University of California Invested in Prisons?

University of California Invested in Prisons

Yes, people are beginning to wake up around the country. It is a long journey ahead of Americans when we will finally meet on one page in unity some day, but taking one small step for mankind is a start. The consciousness of the University of California possibly woke up one morning understanding that there is a crisis happening in the United States and they no longer want to be a part of the problem. Many want to believe the university decided they no longer want to feed the beast that has been growing for centuries. By pulling out their resources used to invest in building and maintaining prisons in America as opposed to nurturing education instead, the University of California just set the example that human lives are more valuable than their bottom-line figure. But, of course, they needed a little nudging to arrive to this level of humanity.


The growing number of student activists around the nation has been a beautiful feat to witness in my life time over the past few years. Their focus is not just on making money to live a fabulous, blinged-out lifestyle they see on television or zoned out on social media all day. There is a new generation of young people who are about justice for humanity and they are on a mission. It is as if the children from the 1960s reincarnated into the generation born just 20 years ago. Ever since the tragic murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin who was armed with a bag of Skittles to defend himself from a 32-year-old neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, young activists have been organizing by the thousands, achieving awareness around the country fighting every injustice that arises.


The University of California students discovered that the very institution they pay tuition to had invested well over $30 million in stock in for-profit prison companies. Anyone with a conscience and access to the news have seen countless men and women of color put away in prison for many, many years for crimes they either did not commit or for small petty crimes that deserved a slap on the wrist. Why have so many been falsely accused and charged? Investors such as the University of California needed to end the fiscal year with a healthy bank balance so they can possibly buy that new sports car, finally put that new addition onto their home, or maybe take that much-needed family trip across Europe while innocent people of color get ripped from their families for crimes they did not commit.


Student activists confronted the institution arguing that they were profiting from the over-criminalization of Black and Latino men and women. The African Black Coalition pointed out that the university had blood on their hands. They reminded them that prisons are centers for White Supremacists to dehumanize people of color for profit. It is modern-day slavery. And as much as many want to turn a cheek, refusing to believe that racism and slavery still exist in modern-day time, the University of California was investing in plantations called prisons. Wake up!


The students protested and won a historic victory, causing other institutions and big businesses to shake in their suits because they know this new crop of young activists are on a mission and will not stop until justice is served and change occurs. Corrections Corporation of America and The Geo Group were sold and confirmed by University of California president Janet Napolitano who was also the former secretary of Homeland Security and Governor of Arizona. Interesting and frightening all at the same time.


The university claims the students did not pressure them to sell their stocks. They reported the stocks were performing poorly. I am still hoping that the university had developed a conscience recently and did this for humane reasons and not fluctuating dollar figures. Maintaining that only $30 million made up their $100 million portfolio, I am still believing there was a good soul in there somewhere saying,”Stop breaking up families, destroying the lives of young Black and Latino children by unjustly locking them up, and murdering them behind bars.” The institution is also sticking to their story that they have no say in who gets convicted, prison sentences, prison treatment, etc. They were simply just funding the operation.


The $5 Million Cover Up

Hand coming out of a monitor and stealing money

When I was asked to a write an article on economics and justice, the first thing that came to mind was the good ole Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel. Here is a man who earned a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet that he claims taught him how to move his feet very quickly in the political arena. Moving his feet quickly is an understatement. Emanuel has played the shell switcheroo game that hustlers have played for decades on innocent, naive people everyday on the streets of Chicago. Conning them to pick which shell their money has disappeared under, the hustler makes off with a wad of cash and no justice served for those that have lost their money.


Emanuel’s days of hustling, however, have come to an end. The economics behind moving the city’s resources from one shell to the next, devastating Chicagoans as 50 Chicago public schools shut down, leaving parents of Black and Latino children left to figure out where their children will receive an education, somehow the world-class city found millions of dollars from somewhere to fund a sports complex. Emanuel, like many of the hustlers on the street, slept and ate well at night not giving a second thought to the families affected by their game.


The biggest Emanuel hustle yet, at the expense of justice for a young life taken, cost the city of Chicago $5 million. How many public schools could have benefited from $5 million? Emanuel is probably lying awake at night calculating the lives he could have possibly saved with that $5 million check he signed in 17-year-old Laquan McDonald’s

blood. The check dripping in cold blood was signed over to the mother of slain McDonald to keep quiet about her son’s murder by Chicago police officers. McDonald, a ward of the state, was not in the care of his own mother at the time of his demise, but she accepted the check anyway. A hustler like Emanuel, McDonald’s mother has possibly been living high off the hog without a thought to serving justice for McDonald who had his entire life ahead of him.


Over a year ago McDonald was executed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke for no reason. Van Dyke, along with fellow officers, gave inaccurate accounts of what happened on that cold night on the south side of Chicago. Stating that McDonald lunged at them in a life threatening manner, Van Dyke put two bullets into the teenager bringing him down. While McDonald lay on the ground, Van Dyke reloads and fires 14 more shots into McDonald’s lifeless body. Unfortunately for Van Dyke, the murder was captured on dash cam as well as a Burger King surveillance camera. Fellow officers deleted the files from the Burger King camera, but they forgot to delete the camera that recorded them deleting footage from another camera.


Emanuel, running for office at the time of young McDonald’s murder, somehow figured that the release of the video capturing the shooting would be damaging to his election, he allegedly signed off on a very expensive cover-up. Officer Van Dyke was allowed to continue receiving a paycheck. Prosecutor Anita Alvarez allegedly aided in the cover-up as well. Had Emanuel demonstrated justice on behalf of a youth who was a ward of the state, the city would have fallen in love with him. He would have been a hero and saved his city $5 million.


The situation did not play out that way, however. Now under investigation for a heinous cover-up, the release of the video 13 months later has caused thousands to march in the streets of Chicago for the past several weeks protesting, demanding for Emanuel’s and Alvarez’s resignation. Superintendent Garry McCarthy was forced to resign by Emanuel. This was not enough for the people of Chicago.


The Laquan McDonald murder cover-up is laced in economics, to say the least. We are still waiting on the justice…which may or may not ever come. It was already paid for.