Walmart's Sercurity: Are You Living Better Yet?

cameras.jpgTwo stories today highlight a major issue with Walmart's corporate culture and, more importantly, the danger of the corporation to its customers.

The first story comes from Kansas where Renee Smith was assaulted in a Walmart bathroom. Apparently several people saw her purse being stolen, including a Walmart employee, but no one did anything to stop it. The most upsetting part of this story though, is that after the assault, she went to a security officer in the store and pointed out the woman who stole her purse, but they didn't do anything about it. Instead, they simply let the thief leave the store. It is appalling, but it seems pretty clear that Walmart's security don't really care about preventing crime, unless it involves significant monetary loss for the store.

So what exactly does Walmart's security care about? The second story answers that. According to The Morning News, Walmart won a permanent gag order against Bruce Gabbard, a former security employee who spoke to the media after he was fired. He revealed that in his job he spied on reporters, infiltrated groups critical of Walmart (like this one), and spied on employees, vendors, and consultants.

Yes indeed, this is Walmart helping you live better at its best. It is well documented that crime is an issue at Walmart. Walmart stores, and their parking lots in particular are often a hotbed of crime, but Walmart continues to focus not on preventing these crimes (which would be quite easy) but on spying. Getting mugged is apparently Walmart's idea of you living better.

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Court Upholds LAPD's Policy of Not Asking Immigration Status

Last Thursday, June 26th a California Superior court upheld the LAPD's 29-year-old policy of neither arresting people based on immigration status nor asking about immigration status during interviews. This policy, described by Police Chief William Bratton as "an essential crime-fighting tool for us," is meant to avoid discouraging the undocumented population in many LA communities from communicating with police officers and reporting crimes. Proponents of the policy's abandonment, who filed suit in April 2007, argue that it conflicts with federal and state law. While under the policy officers do alert immigration officials in the case of a suspect who has either previously been deported or is arrested for a felony/multiple misdemeanors, plaintiffs argue that illegal immigrants are repeatedly arrested rather than appropriately deported.

The judge's decision affirms that immigration law is to be applied on the federal, and not the local level. Local law enforcement officials cannot and will not be asked to act as federal immigration agents. The defendants argued, and the court agreed, that this conflation of positions is not warranted on legal grounds and is detrimental to the goals of local law enforcement.

The overturning of this lawsuit averts several troubling implications that elimination the disputed policy would have had. The role of a local police officer and that of an federal immigration agent have vastly different objectives; while the former exists "to protect and serve" residents, the latter aims to "effectively enforce our immigration and customs laws... by targeting illegal immigrants." In an area with a significant undocumented population, these roles are often at odds with each other. To ask that police officers assume the duties of immigration agents is to cast them into a confused role that ineffectively pursues conflicting goals. Furthermore, incorporating these duties into local law enforcement greatly increases the risk of racial profiling in pursuit of undocumented residents.

The court's decision to uphold the LAPD's longstanding policy marks a victory for security in these communities. As one of its six core values, the Opportunity Agenda holds security to be vital to our human dignity. Without safe and healthy living conditions, it becomes overwhelmingly difficult for residents to access any of the other opportunity that society has to offer. To put local police officers in a position that undermines their ability to serve their communities as a whole would be to betray a fundamental commitment to equality, security, and community. With its policy on immigrants intact, the LAPD can go forth in its goal to "build safer communities throughout the City of Los Angeles."

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Is honesty really so foreign to us?

Here's a possibility nobody seems to have considered in all the Obama/FISA brouhaha.

Maybe Obama isn't jumping to the right for political expediency.  Maybe Obama isn't afraid of Republicans calling him soft on terrorism.  Maybe he's not cynically using the terrorism card to scare up votes.

Maybe he just honest-to-god thinks that the American people are safer if the legislation passes.

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Obama and Security

Today is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Like many I am very concerned about the personal safety
of Barack Obama. Given the historical nature of his candidacy and the tragic history of so many ground-breaking black leaders in this country we must call upon the administration to provide Senator Obama with a security detail rivaling that of the president.

This is a country still mired in racism and awash with guns. No expense should be spared in protecting the candidate and his family. There have been allegations of racism within the Secret Service. The DNC should by all means afford additional security as a complement to the Secret Service.

Obviously the mere fact of campaigning and pressing the flesh exposes any candidate to a certain element of risk. I believe that this candidate has greater risk exposure than possibly any of his predecessors.

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We'll see your half-second "Bin Laden hiking"

And raise you a "Bin Laden's terrorist network is all your fault."

I kid you not.

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