When both sides are wrong: George Floyd’s death and the violent responses

Let me state at the outset that I am not equating what the police did to George Floyd with the violence of the rioters responding to his murder. Looting, burning, and breaking into stores is not as horrible as murder, and of course most of the protestors against Floyd’s murder were peaceful. But violent protest is also unconscionable. And so I’ll call out both the cops and the rioters, but am not trying to say there’s a moral equivalence—not at all. But I don’t think there is any excuse for rioting.

What the Minneapolis police did to George Floyd, with one kneeling on his neck while he was prone for a full eight minutes and 46 seconds (two minutes after Floyd became unresponsive), suffocating him to death, while three cops stood by, is unconscionable. The cop who knelt on his neck has been rightly indicted for third-degree murder. The other cops should be indicted, too, if their inaction constitutes a crime, which it should. Remember, Floyd was killed after a “forgery in progress”: he reportedly tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill (but did he even know if it was counterfeit?). A man shouldn’t have to die for passing a bad bill.

We need investigations of racism in many police departments, as there have been disproportionately many killings of unarmed black people. You’ve seen the videos, and although lawyers will argue that they don’t show what they seem to (and we do need to listen to the defense arguments), it’s hard to argue with the eyes, especially in the video of George Floyd’s death.  Here’s a Washington Post summary and commentary on the video:

I don’t want to go on and on about Floyd’s death: plenty of commentators have weighed in on the police’s amazingly lethal and unnecessary behavior. I agree.

What you don’t see much of in the media—at least the liberal media—are any criticisms of the many violent riots across the U.S., which included burning cars and buildings, shooting, looting, and other forms of violence. Much of this violence has been directed at businesses owned by blacks or other minorities, and I’ve seen heartbreaking reports of immigrants or African-Americans who had their businesses destroyed, something I can’t understand at all in a race-motivated action.

This NYT article gives details:

There has also been civil disobedience, with protestors shutting down major roads. That I have little objection to so long as protestors recognize that it is civil disobedience and they should be prepared to be arrested. Here’s where there are protests, and cities with especially violent riots include Minneapolis, Atlanta, Washington, D. C., Los Angeles, and Chicago. Over a dozen cities had curfews, including ours last night (9 p.m. to 6 a.m., which I didn’t know about until I got to work at 5 a.m. to feed the ducks. But I would have flouted it even had I known.)

A map of where there have been major protests, and the 11 states where the National Guard has been called out.

Here’s what I think, and you’re invited to weigh in below:

1.) It is not only excusable to demonstrate in this situation, but laudatory. There is a good cause here: the repeated shooting of unarmed black men and women by police or people acting as police. Floyd is just the latest, with the killings Ahmaud Arbury and Breonna Taylor happening not long ago. It’s understandable that black citizens hesitate to call 911, for they may be on the receiving act of a police bullet, as was Taylor (granted, her boyfriend fired at police, thinking a poorly motivated police action was a home invasion). This is a civil rights issue, and calling attention to it is the right thing to do.

2.) Demonstrations should be peaceful, without any violence, looting, and the like. It is not an excuse to say that the black community has had enough and has to take violent action. Here, for example is a column in today’s New York Times that, in effect, excuses the violence because, after all, enough is enough, and violence is a proper response:

Yes, protests. No, not violent ones.

The only person to decry the riots in today’s NYT op-eds seems to be conservative Ross Douthat. Although I disagree with him on most issues, what he says makes a lot of sense: what works to change society is not violent protests with looting and vandalism, but peaceful ones.

Today’s HuffPost headline (click on screenshot), is all about the brutality of police responding to demonstrators, not mentioning that they were responding to violent demonstrators:

It’s time for the liberal media to decry violence. After all, last night I listened to two black mayors decry it in no-nonsense statements: Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta.  Here’s Bottoms’s eloquent statement, who calls out the violent demonstrators while referring to Dr. King. Do listen to it! It’s righteous anger about both the murder of Floyd and the rioters destroying their own community.

If you think times are bad enough to warrant violence now, think about Martin Luther King and African-Americans in the 1960s, who weren’t able to vote, who were subject to repeated and blatant discrimination, and who were assaulted by police even when they were demonstrating peacefully. If anybody had had enough, it was African-Americans in 1960. In fact, the law embodied immorality and inequity: there was far more structural racism then.

And yet Dr. King, using Gandhi as a (successful) model, insisted that his marches be nonviolent. They were, and in so doing he gained the moral high ground. It was the sight of peaceful and unarmed blacks assaulted with truncheons and police dogs, and of lunch-counter demonstrators having milkshakes dumped on their heads, that awaked America to the immorality of segregation. I see no reason why demonstrations should be different now.

Many are saying that the violence was caused by out-of-state anarchists, Antifa-like thugs who want to create anarchy or start race riots. That may be true, but I doubt it, and we’ll know from the arrest records

3.) Violent demonstrations are not only counterproductive to the cause, but play into the hands of authoritarians like Trump. The sight of rioters breaking into stores and looting jewelry and other goods is guaranteed to either harden the position of racists, or make people on the fence vote for a “strong man” President. From the NYT’s coverage:

Instead, in a series of tweets and comments to reporters on Saturday, he blamed Democrats for the unrest, called on “Liberal Governors and Mayors” to get “MUCH tougher” on crowds, threatened to intervene with “the unlimited power of our Military” and suggested that his supporters mount a counterdemonstration.

. . .Mr. Trump’s statements did little to tamp down the outrage. Writing on Twitter, he called demonstrators outside the White House “professionally managed so-called ‘protesters’” and suggested that his supporters would meet them. “Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???”

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, released a statement early Sunday morning appealing for calm.

“We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us,” he wrote. “We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us.”

In the meantime, Trump is not exactly being conciliatory, repeatedly threatening to call out the military or National Guard and, in the tweet below that was fact-checked by Twitter, threatening looters with shooting. This is not the way somebody elected to be our leader should behave.

Granted, Trump is being more conciliatory than I would have expected. But he’s fanning the flames when he should be dousing them. In the end, I think that despite his tweets, the violence in many demonstrations will strengthen his base, and the sight of looters can be used to justify his authoritarianism—and re-election. (Lord, I hope not!)

That’s why Dr. King had the right idea.

152 Comments

  1. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Trump seems to be MIA. In Houston, police chief Art Acevedo marched WITH the protesters. Think about that.

    The combination of COVID-19 economic collapse, police brutality, and inner city violence is going to kill the big city. Why bother?

    • Richard Sanderson🤴
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps the police are marching with the protesters in order to placate them, and quell their anger?

      • jedijan
        Posted June 1, 2020 at 12:10 am | Permalink

        Personally I think the Police marching with the protestors are telling you they agree with the (peaceful) protesting. They are throwing their support and grief behind the situation of the unlawful death. I am not surprised by this and protestors should take that moment to consider these implications. As far as the violence and looters go that is something quite different, and at the end of the day the Police have a job to do; to try and stop that and restore peace. Those aggressors and looters are just taking selfish advantage of the situation and are making the grief harder to bear for all. Peaceful protests, as Gandhi inspired and proved, are the way to bring change; violent protests just bring more violence.

  2. Mark
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Saw this on Twitter and I think it sums this up nicely: https://twitter.com/brad_polumbo/status/1266759404889702400

  3. Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I have to agree with you here, Jerry. On everything. I’ve read this very carefully and cannot say better what you have expressed…

    • wendell s read
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Miss Ironfist is exactly right

    • P. Puk
      Posted June 1, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      I have to ask, though, how much do the victims of racism have to put up with before they lose their cool?

      How many lives have rotted away in jail because of lies told by the likes of Amy Cooper and by police cover-ups?

      How many people have been harmed/murdered by unfair treatment caused by their accident of birth?

      Is there a point where I can say, “I can’t really blame these people for wanting to destroy things knowing how much the system has destroyed their lives and lives of their loved ones.”

      I don’t agree with their violent, destructive behaviour but I can understand it and can’t really say I din’t see it coming.

      • Posted June 1, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

        I’m with you on the sentiment but we must consider those that are taking pick-up trucks to stores in order to carry home the most loot. These are not people whose emotion has carried them away.

        • GBJames
          Posted June 1, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          Fact of the matter is that there are a broad range of motivations in events as large as this. There are, from place to place, peaceful demonstrators, looters, anarchist provocateurs, right wing provocateurs, restrained police, out of control police.

          Events in my neighborhood last night were loud and large, but pretty much peaceful. But elsewhere in town a County Supervisor was arrested while acting as an ACLU observer and mediator trying to keep things calm. (One of those bone-headed actions police make from time to time.)

          There’s something for everyone.

          • Posted June 1, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

            Yes, we’ve definitely had some things happen here in Long Beach. Curfew last night starting at 6 pm. Looting at a local Target store. Demonstrators hit by rubber bullets. Most of the action was in downtown LB but the Target store is only a couple of miles away. It’s all reminiscent of the Rodney King riots nearly 30 years ago.

            • Posted June 1, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

              The police shot rubber bullets into “demonstrators?”

              If they did that to the people demonstrating, what did they fire at anarchist thug looters? Uranium ordinance?

              • Posted June 1, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

                If you search on Twitter for “rubber bullet wound” w/o quotes you will see lots of examples. Of course, it’s possible to fake things like this but they look real enough. Some people have lost eyes. My take is that the police have acted very aggressively in some cities. Also notable is that they are not ignoring the press. Instead, they don’t want to be recorded and are willing to do violence to make that point. Trump’s calling the press the “enemy of the people” has consequences.

  4. Barry Lyons
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Killer Mike also decried the looting and violence: https://twitter.com/neal_katyal/status/1266772775378866177

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Now, that brother’s right on the money.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I don’t fully agree with you because too much time is spent talking about the violence, the looting and what some of the people attending are doing. Not enough time on what is causing the demonstrations. Sure we want to demonstrations to be peaceful but often they are not and for a variety of reasons. This is 2020, not 1960. If you think the Minority community have achieved most of what they should get in this country, then lets concentrate on the violent protesters. But I think maybe they have not.

    How about Minneapolis for starters. Do you know the inequity in this city is worse than almost any city in the country. The average wage difference for blacks verses white is more than $45,000 annually. This was reported in the Post yesterday.

    How about how many reporters were attacked by the police. This happened allot last night. In some cases it was done on purpose. Shooting them with rubber bullets and tear gas. Arresting reporters. This is nuts and this is not the way the police should be acting – going after the press. This is what happens in Donald Trump’s world.

    • GBJames
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      I’m inclined to your position, Randall. But in any case, I’m depressed. There are systemic policing problems in this country and they’ve been here for decades. For some reason we can’t bring ourselves as a country to solve them.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        You are correct. The racism in our society is very much in the police departments around the country as well. There had been some attempts at the federal level to do some work on this but it only lasted for awhile and only in a few cities.

        Way back in the 60s when the national guard was starting to learn how to properly perform riot control, it took a long time to get it. I think maybe the police, who also are suppose to train for this work are not always doing it correctly. Lots of the time it is poor leadership, sometimes poor training. What happened to many in the press proves there is a lot of work still to do. Kent State was a case of totally untrained guard sent to do a job with no idea how it should be done. We seem to still have some of that.

      • Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        There’s always “a few bad apples.” the problem is, if the cops do nothing about the bad apples, what does that make the rest of them? What does that make those who hang next to the bad apples? They’ll start turning as well and get rotten (or look as rotten–guilty by association. Who wants to pick the apple right next to the rotten one on the tree?).

        They let the “warrior cop” image get out of hand and bought into their own line of thinking that such a dangerous job requires lethal countermeasures. bureau of labor statistics hasn’t put cops in the top 10 most dangerous jobs list in quite some time. In 2019, it wasn’t even in the top 20 (according to ishn.com). When it gets dangerous, it’s because of paranoia or over-reach of the officers most of the time.

        Enough of this “a few bad apples.” The whole tree is infected. Pull it out, put a new cutting in it’s place and watch it grow into something far better, more pleasant to the palate and nourishing to the community.

        • Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          The “warrior” mentality extends to more than just cops in this country. It can also be seen in all things worshipful for the military. More than a few of them are embarrassed by all of the boot licking. We’ve got hero cops, hero military personnel, and hero who knows what.

          The problem with putting a profession on a super high pedestal is that when you try to correct a problem like bad police conduct, you are insulting our heroes. How dare you impugn on the conduct of our heroic law enforcement personnel who put their lives on the line every day!! As a result, the conversation is short circuited before it even starts.

          Pretty much the same thing with the military. Every bad action is excused (see Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher). People react the same way that they do when their god is questioned.

          I want our law enforcement and military personnel to be respected not bowed down to like gods. They aren’t gods and most of them know that. It’s the ones who think they are that are the problem.

          • Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

            I totally agree. They should look at it as just a job, though with an element of danger. A job worth doing well. If they find they can’t attract people to do the job without the hero worship, raise their pay.

            Actually, I have less trouble lauding an actual hero when they actually do something heroic. I believe the real issue is that they are regarded as a separate class of society. They all aren’t “heroes” just for signing up. There’s a whole set of language codes set up to support this separate class idea. The media are definitely complicit.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          Good point — but if you wanna torture that “bad apple” metaphor any further, you may have to disappear it to a CIA black site. 🙂

    • Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      I think if you go, for instance, to the New York Times or HuffPost in the last couple of days, you’ll find tons of this kind of reporting. And, of course, the 1619 project’s goal is to show how racism is still affecting America profoundly, which I agre with.

      Sorry, but I have seen very little about the violence in the Left media. Sure, it’s all over the right-wing media, for it justifies racism. But I reject your claim that I am not talking about inequities enough.

      I was a CO and am deeply wedded to peaceful protest. That is why I wrote this. I don’t need “whataboutery”: “why didn’t you write about X, Y or Z”? You can find lots of that in other places, but not a discussion of the problems with violent protest from Leftists.

      • Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        The rioting was certainly all over the evening news and CNN and they certainly focused their cameras on the looting and burning. Are you saying that they were somehow indicating that the destruction and looting were justified? I didn’t get that from what I watched. However, many of the opinion types were somewhat perfunctory in their calls for a stop to the violence, spending a lot more time on the reasons why people were angry. I put that down to the fact that there’s not much to say about the violence other than to say that it shouldn’t happen.

        • Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t say that, of course. What I said is what you said: there are few op-eds in the liberal media decrying violence. What we here are black mayors decrying violence, and the mayor of Atlanta had a lot to say about that.

          • W.Benson
            Posted May 31, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

            The mayor of Atlanta has just dismissed two police officers for unwarranted violence. The media, even CNN and the like, seems to minimize police violence. Here are a few examples:

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        You think what I said was whataboutery. I mentioned the large difference in income within the town of Minneapolis. I mention all the violence by police against the press in these protests. Being a CO does not make you any more for peace than any number of us here. You want to turn an unjust society into a mostly about violent demonstrators. However you slice it, that will not fix anything. What these demonstrations are about, peaceful or violent, is the continued racism and inequality in our society. The more we just talk about violence the more we sound like the far right.

        I do not take the NYTs and I sure do not follow Huffington. I did see coverage of the demonstrations and violence on MSNBC and CNN. They covered it live while it took place.

        • Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

          It’s my status as a conscientious objector that compelled me to write this piece, and I said plenty about the violence of the cops and the need for investigation of racism in the police department. I did not say that I was any more for peace than anybody else. I said this: “I was a CO and am deeply wedded to peaceful protest. That is why I wrote this.” Is that saying I’m better than anybody else?

          Coverage of violence is not the same thing as giving opinions about it. And I resent you saying that “I sound like the far right” when I am simply echoing PRECISELY what the black mayors of Atlanta and Chicago said. Are you telling me that they, in their speeches which are remarkably similar to this piece, are “sounding like the far right?”

          It is whataboutery. I reject it and I resent you comparing me to the far right after I wrote that piece. As I said, plenty of people covered the demonstrations, but few op-eds said it was wrong. In fact, some, like in the NYT, said it was justified.

          I would advise you to stop saying that I should write what I think because I’m sounding like the far right. Or making false accusations that I’m touting my superiority.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

            Gonna be a long, hot summer. You can feel it already.

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

              I’m afraid it’s going to be a lot longer than a summer. As long as lots of the white population look at this event and see primarily violent rioting and do nothing about the persistent racism and inequality in this country we will continue to see the same. We still have to see the result of this one incident. Will we see justice or will we see the police get by yet again? Luckily, we can all go home to our air conditioned homes and not worry too much about it.

              • Jimbo
                Posted May 31, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

                I think the white population will see many things in this event including (justifiably) violent rioting. Racism and black inequality in America are very complex issues so do you have any suggestions? What outcome would constitute “justice” in your view? I must say your last sentence is very snarky and unnecessary. What are you implying: “our” white apathy about police violence towards black citizens? We’re not black so we don’t have to worry about mistreatment by police? White neighborhoods are safe and comfy without crime or violence or racist cops determined to victimize us?

                You have every right to your opinion and can passionately speak for yourself but please try not to speak for “us”.

  6. Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Protesting is certainly justified. Looting and violence, not so much. Dr. King, as you say, is a great model. His protests took root and shifted the consciousness of a generation. If he had ended the “I Have A Dream” speech with “now let’s go loot Target and destroy some mom and pop stores,” I think some of the inspirational value might have been lost. Also, I suspect my liberal friends voicing support for the looters (for fear of otherwise being branded as racists) might be less enthusiastic if looters entered their own neighborhoods. Now Trump gets to say, “The family of George is entitled to justice … [We] support the rights of peaceful protesters … [but not] lawless anarchy and chaos” (5/30/20), while libs wring their hands and avoid criticizing the looting and violence. It looks like another case of libs missing an opportunity to right their ship in the eyes of the public.

  7. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    “There has also been civil disobedience, with protestors shutting down major roads”

    Major roads are used by firefighting and medical emergency vehicles. Is it just to inhibit emergency response efforts? In that case, is it still “civil” disobedience if it results in injury to other citizens, and how would anyone know before hand?

  8. Jon Gallant
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    When I was active in the movement against American military intervention in Vietnam, I at first assumed that Stokely Carmichael and Bernardine Bohrn were on Trickiy Dick Nixon’s payroll. After a time, I realized that this didn’t have to be the case, insamuch as the Left naturally included a faction which provided this service freely, spontaneously, and as reliably as the movement of the planets in their orbits.

    • Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Said with wit and wisdom.

    • EdwardM
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      And yet the anti-war movement prevailed; by 1968 a majority of Americans were opposed to the war and that only increased until we fled the scene of our stupidity with tails between legs. I don’t need to tell you, who lived through it, any of that.

      I know what you are saying and I agree; the left’s goals are are often hindered by buffoonery, dangerous fools, and politically correct cowardice. But in the end, they prevail, because the left is right. On many issues. I think the violence we are seeing now is understandable, though not excusable. But I also think people will not harden in November. We will remember who led us here.

  9. Dee
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Salt Lake City protests also got violent last night. There was some limited looting and two vehicles were torched, one a police vehicle and one a private citizen’s car. I’m not sure who committed the looting – some of it was most likely done by protesters, but some may have been right-wing extremist groups who showed up (according to the SL Trib). The guy who lost his car in the protests deserved what he got, in my opinion. He showed up with weapons to “support the police”, got out the first time waving a large hunting knife at protesters, got out of his car a second time with a bow and arrow and tried to fire at protesters. The crowd disarmed him and proceeded to beat the shit out of him. The cops took him into custody and led him away, at which point the crowd flipped his car and torched it. After treating his wounds, the cops let bow/arrow guy go, and he came straight back to the crowd, shouting at them. When they started throwing things at him, the cops pulled him away, and he finally walked off.

    I have to say, I was impressed with the restraint of the SLC police (based on what I saw on TV). I think they avoided worse destruction as a result.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      That nut job, like DT, his revered leader, should have been put on psychiatric hold, not released.

  10. Pierre Masson
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    “9 p.m. to 6 a.m., which I didn’t know about until I got to work at 5 a.m. to feed the ducks. But I would have flouted it even had I known.)”

    I’m curious to know if you would have done so even if your skin was darkened as was the case for journalist John Howard Griffin, the author of “Black Like Me”?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      My guess would be “yes,” but at much greater personal risk — the type of risk that white folk on the South Side of Chicago, and elsewhere around the nation, can usually afford to be oblivious to.

      • Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        I note with interest that in Chicago the trouble has mostly been in the Loop and the North Side which is majority white. Instead of trashing the black neighborhoods, which typically in the past have taken the brunt of this, they’ve gone uptown. Not sure that is happening elsewhere.

    • Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Yes, of course. My love of my ducks is strong, and that outweighs a risk that would be minimal (I drove in to work).

  11. Historian
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Of course, protests against the murder of George Floyd were well warranted. Yet, within a short time these protests morphed into much more that, almost bordering on a nationwide insurrection. The murder illustrates that a single event can be a spark that sets off a conflagration. This situation reminds me of how the murder of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 set off World War I. The protestors worked themselves into a frenzy over something more than police racism. It was over racism in general, overt and systemic, that has been a major characteristic of America since 1619, which to me, gives credence to the major arguments of the 1619 project (yes, I know, many disagree with me). I was heartened that the protestors were of many races, particularly the many young, white people in the crowd. It is premature to make any grand pronouncements, but perhaps we are seeing the centuries long overdue change in racial attitudes.

    Still, we must consider the violence that accompanied the protests in many cities. Some of the violence was undoubtedly inspired by the frustration created by the incident, a pandemic, and economic collapse. The violence should not have been unexpected. It provided a golden opportunity for people with ideological agendas to create chaos as well as those who saw how easy it was to loot. There are rumors that the chaos was instigated by extreme right groups. It will be some time before we will know the role of outside agitators. The violence was sometimes anarchistic. I saw a news clip of a white guy, acting alone in Chicago, breaking the glass of a bus stop with his stateboard. What could possibly be the motive of doing that? Trump blames Antifa for the violence, so we can be almost certain that it was not involved.

    Clearly, the violence must be suppressed. The police are in an untenable position. If they use force and protestors are killed, an even greater conflagration will be set off. Moreover, the violence is counterproductive. At the New Yorker site, Isaac Chotiner has interviewed a political scientist, who has studied the riots of 1968 – the year Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were killed and where the Democratic Convention was held in Chicago. His conclusion is that the violence then hurt the Democratic chances. The situation may be the same now. I fear many voters on the fence may swing to Trump because of the violence. All in all, the country is in its most perilous moment since at least World War II.

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/how-violent-protests-change-politics

    • Dee
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      I think you are right that the pandemic and economic collapse are strong contributors to the widespread rioting going on right now. I can’t help but notice that most of these people seem to be those who are most vulnerable to the pandemic and/or to the economic chaos underway (at least based on what I’ve seen on TV). I don’t approve of the violence at all, but how much can you expect people to bear before they break?

      I also think it is worth noting Trump’s contribution to all of this. He has spent the past four years (at least) whipping up the divisions in our society, demonizing and ridiculing POC, and appealing to the worst instincts in people – with appalling success. I never thought a single individual could have that much influence in a country this big and diverse, but after watching his behavior during his presidency and the public response, I was wrong.

    • EdwardM
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      The cops are in an untenable position – one they put themselves into. We as a society have been complicit in this too as we have allowed police throughout the country (Minneapolis is no outlier) because we do not hold them accountable for their actions.

      This isn’t 1968 though, Historian. I do agree violence helps no one and may harden some, but really, we’re any Trump supporters even thinking of going over to Biden? I’m guess I’m less concerned about how people 50 years ago dealt with the issues of their day than what I see today. I hope the violence doesn’t spread and we really could use a leader now*, but I am hopeful that the very many things that make 2020 NOT like 1968 will not cause the sky to come crashing down.

      One thing I do agree with you on; we are in real peril.

      *I saw a video of a Sheriff in Flint Michigan (of all places) who showed real leadership; he discarded his riot gear and asked the marchers what they wanted from him. They said; “march with us”. So he did, along with several of his deputies. That kind of leadership.

      • Historian
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        I was not talking about Trump voters. My fear if that people on the fence may swing to Trump. The right wing is very good at exploiting incidents such as these. I saw a news clip last night of two black people in Los Angeles carrying a 65″ TV out of a looted Target store. But, don’t fear if you missed it, you’ll undoubtedly see it countless times in Trump campaign ads.

        Unlike you, I don’t think 2020 is all that different from 1968 in the way many white people react to vandalism and theft. It creates fear in them and hardens racism. The looting will remain in their minds while the murder of George Floyd will fade from memory.

        The vandalism, whether motivated by ideology or the chance to engage in theft, although engaged in by a small minority of the peaceful protestors is what the right wing will exploit. For them, it is a tried and true tactic to gain power. There is no reason for them to abandon it now.

        • Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

          I agree with you, Historian. People may lean left of right on this or that issue, but when they think of looters in their city, their neighborhood, they will vote law-and-order when push comes to shove (just like in 1968). This is an electoral danger if Trump is the law-and-order candidate and libs are perceived as justifying the looting and violence.

        • EdwardM
          Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

          Yeah, I remember Willie Horton too. But this isn’t 1988 anymore than it is 1968. I have little doubt that the Republicans will try it again. But I think fewer people will be fooled; I do believe that with regards to Trump, most Americans have had just about enough of him and what he has wrought.

          Like I said, I agree we are in a perilous time but I also think lesson from history are fraught with peril (in an intellectual sense) as well.

          Maybe I’m the Polly-Ann to your Chicken Little? 🙂

          • Dee
            Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

            I also think the picture of the cop with his knee on the neck of George Floyd – as hard as that is for me to look at – is an incredibly strong visual counter to any looting photo.

            Who give a damn about a TV in comparison to a man’s life being snuffed out?

            In my opinion, at least.

            • Historian
              Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

              What images remain in the public mind and how they affect voting is difficult to gauge. The Kent State massacre was on May 4, 1970, but Nixon went on to win in a landslide in 1972. Unfortunately, people are easy to manipulate. There exists a small army of people whose goal is just to do this. Conservatives have been more effective in this task than liberals, in my view. So, it is an open question, perhaps never to be definitively answered, as to whether the picture of the murder of George Floyd or the looting will have greater impact on voting and to what extent.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Trump blames Antifa for the violence …

      Every authoritarian needs his bogeyman. Trump is chasing after a Reichstag fire.

    • revelator60
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      I don’t doubt that the violence of 1968 hurt the Democrats in the election. And I also fear that this year’s violence will hurt them again in 2020.

      On the other hand, the Democrats were also the incumbent party in 1968. Nixon narrowly won by pledging to “bring us together” and uphold law and order.

      But in 2020, the “American carnage” occurred on Trump’s watch. He’s the incumbent. Biden represents a return to the normality and (relative) calm of the Obama years. He cannot help but look statesmanlike next to Trump, whose conduct has been reckless and incendiary. Voters tired of stress and strife might decide to go with Biden.

      • Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        All good points! It is hard to see Trump as the “law and order” candidate. I hope the voters see it that way in November.

  12. alexander
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Jerry says: ” …the sight of looters can be used to justify his authoritarianism—and re-election.”

    T think Trump designs are even more sinister. Inviting MAGA people to defend the White House could result in a situation that would threaten national security, or even result in a civil war. Of course MAGA nuts would come on the scene with automatic weapons. This is imaginable, they brought automatic weapons into city halls, public spaces, etc. This would give the President power to delay an election, and cancel the November election.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      What authoritarian doesn’t want his very own version of the Sturmabteilung (whether clad in brown shirts or red hats)?

  13. Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Downtown Seattle was trashed last night—storefronts smashed and looted, cars burned, widespread damage. The one thing that strikes me is the inability of the press to realize there are two distinct groups—the people rightfully protesting and the malevolent anarchists using the protests to commit mayhem. Inevitably the apologists claim it was righteous anger that led to the looting and violence. In a pig’s eye.

    • EdwardM
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      I lived there during the WTO protests. The anarchists did that one too.

  14. Roo
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I’m hesitant to even mention this because I don’t want it to come off as insensitive – let me first emphasize that I think what happened to George Floyd is horrible. For the sake of factual accuracy, however, the initial autopsy reports indicate he wasn’t strangled but instead had a heart attack due to underlying conditions and potentially drugs in his system.

    The protests turning violent is so sad. And I think it’s a bad move that instead of saying “this is a few bad apples ruining it for everyone”, I’m seeing many liberals say “well, people should riot.” It’s gotten to the point that anything ‘your side’ does must be defended, period. That may make people feel better in the short term but I think it will harm democrats in the long term. The images of burning, looting, and violence are the kinds of things that burn themselves into people’s amygdala and influence decision making a lot.

    I also think the riots – not the protests – are probably linked to the lockdown and the grim economic outlook. I have had very mixed feelings on this lockdown and now I’m wondering about the social, in addition to the economic, consequences.

    • Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      The autopsy is preliminary, but if it holds up it will be hard to convict the cop of murder. Manslaughter is more likely.

      Yes, I think the lockdown has created a pent up need to let loose, and some of this came out in rioting.

      • tomh
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        Oh, I don’t know. The report lists being restrained as a contributing cause, and the Minnesota statute for 3rd degree murder reads, “”Whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree.” I think there’s a good chance of meeting that standard.

        • Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

          It’s well known that the knee-on-the-neck or -back is a dangerous thing to do, and many police forces will not use it. Regardless of what Floyd died of, that cop was endangering his life needlessly.

      • alexander
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Everybody knows that if the oxygen supply to the brain is interrupted for more than 5 minutes, you are finished. He continued strangling the victim for two minutes after his voice stopped, so there is clearly an indication of intend. And how the three other cops didn’t push him off his manacled victim is incomprehensible and unforgivable.

        • Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          But the medical examiner’s report says that there is no indication of strangulation or asphyxiation.

          • tomh
            Posted May 31, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            Preliminary as it is, this whole report is suspect. It’s actually a quote from the charging document, not the ME report, which won’t be in for several weeks, and certainly favors the defense. The idea that “underlying health conditions” and “potential intoxicants” caused his death when he was alive and well with these conditions & “potential” intoxicants until a cop stood on his neck for 10 minutes is beyond all reason. And no proper autopsy mentions “potential intoxicants”.

            • Posted May 31, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

              I have reread the news reports and it seems clear the statement is from the Hennepin County ME’s autopsy report. In any case, the family has now engaged Michael Baden to do an autopsy.

              • Posted May 31, 2020 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

                That is, preliminary autopsy report.

              • tomh
                Posted May 31, 2020 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

                The charging document is here, where you will find the quote, prefaced by “The full report of the ME is pending but the ME has made the following preliminary findings.” The prosecuting attorney has paraphrased the prelim, which quite possibly was verbal.

          • W.Benson
            Posted May 31, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

            Then the video was faked? The carotid artery can be compressed with as little as 2 kg pressure. And whose side/payroll is the medical examiner on?

            • Posted May 31, 2020 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

              I have no idea. But given the national attention to this case, it would seem to me rather stupid, not to mention futile, to make false statements about something that will be reviewed. The ME could lose his job, not to mention face prosecution, if subsequent autopsies show he fabricated evidence.

            • Roo
              Posted May 31, 2020 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

              It’s very hard to tell in the video where the officer’s weight is, and that would of course make a big difference.

              I’ll wait for more evidence before coming to any definitive conclusions. While both situations are terrible, they are terrible in different ways, so I think having the evidence there is important. If his weight was on Floyd’s neck, he was killing a man in cold blood as his colleagues looked on and he knew he was being filmed. If he thought he was applying a hold, on the other hand, that could mean a lot of different things (he was taught a hold that is dangerous; he was not allowed to use that hold but did it anyways; he misapplied a hold that was taught, etc.).

              • GBJames
                Posted May 31, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

                Turn your sound up. “I can’t breath.”

              • Roo
                Posted May 31, 2020 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

                @GBJames – That could also be a sign of a heart attack. Again, I’ll wait on the evidence before coming to any conclusions. Either way it’s horrible, but addressing the problem is different if it’s a sociopathic police officer vs. poor training.

              • GBJames
                Posted June 1, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

                On his neck for nine minutes.

                But he just died of a heart attack. Or maybe he just had a brain hemorrhage or something. It couldn’t be the obvious, after all.

                Like how all these people really aren’t dying from COVID-19, it is just pneumonia that got them. And their bad hearts.

  15. Bruce Cochrane
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    With vivid memories of 1968 and its aftermath, I would like to insert a couple of caveats. First, instant analysis, especially placing the blame for violence solely on demonstrators, is dangerous. Second, we need to recognize where this is all coming from. Kareem Abdul Jabber states that much better than can I (in the LA Times today).

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-05-30/dont-understand-the-protests-what-youre-seeing-is-people-pushed-to-the-edge

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      That is the kind of article allot of us white folks need to read. We like to think all these things are fixed or they are not so bad. Then this happens and we are all shocked but also mad we had to see it.

      • EdwardM
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Very well written, indeed. Powerful and necessary.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      That’s a good piece by the big fella — but then, Kareem was always much more than just another socially unconscious jock since his days at UCLA as Lew Alcindor.

  16. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    [Trump] threatened to intervene with “the unlimited power of our Military” …

    The federal Posse Comitatus Act be damned, I guess.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Since Trump has essentially taken over congress, this law has been superseded? And since he also has the justice department as well, it doesn’t matter.

  17. Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Although Barr blamed people on the Left for the violence, others have said that extreme Right actors were responsible. I’m sure it is a mixture of both in reality but if there are organized looters coming in from out-of-town to cause this trouble, thereby boosting Trump, we definitely want to know about it.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      “I’m sure it is a mixture of both…”

      I agree. In addition, there could well be some Russian involvement, if not directly then as bot agitators on social media, seeking to polarize the populace and set race against race, class against class, etc.

      This may sound like conspiratorial hoo-ha but we know that Russia and other countries have been and are active in trying to create disruption in the US, not just re the election but on all fronts.

      This morning I listened to a short interview with Larry Pfeiffer, Director of the Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security (his bio https://haydencenter.gmu.edu/director). He discussed the demonstrations and riots that occurred last night and he noted that there are groups on both the right and the left who have an interest in disruption and fomenting violence; and beyond the US groups, he said that Russian bots are actively trying to polarize people and lead them to extremist acts. He also mentioned that sometimes the Russians enlist actual people to further their cause and who knows who was fostering violence last night?. This interview was on a radio news station and unfortunately I can’t find a link to it. It was definitely an interview worth listening to.

      And BTW, as others have mentioned here, some the cops were extremely aggressive in a number of instances, violent toward the protesters and anybody else unfortunate enough to cross their path. It was disgusting.

      • Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        Oh year, the Russians! While they fiddle, our Nero in the White House is canceling the G7 because he wants it to become a G11 so Russia can be included. While Trump is acting like he’s been exonerated of Russian collusion, we are constantly reminded of the fact that he wasn’t and, most likely, continues to collude with them.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted May 31, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

          There was no collusion! You know that’s just FAKE NEWS.

          OBAMAGATE!!!

          • W.Benson
            Posted May 31, 2020 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

            Phone transcripts released by the US government seem to show that Michael Flynn, before Trump took office, was negotiating in the name of America for Russia not to retaliate against Obama’s sanctions to help Trump make peace with his backer Putin. If true, that is pretty close to sabotaging United States foreign policy and aiding an adversarial power.

  18. Jon Gallant
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Permit to offer a few predictions, which can be made with nearly as much certainty as the calculation of the orbit of Mars.

    (1) Joe Biden will explain that the urban rioters went a little too far because of their pain, and express deep sympathy for their pain.
    (2) We will be inundated with accounts that the arson and looting in urban centers was provoked by the police, by their effrontery in attempting to clear public streets for use by anyone other than demonstrators. (In Seattle 21 years ago, partisans of the WTO demonstrations asserted explicitly that only they had the right to use public streets.)
    (3) Louis Farrakhan and his acolytes will explain that the police murder of George Floyd was part of the international Zionist conspiracy, fueled by Israel, Rothschild money, and you-know-who. This analysis will be re-tweeted by Minister Farrakhan’s admirers, including a few Congresspersons; but then these latter will delete their re-tweetings.
    (4) Angela Davis will propose, in Truthout among other places, that arson, looting, and all other crimes can be prevented by the simple expedient of abolishing the police, the courts, and the prisons. The Nation magazine will publish a long lucubration on Angela Davis’ ideas, arriving at the conclusion that store looting could be prevented by the simple expedient of abolishing stores.

  19. Tim J Reichert
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I think it is important in a thread on this subject to call attention to the obvious use of agent provocateurs and their contribution to turning the protests violent. I’m no conspiracy theorist but there are some disturbing videos out there showing hard evidence of this. Find the video of the guy who started the violence and looting in Minneapolis by smashing out the windows of the Auto Zone across the street from the police precinct where the initial protests began. 100% that’s not a protester. 100% that’s an agent provocateur who is either being paid by someone or is acting for their own agenda, but 100% that’s not a protester. Google it. Watch the video.

    There are also videos of skids of bricks being left outside city court houses right in front of a wall of windows with no construction in site.

    I’m the first one to disbelieve wild conspiracy theories but the wacko theory here would be that the guy that started all the shit in Minneapolis by smashing out the windows at the Auto Zone is a protester. You’d have to be crazy to believe that after watching the video.

    This is not an excuse for violent protests but it’s a huge factor that is not talked about enough and the video evidence of it in this event is as convincing as the video evidence that George Floyd wand murdered by a cop’s knee.

    • Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      We will ultimately know if these agent provocateurs are responsible, I think. But that doesn’t explain everyone who went along. Somebody like that, perhaps, threw a brick through the window of a jewelry store. Are you saying that that excuses all the non-a.ps who went in and stole jewelry? I doubt that all the violence, arson, theft, and vandalism were committed by a.ps; in fact, I highly doubt that they did more than 10% of it, if that much.

      • Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        It is the case that when people see violence being done, they tend to do violence themselves. While the agents provocateur may be directly responsible for a small percentage of the violence, the real question is whether the violence would have happened at all without the presence of the agents provocateur. Obviously this is hard to know. Still, with so many cameras, investigators may eventually be able to identify who did the initial bad acts. On the other hand, we have already seen videos of guys dressed in black from head to toe. Unless they were arrested, they are going to be impossible to identify. Still, being dressed this way identifies them as likely APs.

      • GBJames
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        Once a riot starts it takes on a life of its own. It is critical to identify those who instigate it. This video is pretty clear that it was not someone out protesting police violence.

  20. tomh
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    There are multiple reports of police turning on reporters, tear gassing and shooting rubber bullets at them, and in some cases arresting them. These are unprovoked attacks on people doing their (constitutionally protected) jobs, but perhaps not surprising, considering our president constantly refers to them as the “enemy of the people.” Or perhaps the police simply don’t want their actions to show up on the evening news.

  21. vaughn7777777
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    ‘Floyd is just the latest, with the killings Ahmaud Arbury and Breonna Taylor happening not long ago.’

    Do you think the response to this latest unconscionable killing would be as bad if all of us were seeing a fuller picture of the many types of people killed by cops, and not just being fed the stories of black men killed by white men as if that’s the only cop-related death that happens? I feel as if “the media” is owning us.

    McWhorter touches on this here:

    https://time.com/4404987/police-violence/?xid=tcoshare

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      The nuanced views and pellucid prose one has come to expect from Mr. McWhorter.

  22. Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps someone has already mentioned this, but much of the vandalism and arson has been committed by people other than the protestors. There are several videos of white men, many trying their best to hide their identities, lighting fires and destroying property while legitimate protestors try to stop them.

    As for looting, many of the looters are not there for racial justice.

    I moved away from Minneapolis not quite a year ago and I am in contact with many friends who live in the area and tell me first-hand that the looters/vandals/arsonists (or at least most) are not good-faith protestors. Let’s not say the bad actors and the protestors are one group.

    All that said, what is the likelihood Chauvin would be facing justice if not for the furore?

  23. Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    “…repeated shooting of unarmed black men and women by police or people acting as police.”

    1000 people are killed by law enforcement in the USA every year. Except in the specific case of a “bad shoot,” the killings are justified. The sensitivity to a “bad shoot” is critical, and any case that is borderline receives intense scrutiny. The position that there are repeated criminal killings by law enforcement is not valid.

    “Unarmed” does not mean the death/shooting was unjustified.

    It is imperative to bring criminal acts by law enforcement to justice, and the charge of murder in this case is the correct action. The other three should also be charged.

    I confess that watching that video brought up the fever to lynch in me, not because of the racist element, but in the name of swift and terrible justice.

  24. dd
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    In Dallas, a man attempted to protect his business with a sword (which was not unsheathed I have read). The mob attacked savagely.

  25. Eduardo
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Let’s say the same amount of people protested peacefully. No destruction of property at all. Does anybody think the murder rate of blacks by police would change at all? Really? Why would sad faces and condemnation and sympathy work this time? Time after time after time it has failed. Every time. Why would it help this time? Magic?
    Violence is not the answer. And there was nearly no violence by protesters. Overwhelmingly the protesters were peaceful. As far as I know only one dead person, a protester, died in a confusing situation still unresolved. Property destruction mostly came from infiltrators. And it’s not hard to know where they come from. This was Trump’s tweet Friday nigh: “The professionally managed so-called “protesters” at the White House had little to do with the memory of George Floyd. They were just there to cause trouble. The @SecretService handled them easily. Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???” If this isn’t whistleblowing I don’t know what that is.

    • dd
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      “In 2019, American police shot and killed 16 white, 8 black, 5 hispanic, 4 “other” Asian?, 3 unclassified, unarmed men.”

      The Washington Post, along with The Guardian, maintains a database, with various filters, of every fatal police shooting since 2015.

      Question for the house: Why is it that murders by police of white, hispanic, and Asian, unarmed men receive basically zippo major news coverage? …well maybe a tad for Hispanic men….

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/investigations/police-shootings-database/?fbclid=IwAR3t5goXfjwwwlqM3lrn8CpYXZCqPDEW5aewJPhQsF4h8KXnkNtqcXA_qzw

      • Eduardo
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        Show the videos.

      • EdwardM
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        No one, and I do mean mean no one,/i> can ask that question sincerely. I’ve seen this question before; it’s as if in your mind 400 years of slavery, oppression, lynchings, Jim Crow, etc, never happened.

        • dd
          Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          It’s the incredible imbalance. I am very well aware of the history.

          I have asked this question before and have gotten a similar answer. Actually, a non-answer. And of course, the knee-jerk insinuations of racism, blah blah. Quite the kabuki.

          If highlighting police malfeasance is a way of indicating trangression, What does your implied approval of the silence of not reporting those other murders, at least from time to time, imply?

          • EdwardM
            Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

            You may have asked that question before but it was JAQing off then too.

            There is no excuse anymore for maintaining that there is some equivalence between the way police -and society at large- treats black people and the rest of us. I have been stopped by police for speeding, but never for driving while black and I have never worried about jogging while white. Being white, I am far less likely to be arrested by force, even if all I’m doing to selling shit on the sidewalk.

            While I don’t think this will turn things around – the US has FAR to many dd’s in it for that- the fact that nothing ultimately will change doesn’t make your question any less loaded.

            • W.Benson
              Posted May 31, 2020 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

              Something I recently saw quoted from a published study: Black motorists are proportionately more represented in police traffic stops during the daylight hours than at night, presumably because at night it is more difficult for police to distinguish the skin tone of drivers and express their racism so strongly.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        And New York City cops were hassling plenty of straight people at the time of Stonewall, too — you can’t see the difference there either?

        • dd
          Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

          Given that I am gay….I guess you straight boys have the better moral compass.

          • Eduardo
            Posted May 31, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

            I don’t know why this conversation turned into a competition of what ethnographic group is more abused by police, but it wasn’t my idea.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

              Nobody’s making this an ethnographic competition, Eduardo. I endeavored to analogize this civil unrest to a similar situation with which dd may be more simpatico.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted May 31, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

            Maybe it’s just a matter of whose ox is getting gored, double d.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

              FWIW, this straight boy’s moral compass ran to true north regarding the Stonewall Uprising’s having been justified (even though many at the time called them “riots,” and made arguments against them redolent of what you’re making here).

    • Eduardo
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      * “dog-whistling”, not “whistleblowing”

  26. Deodand
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    It’s fascinating that in all this everyone seems to be forgetting the Rodney King Riots back in the 1990s, one of the first targets of the mob, Asian shopkeepers, then the Whites.

    • GBJames
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      It’s fascinating that some people forget that the very first target of the Rodney King riots in the 1990s was a black man named Rodney King.

      • Deodand
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        Nice try, Rodney King was the man the cops assaulted. Their acquittal sparked the riots, the rioters went after the Asians (Mostly Korean migrants, from what I’ve read.) who operated the shops in the area (e.g. They were succeeding.) and then the Whites.

        • GBJames
          Posted May 31, 2020 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps you forget watching the video of King being assaulted by LA police.

          • Deodand
            Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

            The beating was the event that triggered the trial, the result of the trial triggered the riots.

            But in any case, there is no ‘looting’ only the collection of reparations.

    • Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      Deodand: Probably rather than make that generalization, you should put some context around why that was. 1. African-Americans felt that the rich(er) Korean shopkeepers took advantage of the community. 2. The Korean areas were between the black areas and the white areas. When the riots began, police set up very nice perimeters around the white areas, but did little to protect the Korean ones. Basically, they used them as a buffer zone. 3. When the Korean merchants called the police, they were ignored. They then armed themselves and had confrontations between themselves and the AA population. Many of the Koreans had military service in the past in the RSK army. The police continued to ignore the situation and failed to respond in any meaningful way.

      So yeah, they attacked the shopkeepers first because they could get to them and the whites after in part because they had to get through the Koreans first.

  27. Saul Till
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I wrote this a few days ago, but I feel the same: I’m not so sure this is to Trump’s benefit. After all, this is happening under his nose, four days of it now, and his response has been a couple of his usual Mean Girl tweets and little else.

    I think this makes him look like a tergiversating weakling who has absolutely no clue what to do in difficult situations – and the big problem for Trump is that he is all those things, so there’s really nothing he can do once the curtain begins to fall away. There’s nothing in his armoury that can help him.
    He can’t overcome this through force of character and authority, and tactical brilliance, because he’s an absurd, characterless, stupid fuckwit. This is where the reality-altering hologram-projection machine he’s been using for four years to convince everyone that he’s a tough, competent leader begins to sputter and give out.

    This is chaos, and whatever voters think about who’s responsible for the looting, and how leftists are bad m’kay, and ‘look at what happens when blacks aren’t kept under control’, etc, in the back of the mind is the fact that the little orange toad in the White House has done nothing to stop it, and has in fact incited much of it. He has prodded a bear with a stick, then retreated to his little bunker and watched the carnage on TV. The extent of his leadership has been some exclamation mark addled sentences on a social media platform…it’s not exactly Churchillian.
    This is just undeniable, a brute fact, and it will tunnel deep into the minds of everyone, even Trump supporters; it’s a truth they will never admit out loud but which might come out in the voting booth.

    I don’t see how mass death from COVID, rioting on the streets, unprecedented unemployment, etc can all occur under his watch without voters noticing the fact that this type of shit just didn’t used to happen.
    Of course there will be some who would follow him down into the depths of hell regardless of what happens in the real world, but the majority of people in America are surely just thinking ‘okay, I’d like to go back to how things were please’. Surely?

    • EdwardM
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      I do believe you are right, Saul. We have had enough of this shit from that orange toad.

  28. dd
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    In Rochester, NY people stop cars in middle of street and go into stores to loot. Then they get back in their cars and drive off after the “shopping” trip.

    • EdwardM
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure you can dig up many similar videos. I am also reasonably sure I know why you do it; Historian alluded to it above. I cannot, however, wish you luck with the re-election campaign. Our future rests on you failing.

      I’m reminded of something my dad used to say; “You’re either a part of the solution or a part of the problem.”

      • dd
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        I voted for Obama in both elections. And no I didn’t vote for Trump.

        Progressive worry me, though. They knowingly insinuate, and yet, get so much wrong.

        • EdwardM
          Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          You’re not fooling anyone.

          • dd
            Posted May 31, 2020 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

            Are you saying that I voted for Trump and never voted for Obama?

            Just curious.

        • Saul Till
          Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

          It boggles my mind what completely fucked up political priorities some people have.

          To look at the state of America right now, to look at the lunatic in charge of it and the damage he’s doing not just to America but to the entire democratic world, to look at the utter corruption of the Republican party and the depths to which they seem willing to sink, the populist anti-intellectual nihilism of Trumpites, the deranged response to the worldwide pandemic by the same man and his administration, 100,000 dead…

          …and then to wring hand hands about progressives??

          I am utterly sick of this equivocation. I don’t think anyone can possibly look at the state of the world right now and argue in good faith that the problem is progressivism. It is not an argument that good faith people make. Even to bring it up in this context is such arrant bullshit.

  29. tomh
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    More reports of police targeting journalists, including photojournalist Linda Tirado who was shot in the eye while covering protests in Minneapolis, and is now permanently blind in one eye. Startling photo at the link. These are not “a few bad apples,” these are concerted attacks on reporters.

  30. Harrison
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    The only thing that can possibly stop people rioting is for them to think there is any other way to voice their concerns that will lead to them being properly addressed.

    And what reason on Earth would they have to believe such a patently untrue thing? Peaceful protest has failed for decades and American police have only gotten more brazen. See how they attack media who aren’t even anywhere near the protestors, while they’re being filmed doing it. They don’t care because there are no consequences.

  31. dd
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Lower East Side style White Privilege

  32. Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I just watched Fareed Zakaria’s GPS show ub which he discussed the riots. He interviewed Nikole Hannah-Jones, the leader of the NY Times’s 1619 Project. He asked her why the methods of non-violence, successful in 1960s, were not a better way to go. She spoke some SJW babble claiming that those times were not so non-violent. Or perhaps it was that foregoing violence still involves violence. Something like that. She’s not at all convincing but it was an interesting interview nonetheless.

    • GBJames
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Fareed Zakaria was born in 1964 in India. Perhaps it is that he isn’t old enough to have actually known the 1960. There were plenty of riots. All kinds. Watts. Chicago. Milwaukee. All over the place. There were race riots. There were anti-war riots. There were riots by police against political protestors.

      Fareed is being nostalgic for a time that never was.

      • Historian
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        You’re quite right. There were plenty of riots back in the 60s. The riots did nothing to promote the goals of the black communities. Indeed, they were a boon for the right wing. Time will tell, but my my fear is that today’s riots will also help the right wing and harden racism.

  33. TJ99
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Your comments smack of “respectability politics.” Martin’s quote is often sited by those wanting to chasten violent response. I’ll quote Ma;com X: “We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”

    • Posted May 31, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      And your comments smack of “blood politics”. Sorry, but “by any means necessary” does not include mayhem and murder. And how does looting stores fit into the scheme of giving oppressed people their rights? Your first sentence is not an argument but a caricature.

      By the way, it’s “cited” not “sited.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      When we see that our problem is so complicated and so all-encompassing in its intent and content, then we realize that it is no longer a Negro problem, confined only to the American Negro; that it is no longer an American problem, confined only to America, but it is a problem for humanity.

      — El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (formerly known as Malcolm X)

      Now, when it comes to the autobiography he authored with Alex Haley, I readily admit that, as literature qua literature, I prefer the character Malcolm X to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (and much prefer the characters “Detroit Red” and “Boston Red” and Harlem’s “Malcolm Little” to either). But, in citing him for any proposition that could be construed to justify violence, we should not ignore the growth the man experienced near the end of a life cut too short.

  34. Jon Gallant
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Readers of this thread might get the idea that a glance at some videos reveals two obviously distinct types. The good-faith protester, easily identified by the presence of a label in big letters “GOOD FAITH PROTESTER”; and then the agent-provocateur, identified by a similar label reading “Rightwing agent-provocateur” and/or a black outfit.

    It might be worth recalling that the black outfit was a self-described Leftist component of the WTO riot, with its own magazine entitled “Black-Clad Messenger”. Issue #8 of that mag included a typical article headed “Hell No to the WTO: Kicking Corporate Ass in Seattle”, which went on to extol the Direct Action Network that set up the protests. Similarly black-clad activists regularly attend May Day demonstrations and break a few shop windows, if they can arrange to.

    The black bloc groupies themselves, and most outsiders, describe them as “Anarchist”. But I will bet that scarcely any of the black bloc activists have heard of, let alone read, anything by Proudhon, Kropotkin, or even Paul Goodman. Their basic political tendency was and is neither Anarchism nor Marxism, but rather Exhibitionism, with a pinch of thrill-seeking thrown in. They are an inevitable component of any demonstration that has a suitably adversarial tone, and thus normally grace any gathering that sounds Left.

  35. tomh
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    In far too many places the police are out of control. Dressed for battle in riot gear, they’re attacking protesters, they’re attacking journalists, they’re attacking John Cusack, for crying out loud. For filming a burning car in Chicago, they came at him with batons and pepper spray. The international human rights organization, Amnesty International, is issuing official statements against the abuse of human rights here, in America. If we saw pictures like these from a third world country, people would be horrified.

    • Filippo
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      “Dressed for battle in riot gear . . . .”

      Would you care to specify how you would like them to dress, particularly when noble humans are hurling stones at them?

  36. BJ
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I asked my parents — who watch MSNBC and CNN all day, every day — if they’ve heard a single commentator condemn the violence, rioting, and looting, or even reporting on the effects it is and will be having on the communities in which it’s taken place. They said no. They listen to people like Maddow, O’Donnell, etc. every night. None of them have condemned this.

    As you have noted, Jerry, the people most affected by this violence are in poor and black communities. The people rioting, burning down businesses, and looting are often from outside the community, and often middle- to upper-class college kids and the like. They will not suffer the effects from their often merely performative actions

    • Posted May 31, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      I suspect many media commentators preface their soliloquy with a bland statement, “Of course, we condemn the violence” or “Violence is never acceptable.” It is easy to miss and quite forgettable. No disrespect to your parents but they may have just missed it.

      Regardless, a reasonable argument could be made that they should come out more strongly condemning violence. However, they are with the protesters, not the looters. They can condemn violence while still being on the side of the protesters. To lump the non-violent protesters in with the criminals is not fair to them. To do so downplays the more important message that black people are being treated unfairly. To focus on the violence, committed by a tiny minority, is to take the side of those that want to suppress or ignore the issue.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        It is easy to miss and quite forgettable. No disrespect to your parents but they may have just missed it.

        Precisely why hearsay testimony — particularly when given in response to leading questions — is considered inherently unreliable.

        • Posted May 31, 2020 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

          True! I would have clicked “like” but I can’t. 😦

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      I watch MSNBC and CNN intermittently, and tend to keep one or the other on in the background at home and office with the sound cranked down, to keep half an eye peeled for any breaking news.

      I can’t say with certainty whether anyone on those channels has expressly denounced the violence (although I suspect they have), but I’m confident that they haven’t said anything to encourage or condone it. If they’re to be faulted at all, it would be for trying to place the situation in context, to explain the historical antecedents of the anger felt in the black community — you know, the the Kerner Commission Report did regarding the civil unrest of the Sixties.

      Admittedly, CNN and MSNBC haven’t done any divisive Radio-Rwanda-style broadcasts expostulating upon the violence, the way Tucker Carlson and his ilk have done on Fox News (which I also watch intermittently, just to keep an eye on the rascals), or gone on any loot-and-a-shoot rants à la Donald Trump.

      Your folks sound like people of wisdom and taste, Beej. You might maybe could learn a thing or two from them. And feel free to let ’em know I said so. 🙂

    • ladyatheist
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

      “As you have noted, Jerry, the people most affected by this violence are in poor and black communities. ”

      I didn’t know Rodeo Drive was a black community!

      • Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

        As I mentioned elsewhere, typically the protests and any ensuing riots tended to take place in the community of the protesters. At least in some instances, protesters are taking the smart route and protesting in the majority white areas. In Chicago, the south and west side has the areas that are predominately black. The protests have mostly been in the loop and the north side, where the white people are. I think this is smart if you are trying to get attention.

        Where there has been damage done, it’s to the white section of town rather than the black. I will not go so far as to say that this is the planned outcome but it certainly gets you the attention you crave. Maybe not the attention you should want but that is another branch of the discussion.

  37. ladyatheist
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Property crimes are less wrong than murder.

    • Historian
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      Property crimes are less wrong than murder, but that doesn’t justify them. Leaving aside any excuses for justifying these actions, we are dealing with a case of perception. Nationwide looting seen in real-time in many millions of home has created deep wound in the movement for real racial justice. Looting accomplishes nothing even if you delude yourself to think it comes from a sense of pain. The failure of many black leaders to condemn the looting also serves to alienate white support for real reform. The reality is that nothing important can be accomplished without white support and Trump out of office. Looting makes these possibilities less likely. There are some exceptions in the black leadership. The black mayors of Chicago and Atlanta have spoken out against it. I have heard Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot condemn the looting without reservation. She has been wonderful. She has shown great courage, a trait lacking in other leaders.

      The murder of George Floyd could have been a catalyst to make systemic change to the racist practices of many white individuals and institutions. I fear that opportunity has been thrown away. I am also quite anxious as to what will happen when the inevitable white nationalist backlash takes place, stoked by Trump. Don’t be surprised that if in the next few days we see the right-wing militias take to the streets, armed to the teeth, ostensibly to protect citizens and property. Who knows what will happen then? If there should be a confrontation between the militias and the protestors, civil society may break down. I hope this doesn’t happen, but events are spiraling out of control.

      • ladyatheist
        Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

        History has proved that rioting gives voice to the voiceless. I dispute Jerry’s assertion that “liberal media” don’t cover riots. Flames make good TV. Teargas makes good audio. I’ve been watching MSNBC tonight and they have reporters all over salivating at the prospect of showing looting & arson live.

        It takes what it takes.

        • Posted June 1, 2020 at 4:59 am | Permalink

          I did not say that the liberal media didn’t COVER the riots. I said that op-eds in the liberal media did not condemn the violence.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

      Sadly, that depends on whose ox is gored and who’s murdered. Obviously, George Floyd’s life was far less important than a suspected counterfeit double sawbuck.

  38. Filippo
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    I contemplate what Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor/NY Times in particular, and the liberal media in general, consider a reasonable, appropriate and sufficient public response to the below:

    http://www.cnn.com/2020/05/04/us/michigan-security-guard-mask-killing-trnd/index.html

    nbc25news.com/news/local/family-mourns-loss-of-security-guard-they-say-was-shot-and-killed-at-family-dollar

  39. openidname
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    “This is what happens in Donald Trump’s world.”

    You know Minneapolis is as blue as blue can be, right? Most of the riots are happening in blue enclaves, Salt Lake City being a rare exception.

    • GBJames
      Posted June 1, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      “as blue as blue can be”

      This is simply naive. Compared to Wisconsin the state is more blue. It is also the home to Michele Bachmann. Remember her? Do you remember a former mayor of St. Paul by the name of Norm Coleman?

      There are plenty of very red citizens of Minnesota. Blue states, and citizens, all live in tRump’s World today.

  40. openidname
    Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    If your cause is “Police officers are too aggressive and must be reined in,” the absolute last thing you want are riots that make white folks say, “Damn, I wish there were more police outside my house/business and they were more aggressive.”

    Nobody has good information on this, but I’m willing to assume the black protestors are a separate group from the white Antifa types. But if so, the black protestors have to realize they’re being played. If they continue to let themselves be used, they become complicit.


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