CVE by Any Other Name
Video captured the disruption of a CVE workshop Friday morning that led to the arrest of two people Friday morning at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Chicagoist reported that protestors claim workshop speakers “support a federal program that they argue targets Muslims and Arabs.”
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) officially emerged during the Obama Administration. CVE is defined by the Brennan Center for Justice as an anti-terrorism initiative in the United States that aims to deter U.S. residents from joining “violent extremist groups by bringing community and religious leaders together with law enforcement, health professionals, teachers and social service employees.” It extends the ‘responsibilization’ of policing into the whole of society while claiming to be “grassroots.” The programs exist in the space of “pre-criminality” based on ‘flawed theories of radicalization and ‘junk science’ that often point to religious ideology as a precursor to terrorism. As a result, the Muslim community has been further stigmatized and encountered “unnecessary fear, discrimination, and unjustified reporting to law enforcement.”
The workshop was a “jointly sponsored workshop” between the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) under their Targeting Violence Prevention Program in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Human Services Mental Health Division. Psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers were targeted to learn about a public health approach to be used in “preventing ideologically inspired targeted violence.”
CVE has encountered large pushback in the Muslim community since its inception, and attempts to rebrand and repackage CVE have been undertaken utilizing various acronyms and approaches to push the government programs while trying to a present a “grassroots” façade. While hosts and speakers at the Chicago workshop tried to distance themselves from the CVE label, protestors at the event remained adamant that this event was about CVE targeting Muslims and Arabs.
Junaid Afeef, Director of the Targeted Violence Prevention Program (TVPP) at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA).
In fact, hosting organization ICJIA was recently a recipient of a 2017 DHS grant under the Trump Administration for $187,877. The grant application stated that they planned to “develop a program to ‘off-ramp’ individuals who exhibit warning signs of radicalization to violence.” ICJIA planned to offer “3 hour training courses for faith-based organizations, schools and volunteer service groups across Illinois counties about warning signs of radicalization.” TVPP run by ICJIA and headed by Junaid Afeef takes an active role to “build and sustain community led preventions and intervention programs.”
Targeted Violence Prevention Program (TVPP) Website Banner
Along with TVPP’s public health approach to preventing ideologically inspired targeted violence, specifically “religiously violent inspired extremism,” workshop presenter Stevan Weine MD from the host institution UIC Department of Medicine, College of Psychiatry, own research is funded by the US Department of Homeland Security and he has actively promoted Integrating Mental Health and Education Fields into Countering Violent Extremism and a “Public Health Model” approach to CVE addressing violent extremism as public health policy and practice. Weine has spent years invasively studying the Muslim American community as collective specimens across the nation usually facilitated by an organization or individual acting as a native informant from within the community itself, searching for behavioral indicators toward radicalization and violence, as well as their resistance to securitization and extensions of state violence. A protestor directly confronts him in this video.
Weine’s current research funded by Department of Homeland Security: ethnographic research in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.— U.S. cities with significant Muslim Diasporas
CVE is modeled largely on the United Kingdom’s Prevent Model that has already attempted to conscript health and education professionals leading for calls to repeal it for violating human rights, generating fear and distrust, and alienating Muslim communities while undermining their access to health and education.
The FBI—one of the main agencies involved in CVE acknowledged that engagement with radical ideas is not a clear predictor of terrorist acts and described CVE as a means of strengthening its “investigative [and] intelligence gathering” abilities.