WFH WTF – The Covid Files, Day 58: don’t minimize protests by calling them riots

I stand with the protesters and the uprising in Minneapolis.

This is not up for debate. Don’t agree? Scroll past without reading more. Mute me for 30 days. Or, defriend me forever. But I’m not engaging in dissent on my wall. That’s my prerogative.

I am angry, frustrated and saddened that the execution of a person is somehow less appalling to some than some acts of vandalism.

I still remember Rodney King’s name in LA and Michael Brown’s name in Fergeuson. Keith Scott in Charlotte. And, that’s three just off the top of my head.

I can remember the same double standard held by whites then as I see being held now during the protests for justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the others that are happening this week.

There’s entirely too many who died at the hands of Cops to list which is why there continues to be an escalation in protests. Too many have their lives ruined due to ongoing, systemic injustices within the Justice System. Too many of them live in fear of what might become should they be greeting by the Blue Wall next. And, that is what these are important protests even if the sight of these protests turning violent makes you personally uncomfortable.

Let’s not forget, the Colonial dissonant to the British Crown here in North America destroyed an awful lot of property in their quest for equal representation. Had the British effectively quelled the uprising the view of those acts of vagrancy and vandalism would look much different but because it produced the desired change by the protesters those acts are glorified as foundational to the revolution that created the original 13 United States of America. And, the American Revolution is just one historical example here in North America. Whether these protesters are specifically invoking the usage of destruction to affect change as people across the world have over the centuries or they just happened to stumble on it out of the same anger and frustration those before them experienced shouldn’t really matter. So, stop pretending it’s not a form of protest to “to burn shit down” and devalue the significance of what’s happening by trivializing them them “riots” as a way to silence something that’s uncomfortable for you personally to have to see because it’s a historically established method of protest that, at times, as also been highly effective.

Because, looking through the lens of systemic racism, it was ok for Whites who felt oppressed to violently protest in the past and not OK for anyone else to do protest that way now.

Also, remember, further to protesting, there’s also a pretty big racial double standard with how riots are perceived as well. Jubilation riots, especially by whites, are treated substantially different than protest riots by anyone else. Recall, there were a lot of white rioters that went effectively unpunished in New Hampshire when they burned down a pumpkin festival because they were drunk. And, this stuff happens more often than we want to probably remember after sporting and music events. However, the reaction by the media and society, and by the justice system and law enforcement, particular cops on the scene, is substantially different when covering these primarily white-led episodes of needless destruction in jubilation than how protest riots are perceived and controlled.

This, of course would also be a non-issue if the Judicial System handled all situations equally, particularly in this case law enforcement.

You can also look at the difference between seeing a bunch of heavily armed white people potentially breaking a litany of laws as their form of protest were handled by Police and the Justice System as a whole. Officers chose not to perceive the armed whites as a threat even when accosted by them, but chose to perceive unarmed black men, many of whom were following commands or already subdued, as threats that those officers then chose to believe required the use of lethal force, such as was the case with an already restrained and unarmed George Floyd. Further, the Officers chose not to engage the white armed protests on the whole even as the protesters themselves attempted to escalate, including getting in officers faces with mal-intent in their words and bodily actions, because the Officers chose not to perceive these whites as a threat even if the protesters were threatening the Cops for the Cops doing their jobs in securing government buildings and protecting government officials. However, Officers have chosen, again, to perceive these particular protesters, who are mostly minorities, as threatening. In large part because the protests are aimed at the Cops, the behaviors of the Cops, and the Blue Wall the Cops hide behind, and thus because the Cops choose to view the protests as a personal threat to the system which protects the Cops, these Cops subsequently chose to move against the protesters with force.

This protest against police behviors and systemic injustice in the Justice System is worsened by the fact that there are, yet again, ongoing accusations of officers and their supporters having initiated the early vandalism in order to provide an excuse for a more violent response. A point that seems highly likely considering lies and deception were used by the Department as part of the execution of George Floyd and those tactics are systematic attributes to law enforcement tactics in which deception is used as leverage to gain a particular outcome. Some of these tactics are legalized, but many are not and the illegal ones are still common features including entrapment and evidence planting, in cases against law enforcement misbehavior in general. So, it’s not out of the realm of possibility these accusations begin leveled against the department for manipulating the situation are factual.

Of course, there are shades of differentiation.

It’s not a “riot” when it’s a bunch of white shoppers vandalizing stores and causing physical harm on Black Friday. That’s just capitalism, I suppose.

It’s not a “riot” when cops literally destroy someone’s house, or when that occurs over and over in the same apartment building or through the same neighborhood. But, a bunch of cops incorrectly executing a no-knock warrant on the wrong “suspect” in which they destroy property and injury or kill innocent people in the process happens all the time, and is exactly what happened with Breonna Taylor.

It’s much different when you believe you see a bunch of people who don’t look like you engaging in these behaviors. They conveniently forget, Cops have literally burned entire neighborhoods over the decades, the 1985 police bombing in Philadelphia immediately comes to mind and yet when a few angry protesters cause damage it’s treated by everyone differently.

Is it because somehow the cops are supposedly doing these things “in the name of the law” even if, at times, those things the cops are doing are largely unnecessary for upholding the law, are morally and ethically questionable, and sometimes even illegal, but otherwise it’s OK as a generality because “it’s the cops”…but it’s not OK that a system of oppression gets burned down on occasion by those who live in fear of the their lives in that system? Why is OK for cops to be “afraid for their lives” as justification for murder but not OK for anyone else to protest violently because they are afraid for their lives. Because that’s what’s happening.

than when you see White people are inherently more scared of property destruction than murder-by-cop because property damage is much more common to them than murder-by-cop is to any minority group. Whites tend to think police misuse of force is an exception because they so rarely experience it first hand. However, no seeing it first hand doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. And, when it does, white people have a greater ability to exercise justice against the abuse than others.

And, no. Non-violent protest doesn’t apply here. Because it doesn’t work. Period.

Violence begats violence. Full stop. Period.

If the “Right of Assembly” alone worked then all those marches and community gatherings over the last few decades pointing out the system injustice of the Justice system would have already produced tangible results. If it worked, white people would have accepted the message behind “the million man march, and “taking a knee,” and “black lives matter” rather than trying to undermine the cause and retcon the meaning, thus, it apparently hasn’t.

If the “Right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” alone worked, than all of the proposals for change presented as possible legislation, or as possible executive action to address decades long injustice of the Justice system would have been acted upon, and the changes made would be actively enforced. However, too many of the proposals continue to languish without legislative votes, and buried in executive branch inaction. And, if it worked those that did become law would be enforced. Apparently, though, it hasn’t.

If voting alone as a form of non-violent change really worked than there would be change initiated by the elected representation within the executive branch through regulatory change, and through the legislative branch through those legal channels, with within the elected portion of the judicial system resulting in systematic changes decades long injustice of the Justice system. Obviously, it apparently hasn’t.

If art and creators of it in music, film, fashion, visual mediums and more alone worked as a form of non-violent change than the decades of their influence would have helped raise greater awareness, which in theory should result in greater pressure to address the decades long systemic injustice of the Justice system. Again, it apparently hasn’t.

The movement is more than the sum of its individual parts. Those other parts alone are not working. Hence, violent uprising. And, leveraging the violent uprising as a facet of a movement is a tradition that many of the previous movements for change embraced in conjunction with these other tools.

Honestly, if you don’t want images of burning buildings when Cops kill people than maybe address the problem of Cop being killers. It’s pretty fucking simple white folks. Reign in the racist shit, particularly in the justice system, and shit won’t burn. Full Stop.

About thedoormouse

I am I. That’s all that i am. my little mousehole in cyberspace of fiction, recipes, sacrasm, op-ed on music, sports, and other notations both grand and tiny:
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