We understand rage. Rage that can lead to violence. Violence doesn’t encourage change–it distracts from the message that it’s police behavior needs changing.
NOTE: Since 2015, Minneapolis police rendered 44 people unconscious by neck restraint. That practice needs to stop right now! That’s how George Floyd died.
Who are the looters, the rock and bottle throwers, the fire starters, etc.?
Don’t be taken in by them–they are NOT protesters. They are people with a different agenda.
Who are they and what do we do about them?
Let’s start with looters: Many, if not most may simply be opportunists. Natural disasters bring them out–fires, floods, tornadoes, etc. With police distracted by protesters, it’s a great time to loot. There’s more to it than that.
- Looting extravagant shops can be an ideological/political choice of certain anarchist groups
- Looting mom and pop stores owned by folks that don’t fit the neighborhood is another political statement
- Looting medium to low-priced chain stores is more likely an opportunist
- The target hit gives a clue who the looter is
- In only a few cases is it likely to be bona fide protesters
The violent ones are more complicated
Decades ago, during the Sixties and Seventies, there were a plethora of antiwar, civil rights, student groups and more organizations that sometimes–or often, were willing to be violent. Note the word, organization. That implies they had leaders and members. Today, not nearly so many or so organized. People drift in and out. They assemble via various social media posts.
Back then, the FBI had an illegal operation, COINTELPRO, [just do a web search, you’ll find much about it] initiated in the 1950s by then Director J. Edgar Hoover. It lasted at least through the 1970s when. It spied on a variety of law-abiding political figures, journalists and civil rights leaders–including Martin Luther King–with the intention of subverting them. Presidents Nixon, and later Reagan, were happy enough to continue the program in or outside the FBI after Hoover’s death.
With President Trump and Attorney General Barr, it’s not far-fetched to fear a return of an updated version of COINTELPRO. Could be a bit more difficult for them to execute, given the diverse and less well-organized people in extremist organizations. My guess is that the right-wing extremist groups are somewhat more organized. But extremist groups today (and some from the past as well) tend to have ephemeral leadership and communication structures.
So, are the violent ones hijacking the protests–
- Anarchists–there’s all sorts of them but by their nature, not thrilled with being led told what to do by leaders, do you suppose?
- Anti-fa–as Trump and Barr argue? Probably not.
- Just plain nihilists enjoying the chance to indulge themselves
- Right-wing extremists, white supremacists or other provocateurs
NOTE: Back in the 70s, when I was marching in antiwar protests, it was an accepted fact (before COINTELPRO revelations made it common knowledge) that there were confidential informants and provocateurs among the ranks. We reminded one another to just walk away or decline encouragement to engage in violence. So, the assumption is that those who do NOT want today’s peaceful protests to succeed would be happy to help make them violent.
What to do about them
Arrest them! How? Well, if peaceful protesters go home when curfews begin, who is left? No, it’s not simple or easy but it’s what needs to be done.
The violence accompanying the protests needs to stop. The police need to stop brutalizing Black people. Now that the protests have everyone’s attention, change can begin. It will undoubtedly not happen as quickly as everyone might like.
Whatever religion you may embrace, this admonition by Nichiren, the founder of the Buddhist faith I practice, may work just as well for you:
If you care anything about your personal security, you should first of all pray for order and tranquility throughout the four quarters of the land, should you not? WND-1:23
With concerted prayer and humanistic action, we can justify being hopeful.