Let's Stop Pretending Peaceful Demonstrations Will Fix The System. 'Peace Officers' Don't Give A Shit About Peace.
from the [types-self-out-of-any-government-employment-ever] dept
First off, I would like to thank Mike Masnick and Techdirt for publishing my post on the George Floyd killing and the (in my eyes) justifiable destruction of police property as an answer to years of injustice and “bad apple” excuses. Very few sites would have published such a post. Most would have rejected it after reading the title.
I also appreciate the commenters who weighed in, including those who disagreed with me. It was a strong stance for me to take and I expected to be drowned in criticism. That I wasn’t buried by critics perhaps demonstrates my points were well-made. Or it may just indicate the general public is sick and tired of cop bullshit — bullshit they far too often walk away from, thanks to generous union contracts, the almost-obligatory judicial application of qualified immunity, or the continued sheltering of police officers from personal responsibility by legislators.
But I did want to respond to one comment in the thread in particular. This comment suggested I was off-base and that peaceful protests are productive and have resulted in systemic changes. Despite the evidence I had laid down that being peaceful and seeking change through acceptable routes has been a net loss over the last 50+ years, a commenter suggested otherwise.
This is the central argument of the comment submitted by one of our many anonymous commenters. (Just a reminder, we love anonymous commenters and would never demand you give us all your vitals in exchange for your ability to comment on articles. We also allow you to turn ads off if you wish with no financial obligation. That being said, there are multiple ways to support this fiercely independent site, so click thru if you’d like to help. Thanks!)
In contrast to a number of the opinions I have been reading here and on other sites, I am not okay with burning everything down and I do not think that rioting and looting is going to result in any lasting change for the better. Taxpayer dollars were used to build that police station and purchase the police vehicles that got destroyed. A person’s life savings might be invested in that house or business that was set on fire. A corporate building (such as Target) might not be replaced in the future. (Black neighborhoods have been complaining of corporate chains avoiding them due to the higher costs incurred.) Yes, insurance might pay to replace the lost things. Yes, corporations and people might rebuild. However, what of the turmoil and hardship that occurs in ALL of the surrounding lives that have to find ways to cope without the services or shelter they previously had?
Rioting seems to only divide us into those who follow the rules of civil society and those who do not. I have read multiple accounts of people who came to peacefully protest, but LEFT when they realized things were going turn violent. They came to PROTEST violence, not PARTICIPATE in it. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi showed us that big changes CAN be be achieved without using violence. The PBS series “Eyes on the Prize” shows how the system in place tried multiple tactics and violence to derail the civil rights movement. Video clips of police violence were aired on TV. But the protesters did not fight back. They did not join in the violence. As those who wanted to maintain the status quo were forced to use stronger tactics against the protesters, the more it became obvious to the other members of society that something was seriously wrong and needed to be changed. The injustice was clear. Those who wanted justice then JOINED the protesters until those in power couldn’t ignore the injustice any further. Remember, our political representatives ONLY rule with the consent of the governed. When the governed rise up in unified agreement, change DOES happen.
I appreciate the point being made. Nonviolent protest can result in positive changes. Unfortunately, given the history of this nation and its law enforcement agencies, one cannot apply it to the current situation. The argument is coherent. But the effectiveness of holding back and operating within the confines of numerous social contracts has yet to prove a net gain for minorities — especially black Americans, who spent years as slaves and years as subhumans following the abolition of slavery.
Here’s Trevor Noah explaining eloquently why this flashpoint isn’t an overreaction to a single data point, but rather the culmination of hundreds of years of history.
That’s why this commenter’s argument doesn’t work. And here’s why the current situation — as horrendous and shocking as it seems — is more likely to move the dial on moving cops back into their rightful position as protectors and servants, rather than self-appointed warlords overseeing a mostly imaginary domestic conflict.
Several commenters said I was advocating for violence and destruction. They’re only half-right.
I don’t want looting and senseless violence either. In fact, I want no violence. I do not want police officers killed or injured. But if anyone should be targeted for destruction, it should be the entities that have perpetrated this violence upon certain Americans for years. Let them experience what it is to live as a black person in America — one now “led” by someone who openly calls for violence against those exercising their First Amendment rights (protesters, journalists).
I have already pointed out how peaceful protests have failed to effect change. These acts — the burning of precincts and police vehicles — may not either, but it will make the point far more effectively than hanging back and being compliant. I don’t want to see business owners victimized by opportunists but I think a few burning cop cars is a small price to pay for equality and serious police reform.
The law enforcement agencies of America have earned every bit of the hatred they’re now feeling. But during these protests all things are equal. There are no courts, no unions, no “tough-on-crime” legislators standing between cops and the destruction of their property. Sucks for them. And when the shit goes down, they flee their posts and give up any appearance of giving a damn about serving or protecting.
No one forced cops to behave this way. They took it upon themselves to act as warriors while performing a job that asks them to act as society’s protector. They talk a lot about the “thin blue line” between us and chaos, and then act as agents of chaos as soon as an opportunity presents itself. De-escalation tactics are an anomaly. Talking about the great sex you’ll have after offing a citizen is the norm.
The police in America have long taken advantage of programs that give them military vehicles, clothing, and weapons at nearly no cost. That they now perceive themselves as soldiers rather than peace officers is demonstrated daily — beginning with the flash bangs announcing their presence during no-knock raids targeting non-violent crime and continuing through their mostly-unchallenged ability to strip US citizens of their cash, cars, and other property at whim.
There is no compelling reason for cops to change their standard M.O. And, granted, lighting the occasional cop car on fire will likely only solidify their misguided “warrior” mentality. But it does make it clear that the people still have power, even if the greater power — the US government that has treated minorities as lower classes for years — will ultimately prevail.
Then there’s the entire subclass of US citizens who spend their days bumper-stickering and forum-posting about how they and their guns will rise up against the government should it prove to be dangerous to American citizens and their rights. WHERE THE FUCK ARE THEY? Outside of a few Boogaloo contingents, the “Obama is coming for muh guns” crowd has remained silent and useless, presumably digging into their eight-year supply of dehydrated food until the government makes it safe for white people to walk around again. Fuck those guys. They suck as much as the government entities they claim to view as enemies. When the shit goes down, these motherfuckers start bunkering. Cowards.
The current situation is far from ideal. No one wants to live in a civil unrest hotspot, given the unpredictability of the situation. Governments all over the nation, however, are willing to make things worse — calling in an offshoot of the military best known for killing Vietnam War protesters. The war is at home, but the instigators are the people we’ve entrusted to protect society. They have continually proven they’re not up to the job. And they’ve made things worse by pretending every movement is furtive, every black man is probably armed, and every bit of cash in a someone’s wallet is probably drug money. They are road pirates, murderers, gang members, and charlatans. Let them feel the flames.
They have created their own personal hell. There should be no more free passes. This is the America they created. Whatever burns, burns. This is on their heads. No matter what any politician says in hopes of mollifying the voting public, the truth remains undeniable: you reap what you sow.
REAP MOTHERFUCKERS. REAP.