My country is on fire. The riots which began in Minneapolis Minnesota have spread throughout the world. I was concerned when they reached Philadelphia, I have friends and loved ones within the now barricaded city. I just came back from the pharmacy and it too has closed in preparations for more. Less than a mile from my home.
I have spent the last few days providing intel for friends who want to join the protests, and guidance for the younger ones who think they have to be there. These kids really don’t know what they’re up against.
In Indianapolis, friends on the ground report seeing a MK19 firing teargas. The MK19 is a belt fed 40mm automatic weapon, used by the military. It has a three hundred seventy five rounds per minute cyclic rate, equating to a practical rate of sixty rounds per minute. It’s target range is seventy five to fifteen hundred meters. At fifteen hundred meters, the shooter can’t see his target.
Other friends have seen pallets of bricks being dropped off in some cities. I have wondered since Ferguson where people found bricks to throw on a city street. Now I know.
I have tried to explain to people the motivations of the police, and though some thought I was justifying their response others made use of the information. Kids can be hard headed, I hope that protects them.
The police are there to protect the community. Peaceful demonstrations usually end peacefully, but when fires are started and property damaged they respond with force to dispel the crowd. While tear gas and rubber bullets are less than lethal responses, they do on occasion kill. Fired from fifteen hundred meters they are not aimed at an individual, but still may hit one. My advice to all has been know who is around you. Shun outsiders.
There are no available statistics, so I won’t say “all,” but many of the riots were started by outside agitators as we used to call them; the new name is “accelerators.” They are usually people with goals completely opposite of the demonstrators. They intend to distract attention from the object being protested, so they can claim the protestors were just violent looters, avoiding the issue of another murdered black man. Every person who says “Why are they burning their own neighborhoods?” does not understand that “they” did not start the fires. Once the situation turns into a riot common sense finds an exit, some people steal from the broken stores. Again, this is often outsiders, turning a riot into an opportunity to steal. You can pretty much be sure that none of the people carrying away television sets were part of the non-violent protest. Outside and out of race people have frequently been seen committing acts of vandalism in the name of Black Lives matter.
Thankfully, nearly everyone carries a phone and takes videos. The racist assholes who incite the riots are often assholes in day to day life, the ones that have been identified have usually been pointed out by ex-girlfriends. Such as this man, identified as an officer of the nearby St. Paul Police Department. The following video was filmed in Boston earlier today, I have no idea why the police would destroy their own car, but a number of crimes in Boston have been falsely blamed on “black men” who did not exist.
I don’t think there is a single person who saw (fmr.) Officer Derek Chauvin kneel on the neck of a handcuffed, bleeding, and gasping for air George Floyd for nearly nine minutes (the last two minutes of which he was already dead), doubts the officer’s guilt. Finding that in his nineteen year career he had received nineteen complaints of excessive force came as no surprise, nor the fact that his wife filed for divorce and fled as soon as he was in custody. I don’t think anyone would say there are no bad cops. My thoughts are the other three officers on the scene are guilty of dereliction of duty at the least, up to and including accomplice to murder. I just can’t say there are no good cops.
I used to work with them. None of them had been cloned, they were individuals with the same flaws as any human. It has been heartwarming to see police join the demonstrations. My local chief published a statement against brutality the day Mr. Floyd died. Countless chiefs across the nation have met and joined protestors.
I can’t think of an instance in which the chief joined the protestors, and a riot broke out. Ours did not.
As I am writing this, the news is live at interstate 76 at 20th street in Philadelphia. The edge of the barricade. Several hundred protestors broke off from the peaceful demonstration and blocked the interstate. It took less than five minutes for tear gas to start flying. Police have swarmed the area and are taking people into custody, no resistance. This is our third day of protests, the city is under curfew from six to six, just forty five minutes from now. The reporters are emphasizing that this is a splinter group. The incoming bridges are closed. It would be easy to characterize the city as “under siege.” Philly has a reputation for violent police responses, going back to Mayor Rizzo who was police commissioner in the sixties, and continuing when Mayor Goode dropped a bomb on a house in 1985. Today they’re looking good, everything is orderly and peaceful.
A station chief who had served in the former Soviet Union once advised me “When the shooting starts, the conversation is over.” This applies to everything, including the protests. Once violence begins, no one is thinking about anything other than survival.
Another saying from that time was “Think globally, act locally.” Change can be made at the local level, with time those changes can move to larger theatres. One man changing the world only happens a few times in a lifetime, focusing on local elections, local issues, is the way to make a difference.
For now, we just need to watch the rain and hope for a rainbow.