Recently there has been renewed hubbub around CAPS in Richmond again. CAPS, for those (lucky enough to be unfamiliar with it), stands for Community Assisted Public Safety. It is a joining of efforts of Police, Code Enforcement, and citizens. Lately they have been keeping residents of Richmond safe by hunting down house shows and punk venues and shutting them down, charging the owners/leasees/proprietors with a variety of misdemeanors and other charges according to news reports.
CAPS, just like Cops, serve a very specific function in our city and society. We can not reform CAPS just as we can not reform Cops. We might be able to push back in terms of unconstitutional aspects of the overall CAPS program, including dipshit City Councilman Charles Samuels’ noise ordinances, but CAPS is not an abnormality or mistake.
A well written article by Carl Athey in RVA magazine (http://rvamag.com/articles/full/12329/who-invited-these-guys) called out the apparent hypocrisy in the City of Richmond proudly lauding its arts and music scenes, with the new Arts District and the simultaneous increased policing and harassment of the arts and music scenes, everything from a high admissions tax to police oppression of First Fridays. What I think is important is to realize that the city and powers that be are in fact NOT being hypocritical.
They want arts and music scenes, just not ones that are oppositional to the status quo. In fact, it might be a bad assumption on the part of Athey and others (or maybe they’ve been intentionally tricked) to believe that they are included in the art and music culture that the City wants to build here.
So to answer Carl’s query to see if the city will back up their rebranding image by backing down on CAPS- we think not. CAPS and the City are rebranding themselves as Carl mentions- it is highly unlikely that they will want to include broke, dirty, drunk punk kids in that image.
CAPS functions very deliberately.
CAPS uses existing regulations, from building codes to business laws, in order to shut down cultural events that either are not to the taste of the rich people and politicians, or which they are not able to properly profit off of. (more…)