Unrest Explodes Across America – George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and More
As we come out of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, ignoring the murder hornets, venomous sea slugs, and bioterrorist mugger monkeys, we are engrossed in protests and riots erupting across the country. The ultimate cause of this unrest is an American story that is integral to our history – the murder of racial minorities by those with authority. Growing up I was kid bewildered by the stories of Rodney King and Malice Green being brutally beaten to death by cops – police were supposed to be the good guys you turned to when you were in trouble – but the stories go back long before I was born. It continued onward through the years and as we started having portable video cameras in our pockets that could transmit these videos to audiences in real time we started seeing more and more of how the cops blatantly lied on official documents. It really is a phenomenon that should categorically discount police testimony in courts.
We have cops caught lying about seeing a suspect drop a gun, about people they shot taking their weapon, shooting people for following their directions, planting drugs on handcuffed men, planting weapons, and planting weapons on someone they just killed to cover up the murder. In fact, this is so common that I didn’t even find the story I was looking for originally, so covered it is in Google Search by similar stories.
We have seen a lot more attention given to these cases by the public and the media responds to the fact that there are protests and will actually cover these incidents. We have George Zimmerman chasing after Treyvon Martin, assaulting the youth, then shooting Martin dead claiming that he feared for his life even though he was the instigator – instructed by 911 to not engage Martin – and was the only one armed. He was acquitted by a jury under Florida’s stand your ground law. Using the same law, Marissa Alexander shot a warning shot in the air when in fear of her life from an abusive ex-husband – she spent more than 5 years in prison because the law is applied with racial bias.
A white woman was ruled to have managed to shoot herself through the mouth, after taking a gun from her car while her hands were handcuffed behind her back – a feat which even Harry Houdini couldn’t pull off. A black man was ruled to have shot himself in the chest – not the back – while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser. Both of these events were clearly executions, not suicides, but police can kill with impunity, lie about it, and those working around them such as prosecutors, judges, and coroners will back them up despite the impossibility.
In case you’re one of those cold-hearted people who feel nothing for the plight of the human animal, there is a long history of cops killing dogs just for the feeling as well. One officer shot a fenced in dog at a 5 year old kid’s birthday party with an assault rifle – while serving a 10 year old warrant on someone in attendence. Another cop killed the family dog for barking when responding to a noise complaint. A Detroit cop killed a dog when a nine year old asked him for help retrieving it when it got loose on a walk. While trying to kill a dog, one cop killed a 10 year old girl with impunity down to the family not being allowed to sue him for it. The DOJ found that cops kill an average of 25 dogs a day – a citizen watchdog group, Puppycide Database Project, put that number as high as 500 dogs a day. Of course, the psychological community points to the sociopathic tendencies behind those who harm or kill non-human animals for fun, and that seems to be the case with cops killing these dogs.
Of course, we also have the racist aspect of our police force. They brutally acted to put down the audacity of black people demanding a semblance of equality in the 1950s and 1960s – and this was before the FBI warned, in 2006, that white supremacists were organized in entering law enforcement and hate groups existed centered around the members of entire police departments. Yes, Los Angeles County had a Neo-Nazi group made up of its Sheriff’s Department.
Police are out of control in this country – they act with impunity and in a manner echoing that of organized crime. In fact, when NYC cops protested that they were afraid to do their jobs if they could be held liable for murder, they stopped doing some police functions called “proactive policing” – essentially the most invasive things they do. As a result, complaints of crime fell significantly. Police often create crime – beyond their own crimes – rather than deter it.
The Most Recent Abuses
March 13, Breonna Taylor, an EMT essential worker who was sleeping, had her home raided by plain clothes police officers serving a narcotics warrant. It was a no knock warrant, so the police could just bust in and didn’t have to announce themselves. Brionna’s boyfriend is alleged to have gotten up and shot at the home invaders whom he would have no reason to believe were anything but criminals –though this is only allegation as no police were wearing body cameras. The gunfire happened from across a window with blinds drawn. Kenneth Walker, the boyfriend, alleges he shot a warning shot which hit an officer in the thigh – though he called the police to report someone broke in and shot his girlfriend telling us that they left without him knowing they were police. Brionna was shot 8 times. Kenneth was charged with attempted murder of a police officer but the charges were dropped for lack of evidence.
Oddly enough, when her mother was called, she was not told that her daughter was dead nor that she was killed by police officers; rather they asked her if she had any enemies or if she was having problems with her boyfriend. This is evidence they wanted to cover up her murder as neither would have any relevance to what happened and the police knew that.
The warrant was for Jamarcus Glover, an ex-boyfriend, who was suspected of drug dealing and used Brionna’s apartment for drops outside. However, at the time of the incident, Glover had already been arrested by that time so there was no need for a raid upon the home. In fact, despite claiming that they had knocked and announced themselves, everything but their word points against this including that it would defeat the purpose of jumping through hoops to get a no knock warrant.
On May 25, as Americans falsely tried to return to normalcy, Officer Derek Chauvin reminded black America what normalcy was. A call came in that George Floyd attempted to pass off a phony $20 bill at a local corner store. Responding, officers stated that he had resisted arrest and Chauvin knelt on his neck, on the ground, for over eight minutes, almost 3 minutes after he became unresponsive. Onlookers urged him to stop, he’s killing him, and Floyd cried out to his mother and for mercy, complaining he was having trouble breathing. An EMT finally forced Chauvin to get off of Floyd’s unconcious body.
This account is one of police brutality in itself – if he went unconscious there is no reason to restrain him. They could move him to the car. Restraining him itself seems foolhardy if he is falling down – that’s not running away. It seems like they brutalized a man having a panic attack. But, videos began appearing.
First, a surveillance camera illustrated clearly that George Floyd did not resist arrest. Once again, police had openly lied on official documents in order to make their actions appear justified. Floyd had fallen, but that is not resisting – these were natural falls, and while handcuffed, not maneuvers to escape. Multiple witnesses also attested that Floyd did not resist arrest and made that known to the officers at the time.
Second, video from another angle then showed three officers kneeling on Floyd, not one – though only Chauvin was on his neck. How is three officers pinning down a man supposed to stop him from falling and “resisting” arrest. Of course, he was already arrested at that point anyway and had been sitting handcuffed prior, getting up with assistance willingly.
We have multiple witnesses and videos of a cop killing a black man in broad daylight in public – slowly. This wasn’t a flash decision that ended up with a quick shot, this was meditated murder while a man begged for his life. EMS had already been called, and he wasn’t fleeing, there was no need to restrain him in any manner. Derek Chauvin appears to have intended to make sure he was dead before EMS arrived.
Chauvin also had a history of murder on the job. He had killed his share of suspects in gunfire and had multiple excessive force complaints. Another officer on the scene, Tou Thao, was the subject of a suit against the city for excessive force against a handcuffed suspect which was settled for $25,000.
Chauvin has also had some pictures dug up of two incidents which are circulating on social media. The first is of him on stage with President Trump in 2016 as part of a Cops for Trump group; the second is him wearing a hat reading “Make Whites Great Again” and appearing to flash the white power hand sign.
While not every unjustified police killing trickles up to the national consciousness, these did. It isn’t only about these isolated murders, but they are symbolic for all the police murders, framings, beatings, and other abuses. For every name we remember to say, there are a hundred, or hundreds, which don’t pass our lips or that we never even heard about. As such, protests erupted across the nation, not simply in Minneapolis and Louisville. These are organic protests organized by everyday people as opposed to the end the lockdown protests that were organized by big business interests in order to sacrifice working class lives for their profit.
Since these are protests of the underclass, they are treated completely different than the big-money protests of the far right. Armed protesters were enough to scare away legislators in Lansing, Michigan – protesters that had Facebook take the uncommon step against the far right by closing one of their groups for inciting violence. They were threatening violence against elected officials for doing what the majority wanted done for public safety backed with science. With these terrorists – and yes, they were terrorists – threatening legislators and police to get their way, no arrests were made; no citations; one man was removed for wielding an axe.
Compare this to the grassroots protesters; the ones who have a legitimate grievance. They didn’t come armed, they didn’t threaten violence, but they had medics on hand as there is a long history of police violence against this type of protest. It’s a good thing, because they were met with arrests and tear gas and rubber bullets. The behavior you would expect toward the terrorists instead was perpetrated upon the genuine masses.
According to Stephanie Cholensky, chair of the Socialist Party USA’s Women’s Commission, who was there: “Every march has people giving out food and water and supplies, medics, and even tear gas wash.” She also explained how social distancing measures were used for safety purposes: “Organizers were encouraging people to continually social distance.” She further explained that protesters went out in shifts in order to be able to maintain this social distancing, making the crowd seem smaller where the action was happening.
Other community services were broadcast over Twitter, but not over traditional media.
Multiple reports from protesters talk about how police were using stingray technology, a tool developed for police to set up fake cell phone towers that can be used to spy on those in attendence as well as shut down communication amongst the crowd. They are claiming that they are unable to get reliable service or upload videos of police malfeasance due to the technology designed to disrupt crowds. This is in addition to a suite of tools to identify and track protesters.
In fact, CNN reporter, Omar Jiminez, a black man, was arrested on live TV for allegedly not following orders to move – despite no order being heard on live television and actively trying to comply once it was actually made to him. Meanwhile, his colleague, Josh Campbell, a white man, was a bit away covering the same event. Once he showed his credentials – just as Jiminez did, he was not asked to move and was let be. During a protest against the racist murder of a black man by police, the Minneapolis Police Department signaled that these were not just four bad apples, racism is paramount in their department.
In Louisville, Kentucky, we saw a new level of violence against reporters – the local NBC affiliate’s reporter was shot with pepper balls by police, multiple times, targeting her. In fact, they were originally believed they were shot by rubber bullets, but the police department alleges they do not use rubber bullets, which tells you of the damage that these balls can do.
Attica Scott, a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, also reported that she was tear gassed and manhandled by officers who gave her no orders, just simply attacked her.
Back to Minneapolis, a video emerged of a strange man playing at agent provocateur. He was alone, oddly carrying an umbrella and wearing a gas mask walking to an Autozone store around the protests and calmly bashing out windows with a hammer. Protesters confronted him, urging him to stop, and he eventually walks away, followed by some protesters still confronting him until he yells and threatens them with the hammer.
This seems odd enough, but the story seems to have thickened on Twitter where it was alleged that his ex-wife (in some cases his fiancée – miswritten as fiancé) saw him and identified him as Jacob Pederson of the neighboring St Paul Police Department wearing her gas mask and gloves. Unfortunately, many, many people tweeted about this but they weren’t sharing the original tweet, so it is hard to confirm who the original tweeter was or her actual relation. The Police Department denies the rumors.
Whether or not it was this officer, it was someone trying to create false evidence that property crimes were being committed in order to delegitimize the protesters.
The video was originally uploaded by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison suggesting it was an agent provocateur, but YouTube took it down – an act that seems to be a case of obstruction of justice. Yeah, Keith, charge them.
A riot later erupted in another part of Minneapolis, unrelated to the protesters. Looting began and fires were set that Minnesota Governor Tim Walz blames on outsiders based on arrests made. Included in the mayhem is an act that arose from the protesters themselves – the MPD’s third precinct headquarters was burnt down shortly after antagonizing the protesters.
A source who spoke to us but declined to be identified, claims they can verify that it was legitimate protesters who burnt the precinct headquarters to the ground, but feels the rest of the fires were a mix of community members who were angry and agents provocateurs. They could confirm that some of the destruction was by white supremacist groups such as the 3%ers. They said that members of the community have looted, focusing on big corporations rather than smaller community businesses, but suggested the looters wouldn’t have burnt any place they were looting. They also brought up how, for example, the African American Empowerment Center was not boarded up while everything else around it was because they knew that if it was burnt down it would not be by community members.
Two other events happened across the country at protests which raise eyebrows. In Louisville, late into the protest, guns were allegedly fired from within the crowd injuring seven protesters. In Detroit, a man drove up to the crowd, started firing into it, and killed a 21 year old man. In both cases the crowd was targeted with random shots fired. In the wake of the agent provacateur in Minneapolis, we are left to wonder whether this was an undercover officer, the work of white supremacists, or some other organized terror.
There is a Matter of Legitimacy
In order for a government to successfully operate, it must be viewed as legitimate in the eyes of its subjects. I wrote a bit on the legitimacy of our elections three years ago for Inquisitr. In order to get people to accept the rule of a government, certain prerequisites must be met: it must be perceived to be able to enforce its governance, it must meet certain expectations of what it is supposed to be – in our case that is of a government chosen by and responsive to the people – and it must provide a way for grievances to be successfully resolved.
Currently, in America, it is generally perceived to be able to enforce its governance – it has a large military and police forces capable of putting down threats to its governance, but a strong history of corruption and working only for some of us rather than all of us has it ready to crumble at its foundation.
Whether it is serving white people over black, latinx, hispanic, arabic, and indian people or, rich over the poor, or straight people over LGBTQIA people, it has been playing favorites over multiple fronts. With multiple people displaced from their jobs with the pandemic, Congress passed a massive bailout for big business to keep them from losing profits due to the “risk” they were supposed to be taking on to justify their obcene profits while giving a pittance to the masses who are actually petering on the edge. Mitch McConnell made it very publicly clear that he controls the Senate and he will not allow the people to get an ounce more of aid as they suffer. Rather, they will be dependent upon their employers to reopen and then risk their lives in the pandemic. In fact, he insists that employers be held harmless if they do not adequately have what is needed to keep workers safe from COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2. If an employer decides that employees may not wear masks or fails to provide sanitation equipment, they should just be able to get away with it according to McConnell.
On the Presidential front, when he isn’t throwing a hissy fit over Twitter essentially responding to one of his tweets with a warning that it is misinformation – and it was blatant misinformation – he is working on making it so that employers are immune from many other regulations put in place to protect workers and consumers. Our government is not working for us – but rather it is working for the interests of the super rich who leech off of our productivity.
George Floyd, himself, was allegedly passing a fake bill – a very poorly made fake bill suggesting he was not experienced in forgery – in a very low level crime. It isn’t reported what he was buying, but it seems the place was famous for selling menthol cigarettes and he may have just been trying to feed a legal addiction he could no longer afford thanks to the slashing in the income of a security guard during the pandemic. He may have been buying food.
When the masses have a grievance in America, we see that it rarely is corrected by the system. Did a giant corporation mistreat you? Good luck fighting them in court with the legal team they can afford – they often pay settlements worth much less than they stole or the harm they caused.
Did a handful of conmen with immense wealth scam the system and cause the entire economy to crash? Well, no one gets arrested and the banks get massive bailouts.
Did a cop kill someone wrongly? They often remain on the job, don’t get charged, get very low charges if they are, or get acquitted based on a poor showing by a prosecutor that favors them. In the case of the murder of Michael Brown, the prosecutor allowed the defense to have witnesses he knew for a fact were lying at the grand jury. Why does that matter? Because it is unheard of for a defendant to get any witnesses at a grand jury who merely deliberates if there is strong enough of a case to go forward, let alone witnesses that could be easily be proven to be lying. That was their way of letting the officer off the hook.
After decades of the same grievance getting no relief, under Democratic or Republican administrations, it is completely understandable that people lose faith in the system. With every abuse, every poor court decision, every corrupt bill, every slap on the wrist for major malfeasance, the legitimacy of America has been chipped away.
Legitimacy is vital because it is what makes people accept the way things are. If you suddenly see your neighbor declare themselves king of the neighborhood, you are unlikely to accept their claim – but we accept the legitimacy of the United States of America because it is supposed to be what we make it; we are supposed to be free from the sort of violence that happened to George Floyd or Breonna Taylor; we are supposed to be able to work our way up in the world; our government is supposed to be working for us rather than against us. However, more and more, this legitimacy fades as corruption and greed chips it away to reveal charlatans robbing us and treating us as their disposable property. This is a crisis of decades of mismanagement accelerated by Trump’s corruption, incompetence, and complete disdain for the majority of Americans.
To that end, there are two strategies held by the two major parties that are as divergent as their end goals are the same. Republicans are imbeciles who feel that they can run roughshod over America and play us for docile fools; they feel that scapegoating and demonizing the protesters will get them what they want as if these protests or feelings were localized. These protests are not about two individuals – they are about thousands who have suffered similar fates – the individuals are but symbols of wider problems that are felt across the nation. Democrats are pragmatic and at least realize that they need to put on a show and appear to be on the side of the oppressed because they know that if the people really became conscious of the horrors going on that it would all crumble and we would eat the rich. They must keep things tolerable enough that we don’t. Therefore, they look to blame it all on outside agitators to make it seem as if everything is still as normal and there isn’t a revolutionary fervor boiling over just under the surface.
Martin Luther King Jr said “a riot is the language of the unheard,” and he is certainly on the mark. A riot doesn’t happen in reaction to a single event, it happens from repeated abuses that are unaddressed. The rioters were not simply unheard now, they’ve been unheard for years – for decades. It is not a rational decision, but rather it is an irrational reaction by groups of people ready to snap from built up angst and despair. A riot is spontaneous. A riot is sparked by an incident, but it is fueled by long term feelings that can be ignited by that spark.
An individual commits a crime, but a mob riots – for good or for ill – for valid reasons or internalized misinformation. It is not a beautiful part of human nature, as fascists idealize, but it is part of human nature. We are not solitary animals, but social creatures that work on group selection and evolution has selected groups of humans who will explode into motion to overthrow a despot or repel a threat. That is why there is scapegoating – the far right wants that inevitable rage to be misapplied toward some minority group rather than the true perpetrators of our collective sorrow.
A riot was justified by the refusal to hold the officers to account – eventually only Chauvin was charged with the lowball charge of third degree murder – by decades of officers not being held to account, by the poverty driven by a pandemic and a Congress that chose to send people into danger rather than give them the aid they need, by the despair that nothing is changing and they are powerless. We have Donald Trump in office on one end, and the best the Democrats would allow – after fighting a valiant campaign against merely reforming the system to be tolerable but keeping their corporate bosses in power – was Joe Biden, a man who has “no empathy” for the plights of the young and impoverished and a long history of racist legislation. The mainstream media will not entertain third parties and so people are distraught.
For people who are seeing themselves as directly targeted by agents of the system – i.e. cops – combined with a constant day to day struggle to survive following that system’s rules with a particular struggle from the lackluster response to the pandemic, it is completely legitimate for them to target that system in times like this. To target the institution that killed George Floyd mercilessly and actively attacked those who peacefully protested as happened when the 3rd precinct headquarters was burnt down is a valid target of their outrage. To target the economic base of that system which keeps them struggling in poverty or near poverty in order to find relief by looting stores such as the aptly name, in this case, Target is fully justified. These are the things that one should suspect to happen when communities are perpetually abused.
In fact, the police in this country are so utterly illegitimate at this date that had the citizens of Minneapolis gone out and started picking off cops on street corners, it would be justified – it would be an act of collective self defense. If anyone says that a black person has less to fear by seeing a cop on the street than cops have when they use deadly force, they are being dishonest. Without legitimacy, the police are merely a group of unruly thugs causing mayhem, essentially a street gang, not a valid institution worthy of respect. Illegitimate groups do not hold the sway of legitimate ones.
But it manifested as a riot. A riot – other than perhaps from a sports team losing – does not shame the rioters – it shames those who created the material conditions that gave rise to the riot. The rioter is but a mere effect of those conditions, swept up into an irrational furor. More concerning to those calling the shots now, a revolution will generally begin ultimately the same way – though more protracted and directed – it comes all at once as there is enough fuel to drive people to action, disillusioned by the illegitimate oppressor sitting before them. It would be wise to make massive reforms to address these material conditions; as wise as it would be for the masses to not be fooled by such sudden concessions.
Ultimately, it is a diseased system that is outdated that has caused these conditions, not individual actors. Mere reform will stem the tide but the abuses will return in one form or another to create the same material conditions again and only by removing the diseased system can the cycle be broken. We not only need to fundamentally change the economic structure in this nation, giving people the full value of their labor through collective ownership and control of the means of production, but we need to fundamentally change the electoral system to allow for full participation of all viewpoints, ending the gaming of the system through gerrymandering, and becoming more responsive to the masses. However, while a peaceful transition from one system to the next is in the best interests of all, it is generally desired only by the revolutionaries.
The property damage that has happened across Minneapolis – and which may very well happen across much of the US if the material conditions are not addressed – property damage that will not be mitigated by the deploy of forces that only serve as a physical reminder of the system that people are reacting to – was created by two separate sets of actors. The damage done to the symbols of that system, to the large chains, to a large part is due to the community as an irrational reaction to the oppression and deaf ears of the system. The other damage was perpetrated by white supremacists, the street soldiers of President Trump, in order to defame the community and protesters, creating the illusion that they attacked small shops and honest community centers as well as homes and cars on the street. There is no doubt they were emboldened by the President’s promise to start shooting the marginalized once these white supremacists fulfilled their goal.
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