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Samuel Sinyangwe
I thought I understood racism and mass incarceration. But nothing prepared me for what I saw in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (1/x)
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
Some background: Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the *world.* Within that, black people are locked up at much higher rates.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
So I was in theory prepared to see some things. I just didn't know what I would see or how I would experience it.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
First thing I did in Baton Rouge was attend a meeting at state capitol building. I didn't take pics, so I'm using online pics to illustrate.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
I was there to make the case for state legislators to change laws that make Louisiana the hardest state to hold police accountable within.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
LA gives police a *month* before being questioned for killing someone and makes police chiefs classified employees making hard to fire them.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
I was informed almost everyone controlling the state government is former police or corrections or connected to it. It's a huge industry.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
So I'm in the capitol, watching the state legislators moving around. Mostly middle aged white men with blazers, khakis. They're in charge.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
And *then* I noticed that all the people serving food, cleaning, printing papers IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE are prisoners.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
I didn't take pictures. But pictures are available online. Here are some.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
There was also a correctional guard "overseeing" them. A white man. Overweight. It was straight out of a movie on slavery.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
The white (almost all Republican) legislators work to maintain this system while black prisoners are right there. Watching. Working.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
But it goes deeper. They also work in the governor's mansion. You know, the one that looks like this.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
I'm still processing the experience. This was, to me, surreal. Black folks I talked to were matter of fact, unfazed. It's the reality there.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
Of course, that's the tip of the iceberg. Can go much deeper. Lookup Angola state penitentiary in Louisiana and its history, for example.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
Here's an article on the work the prisoners do there. The title tells you a lot about the mindset there. In 2017.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
Specifically, that its viewed as a *privilege* for prisoners to be chosen to work in the state legislature, getting paid next to nothing.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
It's better than the work outside, on the prison grounds. In the fields instead of being in the house.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
It's all right there. In 2017. In the governor's mansion. In the state legislature. In the fields. Slavery, by another name.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
What are we supposed to think about the legislators there? Interacting with prisoners every day. Getting served food, papers printed, etc.
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Samuel Sinyangwe 19 May 17
Replying to @samswey
How do we change these systems when they're all so entrenched? The people in power are all part of it, benefitting from it.
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