Cities across America exploded in violence last night as protests over the George Floyd killings continue.
The violence had nothing to do with the death of Floyd, or the perceived mistreatment of blacks by police, or racism, or Trump, or the weather. Throwing a rock threw a window is fun. Setting fire to a police station is fun. Burning a car is fun. Looting a store is fun. Throwing rocks at police and National Guardsmen is idiotically stupid, but fun.
Rioters aren’t looking to make a statement. They are enjoying themselves. Civic order has been allowed (encouraged?) to break down and the chains have been loosened, the shackles are off. It’s party time in the Big City and everyone is invited.
If the rioters were really trying to make a political statement, they would have brought guns and bombs to the protests. But there’s nothing political about breaking into a Walgreens or pharmacy and stealing the drugs and liquor. Or looting an electronics store and walking away with a big-screen HD TV. This isn’t politics. It’s avarice.
Add to this incendiary mix, Antifa, white supremacists, and other malcontents and miscreants see an opportunity to make their own statement. Of course, the disturbed kids they send to “stir things up” aren’t interested in making a statement either. They just want to see the world burn.
Thousands of black people are genuinely angry and fearful of what they see as police brutality and racism. This anger is carefully, lovingly nurtured by a media overwhelmed with white guilt, and liberal virtue signaling. It is fed by a black leadership that sees power and profit in ginning up hysteria over what any rational observer knows is a few bad police officers who shouldn’t have been allowed to carry a badge and a gun in the first place, making fatal mistakes.
There’s no doubt racism is a factor. But is the answer to racism weakening or castrating the police departments so that protecting citizens becomes even more dangerous? There are legal remedies to police racism that may not be as satisfying as torching a police precinct, but that’s how citizens in a republic should be acting.
What’s needed is a quiet reflection and sober arguments, not screaming, incoherent rage.
The epicenter of this drama has been Minneapolis but the National Guard has now been activated in nearly a dozen states.
At least 13 police officers were injured in Philadelphia when peaceful protests turned violent and at least four police vehicles were set on fire. In New York City, dangerous confrontations flared repeatedly as officers made arrests and cleared streets. A video showed two NYPD cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators who were pushing a barricade against one of them and pelting it with objects. Several people were knocked to the ground, and it was unclear if anyone was hurt.
“The mistakes that are happening are not mistakes. They’re repeated violent terrorist offenses and people need to stop killing black people,” Brooklyn protester Meryl Makielski said.
There are 800,000 sworn police officers in the United States. It’s hysterical nonsense to call what happened to George Floyd a “terrorist offense.” Even if the officer who is accused of murdering Mr. Floyd is a dedicated Klansman, there’s not a shred of proof that he was intentionally trying to kill him. Terrorists try to kill people — deliberately.
Few corners of America were untouched, from protesters setting fires inside Reno’s city hall, to police launching tear gas at rock-throwing demonstrators in Fargo, North Dakota. In Salt Lake City, demonstrators flipped a police car and lit it on fire. Police said six people were arrested and a police officer was injured after being struck in the head with a baseball bat. In Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by a white police officer in 2014, sparking a wave of protests throughout the country, mostly peaceful protests turned late Saturday and six officers hit with rocks and fireworks were injured.
Police have arrested at least 1,669 people in 22 cities since Thursday, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Nearly a third of those arrests came in Los Angeles, where the governor declared a state of emergency and ordered the National Guard to back up the city’s 10,000 police officers as dozens of fires burned across the city.
Is it possible to separate the peaceful protesters from the rioters when assessing blame? I question the judgment of anyone who attends a peaceful protest knowing full well that a riot will break out. In that sense, the “peaceful” protesters, exercising their First Amendment rights, are giving the rioters cover to loot, burn, and pillage. They will deny their role in the violence. But accountability in a free society must include those exercising their rights under the law.