Columns

A Plea to Protestors After Seven Days of Chaos: Don't Allow Outside Agitators to Destroy Your Communities

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

I know there are many people taking to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. The manner in which Mr. Floyd died was shocking and has been widely condemned across the country.

You can see this in the swift action of the local, state and federal authorities. From the mayor to the Unties States attorney general and the president, there is a firm mandate that justice must be served, and this is a top priority. Even Mr. Floyd’s brother believes justice will be served.

So, let’s clear up some misconceptions. Protestors marching in support of the family and the positive changes they seek have the support of the vast majority of Americans. Law enforcement and the current administration support the right to assemble and petition your government.

Thanks to social media we have seen memorial services, sit-ins, die-ins and other similar events. I want people to be able to do these things. I want citizens to be able to work through grief and demand positive change together. It is an exceptionally American thing to do.

Because of the same social media, we have watched this American tradition of free speech and petitioning your elected officials co-opted by groups with bad intentions. They do not share in your grief or your wish for a better tomorrow. Here is the clearest illustration I have seen to date. Take a moment to watch:

Note the bottom-left corner. There is a group with black umbrellas. You can see they wait and confront the police directly, hurling canisters back at police while reasonable people flee. They are egging law enforcement to increase the use of force and are likely part of the black-clad, well-equipped anarcho-communist groups co-opting your protests. They are not interested in positive change. They want chaos to achieve their political ends.

We have seen protestors who are genuine defend property against these agitators and actually hand-deliver them to police officers. This surely heartening. Now please take the next step.

These agitators are the groups the president and the Department of Justice want stopped. They are the ones seeding equipment and using tactics to increase civil unrest and mob mentality. These are the groups the government wants to identify and prosecute for violations of federal law. It is these agitators they want out of your communities.

Please do not allow them to use you and your fellow activists as cover. For at least a few days, protest during the day, when it is easier for law enforcement to see what is going on. Before the confusion that darkness brings. Go home at curfew until tomorrow.

Then let law enforcement deal with the agitators and those who can be moved to loot, vandalize, and burn your city down. Their behavior cannot be allowed to continue for all of our sakes. If you stay for the chaos, you may get caught up in it. Please don’t let that happen.

Then let’s talk. While we may not agree on every solution, I bet we can find common ground. How about we start with public unions? This could improve our law enforcement, government, and even schools. These unions often protect bad actors making them impossible to remove. Let’s fix that.

When the investigation into Mr. Floyd’s death is complete, you will see how often the union intervened on the officer’s behalf on over a dozen complaints. Not too many Republicans would disagree with this fix. It is the Democrats who receive the lion’s share of the political contributions from public unions that you will need to convince. it might be one of the only things Republicans and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt agree on. Even he wrote (emphasis mine):

The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

You want public review boards? This seems reasonable so long as members go through the firearms training and simulations that the officers do. If citizens want oversight ability, they need to have some understanding of the context the officers work in and how quickly they have to make life and death decisions.

Many on the political right also support body-cams and dash-cams. We feel they protect the public and the law enforcement officer. They provide an indisputable record of events that can convict an officer who did something wrong and exonerate one who did not. They are a completely neutral tool.

In order to get to a place where communities and the government can hash these things out, the chaos must end. People of good faith interested in moving beyond this to a better plane have to unite for the purpose of eliminating the agitators from the discussion.

These black-clad, trained and funded militias, call them what they are, dishonor everyone. Perhaps most important they dishonor George Floyd and his family. His name will be inextricably linked to the destruction these groups have wrought to achieve a political end. That end is this:

(libcom.org)

How does everyone freely satisfying their needs feel at this point? How long will the communities where you live take to recover from this type of freedom? The answer is decades in places like New York City, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles.

That George Floyd’s name will accompany this story of economic destruction and loss when the history is written should infuriate everyone whose wish was to stand in solidarity with his family. As his brother Terrance said, they are working for justice not destruction.

Please go home when the curfew rings. Let law enforcement do the job we all need them to do to remove the chaos actors from the equation. The search for common ground may not be as hard as you think.