It is now almost uncontested that in the United States the most privileged tier of society gets impunity while those on the bottom get criminalized and punished largely for their marginalized place in our society. In the last year, many activists within Occupy Wall Street have begun with an analysis of economic inequality focused on the unpunished excesses of the financial sector, but become increasingly concerned with issues such as police repression (of both activists and communities of color) and mass incarceration.
How do these issues interconnect, and what are some possible solutions? Can those who want regulatory bodies to bring bankers to justice and those who seek a radical overhaul or dismantling of America's criminal justice system work together? Truthout assembled a panel at New York's Brecht Forum on August 1 to discuss these issues.
Joining moderator Joe Macaré were Alexis Goldstein, an Occupy Wall Street activist who wrote an acclaimed account of her time as a Wall Street professional; Natasha Lennard, who has reported for Truthout on topics including prison noise demonstrations and the limits of what marijuana decriminalization can accomplish; and Liliana Segura, an editor at The Nation Magazine. Special guest Andy Stepanian, a social justice activist, artist and political rabble-rouser, who spent three years in federal prison on terrorism charges (after a politically charged landmark free speech case known as the SHAC 7 trial), also contributed to the discussion.