Tag Archives: David Graeber

Andrews International BID Patrol Runs Ideological Countersurveillance Operations Against Residents of Hollywood, Hearkening Back to Bad Old Days of James Davis and the LAPD Red Squad

BID Security Chief Steve Seyler and Kerry Morrison targeting residents of Hollywood for paranoid countersurveillance...look again!  It's LAPD Chief James Davis and an unnamed, well-dressed woman jabbing a pen at the people of Los Angeles
BID Security Boss Steve Seyler and Kerry Morrison targeting residents of Hollywood for paranoid countersurveillance…look again! It’s creepy-crawly former LAPD Chief James Davis and an unnamed albeit extraordinarily serious woman jabbing a pen at the people of Los Angeles
Wikipedia is a perfect source for information about James Edgar Davis, erstwhile Chief of the LAPD and, amongst his chiefly peers, tied for second place with Daryl Francis Gates, the two of them behind only William Henry Parker III when ranked by sheer, unrelenting, untempered, unexcused, unreflected-upon, psychopathic brutality. James Davis was famous for letting not truth, not justice, not love, not mercy stand in the way of the almost visionary level of violent frenzy up to which he kept his troops constantly whipped. Most stuff on Wikipedia is made up and a lot of it is harmful. The people that work for Wikipedia are mostly petty tyrants, sadists, and torturers, convinced that their evil is done in the service of a greater good because their insane leader told them that was the case. The same story is true the reign of James Davis as Chief of the LAPD as well.

Davis’s crazed antics were so reprehensible that even his official LAPD bio has to acknowledge this reality in surprising detail. It’s worth reading the whole thing and, as well, reading Joe Domanick’s fine history of the LAPD up through the Spring of 1992, To Protect and Serve: The LAPD’s Century of War in the City of Dreams, to understand the role that Davis’s lunacy incarnate prepared the way and made the paths straight for both the 1965 and the 1992 popular uprisings. We’re concerned here, though, with only one essential aspect of Davis’s legacy: The Red Squad. Read from the contemporary LAPD’s statement on the matter:

With his return to office in 1933, Chief James E. Davis deployed a “Red Squad” to “investigate and control radical activities, strikes, and riots.” By today’s standards, the Squad’s tactics were intolerable, but its members had the blessing of government officials and the business community. In referring to individuals deemed subversive, one Police Commissioner voiced his views by declaring: “The more the police beat them up and wreck their headquarters, the better. Communists have no Constitutional rights and I won’t listen to anyone who defends them.”

Despite its disavowal by today’s ostensibly more sane LAPD, Davis’s red squad persisted far into the 20th Century. In his fine history of such American police political surveillance units, Protectors of privilege : red squads and police repression in urban America, Frank Donner explains that

One of literally hundreds of spy photos taken by the Andrews International BID Patrol anti-homeless red squad since 2007
One of literally hundreds of creepy spy photos of citizens of Hollywood legally engaged in legal activities covertly taken by the Andrews International BID Patrol anti-homeless red squad since 2007


The Los Angeles red squad was above all characterized by an undiluted nativism and a blatant patron-client relationship with local business interests, which was openly proclaimed against the local labor movement over the years…1

Well, these days, the LAPD can’t spy on political dissenters any more, and plus the “local labor movement” was, at least until the phoenix-esque rise of SEIU and its ideological kin, pretty much burnt/napalmed/incinerated by “local business interests.” But all that red squad apparatus didn’t just vanish. As with so many of the tools of oppression forged by the white ruling classes of Los Angeles in the Twentieth Century, political surveillance of citizens engaged in entirely legal activities was transferred over to and/or eagerly taken up by Business Improvement Districts, who have subsumed most of the municipal functions related to the “intolerable…by today’s standards…” “blatant patron-client relationship with local business interests…” Read on for a host of examples of the BID Patrol spying on the citizens of Hollywood for purely political reasons and, Stasi-like, keeping creepy files full of the fruits of their voyeurism-under-color-of-law.
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The Hollywood BID Patrol’s Intransigence on Transience Provides Yet Another Performative Demonstration of David Graeber’s Theory of Violence, Stupidity, and Interpretive Labor

An astounding number of BID Patrol officers on Ivar Avenue by the library, June 30, 2015, milling around not being charged criminally for degrading everyone's quality of life by, through their open display of guns, passively threatening to kill anyone who disobeys them.
An astounding number of BID Patrol officers on Ivar Avenue by the library, June 30, 2015, milling around not being charged criminally for degrading everyone’s quality of life by openly displaying their guns and their self-evident willingness to use them, thus creating the imminent fear that they’ll kill anyone who disobeys them.
Watch here for the final bit of a Hollywood BID Patrol operation on Ivar Avenue on June 30, 2015. There are about 12 of them milling around on the sidewalk after, evidently, having kicked out a bunch of homeless people, most probably on the basis of suspected violations of disgraceful LAMC 41.18(d). Of course, if you know the spot you’ll know that there are homeless people there essentially all the time, only very rarely getting kicked out by the BID Patrol.

So what horrific incident was it that required the presence of about a dozen of Hollywood’s finest1 on a pleasant Tuesday afternoon on Ivar Avenue? Murder, rape, homeless encampment, street-preaching? The amazing thing is that no one there seemed to know for sure except, we assume given that the principle of charity requires us to assume that the BID Patrol both has reasons for its actions and at the same time knows what those reasons are, the officers themselves.

A witness to the June 30, 2015 incident who also had no firm idea of the BID Patrol's intention, but was willing to exert effort to come up with a shared theory that fit the known facts, proving that he, unlike the Patrol, has not yet placed himself outside of normal human society.
A witness to the June 30, 2015 incident who also had no firm idea of the BID Patrol’s intention, but was willing to exert effort to come up with a shared theory that fit the known facts, proving that he, unlike the Patrol, has not yet placed himself outside of normal human society.

One witness, though, spent the time and the effort to share his theory on the BID Patrol’s motivation with our correspondent. This is what David Graeber calls “interpretative labor,” an activity which, as Graeber has it, “much of the everyday business of social life” comprises, an activity in which people with guns, made stupid by their own potential for state-sanctioned violence, do not typically engage, as they clearly do not in this case:2

Thank you for filming, cause they only pulled up when I started talking about God and Jesus. I was just talking about God and Jesus and taking the Illuminati down, and every day they don’t never bother nobody, and let them sit here, right? Well, all of a sudden today I came and started talking about God and Jesus and taking down the Illuminati, cause I’m in the middle of a documentary, all of a sudden they get a hundred calls a day. God bless us all, the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name.

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The Utopia of Rules and the Violent Stupidity of the BIDs

David Graeber's fine book of essays provides theoretical tools essential to the understanding of the violence of the BIDs, the utter, abject stupidity of the BIDs and their minions, and the both correlative and causal links between them
David Graeber’s fine book of essays provides theoretical tools essential to the understanding of the violence of the BIDs, the utter, abject stupidity of the BIDs and their minions, and the both correlative and causal links between them
David Graeber is one of my eternal intellectual heroes, and I recommend most highly to anyone who can read his stunning, transformative work, Debt: The First 5000 Years. His most recent book, a collection of essays entitled The Utopia of Rules: On Technology Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy is, while less sweeping than Debt, essential reading. In particular, for the purpose of understanding the violence of the BIDs and the utter, abject stupidity of the BIDs and their minions, one essay, Dead Zones of the Imagination, stands out above the rest.
David Graeber, looking as brilliantly ironic and as ironically brilliant as ever he has done.
David Graeber, looking as brilliantly ironic and as ironically brilliant as ever he has done.

I’ll run through the premises and argument after the break, but a crucial conclusion that Graeber reaches here, and one whose relevance will be immediately obvious to sane readers of this blog, is that

…violence is so often the preferred weapon of the stupid. One might even call it the trump card of the stupid, since (and this is surely one of the tragedies of human existence) it is the one form of stupidity to which it is most difficult to come up with an intelligent response.

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