A period of collective mass hysteria

It’s madness. People have gone mad

A period of collective mass hysteria
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Today a dispatch from Texas on the burgeoning Stop Cop City Dallas efforts. You can read it down below or jump to it directly here:

Stop Cop City Dallas
It’s going to be a long fight

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This is one of those moments where I’m overwhelmed and do not feel up to the task of capturing exactly what is happening in words as peaceful college students across the country are being thrown into the carceral grinder by their own administrations for the crime of sitting around and asking for the facilitation of less death but I will tell you one thing which is that we are currently experiencing a period of collective mass hysteria and mass psychosis I haven’t seen since the early 2000s where every lever of power in the so-called American liberal order – from the ostensibly liberal government to the ostensibly liberal media to ostensibly liberal academia – are all laser focused on one single thing: No matter the cost in blood or money, no matter the suffering of innocents, no matter the violations of supposed norms, the state of Israel must be allowed to massacre as many Palestinians as they wish and any effort to forestall that from Boston to Los Angeles to Atlanta to New York City should be met with the full force of the militarized police to “restore the peace.” 

This specific slaughter for some reason – and yes I know a number of the reasons – is worth any price we might have to pay at home in terms of dismantling our own Constitutional rights. It’s madness. People have gone mad. Normal people that we all know not just the easily dismissed as "evil" ones. 

And all this despite it not necessarily even being “the people” that want this. The United States’ continued support of the slaughter in Gaza is in fact unpopular according to almost every poll. Especially among Democrats. The percentage in favor continues to diminish by the week with every reported piece of evidence of blatant war crimes like the near thousand bodies buried in mass graves newly discovered outside of Gazan hospitals – many of them women and children and the elderly and the injured and sick patients and nurses and doctors in their scrubs and those stripped naked and handcuffed and buried alive or else shot and tossed aside like garbage. 

Still we as a country and as a collection of institutions are all in. Full throttle. Throwing bad money after, well, not good money, but what was already bad money. A sunk cost calculation. And to be clear we are fucking sunk. 

Biden may be too. 

Supposedly the fascism at home and abroad will get worse I’m told if Biden loses and I think that could be true to some extent but we’re talking about degrees of fascism now. We’re dicing an onion that is gushing blood. Chopping off our own fingers in the process.

We’ve already long since established what kind of fascist country we are, to paraphrase the old joke, now we’re just negotiating. 

That Emory professor was arrested and charged with assaulting an officer by the way.

I know you aren't thinking it but I'm sure you've heard many variations on something like: “Why aren’t the protestors doing xyz instead of abc.” That sort of concern trolling is an instant tell – no matter how nuanced the person saying it pretends to be – that they do not support whatever protest it is and in fact despise it. They do not want it to be more efficient like they’re lying that they do they just want to throw dirt on it all and clock out thinking they've maintained their soul’s load bearing lie of feigned neutrality.

It’s been said already but it can’t be said enough that these same Texas state troopers beating and arresting peaceful college students sat outside an elementary school pissing themselves and menacing parents while one guy with a gun massacred kids. Real tough now though when they’re confronted with flags and poems. 

Please read this powerful piece by a 14 year old girl in Gaza named Lujayn.

“The Bulldozer Kept Coming”: A Girl Stares Down Death in Gaza
The extraordinary story of a 14-year-old, her mother, and what happened when the Israeli military came to destroy their house.

"Lujayn is a brilliant student," The Nation's Rebecca Ruth Gould writes in the introduction. "She had been planning to go to university to study mathematics. But there are no more universities left in Gaza, and Lujayn has no permanent home. All she can do right now is survive and tell her story."

We're talking about fucking "campus safety" in America when we've destroyed every single one in her country. It's fucking appalling. I am appalled.

Speaking of fascism you may have missed this piece I sent out to paid supporters earlier in the week. It's about a couple of egregious cases of cops getting away with murder in Los Angeles and New York. The belief that police should not and will not be held accountable for murdering citizens isn't just bipartisan it's bicoastal of course.

Everywhere’s the wrong place at the wrong time
You might also say Kawaski Trawick was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In his home. Everywhere is the wrong place and any time is the wrong time in a country in which the police are free to kill us either through negligence or for revenge or even if they just sort of felt like shooting someone that day and it happened to be you.

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I also have a new short story up at Flaming Hydra this week.

The Song You Wanted It to Be
fiction by Luke O’Neil See the ducks down there she said pointing like a child points. The black and white ones she said and he said where and she corrected herself and pointed again like an adult points and he said I guess so I can’t really see

It goes in part like so:

The kids’ mother had just arrived today after being held up at work in the glowing city and so was settling in like an old house settles at night and after a lull her drive up became a matter of some interest. Weighing the cost and benefits of fleeing at certain hours versus others. Nothing much else to say besides things that were directly going unsaid.

It was largely uneventful V___ said but she said she couldn’t stop thinking about this rabbit she had seen killed on the side of the road. This specific rabbit had been fucking her up all day she said passing the butter for the lobster. 

None of them before she arrived had really had a handle on how to kill the lobsters humanely in the preparation.This always having been her duty. Deciding after all to just let them boil alive then step out of the room out of some kind of ill-imagined pantomime of respect. 


What about the rabbit bothered you so much S___ asked and the mother her sister in law said it was just there crushed to a dirty pulp.

Isn’t roadkill pretty common on that stretch A___ said and she said yes yes it’s just that it was all the way seven lanes across the eight lane highway. It must have been running from the woods on the southbound side all the way across toward the water. 

What do you mean he said. 

Well it almost made it. 

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Stop Cop City Dallas

by Tynan Stewart

Read more Hell World coverage of the Stop Cop City Atlanta movement here:

The movement to Stop Cop City isn’t going anywhere
Back in January Rachel Garbus reported for Hell World on the movement against the construction of Cop City in Atlanta and the aftermath of the police killing one of the protesters. Today Micah Herskind catches us up on what’s transpired over the past few weeks, including the release of an
Stopping Cop City, the murder of Tortuguita, and the trees that got us here
Today we have some great on the ground reporting from the protests against “Cop City” in Atlanta. First a couple things from me. Pay to support independent journalism please and thank you. Subscribe now Cops killed more people in 2022 than any year since we’ve counted. 1 in 47 adults

At first, Jessica Ramírez wasn’t even sure it should be called “Cop City.”

The new police training academy, which would occupy five acres of the University of North Texas at Dallas campus where Ramírez is a student, seems small compared to the 85-acre compound currently under construction in the Atlanta forest. There’s also the fact that initial designs for the Dallas facility don’t include an entire faux cityscape where cops can be trained in the tactics of urban warfare, at least not yet. 

But its opponents have gone with the name anyway: It’s Cop City Dallas.

“I didn’t want to call it that, but there’s no other thing to call it,” said Ramírez, who volunteered to distribute flyers on her campus. “Because it is what it is.”

While the facility has been in the works since at least 2020, opposition has ramped up in recent weeks. Organizers with Stop Cop City Dallas, a coalition of local left-wing groups, have been knocking doors and handing out flyers at polling places, asking voters to reject an upcoming bond project that would funnel $50 million in public funds to the police academy. The election is May 4 but early voting is underway.

The Dallas Police Department already has a training facility, but arguments for why they need a new one closely echo those made by Atlanta cops: Dallas’s current facility is old. A replacement would, in the words of Dallas police Chief Eddie Garcia, “boost recruiting, retention and morale.” City officials also hope the new academy will provide "revenue generating opportunities.” 

Translation: They want it to serve as a training camp for police departments across North Texas.

“They are not branding it in any way, shape or form as a Dallas police force thing,” said Baiyinah Abdullah, an organizer with Stop Cop City Dallas, at a recent community town hall. “It’s a regional training facility. So there’s going to be cops from all over.”

And this is perhaps the best argument for labeling the project a new Cop City. The training facility may be housed in Dallas, but like the vast complex growing in the Atlanta forest, its effects will be felt far beyond the City of Hate.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, a few dozen organizers and local residents gathered in Pan-African Connection, a book store, art gallery and resource center just a few miles north of UNT Dallas, for the town hall convened by opponents of Cop City Dallas.

“You might not want a new cop facility for a totally different reason than I don’t want one,” said Jasmine Butler, a coalition organizer who helped facilitate the meeting. “But we will disagree in a way that’s civil and in a way that we still respect each other.”

“Unless you’re a cop, sorry, f-you” they quipped.

Butler and other organizers emphasized similarities between the Dallas and Atlanta projects, including the fact that Dallas’s new academy would require the destruction of green space on UNT Dallas’s campus. They screened a glossy commercial for the project that included an overhead shot of what the building might look like. Audible groans swept the room as trees melted away and were replaced by a few boxy structures and a parking lot.

The video, produced by Allyn Media, a Dallas-based public relations firm, is also an interesting window into how police are thinking about the new training facility, one that gets beyond standard lines about boosting morale and recruitment. Allyn Media previously helped coordinate a memorial ceremony for Dallas police in the aftermath of the 2016 killing of five officers in downtown Dallas, and that incident features heavily in the commercial, which includes TV news clips of cops flooding the streets of Dallas, weapons drawn, and still images of uniformed officers looking exhausted or anguished.

The implied message is clear: Nearly eight years on, Dallas police still see themselves as embattled and in danger. More training at this new academy will allegedly make them safer. But what about the communities they are supposed to protect and serve?

“Increasing police budgets to combat violence against the police is really just going to accelerate the issue,” said Katherine Bynum, a professor of history at Arizona State University whose work has documented Black and Brown freedom struggles in Dallas. “Communities of color are going to be policed with increasing severity as we’ve seen throughout the decades.”

What goes unmentioned in the promotional video is, of course, the long history of police brutality inflicted on these communities in Dallas: The murder of Santos Rodríguez, a Mexican-American boy who was shot in the head by a Dallas police officer in 1973. The death of Etta Collins, a Black Sunday school teacher who in 1986 called the cops about a burglary, only to be shot and killed by a responding officer. Not to mention the more recent violence inflicted on Black Lives Matter protesters in the summer of 2020.

“Really this idea that policing makes communities more safe is untrue and it’s unfounded,” Bynum said “It just exposes . . . both police and communities of color to more violence and danger.

This history is important context for the present campaign against Cop City Dallas. In the area of city where the new academy will be built, 51% of residents are Black and 45% are Hispanic or Latino, while UNT-Dallas itself is also extremely diverse.

Eli T., a Dallas resident who lives nearby and volunteered to canvas against the upcoming bond proposition, said she’d like to know how many Dallas cops actually live in the neighborhoods they police. Data from a few years ago suggests most don’t.

“My whole family is Hispanic. I was taught from age five, cops come to the door, you don't answer, you don't talk to them, so it was shocking for me to grow up and find out other people thought the cops were helpful,” Eli told me. “I've been in the car when my mom's been pulled over, and I see how they treat her as a woman of color and I wouldn't wish that on fucking anybody."

Some voters in the area would prefer the $50 million in bond funding be spent on other priorities. Tamera Hutcherson, a member of Stop Cop City Dallas who has spent time knocking doors for the coalition, said she talked to one resident who suggested a 24-hour youth center that might keep kids off the street and out of trouble.

“A lot of the voters we're reaching — specifically in District 8 where it is slated to be built — are older Black voters, and a lot of them are unaware,” Hutcherson said.

This lack of awareness isn’t surprising: Turnout in the city’s municipal elections is usually low. Only 8.8% of eligible voters cast ballots in last year’s city council elections. While Stop Cop City Dallas is doing its best to draw attention to the bond issue, its members know halting the facility’s construction is not just about rallying opposition at the ballot box.

For one thing, the project has already secured other sources of funding: $20 million from the Texas state government and $10 million from the Communities Foundation of Texas. While that’s well short of the $152 million total estimated cost, former City Councilwoman Jennifer Gates, who is helping the city fundraise from private sources, said at a public meeting in November that other foundations were waiting to see whether the city was “fully supportive” before publicly committing themselves.

“I'm not naive, I know that this doesn't end at the vote, even if it gets voted down,” said Nora Soto, an organizer who has followed the progress of the bond program since June. “They're still going to build it, they're just going to have to figure out somewhere else to get the money.”

"It's going to be a long fight."

Tynan Stewart is a writer and journalist based in Fort Worth, TX. He publishes Lost in Panther City, a newsletter about Fort Worth and North Texas. Follow him on Instagram for book reviews and pictures of his guinea pigs: @panthercitybooks.

Here's a good one in The Small Bow from this week on our man David Berman.

The Alcoholic’s Playlist Is Full of David Berman
“As I ran through a stop sign on August 7, 2019, the same day Berman hung himself. It was, in fact, the last day I drank.”
Here’s a story: I was listening to “That’s Just the Way that I Feel” by Purple Mountains on the day I wrecked my wife’s truck. Here’s the truth: I was drunk on a Wednesday, the way I always was. I was in tennis clothes because I’d told my wife I had a lesson on Wednesday nights, allowing me to drink in the office till 8, then use the drive home to verbally practice stories about the lesson. I planned to give her an update on a fellow player, “Phillip Feetshoes,” who played in Vibram FiveFingers instead of tennis shoes. I’d mentioned him before; he was modeled after a regulatory lawyer I knew. It was summer in Austin, but I had the heat on high so I’d have a post-workout sheen of sweat when I got home. I thought about pretending the next lessons were a half-hour later, for 30 more minutes of vodka. Then I ran a stop sign, a subcompact smashed into the passenger side, I blew three times the legal limit and went to jail for the night. I vaguely remember trying to laugh off my field test performance and telling the police that the plastic zip lines they used instead of cuffs were environmentally unfriendly.

I don’t actually know what song I was listening to, but it would have been a perfect story: the lead single from David Berman’s final album, chiming “The end of all wanting is all I’ve been wanting” as I ran through a stop sign on August 7, 2019, the same day Berman hung himself. It was, in fact, the last day I drank.

Well that's about it for now. Here's your song of the day. Thanks for being here.