Quick update to Tuesday’s story …
It was widely observed by attendees and reported in the media that Neo-Nazis arrived armed and well-prepared at the rally in Charlottesville, then moved in later to attack counter-protestors with bats and other weapons as police took a hands-off approach to a good portion of the violence.
Given that authorities have historically been quick to respond with overwhelming shows of force in the instances of the DAPL Water Protectors protests and the Black Lives Matter protests, it came across as nothing short of infuriating when a major show of force was not taken during the Charlottesville riots in the midst of a far more dangerous situation.
In an article that ProPublica released over the weekend, reporter and witness A.C. Thompson noted, “State police and National Guardsmen watched passively for hours as self-proclaimed Nazis engaged in street battles with counter-protesters.” He then went on to name the main organizational and tactical failures at the event and describe them in nauseating detail.
I’m glad others pointed me to this article, as I’d missed it in the initial media shuffle that took place when the riots began, so thank you for that.
Now, it’s only been a few days since the riots, and it can take time to conduct a formal inquiry into the police response, but here’s a spoiler: when authorities apparently had situational awareness “for a long time” and went on to make errors such as failing to separate camps of protestors and going easy on Nazis who physically attacked officers, the optics of the overall situation don’t look good. As Thompson further notes, “Several times, a group of assault-rifle-toting militia members from New York […] played a more active role in breaking up fights,” after riot police failed to fully intervene.
I’m not sure how to respond to that, besides noting the same conclusion others have acknowledged many times: white privilege, it’s a thing.
Additionally, the fact police didn’t mount a stronger response to stop the fighting and the way they failed to arrest more of those involved in the fighting are things that work to the advantage of far-right instigators, who love the opportunity to be cast as victims of leftist violence.
In other words, letting Nazis slug it out with Antifa for a few days isn’t just a shitty idea, it’s actually a recruitment win for Nazis and their ilk.
I’m sure this isn’t what authorities wanted, but regardless of whether it arose through accidental blunder or planned non-intervention, that’s now the reality they’re going to have to deal with, as will many other cities who are currently facing spin-off rallies in the wake of the mess in Charlottesville.
It will be interesting to read the results of a formal inquiry, if one is ever conducted into these matters.