Thursday, January 29, 2015

Who's Responsible? The Greek Case


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

January 29, 2015


                In Tuesday’s broadcast of “On Point,” Tom Ashbrook hosted a discussion of how the new Greek government can, should, or will handle its debt (  As the Greek journalist or the Greek economist spoke of negotiating debt forgiveness, Ashbrook kept echoing a German’s willingness only to extend the debt, asking, “But who is responsible for the debt?”

                I was reminded of the second time I went to Poland (courtesy of an IU-Warsaw U exchange), in 1987, to a conference of urban geographers, in the midst of a quiet political revolution that shortly make Poland a European Union member.  It was also a moment when Argentina’s resistance to the IMF’s austerity package for repayment of that country’s international debt.  In introduced my presentation on lessons Poles could draw from Argentina’s economic development with the chorus of a coalminer’s lament:

Sixteen tons, and what do you get?  Another day older and deeper in debt.  St. Peter don’t call me ‘cause I can’t go.  I owe my soul to the company store.


Loans or investments, as contrasted to gifts, imply servitude, in this case foreign and private ownership of public services.  The Greek panelists on “On Point” kept citing Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, that corporate capitalists create the very crises they use as a pretext for intervention.  Ashbrook didn’t seem to understand.  Those who demand repayment of debts, ignore their own role in creating them.  As foreign lenders required the Greeks to lay off their public work force, and to share the Southern European brunt of housing refugees from the land of the Islamic State, they were responsible for the relentless impoverishment of the Greek populace as a whole, with concentration of wealth in a Greek oligarchy.

Further austerity measures as a condition for rescheduling Greek national debt payments promise to increase the wealth gap within Greece, and between Southern and Northern Europe.  I’m among those who postulate that institutionalized inequality is a root of violence in all its manifestations, and that we who enjoy relative wealth are responsible for sharing it, especially with those we and our ancestors have impoverished.  As the wealthier party, I’d say the Germans are responsible to humanity (as creditors of the City of Detroit have been, for example) to negotiate writing off their contribution to the Greek debt in good faith.  Love and peace, hal

Sunday, January 25, 2015

when homicide is not murder


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

January 25, 2015


                The central page-one headline in today’s New York Times reads: “Twist in 97-Year-Old’s Murder: His Knifing Was 5 Decades Ago.”  To medical examiners, “homicides” come in many forms.  It is a common-law rule in the US that a homicide can no longer be criminal when death happens more than a year and a day after the injury.  Nonetheless, the NYT reports that two NYPD detectives have “pored over” records, searching for witnesses, and “have found no leads so far.”  The loose usage of the term “murder” in the Sunday Times headline illustrates the arbitrariness of defining murder itself, and more broadly, the limits of assigning personal, let alone collective, blame for violence.  Love and peace, hal

peacemaking policing made real


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

January 25, 2015


                I have felt a hole in my recent posts in prioritizing  a need police and members of communities of color they police to get to know community members as full human beings—a need to show differences that individual police attitudes can make.  Today, I followed my usual Sunday practice of getting up an hour early, showering and taking my walk through the then dark and quiet streets of my neighborhood, and listening to “On Being” with host Krista Tippett on my local 7am hour broadcast.  Today, the main interview was with Thich Nhat Hanh, with the second quarter segment an interview of Cheri Maples, describing how Thich Nhat Hanh’s Zen training had profoundly transformed her approach from taking charge (her example, a domestic violence call) to compassion for the suffering of an angry father, for his full humanity (  The broadcast is transcribed; read or listen, take your pick.

                Maples has brought other police officers through the Zen training.  More broadly, Michael DeValve, who teaches police officers among others at Fayetteville State University, a follower of Thich Nhat Hanh himself, has just published A Different Justice: Love and the Future of Criminal Justice Practice in America, describing how mindfulness has transformed is own criminal justice teaching and practice (as a mediator).  Maples graphically describes how mindfulness transformed her policing.  Aggressive police officers can be trained, indeed train themselves to become peacemakers, where compassion overcomes fear, anger and force.  Thich Nhat Hanh’s presence and training has dramatically transformed the criminal justice practices of DeValve, of Maples, and probably of many of the police Maples has also drawn in.

                This is not to say that all police officers (or all people for that matter) need Zen training and self-cultivation.  It has worked for some who have tried, but to order people to become mindful is a contradiction in terms.  For one thing, I’m confident that compassionate, empathic policing in communities of color continues to exist now as it did when I rode along.  Like peacemaking generally, it goes largely unrecorded and unnoticed, unrecognized and unrewarded in popular culture, let alone in police administration and evaluation.  There have already been many paths to compassionate policing besides that taken by Maples—a police presence to cultivate and celebrate.  Compassion lies in all of us, police included, to be awakened as it was for Maples in volatile settings—as here where police are authorized by law to kill unarmed people in groups supposed in criminology textbooks as in popular and political culture to be especially dangerous.  As DeValve and I have found in mediation, adversaries can overcome their fear of and anger at one another in moments of safety, as they recognize one another’s fuller humanity.  And so I am led to believe that a root remedy for police violence in communities of color especially is to arrange non-law enforcement settings for police to participate in the lives of the people they police, on a regular basis, to know them in respects other than as suspects, as law-breakers and as complainants.  Among all warring groups, police and communities of color included, that ultimately is how wars abate, including the killing.  Meanwhile, my thanks to Cheri Maples for illustrating how compassionate policing defuses violence for those moved to try it.  Love and peace, hal

Friday, January 23, 2015

to Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations

519 Evergreen Cir.

Worthington, OH 43085-3667

January 23, 2015


   Ohio Task Force on Community and Police Relations

Senator Nina Turner and Ohio Public Safety Director John Born—co-chairs

Senator Sandra Williams and Representative Alicia Reese


Dear Task Force Members,

             I am sorry to have missed your forum in Columbus.  I only heard about it as it was already happening.  I am writing to propose to you that the key to improving police-community relations, particularly in “high-crime” communities of color, is for police to get to know the people they are policing/serving personally, not just on patrol in uniform, but informally, preferably in the community itself at the invitation of community groups, for discussions of what community members want and need, for participation in community projects and other youth activities.  Ideally, this process would begin as a component of police training, at a point where cadets would already know people in the districts to which they would be assigned before they took the oath.

             Since I rode for 500 hours with police in one of the Justice Department’s “Model Cities” (Minneapolis) in 1971 for my dissertation, police administration has become increasingly bureaucratized, notably today by COMPSTAT, the system for monitoring police performance first introduced twenty years ago for the New York Police Department, which has discouraged police from reporting Justice Department “index offenses,” while pushing them to make petty public order arrests and street drug arrests.  The general effect of informal COMPSTAT reporting quotas is that police become less responsive (if they respond at all) to citizen calls for service, and profile people they know only by appearance on the street.  Reciprocally, community members expect to be hassled, if not shot, for being black or brown, especially when young and male.  Tragically, at the margins of distrust and mutual suspicion, harmless people of color keep getting mistakenly shot by police whose fear is fed by stereotypes of people they don’t know.  The tragedies are a symptom of how little police these days know the people they are assigned to police.  They also produce a false stereotype of police, many of whom never draw guns in their career, many of whom seldom if ever find force necessary.

             I am known for co-founding a specialty in criminology called “peacemaking.”  When I retired back home to Worthington in 2009 after teaching criminal justice at Indiana University in Bloomington for 33 years, I started a “peacemaking” blog.  Several of my recent posts there sound this theme.  By way of further introduction, I’m attaching a copy of an article I was asked to write for criminologists long ago, on “peacemaking criminology.” In the case of policing, more surveillance and outside accountability are Band-Aids at best, and imply greater trust than already exists between police and communities at worst.  Bottom line: Violence by and to police will go down the more opportunities for police and their communities to get to know each other as full human beings rather than as roles and profiles.

             Thanks for the work you are doing.  Feel free to be in touch if I can expand on what I have said or otherwise be of assistance.                      Sincerely, Hal Pepinsky

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Guantanamo Diary


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

January 22, 2015


                Most of today’s “Democracy Now!” program is devoted to the Guantanamo Diary (Larry Siems, Ed.) of  prisoner Mohamed Ould Slahi (  Morris Davis, who resigned as chief military prosecutor shortly after getting acquainted with Slahi, describes him as innocent, and remarkably forgiving of his captors for following orders (some of whom teach him how to play chess well enough to beat them).  After 12 years, Slahi remains a prisoner, sustained no doubt by the measure of support he has received from those who appear in today’s program.

                Slahi’s story confirms my belief in our capacity to acknowledge the violence in ourselves that we seek to destroy in others, and the indomitability of human resistance to responding in kind or as ordered.  That is the material of which peace is made.  Love and peace, hal

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

ra/mc survivors: my peacemaking inspiration


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

January 20, 2015


                My last post (on “mind control experimentation at Camp No, Guantanamo,” Jan. 12), on what I have learned in part from survivors of ritual abuse and mind control, stirred a rare reaction at a comment, that sadly, my belief that ritual homicides are common has destroyed my credibility as a potential Noam Chomsky, which is in a way flattering, even though I know I’m no Noam Chomsky.  I am well aware that the widespread belief that I am part of a “satanic panic.”  In child custody cases that led me to communities of intergenerational ritual abuse, I was also marginal, legally and professionally, in believing children who reported having been sexually assaulted by adults they knew, fathers particularly.

I leave it to readers to judge whether my belief in what children and adult survivors report impairs the reasonability of whatever other conclusions I draw about violence and its transformation.  I will say that by the mid-nineties, I was clinically depressed by a growing sense of reality I felt unable to share.  In retrospect, it was the inspiration of survivors who had escaped the violence, and so well come to terms with their trauma and found safe partnerships, families, and circles of support in which to feel safe and safely loved—their inspiration that became the foundation for my belief that peacemaking can be made among those most extremely programmed to personal violence.  Generation upon generation, some child victims survive by embracing cult life.  But even such concerted mind-control programming often fails, often by death or institutionalization, but among many survivors I have come to know, who have found safe acceptance and protection without having to hide or deny the reality they have lived, “in the light” as some say.

                When I see efforts in Europe and North America to track and bar from re-entry young Muslims who have gone to the land of the Islamic State, and who seek to return, I am reminded of the barriers survivors faced when they sought refuge.  I bear in mind the guilt many report having to have faced for their (forced? “chosen”) participation in ritual violence.  When young travelers seek to return home from the ISIL war zone, they too face suspicion for being mentally disturbed, if not trained/programmed, suspected of being dangerous to others.  From survivors of ritual abuse who have inspired me, I know that not even the most violent, concerted programming from birth makes a person inherently dangerous to have around, less responsive to safe and honest social acceptance, especially when s/he does not have to hide or deny her or his past association with, let alone participate in, personal violence.

                A fortiori (as lawyers would say), police training and administration does not destroy the compassion and service shown members of communities of color by many survivors of law enforcement training and administration I have seen and known.  That includes officers who have grown up in communities of color.  And from long before I began to meet survivors of child sexual assault and torture, I found honest, deep, trustworthy friendship and enrichment with (ex-)prisoners regardless of the seriousness of their criminal records.  Years ago, a Canadian Mennonite prison activist put his parallel experience this way:  “I have never met a prisoner beyond redemption.”  I imagine this applies to those who bear arms for the Islamic State, as it does for US combat troops and drone pilots, many of whom suffer PTSD on return to civilian life.  It applies to a national cultural premise that those who have engaged in violence are doing “evil” or “sick” things that we who would be good people could never imagine ourselves doing.  On one hand, my closeness to survivors of extreme violence, and accounts of cult leaders, have led me to imagine myself capable of participating in extreme ritual torture and killing.  It has allowed me to notice and acknowledge my own moments of fear and anger, let alone not noticing my own moments of cruelty or indifference till later (if at all).  Yes, even extremely violent action strikes a chord, rings bells within me.  I have learned that I share a full human capacity for violence.  It has taught me that fear, terror and indoctrination never fully succeeds in destroying the individual capacity to transform one’s relations in moments and climates of honesty, openness and safety rather than punishment or confinement.  On the other hand, the generosity and openness of survivors, their own healing that I have sometimes gotten to see progress over years, their strength and integrity, have lent me strength and belief that violence can be acknowledged and transcended—no matter how extreme, no matter how historically entrenched.  It has boosted my faith in the capacity to transform violence in our relations.  To survivors and their supporters, once again, I say thank you for restoring my faith in the human capacity to make peace.  The difference between violence and peacemaking lies not in our souls, but in our relations.  Love and peace, hal

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mind control experimentation at Camp No, Guantanamo


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

January 15, 2015


                Today’s broadcast contains an interview with the authors of a book and accompanying report that is, in effect, an inquest into the deaths of three prisoners at Guantanamo in 2007 ( ).  The prisoners died at an off-the-books place the guards called Camp No, as in “No, it doesn’t exist,” where psychosis-inducing drugs, charted as anti-malarial drugs, were used.  The Navy’s position that the 3 went through an elaborate to hang themselves in their dispersed cells is an obvious fabrication.

                This report is reminiscent of OSS/CIA-sponsored mind-control experiments and employment, whose latest officially acknowledged program, MK-Ultra, was ostensibly shut down in the early seventies (for an entrĂ©e into this history and its aftermath, see for instance ).  Josef Mengele, the experimenter from Auschwitz, was among those brought to the US by the CIA to conduct experiments on controlling and creating memories, of creating the very kind of programming that survivors, including many from Canada and the US who presented their stories to my classes for fifteen years, taught me.  Some of them, like deJoly LaBrier, had been military brats.  Others, like Carol Rutz, were noticed in intergenerational sadistic rituals to compartmentalize experience, to split into alters, into parts, into multiple personalities, into dissociated identities—the phenomenon is known by many names, and became experimental subjects in memory destruction and creation, in a phrase, mind control.  No torture or other inducement could force anyone to recall, let alone, a compartmentalized memory, until someone knew the “trigger” to call that identity out.  No one could torture or otherwise get to the “secrets” that that identity carried.  It was deJoly and Carol’s lot, among others, to have been born to fathers who were intergenerational carriers, rituals that included cannibalistic sacrifice, snuff films, and sex, drugs and human trafficking, and political blackmail and control.  First by their fathers, then by people they came to understand were CIA, later NSA linked, they were “chosen” because among their siblings, they had demonstrated their ability to live their “day” lives oblivious to the “night” horrors in which they were forced to participate.  Some were trained to carry information, many to traffic in sex either to gather information, or to compromise people, or in cases like Kathleen Sullivan’s, to be a “Manchurian Candidate,” a secretly controlled, secret agent.  So when I heard this morning about Camp No, I thought, it hasn’t ended.  It has its roots in the forms of homicide I came to know so well, from so many sources, of the abundance of ritual homicide and depth of what in the military came to be knowns as PsyOps, psychological operations, as was reported at the military facility at the Presidio commanded by Col. Michael Aquino.

                It feels long ago that it became my reality—that the great bulk of personal violence, including extremes of personal violence at all ages, has nothing to do with policing.  I have known two “cult cops” who have suddenly, mysteriously died mid-career (one before he could return to my class).  In custody disputes over individual sexual assault, let alone in who gets blamed for ritual murders (as in the notorious case of the “Memphis Three,” in secular life let alone in military life and government-sponsored attempts, law enforcement is no answer to the problem.  It only encourages distortiofn of that reality, as the Navy has attempted to do with deaths at Camp No.

                As survivors like deJoly, Carol and Kathleen, and many others who as children have been sexually assaulted by someone they know, have found strength and safety enough to recover their “secret” memories, it is common to go through a period of self-blame for having been party to such violence and degradation.  Their stories of survival and healing, together with the experience of others who helped me teach who were moving out of (and in some cases back into) homicidal cults, led me to suppose that the greatest path for breaking through the violence is to make it safe for people who continue participation in this game of mind control find acceptance and safety among us privileged not to have known their worlds of terror existed all around ourselves.  Cult programming includes self-destruction in case secrets start to surface, let alone the threat of being killed or “disciplined” for trying to break free.  In the short term, the example and fellowship among survivors (which I experienced at conferences, notably at SMART (organized by survivor Neil Brick; his site, , is the most reference site on ritual abuse and mind control I know of), draws more survivors out.  Happily, intergenerational lines of ritual abuse disintegrate (often, sadly, because survivors kill themselves or become institutionalized).  In the long run, the more widely others become willing to believe that those emerging from suppressed memories of extreme, organized violence, are true refugees rather than delusional, the more I would expect the cults and Camp Noes of this world to dissolve as best humanity can manage. The moral I draw: Peacemaking becomes preferable to enforcement especially in the most extreme forms of organized violence.

                I have come to believe that those who seek how to make peace in the face of violence believe the world to be much more violent than would be warmakers, including those of us who seek how to fight crime (if only we can name it), allow themselves to imagine.  What applies to the violence of organized mind control applies to police relations with black and brown communities.  For all the discussion of police use of excessive force, I myself haven’t discussed the problem of delayed response time, or no response at all, to complaints from residents, notably including medical emergencies, and calls to break-ins, violence, and threats.  It has been well cited in the past, and surely hasn’t disappeared just because it isn’t being widely reported.  And the harassment, the humiliation, the fear, the pointless arrests (like Eric Garner’s, never mind that he was killed in the process), the anger that motivates such wide protest, doesn’t figure in police statistics.  In sum, not only is law enforcement largely beside the point of extreme personal violence (which doesn’t show up in victim surveys either), it is a distraction from the problem that separates and alienates the police from those they are sent to serve.  That problem is huge.  It feeds race, class and age distortions in whom we punish for crime.  It substitutes use of personal force for personal attention.

                How do police and those they police get “to know one another in many respects” (Nils Christie, Limits to Pain)?  Peacemaking is abundant with techniques (as in circle processes) and initiatives (as from community religious centers) for getting warring sides together.  Formal monitoring, regulation, discipline and prosecution, let alone getting arrest and fine numbers up in NYC, harden police/community separation and profiling.  Informally, NYPD officers and community members may already be well acquainted.  In the terms used by Jerome Skolnick in Justice Without Trial, while the “broken windows” model may have pressed police to become both watchmen and law enforcers, much policing there is also done by officers committed, broadly as first responders, to public service.  As matters stand, the (im)balance of forces between the two styles of NYPD policing remains unaddressed, left to follow its own course.

                We are stuck equating order with identifying and bringing offenders to justice.  That focus leaves the underlying violence, represented by Camp No and the war of terror on terror of which it is a part, and by excessive police force and aggression in black and brown communities, socially ignored, not even named and recognized…and so the institutionalized, organized violence continues unaddressed.  It involves “people like us” for all we can see, if we will let ourselves acknowledge just how “normal” violence and those who engage in it really are, that our personal violence is so pervasive, our personal involvement in it so extensive, that we are reduced to treating violence in others as we would be treated by those we have offended or hurt and their allies.  It entails making peace with parties to violence rather than separating and distinguishing ourselves and our profiles from theirs.  Peacemaking is the only practical remedy for institutionalized, organized violence.  The peacemaking paradigm that frames my understanding of violence transformation is grounded in the reality that the personal violence we condemn pales beside the extent and severity of the personal violence whose existence we are inclined to deny.  Love and peace, hal

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

the cyber-security industrial complex


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

January 14, 2015


                Yesterday on CNN International ( ), journalist and co-founder of The Intercept said of recent news reporting on the “terrorist” threat represented by the Paris attacks:

“CNN and MSNBC and Fox are engaging in the terrorism expert industrial complex, where you have people on as paid analysts that are largely frauds who have made a lot of money off of portraying themselves as terror experts and have no actual on-the-ground experience.”


                Yesterday, too, on “Democracy Now” ( ), Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald joined Scahill in a segment headlined “How to Be a Terror "Expert": Ignore Facts, Blame Muslims, Trumpet U.S. Propaganda.”

                They, together with other internationally informed reports I have heard, agree that terrorism has no reasonable substance to it.  It has become a computer/internet-generated game of guilt by (claim of) association with the US caricature of “the bad guys”—currently Muslims to qualify for terrorist watch lists.  Its domestic counterpart is the computer-generated, systematically fed, COMPSTAT system that NYPD pioneered using to press police to keep minor public order arrests and contraband seizures up, and index crime reports down.  Now the Commissioner assures the public that arrests and fine revenues are and will continue to increase.  Once again, NYPD will subscribe to the “broken windows” standard of police performance: by clearing the streets of minor offenses, you cut off serious crime at its roots, and demonstrate serious crime reductions.  It is a tautology that proving law enforcement effective has increasingly been pressed on police nationwide since the beginning of computer analyses of crime and criminality became possible to researchers and policy makers since the late sixties, heralded by the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice Task Force Report on Assessment in 1967.  Soon, we are assured the NYPD will be back on the track of demonstrating that arrests and summonses are up, while crime stays under control.  Enforcement is up, crime is down.

                An admission of bias:  task force director Lloyd Ohlin and commission director James Vorenberg introduced me to crime measurement in their crime, law and society class.  The major exam question at the end of the term was to advise a congressional committee on what to make, for instance, of the fact that the pioneering national victim surveys showed crime to be much greater than that reported to the police.  My advice was that because the police were probably so detached from most crime, didn’t even know about it, let alone care to report it, that what happened behind closed doors for instance might be much more violent than what police found on the streets…I got one of my two law-school C’s, the other was in corporations.  Beginning with my dissertation study of police-offense reporting in a high-crime area of Minneapolis in 1972, I continued to focus on issues of measuring crime and criminality for over a decade, until I shifted my sights onto structures of violence and their transformation.  To me, reports about “terrorist threats” are just a primitive form of crime and criminality analysis in the cyber-age.  It is an exercise in profiling by religion and national origin.  It has become an inter-national security industry.

                Back to policing.  There is a good deal of reporting of how ethnically and racially diverse the NYPD is becoming, and with it, more culturally diverse attitudes about policing that younger officers in particular bring to the force, one that entails giving respect and service to those for whom they police.  On the bright side, homicides of and by police don’t seem as bad as they were when I was first studying crime.  For better or worse, the technology that spawned COMPSTAT also increases the likelihood that police use of deadly force, and deaths of police officers too, will be recorded, will be noticed, will be nationally reported.  It is typically the case that peacemaking initiatives have low social visibility—seldom get looked for, let alone reported.  I don’t imagine times have changed much since I rode with the police:  Some officers are trouble, many if not most are pretty socially skilled at defusing violence, and seldom find more force than a frisk and uneventful handcuffing to be necessary when they arrest.  Officers will back each other up if one gets into trouble; better to avoid working with bullies.  All in all, perhaps police will get to know those they police in less confrontational, more personal respects.

                I hope and dream for something more direct.  COMPSTAT is founded on the myth of the dangerous young black or brown man, and profiling by association within these groups has become a larger and more entrenched cyber-guarantor of national and local security.  As far as I can see, trends and shapes of “crime” have never had to do much security.  The occasional (and statistically, they are occasional!) incidents of police killings of young people of color are but symptoms of a chronic climate of fear, anger and distrust between police and communities of color, an old climate whose casualties have now appeared to us in an unprecedented cyber-cluster.  The fact that protests are so large and widespread indicates that police administration and training divides police from those they police.  Trust rests on safe familiarity.  The COMPSTAT machine, meanwhile, demands confrontation and separation of people from their community.  Whether homicides of and by police go up or down, the daily problem so many protestors and people of color generally report are a testament to police-community estrangement.  When you are policing people you don’t know personally, you are reduced to profiling those you meet—as potential threats and violators, or as people you can trust to remain cordial.  Whoever initiates it (and for all I know it IS initiated and unreported), police and those they police need to get to know each other including settings, where the police aren’t armed and uniformed, aren’t on duty.  For the NYPD and many other police forces around the world, COMPSTAT has institutionalized policing according to racial and ethnic stereotypes.  Internationally, the cyber-security terrorism/industrial complex is its counterpart.  I’m a dreamer: May the paradigm shift to securing police-community relations.  Love and peace, hal


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Worth Reading and Hearing


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

January 11, 2015


                I’ve joined the global crowd in being riveted by events since the mass shooting at Hebdo, including today’s mass rally in Paris against terrorist threats to free speech.  I keep listening for voices of larger perspective than free speech vs. indignation at using hate speech to inflame anti-immigrant sentiment.  Today on the website, I found my most informative discussion so far, a blog post by Omid Safi, at .  This is the kind of understanding which reframes national security, and for what matter police-community debates.

                While at the “On Being” website (I listen to the program religiously), I also found a wonderful portrayal of the problem of needing to stay so busy that our children, let alone our adult selves, have no time to get acquainted, to play, by Safi again, on “the disease of being busy,” at .

                I read Safi’s essays after listening to this week’s conversation between host Krista Tippett with Courtney Martin and Parker Palmer on “the inner life of rebellion,” at .  I find comfort in their company; I call my rebellion “peacemaking.”  This blog post of mine is for listening to others, and sharing with you.  Love and peace, hal

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Good News from NYPD


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

January 6, 2015


                Today in an interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” NYPD union President Patrick Lynch explained why arrests are declining markedly in NYC.  Now, for self-protection, police are riding and patrolling two at a time.  In the death of Eric Garner, the police were following standing orders to crack down on untaxed cigarette sales (which, implicitly, allowed police to search and occasionally find illegal substances).  Now, says Mr. Lynch, tell us what to do and now as then, we will do it.

Normally, in the US crime-counting system, when street arrests go down, offense reporting goes up, normally in the face of public complaints that police won’t do anything about their victimization.  Under the monthly monitoring system, COMPSTAT, pioneered by NYPD in 1994, the unrelenting pressure on patrol officers has been to report fewer offenses in the crime index: murder, aggravated assault, rape, robbery, burglary, felony larceny-theft, auto theft, and a late addition, arson, and to produce arrests, sometimes in crackdowns, always with the promise that a stop and frisk might produce a felony arrest.  From the outset (explained in, this pressure even accounts for steep declines in “murder” rates.  For twenty years, “crime” has with remarkable momentum gone down, as arrests have climbed.  With great consistency, COMPSTAT has been generally accepted as demonstrating NYPD’s great success in getting crime down by getting criminals off the streets.  Now widely adopted across the US and abroad, COMPSTAT has become a crime-control-industrial success.

                If the police really thought they were impairing public safety—risking civil unrest—by failing to make arrest quotas for offenses not reported in the national crime index, hence jeopardizing their own personal safety, they would not be pulling back on “proactive” enforcement.  The work slowdown almost certainly includes reluctance to do the paperwork of filing index offense reports.  Now, for the first time I have seen in police reporting, the evidence points to arrests going down dramatically while (I expect) crime declines too.  For sure, officers are safer to themselves and others in pairs than alone, especially when they aren’t letting pressure to meet arrest quotas run their lives on duty, initiating fewer unfriendly encounters in the process.  A load has been taken off the police, risks to their own personal safety reduced.  It presents a moment of relaxation of tension—a sort of armistice—between police as a force and communities of color in New York.   I think I hear Mr. Lynch saying the officers his union represents would accept this new status quo.  From the time I’ve spent with officers, I’d say that when they feel safer, they become safer.  Instead of seeing the NYPD work slowdown as police failure to do their job, I see it as a peacemaking step forward.  Love and peace, hal



Monday, January 5, 2015

Who's afraid of the ICC?


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

January 5, 2015


                The Palestinian Authority has gone ahead and formally applied for membership in the International Criminal Court.  They seek prosecution of Israelis responsible for the thousands of Palestinians killed in the latest Israeli invasion of Gaza, fed by uninterrupted U.S. military supply.  In retaliation, Israel has blocked payments for Palestinian civil service workers.  The PA has also failed to defer to US UN Ambassador Powers’ advice that its filing would be “counterproductive.”  A point is being made that Israel does not subscribe to the Rome Treaty creating the Court.

                The US does not subscribe to the treaty either.  In the Obama years, it has “cooperated” (that is, played informant) in selected ICC prosecutions, as of members of the Lord’s Resistance Army.  The US government takes upon itself supreme power to decide whether its fighting forces will suffer legal consequences for crimes other than those they impose themselves.  In defending Israel’s position, “we” are reaffirming our own.  The US is above the international law of criminality.  The irony of President Obama’s posture of being the world’s supreme guarantor of law and order is that we above all others hold ourselves above the law.  The irony cannot be lost on the international community, including those “we” continue to turn into enemies.

And as to recent conversation on the devaluation of black and brown lives on our city streets, what applies to US at home applies to US abroad.  Love and peace, hal