Biblical and Constitutional Politics

Protests Turned Riots
(Lockdown Frustration, Domestic Terrorism, and Lack of Respect)
Part One

By Gary F. Zeolla

 

      Just as America was emerging from the Coronavirus-inspired lockdowns, a tragic death occurred in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Monday, May 25, 2020. George Floyd (a black man) was killed by white police office Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck, while three additional white police officers stood by and did nothing. This two-part article will look in detail at this tragedy and its aftermath.

 

Videos

 

      Portions of the video of this killing has been widely circulated. The full video is very graphic and filled with foul language, so I will not be reposting it here, but I link to it on YouTube in the References at the end of Part Two. Here, I will say, it is very disturbing to watch. It is in essence a snuff film.

      The full unedited video lasts for over ten minutes. For the first four minutes, George is on the ground with Derek’s knee on his neck. George is pleading for his life, saying he cannot breathe, while the police officers are berating him. Meanwhile, bystanders are pleading with the police to let him up. Then in minute four, George stops moving and talking. At minute eight, George is placed on a stretcher and taken away in am ambulance. He does not move that entire time.

      As the ambulance drives away, the cops continue to argue with the bystanders, with much foul language being exchanged. As the officers leave, you can hear someone saying repeatedly, “You just killed that man, bro.”

      Most anyone who watches the video will say that what occurred was disgusting and uncalled for. However, going back to the Los Angeles Rodney King riots of 1992, those riots were also  inspired by a video of white police officers beating a defenseless Rodney. I can remember clearly many commentators back then saying we did not know what happened before the video began nor what happened after it ended. The same is true this time.

      In Rodney’s case, there is little doubt he had been resisting arrest, and that is what promoted the beatings by the police officers. Whether that amount of force was necessary or not was wildly debated at that time. But it is known Rodney was later arrested in Florida for a violent crime, and he died shortly thereafter.

      Today, we do not know what happened prior to the video beginning. However, a second video (also linked to in the References) emerged from NBC News of a surveillance video showing George being taken out of a SUV by the police. He does not appear to be resisting arrest. But he does appear to be in pain from the handcuffs. The surveillance video ends with him being led away by the cops, with George standing and walking. But there is no sound.

      Another video released by ABC News seems to show a police officer struggling to get George out of the police cruiser. ABC claims the video was taken before George was pinned to the ground. But you cannot see George in the video, and again there is no sound.

      But still, even with all of this video evidence, we do not know what happened before George was put into handcuffs. And we do not know what happened between the end of the surveillance video and the beginning of the NBC video, then between that video, and George being on the ground. Though it is hard to image what might have happened in those missing minutes to justify the treatment George received.

      However, it has been reported George was arrested for passing a phony $20 bill. The coroner’s report afterwards said he had, “fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use” (NBC News. Medical). As such, there was probable cause for him to be stopped, and the intoxication could have led to him resisting arrest in a forceful manner before he was handcuffed. We just do not know.

      George was also a rather large man. In fact, he had been a bouncer, until he lost his job due to the CV-related business closures. All of that figures into why the officer felt such a choke hold was necessary to subdue him.

      However, in the first video, as mentioned, George stops moving after a few minutes. At that point, Derek should have let up on his knee, but he did not. He continued to kneel on George’s neck for another two plus minutes. It is during that time that George probably expired. That is when Derek went from subduing a suspect to potentially committing a murder. He has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

      Many, including George’s family, want him to be charged with first-degree murder. But that requires proving premeditation and intent. There is no indication of either. However, it has been reported that George and Derek might have known each other prior to this incident. They both worked security for the same nightclub in 2019, though one worked inside and the other outside. It would have to be established that Derek had some kind of animosity toward George from those days that carried over to today. That would be hard to prove.

      Second degree murder requires proving intent. But again, it would be heard to prove Derek intended to kill George. Third degree murder, however, only requires proving reckless behavior on the part of Derek. That seems to clearly be the case and should be easy to prove.

      The other three police officers should be and probably will be charged as well. I am not sure what the exact charge will be, though it will probably have something with “indifference” in the name.

Update: One June 3, 2020, the charge against Derek was increased to second-degree murder. The other three officers were arrested and charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder. The charges could result in 40 years sentences for all four officers. Personally, I think they have overcharged them, which will make it harder to return guilty verdicts on our all four. But we will see what happens.

 

The Protests and the Lockdowns

 

      Given the graphic nature of the video and the fact that it went viral on the Internet and across the news media, it is understandable that many would feel outraged about the death of George. That then could understandably lead to protests in Minneapolis and elsewhere.

      However, the size of many of the protests were quite large, and I thought from the start that fueling the protests was the long standing frustrations many have felt due to the lockdowns, stay at home orders, and business closures that have been utilized across the country in reaction to the Coronavirus (CV). People have been looking for an excuse to get out, and this tragedy gave them that excuse.

      It is also obvious that most of the protestors have thrown caution to the wind in terms of CV restrictions, in that there was no “social distancing” going on during these protests. But few in the media chastised the protesters for that fact. That is so unlike the extreme chastisement the media gave to those who congregated on beaches and other watering holes over Memorial Day weekend.

      I said previously about those on those beaches that given they were outside in the heat and sunshine, there was little likelihood of infection. That is somewhat the case here, though with many of these protests going on into the night, that heat and sunshine part were no longer applicable. As such, in that respect, these protests are more likely to lead to outbreaks than the beach gatherings. However, unlike those on the beaches, from what I have seen, most, though not all, of the protestors were wearing masks of some sort. That could potentially offset the lack of social distancing.

 

The Riots and Domestic Terrorism

 

      But then the protests turned violent. They went from being First Amendment protected freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assembly and to protest into riots, with cars and buildings being torched and businesses being looted. Such behaviors are in no sense protected by the First Amendment.

      Again, my first thought was this was still frustrations over the lockdowns coming out. Most Americans have been forced to self-isolate in their homes, while tens of millions of Americans have lost their job, and a 100,000 small business have been closed permanently. I have warned since the start of these lockdowns that they were causing untold economic and mental health damage to millions of people. Add in outrage over the George Floyd video, and I could see that boiling over into violence.

      However, I began to hear on various news outlets that most of those who were being arrested for violence during these protests were not from the cities they were rioting in. There were in fact members of Antifa. I discuss this group in my book Tearing the USA Apart. In that book, written in the fall of 2018, I deem this group a domestic terrorist group. I detail the violence committed by them in that book and called on the FBI to label them and to treat them as such. But sadly, that had not happened before now. This violent group has been allowed to ferment and grow unmonitored. And now we are seeing the results of that lack of surveillance.

      But at least now, President Trump is planning on designating Antifa as a domestic terrorist group, and Attorney General Bill Barr had said Antifa and related groups are behind the violence. He also has called them domestic terrorist groups and has said they will be treated accordingly.

      But I should mention, some officials in Minnesota are blaming out of state white supremacists for the violence. I also mention white supremacists in my Tearing Apart book, though only in passing. But I discuss both Antifa and white supremacists in more detail my article Alt-Right vs. Alt-Left in Charlottesville, VA.

 

Masks Wearing

 

      When the orders to wear masks in public were first initiated, I warned that doing so would make it harder to identify criminals and even to recognize a criminal before he or she commits a crime. My point being, previous to just a few weeks ago, if you saw someone in public wearing a mask, you knew he was up to no good. But now, with everyone wearing masks, that early warning is gone.

      Moreover, with everyone wearing masks, it makes it harder to identify those engaging in criminal behavior, and that is the case now. Though it is good that most of the protestors were wearing masks in regard to the CV, it is not good that with everyone doing so, it is very difficult for law enforcement to identify those who are engaging in criminal behavior.

      Antifa has long known to wear masks while committing their hideous acts, long before these CV-inspired masks wearing orders. However, their masks are not the medical-style makes most are wearing. The Antifa masks have always been black bandanas. That makes them somewhat identifiable. And in fact, I saw lots of those kind of masks among the rioters. That observation then confirms that Antifa is behind these riots, more so than frustration, boiling over from the lockdowns, though I still think that frustration is at play.

 

Pittsburgh Protest Turned Riot

 

      All of the preceding played out here in my home-city of Pittsburgh on Saturday, May 30, 2020. The protests began at 2:30 pm. They remained peaceful for all of two hours. But after 4:30 pm, violence began to break out. It began with the torching of a police cruiser. Then multiple store windows were broken, the stores looted, and another police cruiser was torched. Multiple police officers and three local reporters were injured. Three of the police officers required hospitalization.

      Graffiti was spray-painted across many buildings and even on a statute of Pittsburgh Penguin’s great Mario Lemieux. The graffiti mainly consisted of a hammer and sickle. Why that symbol is being used is beyond me, as it looks like they symbol of the old USSR. But those who are using that symbol are probably too young to even know what the Soviet Union entailed.

      In any case, Pittsburgh police chief Scott Schubert confirmed that the violence was instigated by Antifa:

 

      “I’m willing to bet my check that there’s a lot of people who are anarchists, who, they’re not here to protest what happened, they’re not here to protest what happened, they’re here to take advantage of situations and throw it their way and bring other people into the mix and cause damage and cause injury,” Chief Schubert added. “There’s no doubt that that’s who’s doing it and a lot of things we’re seeing are white males, dressed in the anarchist, ANTIFA, they’re ones who are fueling a lot of this. It’s just a ____ shame that they took advantage of the situation, for something, something happened in another state where somebody died who shouldn’t have died, and they hijacked that message for their own” (CBS).

 

      Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto then spoke. He referenced the many protests we have seen previously here in Pittsburgh, many due to events here in the city, such as the shooting of Antwon Rose that I discuss elsewhere. But in none of those cases did things ever turn violent. At worst, streets and highways were blocked, and that was it. There were hardly ever any arrests. But with this protest turned riot, “dozens of rioters had been arrested and dozens of businesses damaged” (Trib. George).

      Come Sunday morning, there was broken glass everywhere, mostly from businesses that had been broken into and looted. Sadly, many of those businesses had just reopened from the CV lockdowns or were planning on reopening this Friday (6/5/20) when Allegheny County (where Pittsburgh is located) enters the “green phase” of our governor’s reopening plan.

      Sunday afternoon, another protest took place in Pittsburgh and in several other cities in southwest PA. But they were all been peaceful. But there was still a curfew set for 8:30 pm through 6:00 am Monday morning. Then Monday afternoon, another large moving protest was held on the east side of Pittsburgh. About a thousand people slowly moved through the streets in a peaceful manner. It lasted for several hours, with no violence. That is as it should be. However, those in the crowd most definitely were not practicing social distancing, as they were quite packed together as they slowly made their way through streets.

      On the 6:00 pm edition WTAE TV News (ABC affiliate), a medical expert said the lack of social distancing was disturbing and could lead to a flare up of CV infections. But he said the fact that they were outside and moving would help to mitigate that risk somewhat.

      In any case, with this protest going on, the mayor extended the curfew for another night, to Tuesday morning.

 

Economic Damage of the Riots

 

      As indicated, the country had just begun to emerge from the CV-inspired lockdown. Many businesses were slowly beginning to reopen, and many people were just beginning to return to work. However, I have long feared these lockdowns would lead to a deep and protracted recession, while some have feared we might even be heading for a depression. These riots could tragically push us over that edge into a depression.

      First, you have the economic costs of the massive police presence that is needed in each city with these protests. In many states, the National Guard is being called into action. The President has even threatened to send in the military. All of that costs money to federal, state, and local governments, whose budgets are already reeling from CV-related expenses.

      Then you have many businesses that have been torched. Those businesses are unlikely to reopen, given that fire insurance usually has clauses that exempt payments for riot-caused fires. Those closed businesses will be added to the 100k businesses that have already closed permanently due to the lockdowns.

      Even the cost of replacing broken windows is quite expensive. A local news reporter questioned a window repair man. He said it would cost $5,000 to replace each of the large pane windows in the store fronts. But kudos to him for having the foresight to be downtown right at 6:00 am as the curfew ended to place his business card on the door of each shop that had suffered window damage.

      In any case, then there is the cost of cleanup. The broken glass and graffiti across Pittsburgh will cost much to clean up.

      Then there is the loss of business. Needless to say, people were not coming into downtown Pittsburgh or into other cities to shop or to engage in other acts of commerce while the protests and riots are occurring.

      Then as with our mayor, other mayors and governors across the country have ordered curfews. CNN reported 40+ cities had curfews over the weekend. Yet, many businesses, like bars and restaurants that just reopened, would have been open during those times.

      Of course, this is all just one week. Therefore, the economic damage might not be too great yet. But if it continues much longer, then the economic damage will be significant. If it occurred while the Trump economy was still booming, as it was three months ago, it might not have mattered so much. But since we effectively burst that bubble with the lockdowns, putting our economy in a precarious state, the economy could ill-afford another hit. And millions could suffer a result.

 

The Reaction of the Various Levels of Government

 

      In addition to curfews, many states and localities have activated the National Guard. That is good, but many were too late in doing so. That is how Minneapolis got so violent. The police were overwhelmed and had to stand down. But the mayor or governor should have known as soon as that video surfaced that protests would result and that they could turn violent. The National Guard should have been activated immediately.

      The same happened here in Pittsburgh. The police were overwhelmed and were told to stand down. That is why so many businesses got vandalized and looted. And again, many of those businesses had just reopened or were preparing to do so this Friday.

      When mounted policed showed up, that seemed to fuel the situation. If such was going to be used, they should have been there from the start. And both horse and rider should have been in protective riot gear. But neither were, and they were pelted with rocks. That lack of preparation was inexcusable.

      A deli owner called into a local talk show. She said she had been preparing to reopen this Friday, which again, is when Allegheny County goes “green.” But her business was broken into, the windows broken, and the insides ransacked. She now has now idea when or if she will be able to reopen. That story is being repeated over the city and the country. The last report I saw is that 71 businesses had been vandalized in downtown Pittsburgh, and probably thousands across the country have been so ransacked.

      But at least, “Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told those vandalizing Downtown that they will be arrested” (Trib. The morning). There are videos of the thugs breaking into the businesses. Though most were wearing masks, their faces were caught on the videos. As such, I hope they can be identified and arrested. Dozens have already been arrested here in Pittsburgh and thousands more around the country. But there needs to many more such arrests if this violence is going to be stopped.

       Meanwhile, on Sunday, President Trump put military police on alert, saying they will be sent in if the mayors and governors cannot control of their cities. Though he said he would rather the situations be handled locally. At that time, my hope was the latter does not happen, as the thought of military policing our streets is terrifying. We are already on our way to a police state with the way the lockdowns have been enforced. But that could be the final straw.

      As I have warned elsewhere, the more people break the law, the more draconian restrictions become. When personal responsibility is lost, the government steps in to control people with draconian measures. That has happened time and again with the CV restrictions. But now, the curfews and measures to control these riots could lead to even more loss of freedoms.

      Then on Monday afternoon (6/1/20), on a phone call with the governors, the President said they need to “dominate the streets.” He then reiterated that line in a Rose Garden address at 6:45 pm Monday evening. In that short speech, he said he was invoking an 1807 law that enabled him to use the military to squash the rioting. That law is the Insurrection Act. But there are debates as the legality of utilizing it. CNN reported it says the US military can only be used if a state requests the help, which none have done at this point.

      While that short speech was occurring, the road was being cleared in front of the White House from protestors by the Secret Service and National Guard. That was done so that the President could make his way to the historic St. John’s Church across the street from the White House that had been torched the night before. Trump said he wanted to show his respects. But I think he wanted to show the governors how protestors can be cleared if sufficient force is used. He then stood in front of the boarded-up church holding a Bible.

      CNN went nuts over that move. They said he pushed out “peaceful protestors for a photo op.” But that “photo op” was important. It was symbolic of taking our country back from the thugs trying to overrun it. Moreover, a curfew went into effect at 7:00 pm, and this occurred just after that time. As such, all of those protestors were now in violation of the law. And the graffiti and other damage that could be seen as the crowds were cleared showed they were not really that peaceful.

      It also should be noted, the day before, when the protest turned violent outside of the White House, the Secret Service appropriately moved the President into a bunker in the basement of the White House. But the media criticized him for it, saying he was hiding and not addressing what was going on. Some even called him a “coward.” But now, when Trump takes a bold stance, leaves not just the bunker but the White House, and shows the mayors and governors how to deal with the protestors, he gets criticized for that. Basically, no matter what President Trump does, the media will criticize him for it.

Update: I later learned additional details confirming my observation that protestors were in no way peaceful, as the media kept claiming. Also no tear gas was used, despite repeated claims by the media that it was.

      In a statement released on Tuesday by the USPP [United States Park Police] , the law enforcement agency said “no tear gas was used” when clearing a large group of protesters from the area. The USPP said they took the steps “to curtail the violence that was underway,” pushing back against claims that the protest was entirely peaceful.

      “At approximately 6:33 pm, violent protestors on H Street NW began throwing projectiles including bricks, frozen water bottles and caustic liquids,” the USPP said in a statement. “The protestors also climbed onto a historic building at the north end of Lafayette Park that was destroyed by arson days prior. Intelligence had revealed calls for violence against the police, and officers found caches of glass bottles, baseball bats and metal poles hidden along the street.”

      Still, the Park Police acknowledged using smoke canisters and pepper balls on the protesters.

      “As many of the protestors became more combative, continued to throw projectiles, and attempted to grab officers’ weapons, officers then employed the use of smoke canisters and pepper balls when protestors did scatter from the area," the statement said (Fox News. Park).

 

This two-part article is concluded at: Protests Turned Riots (Lockdown Frustration, Domestic Terrorism, and Lack of Respect) - Part Two.

References:

See end of Part Two.

Protests Turned Riots (Lockdown Frustration, Domestic Terrorism, and Lack of Respect) Part One. Copyright 2020 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).

Tearing the USA Apart
From Kavanaugh, to Incivility, to Caravans, to Violence, to the 2018 Midterm Elections, and Beyond

            The United States of American is being torn about by political differences more than any time since the 1960s and maybe since the Civil War of the 1860s. This division was amplified by political events in the summer to fall of 2018. This time period could prove to be seminal in the history of the United States. This tearing apart came to the forefront and was amplified during the confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. This book overviews the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation proceedings in detail. It then overviews these additional major events that occurred up to the end of November 2018.

The above article was posted on this website June 2, 2020.
The Updates were added June 4, 2020.

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