Protesters, Rioters, Looters and Couch Critics
Our country is a mess right now. I have a lot of thoughts about this, but I just needed to say something this morning that’s been percolating in my head after a few days of intently devouring whatever first-hand accounts and news of the George Floyd protests I could get my hands on, since I could not physically be present. I’m a cancer survivor and at high risk of COVID-19, so as much as I’d love to be protesting in person, I can’t right now.
But let me say I’ve been to over a dozen protests the last 5–6 years. And I have never seen ONE protest turn violent. Not even when Trump supporters showed up to counter-protest, as we stood against Trump’s family separation policies. Not even when we were standing with Black Lives Matter, after Philando Castile was killed. Not even when we stood against the Proud Boys to show them they weren’t welcome in my city, and they tried to GOAD us into violence.
Yesterday, though..yesterday was a whole other ball of wax. BLM had organized a protest here, and I knew many of the activists and protesters who showed up. They were posting photos and first-hand accounts on social media — everything was peaceful. They marched to the center of the city. That’s when the cops started flanking them, and trying to separate them, and things got ugly. Cops used their bicycles to physically attack the protesters. They penned them in and prevented them from dispersing and social distancing. According to activists from Refuse Fascism, cops set off flashbang grenades. Suddenly, a cop car was ablaze (something that — gee, what a coincidence — had happened in many other cities. Atlanta..Miami..etc)
A small group of people started trying to take down the statue of a notorious, racist former mayor. They were all white men. One of them looked like a skinhead. By that time, many of my friends had already gone home. I had an ominious feeling, especially after having spoken with a friend in Atlanta who is a lobbyist and organizer, the night before. I had called to check in on her, after seeing disturbing images of violent destruction at CNN Center. She confirmed what I’d already suspected — that after the peaceful protest had dispersed, outsiders and people the activists didn’t recognize swooped in. According to the police chief, many of these rioters didn’t even know their way around, and had to ask for directions to the state Capitol.
In Minnesota, officials were saying white supremacists were coming in from out of state to start trouble. I was seeing accounts on Twitter that seemed to confirm this.
So, I was very worried about my own city. This morning, I was disheartened to see how much damage had been done — buildings vandalized or set on fire. Businesses looted. But I was equally disheartened to see some of my friends’ posts on social media.
To me, it looks like too many people were sitting on their couches, surveying the damage, and all they had to say was, “Tsk tsk. What the cops did to George Floyd was wrong, but THIS LOOTING. oh my god. These protesters are destroying businesses and property. I was in favor of the protests, but look what these people are doing to their OWN cities.”
I get it. It’s not like a lot of the mainstream media is helping. I’m seeing too many headlines blaming the protesters, such as: “Protests Erupt into Violence.” It’s time journalists did a better job and start really looking into who’s perpetrating the violence. Some are doing a better job than others. You know things are bad when even TMZ (which is owned by a Trump sympathizer) is appalled over an incident of police brutality.
I’m not going to mince words. Some people need a reality check. Some of y’all are doing Trump and the alt right’s job for them. Not looking deeply enough into what’s really going on here, or paying attention to the evidence that right wingers and even undercover cops are swooping in and starting a lot of the rioting and violence after the organizers and real protesters have left.
You’re also ignoring the blatant escalation by the police. That wasn’t just occurring in Philadelphia.
Cops beat peaceful protesters in L.A. with batons. Cops in New York ran over protesters and pepper sprayed them. I read accounts of cops invading certain neighborhoods in Minnesota and attacking residents on their own lawns.
This is all documented, thanks to cellphone videos and social media.
So, white liberals and moderates — please stop believing what the instigators want you to believe. What the racist cops, the alt right, the accelerationists, and the “Boogaloo boys” want you to believe. What MAGAts want you to believe. What Trump wants you to believe. Because they want this nipped in the bud before it actually changes anything.
They do not want MORE of us fighting against our white supremacist system.
And thinking this way serves you, doesn’t it? I mean..if you can just sit back and condemn all of the protesters as rioters, it sort of absolves you of any responsibility for pitching in to help, doesn’t it? There’s a reason Dr. King complained about the “white moderate.”
Trayvon Martin died. You didn’t act. Tamir Rice died. You didn’t act. Philando Castile died. You didn’t act. Sandra Bland died. You didn’t act. Freddie Gray died. You didn’t act.
Let’s not forget WHY this is happening. A man accused of an unproven crime was suffocated in broad daylight by a cop who decided to play judge jury and executioner on the street.
When will you act?
Copyright 2020 S. Wade