02:49 GMT04 April 2020
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    Abdus Luqman, co-founder of Coffee, Current Events and Politics and of Luqman Nation, joined Radio Sputnik’s Political Misfits Thursday to discuss how the US government could take advantage of the chaos created by the COVID-19 coronavirus to increase control over its people.

    According to Luqman, he hasn’t yet seen a “major difference” in how police ahttps://sputniknews.com/us/202003261078721905-us-overtakes-china-as-country-with-most-recorded-covid-19-cases/re operating in the District of Columbia, where he lives.

    “Of course, I live in Ward 8,” Luqman told hosts Bob Schlehuber and Jamarl Thomas. “So, just to put that in context, we’re already heavily policed.” 

    “Outside of that, I haven’t seen any major difference in the way that the police have been policing … I’ve seen a military jeep, a humvee, and I think I saw two military vehicles, but I don’t know what role they were playing … I’m always suspicious of the state and their police apparatus,” Luqman noted.

    “The US itself doesn’t have a uniform policy on dealing with this pandemic … I will say that what really concerns me more about the policing situation is that I feel it’s going to be even more problematic as the economic situation gets worse … as people get more desperate. We see that this multi-trillion dollar bailout … really doesn’t go far enough to help working people, and I think that’s going to be something that’s going to cause problems,” Luqman added.

    That’s especially true in Washington, DC, which is slated to receive less than half the aid given to states, as the stimulus legislation categorized the independent city as a US territory. In the city, 17.4% of the population is listed as below the poverty line, according to US census data - about one-third higher than the US national average.

    “We’re talking about decades - through our education system and other institutions - of really preparing the populace in believing that we shouldn’t expect anything from the government,” Luqman continued. “We’ve been basically brainwashed, for the lack of a better term, for the past decades that we don’t have any power as a citizen.”

    In times of upheaval and chaos, the state can take advantage of the situation to increase its control over people, Luqman suggested. Indeed, it is already using the crisis to increase its powers of detention over citizens.

    According to a Tuesday report by Politico, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has proposed that Congress allow the chief judges of district courts to halt court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience or other emergency situation.” This means that judges would have the power to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies. 

    The DoJ is also asking Congress to change the law so that people infected with COVID-19 cannot apply for asylum in the US. The draft legislation requests the same change for people who are “subject to a presidential proclamation suspending and limiting the entry of aliens into the United States,” Politico reported, suggesting that the Trump administration may use the coronavirus crisis to enact controversial policy changes.

    According to Luqman, the stimulus bill proves the US government can no longer say it can’t afford to provide services to its citizens. On Wednesday, the US Senate voted to pass the unprecedented $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, which would not only send checks to many US families, but also give banks tools to increase their lending capacities during the coronavirus pandemic. US President Donald Trump has indicated he will sign the bill if it is also approved by the House of Representatives later this week.

    This, combined with the Federal Reserve’s pledge to buy up huge numbers of stocks and bonds, totals some $6 trillion in government spending on the crisis, Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, claimed earlier this week.

    “The government is giving Wall Street and banks trillions of dollars like it’s nothing … so they can never go back to say they can’t afford certain things for the average citizen,” Luqman explained.

    The number of confirmed US coronavirus cases on Thursday surpassed that of China. According to Worldometer, there are currently 83,672 cases of the virus in the US, compared to 81,285 cases in China.

    The number of infections in the US has rapidly accelerated in the last two weeks. On March 12, there were only 1,629 American cases of the virus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported at the time.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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