Mayhem In The Streets Of America
It has been almost 100 days now since George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officers. I believe that there is enough proof in the aftermath of that event that the US should no longer allow organized or disorganized large demonstrations at night in US cities. Some would say that that would be an infringement on citizen’s rights to express themselves. My answer to that is isn’t there enough time in the broad daylight to protest? How many speeches are needed in one day to get points across? There is always the next day for the protests to continue.
We aren’t clueless people. There is something very different about the light of day and the darkness of night. In the daytime we are all clearly visible. Not so much at night. In the daytime we can clearly identify what and who are around us. Not so much at night. At night the darkness can make it harder to have our bearings and because we can’t see clearly in the dark there is the uncertainty of the unknown. At night in large crowds tensions increase and people can be panicked by loud noises like firecrackers.
There are things that are predictable that are going to happen if a black person is killed or beaten badly by the police when the black person posed no physical threat. Crowds of black people will form that evening and some of them will start looting local stores and steal things like TVs and sneakers. It is hard to say whether these actions are fuck the system that did this to our people or simply opportunism or both.
The second thing that will happen is that organized protests will be lead by black leaders. In most cases these protests will include a lot of white people who are sympathetic to the cause. The Rev Al Sharpton will most likely turn up.
The third important ingredient to the protests are the “lookie-loos”, the mostly young people who go downtown to see what mayhem is occurring. Often there are as many of these people as there are protesters. They usually stand around on the fringes of the protesters.
The fourth important ingredient are the pure shit disturbers who want to fan the flames of unrest. They are a small minority but can be very effective in causing mayhem through vandalism and arson. Once they have committed their acts they can fairly easily blend into the crowds of lookie-loos on the fringes of the demonstration.
Let’s go back to the beginning of the Black Lives Matter demonstration after George Floyd was murdered. MSNBC’s Ali Velshi was out in the street the first night. He was having a hell of time trying to figure out what people were representing what. We could see businesses burning. We would often see guys riding around on bikes and some of the bike riders had large backpacks attached to them. The thought occurred to me why would anyone need a large backpack to attend a demonstration? Were they carrying rocks, fireworks, stuff to start fires? Cops on foot are never going to catch up to a guy on a speeding bike.
Something that is not mentioned very often is the millions of young people who feel betrayed by a system that is never going to give them the opportunity of owning a house or raising a family in a good neighbourhood. Many of them work at low wage dead end jobs. There are now millions more of them unemployed due to covid-19. A small number of them may be prone to committing vandalism at Black Lives Matter events.
Trump and his Attorney General Bill Barr have identified the hooligans and vandals as left wing anarchists including members of a group called Antifa. They refuse to admit that right wing groups like The Proud Boys, The Bugaloos, The Three Percenters, The Oath Keepers, often turn up at Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Isn’t it strange that all of these right wing extremist groups worship Trump but you will never see an Antifa wearing a Biden hat or waving a Biden sign? The reason is there is absolutely no connection between Antifa and the Democrat Party.
You may have wondered who Antifa are? They are a loosely knit group that started in Europe over 3 decades ago. Their premise was that before WW2 many people in Germany stood by while right wing fascist groups took over the country. They see right wing militia groups in the US carrying out fascist acts and stand up to them even when it comes to physical clashes. Antifa has been in existence in the US for about 25 years. Over that period of time they have never killed anyone. I’m not trying to paint them as being harmless but they don’t come close to being compared to right wing domestic terrorists in the US.
In 1995 right wing terrorist Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people and wounded 680 others when he bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City. Right wing domestic terrorists have murdered 329 people in the last 25 years including killing 12 Jews at synagogues in Poway, California and Pittsburgh, the mass murder of 23 Hispanics at a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas, the killing of 9 worshippers at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina. This year the Bugaloos assassinated 2 police officers in Oakland, California.
There are about 275 militia groups in the US and they are in all 50 US states. Some of their core beliefs may differ but basically most of them are anti-government. Most of them are anti-tax and anti-immigration. Most of them consider themselves to be white supremacists. All of these groups are right wing and all of them love Donald Trump. There are no left wing militia groups to speak of.
You may have noticed that Trump never has a bad word to say about right wing extremists. Fear is something Trump learned long ago is something he can stoke to his benefit. Trump’s daughter Ivanka is Jewish as is his son in law Jared Kushner. When hundreds of white supremacists carrying tiki torches marched in Charlottesville in 2017 chanting “Jews will not replace us.” Trump said that were “good people” on both sides.
A few nights ago 600 cars driven by right wing extremists turned up in Portland. Oregon. Many of them were not from Oregon. A number of these people would really like to see a civil war in the US.
Several days ago a 17 year old Trump follower killed 2 people and wounded another with an AK-15 rifle in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Instead of the cops getting him off the street they chatted with him and offered him water. Not one of the cops thought of asking the 17 year old how old he was and if he had a license to carry the rifle in the open. It’s no secret that most cops lean to the right politically in the US. It’s also no secret that many of them have lost their jobs for racist comments on Facebook and social media.
In closing I am going to add a couple of personal observations of riots from the past.
In the late 1960s I witnessed a riot in Montreal that involved a St. Jean Baptiste parade in Montreal on Sherbrooke Street. I was a spectator along with many others. I’m not sure what exactly happened. Maybe some people threw rocks or bottles at the police. If so I didn’t see it. All of a sudden the police were coming in our direction with their helmets on and waving their batons. It wasn’t a time to try and explain that we weren’t the rock throwers and a whole crowd of us took off running down the side streets and alleys. I know that was long ago but when I see people running away at the riots in the US it makes me uneasy about how TV watchers could assume that the people running away must have committed some kind of crime.
In 2011 the Vancouver Canucks hockey team was playing the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals. The city put up a few giant screens in downtown Vancouver so fans who didn’t have tickets could watch. A crowd of about 75,000 turned up on the streets for the 7th and deciding game which Vancouver lost. Moments later, complete mayhem broke out. Over 20 cars including cop cars were set on fire. Stores were looted. There was over 4 million dollars in damage to buildings. The question is why did this happen and who did it? It certainly wasn’t a political issue. It wasn’t a class issue. Pretty well all of the shit disturbers and vandals were white and young in age. It wasn’t a racial issue. Downtown Vancouver is a very expensive place to live even in 2011. It was pretty obvious that most of the shit disturbers were from the suburbs of Vancouver like Surrey and Burnaby. They were in the midst of a huge crowd that was very wired up. It may be hard for some to understand but there are a small number of younger people who really enjoy mayhem. They don’t really have a cause or strong political beliefs. They just want to watch as the shit hits the fan. They don’t represent the major part of the crowd. In fact, 15,000 volunteers turned up the following morning to clean up the mess the vandals left behind. My point is that a lot of the rioting in the US is fomented by pure shit disturbers and not by political types or protesters.