Assholes Stir Up S**t At George Floyd Protests While Police Shoot Reporters With Rubber Bullets
It's been a long six months since Memorial Day when former Minneapolis police officer (and Charles Dickens character) Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd. Protests have raged ever since, not just in Minnesota but across the country. There've even gone global.
The gruesome nature of Floyd's death lit a spark, and amid the mostly peaceful protests, there's violence and chaos. Not all the riots are expressions from the unheard. Most of the violence is the result of people exploiting the situation. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz estimated that 80 percent of violent protesters were from outside the state (this was later proven untrue). He blamed white supremacists and organized drug cartels, neither of whom are supportive of the “not murdering black people" cause. Attorney General Bill Barr declared that the protesters were "planned, organized and driven by anarchic and far-left extremist groups using antifa-like tactics."
We are also two months into COVID-19 shutdowns, so as a friend noted, we're also probably seeing bored white boys taking to the streets to enjoy that Spring Break they missed.
The anarchists and “outside agitators," a historically unfortunate choice of words Minnesota officials used, are not what inspired the paramilitary police response. The police showed up in military gear from day one.
From the Washington Post:
Police in riot gear shot tear gas canisters into the crowds and fired stun grenades and "nonlethal projectiles" at demonstrators, injuring many. It was stunningly easy to point to the same department's gentle treatment weeks ago against white anti-lockdown protesters while those protesting against police violence were met with militarized violence.
Peaceful protesters report that the police have escalated the situation at every opportunity. They aren't just putting the smackdown on “thugs." They're hitting reporters with pepper balls on live TV and firing tear gas at reporters and photographers at point blank range.
Minnesota State Patrol just fired tear gas at reporters and photographers at point blank range. https://t.co/r7X6J7LKo8— Molly Hennessy-Fiske (@Molly Hennessy-Fiske)1590890186.0
Friday, the Minneapolis State Patrol arrested Omar Jimenez for reporting while black. The next day, Jimenez said his crew's cameraman and producer were hit by rubber bullets, which a spokesman for the Minneapolis police claims the department hasn't used in decades, even though people keep getting hit by them. Who are you gonna believe -- the police or your lying eyes that can't see anymore because they were hit by a rubber bullet? Julio-Cesar Chavez, a cameraman for Reuters, captured footage of an officer aiming directly at him before firing rubber bullets into a crowd of protesters, hitting both Chavez and another member of the crew.
Thank you @AliVelshi for speaking the truth on air. https://t.co/gb5Z7cS0Ow https://t.co/TStuSOJiAj— People for Bernie (@People for Bernie)1590892391.0
You'd think the one upside of violent protests is that the police could tell the difference between the press and people looting a Cheesecake Factory. Maybe journalists should start wearing fedoras again with a press card prominently displayed in the hat band.
In Seattle, Washington, protests turned violent with idiots setting fires, breaking windows, and throwing Molotov cocktails. Seattle is about 7 percent black, but the rioters were hella white. White people looting stores and burning cars doesn't help anyone, especially because black people will get blamed for it. They were also pulling this shit in Portland, Oregon, while playing Public Enemy's “Fight the Power," because they are so very white. If they really believe Black Lives Matter, they should take their signs and go protest their families. That's how they can best effect change. Their heroes (and relatives) actually appear on stamps.
Seattle and Portland both had emergency curfews in place Saturday night. Mayor Jenny Durkan declared Seattle's 5 p.m. curfew at around 5 p.m., which didn't give a lot of time for the many peaceful protesters to leave downtown. Even during the best of times, it takes an hour to move three blocks. The Annex Theatre in Capitol Hill offered a safe space for protesters.
Annex Theatre is providing medical assistance and shelter. Address is 1100 E Pike Street, Seattle, WA, 98122 #seattleprotest— Miss Riss (@Miss Riss)1590885122.0
Elected officials claim “outside agitators" are “hijacking" legitimate protests and “fanning the flames" of unrest, but militarized police tactics aren't helping. If you show up dressed for a riot, is it a surprise that you end up with a riot? The conspiracy minded among us might think that was the point all along.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."