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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
InOBU Big Fat Gypsy Weddings (89* d) RE: Big Fat Gypsy Weddings 28 Feb 11


Hi Peter:
One reason it is better to have discussions like this around a table with tea or a few pints, is that it takes so long to answer back and forth, there is lots of time for misunderstandings to fester. Secondly, in a format such as this, my inability to spell is painfully visable... =)

On the subject of Racial profiling of Romany and Traveller people here, and the subject at hand... The US provides a remarkably good environment to see what is Traveller and Romany culture, and what is a result of the effects of poverty and prejudice.

In the US, there is a remarkable situation for Romany people. The great majority of the American public has a much less fine tuned prejudicial eye than people in Europe. Most Americans cannot "spot" a traveller. So, Romany, Romanichal and Traveller communities are gennerally more able to conduct business day to day.

After WW II, the US began to work with former gestapo agents, setting up INTERPOL - the excuse being that they were expert in anti-comunist work. And perhaps cooinsidently, the work of "Gypsy squads" in US police forces began to change the way they investigated the Romany and Traveller communities, using family and community events to atempt to photograph every one of the some two million Romany and Traveller people in the US without suspicion of crime. They would then arrest young members of the community, often in their mid teens on false charges, intimidate them into identifing stacks of photos and then letting them go. For decades this resulted in creating a pool of information and a false immage of the community as criminal within US policing. After the case Socialist Worker's Party v the Attourney General was descided in the Sup. Court. and "Red Squads" were found to be unconstitutional, the "Gypsy Squads" were renamed special fraud investigative units, and the over all coordination of racial profiling was taken over by a "private" not for profit organ called the National Association of Bunco Investigators (if my memory is correct on the achronim.) Now the unconstitutional work was being carried out by police people working "on their own time". Their material has turned up in cases where chain stores have racially profiled Romany and Traveller customers.

So, you have a case where American Irish Travellers, and American Romany people have been racialized in recent time by one component of American society - recently you can add to this the press, who have run sensationalist and false storries, such as the "NBC Dateline" hatchet job done on the Travellers of Murphy Village, which contained, for example communion photos of a little girl broadcast by NBC as a wedding photo, and the testimony of a non-member criminal - given as an "insider" to the Romanical community - which they lump togetherwith Travellers as if they are the same community.

So, left pretty much alone, these communities developed into semi nomadic trades community which tend to be law abiding and stable. The Torrent County Texas prosicutors office, in a studdy a few years ago found there to be no more ileagal behavior among them then any other demographic in the US, and in fact there was far less than most.

But, still, in Texas, when a Traveller community began to register for the first time to vote, the incumbent political party in their local played the "Gypsy" card and attempted to deny them the right to vote claiming that there is no way to be sure of a Traveller's identity - using arguments based on the racial profiling materials from the NABI as their "proof".

So, when it comes to racial profiling and anti-social behavior, I'd say the lesson is that even when Travellers attempt to mainstream without having to give up their culture of nomadism, the prejudice persists. The prejudice is not caused by behavior of the Traveller or Romany communities. If leaving a mess is part of the culture, rather than a result of the lack of equal access to public accomodations, why is it that in the US, there Traveller language is more prevalent, all the structures of Traveller culture are found, leaving a mess at camp sites is non-existant? They are, in fact - much cleaner than many American communities?

Again, you have not addressed the fact that halting sites I visited near Dublin, where there IS available trash collection, water and electricity, the communities are clean.

I am old enough to remember the "lanes" in Limerick, and the ill affects of poverty and discrimination against the poor resulted in similar conditions. There was no "tidy towns" program extended to Travellers, as far as I have witnessed.


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