As police departments across the country braced themselves for more demonstrations Friday, Black Lives Matter activists in several cities took part in the National Day of Rage protests — with the blessing of the Obama White House.
“I would not describe the White House as concerned about these protests,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Thursday. “They’re exercising their freedom of speech, they’re exercising their freedom of assembly. That’s a good thing. That’s a good start.”
Obama, as you’ll recall, had no use for the tea party, but he waxes eloquently on behalf of his shock troops. The president is pushing police reform and criminal justice reform, and Black Lives Matter is helping him with that agenda.
The United States military, on the other hand, posted warnings to service personnel to stay out of the areas where “Days of Rage” protests were slated to occur for their own safety.
Protesters in Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Baltimore, Phoenix, Reno, and many other cities locked arms, marched, chanted, and blocked streets to demand justice and police reforms in the wake of police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. In Portland earlier this week, a few Black Lives Matter activists openly advocated for violence against police officers.
“If they go about their burden of whatever they said you’re doing, you pull your pistol out and you f**king bust that,” says the BLM protester, described in the video as a “passionate speaker”.
“You pull your pistol out and you bust that! Because at the end of the day, it’s going to be you against them,” he continues.
“When we move with the Panthers, trust me when you see me move, I’m moving in violence!” he threatens.
Another speaker then implores the white people involved in the protest, “We’re tired of walking around here asking ya’ll to help us – we need action.”
The original speaker then repeats his call for violence, asserting, “I don’t give a f**k whether you knock ’em over, whether you run up on them, whatever you do, you better f**king take action!”
As of this writing, no pistols had been “pulled out and f**king busted” in Portland, but things did get a little weird when protesters decided to block a major street and surround cars:
Black Lives Matter attempted to block a car in Portland, failed.pic.twitter.com/uWjyFe7hrL
— The Current Year (@TheeCurrentYear) July 16, 2016
Eighteen protesters were arrested in Portland for blocking the street.
Oakland: Via SF Gate:
About 50 protesters gathered in downtown Oakland on Friday afternoon behind a “Black Lives Matter” banner to demonstrate against recent killings by police in Louisiana and Minnesota.
The small group walked around the plaza, chanting “Hands Up, Don’t shoot” and other rallying cries, while a small group of police looked on and passing motorists honked in support.
Reno: Via the Reno Gazette Journal:
Reno Police estimate the crowds have reached around 300 at Reno City Plaza.
7:20 p.m. update: Protestors gather at Reno City Plaza chanting, “Hands up. Don’t shoot.”
It kinda neat that they insist on keeping that lie going…
— MellaboyYontage (@yellaboy___) July 16, 2016
Phoenix: Via the Arizona Republic:
Two separate demonstrations against police violence are taking place Friday evening in the Phoenix area.
The rallies follow a march through downtown Phoenix last Friday that ended with police using pepper spray and tear gas to stop some marchers from entering Interstate 10. The events are set against the backdrop of public outcry and anxiety over recent racially charged shootings of both officers and civilians.
The protests began about 8 p.m., though some protesters had arrived earlier.
In Phoenix, a demonstration demanding police reforms centered on an intersection in the Camelback Corridor. In Tempe, protesters planned to march to sites where police or racial violence has occurred.
San Diego: Via ABC 10 News:
Over 100 people gathered outside the City Heights Performance Annex on Fairmount Avenue.
They eventually began marching and some protesters marched onto the Interstate 15 freeway.
All southbound lanes of the freeway were closed at University Avenue while police worked to clear the roadway of pedestrians.
— Yesenia (@YesiPadilla) July 16, 2016
On a positive note, St. Louis, one of the cities on the “Day of Rage” BLM protest list, didn’t see a significant protest on Friday. In fact, according to Fox 2 Now, St. Louis area cops have been seeing quite the opposite, lately.
North County Police Cooperative rookie Kayla Harless was sitting in traffic shortly after beginning her first solo patrol in Pine Lawn this week when a man caught the officer’s attention, asking her to roll down her patrol car window.
“Hey, everybody is really down on the police right now, but I want you to know you’re doing an awesome job!” he shouted.
“Thanks!” she answered. The signal changed, and she drove on before he could say more.
Moments such as that have become more common for St. Louis-area police after recent violence against law enforcement locally and nationally. The July 7 massacre of five Dallas officers, and attacks against an off-duty St. Louis County officer and an Indianapolis officer, have been linked to backlash against allegations of police misconduct elsewhere.
Police have not revealed the motive in the shooting of a Ballwin police officer during a traffic stop on July 8, but his department has seen a tremendous outpouring from its community.
The department’s Facebook page expresses gratitude for handwritten notes, emails, food, water and flowers it has received.
Despite national tensions about violence by police against minorities, the wave of appreciation seems to stretch across demographic lines into predominantly minority communities, said Lt. Col. Troy Doyle, who commands the patrol section of the county police.
“I’ve had numerous black and white people simply say, ‘Thank you,’” said Doyle, who also is president of the local chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. “In my case, most were black people telling me that.”
He added, “What it told me is that, in spite of the recent events, black people still appreciate law enforcement and they want law enforcement in their communities and do still appreciate the job we do for people. To walk up to you just to say ‘thank you’ like that tells me they don’t agree with everything, but they understand the dynamics in which we’re working in.”
A police officer in west St. Louis County was stopped at a convenience store earlier this week when an older woman approached, thanked her and asked her for a hug, one police official said. During the embrace, the well-wisher put a $5 bill in the officer’s pocket.
The county’s Affton precinct was receiving so many lunches from residents and businesses that the office staff had to schedule deliveries so food didn’t go to waste.
I hope that cops in every city are seeing the same outpouring of support while the Community Organizer-in-Chief serves his final months in office.