Tag Archives: protests

Bird’s Eye View of a Burning Empire

Our hearts are on fire, our cities are on fire.

As mas­sive coast-to-coast protests con­tin­ue in the Unit­ed States in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and dis­plays of sol­i­dar­i­ty spring up around the globe, it’s safe to say this out­pour­ing of grief has firm­ly switched gears.

What began as an out­cry over insti­tu­tion­al­ized racism in polic­ing has, over the last few days, evolved into a wider move­ment encom­pass­ing the gen­er­al­ized pain of the tragedies of COVID-19, the inad­e­quate state of Amer­i­can polit­i­cal lead­er­ship, the decay of Amer­i­can insti­tu­tions, and the tox­ic lev­els of socioe­co­nom­ic inequal­i­ty that have col­lec­tive­ly led to esca­lat­ing polar­iza­tion and regres­sive stan­dards of liv­ing for so many cit­i­zens.

On the mat­ter of the protests them­selves, the excess­es of law enforce­ment, and the sys­tems that sup­port those excess­es, news vlog­ger Phil Defran­co put togeth­er a nice­ly bal­anced video sum­ma­riz­ing the sta­tus quo, so I want­ed to share that:

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Followup: Charlottesville

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.