on the people who were caught stealing, although that’s another lesson for another class period. I’m focused on the intentions behind the prison-industrial complex and can’t help but think of the lengths our institutions would go in order to profit from the labor and manpower of black bodies behind bars. How even if they’re doing some sort of good by catching the “bad” ones, they still benefit from having a brand new selection of workers whose mistake allowed them to be another hand in the assembly line.
With shows like To Catch a Predator and Bad Girls Club, something about major corporations capitalizing off of the sickness and vice of individuals doesn’t sit well within my spirit. Networks tickle the fancies of perverts and pedophiles and we vilify it (and rightfully so); executives manufacture drama so women can claw at other women and we emulate it: consuming consuming, filling their pockets, bill by bill, ad by ad.
This event may have been performed with the best of intentions, but something tells me that if the operation was unsuccessful, the task force would have been slightly disappointed.
THAT is my biggest concern.