So, the protests that started in Minneapolis over the murder by police of George Floyd for spending a possibly fake $20 bill in a grocery store have spread across the country. Atlanta, Los Angeles, Memphis, Seattle, Louisville, Houston, hell, even Tupelo. They've gone as far and wide as Toronto, London and Berlin. That's right, our embarrassment of a law enforcement system is a world-wide shame.
Before we get too deep into it, links from the News of the week:
Monday is basically catching up after a rough personal weekend, and Wednesday's talking about how Bill Barr's Department of Justice is letting insider trader and Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler off the hook. Turns out having your husband - CEO of the New York Stock Exchange - make a million dollar contribution to the President's Super PAC goes a long, long way in the interest of justice. Imagine that.
Friday, well... I don't want to say I'm proud of it, but I do think it's a good piece. It's about the details of the Floyd murder and how the protests are becoming what they are. I didn't like having to write it, but here we are. Still, whatever it is I do, it's a primo example of it.
That all being said, the protests have definitely changed. I don't know if it's a natural evolution or if they've been hijacked by people and groups (organized or otherwise) who're taking advantage of the confusion and anger of Black America at yet another murder of another black person by the police to advance different agendas.
All of that sounds bad. Maybe it is, I don't know. Anti-rent groups, anti-government groups, anarchist black bloc folks, those "Boogaloo" goobers, Proud Boys, soi-disant socialists, radicals of every stripe, and people who just like to see the things burned have been accused - credibly in some cases, others not so much - of escalating the protests into riots by giving the cops a reason to turn violent. And then there are credible accusations of the police meeting peaceful protests with pepper spray and batons right out of the gate. There's been plenty of accusations of cops doing some "agent provocateur" business, and in some cases, the cops' attempts to deny it have come off... well, let's just say they're not due the benefit of the doubt and leave it at that.
Me, I don't know. Here on my hill in Peaceful Valley, 15 miles from the nearest gas station, it's hard to tell. I am a little surprised Tupelo held a rally, but the Lee County police's reputation with the Lee County African American population is spotty to say the least. This is Mississippi, after all, and old times here are not forgotten at all. I don't really do protests anymore, mainly because my social anxiety doesn't want to be around a large group of people having a good time, much less one telling the Man to eat shit and daring him to do something about it.
I'm not proud of it, but there you go. I do what I can, even if it's just acting as a chronicler of the times. Something is in the air, though. I mentioned the "Boogaloo" thing earlier. From what I understood, it was an outgrowth of the whole Pepe/groyper/kekistan balderdash of disaffected right-wing white kids from the suburbs who think not getting laid because they have a lot of guns is enough to wage another Civil War.
However, according to this elucidating thread by J.J. MacNab of George Washington University, it isn't that black and white. McNab studies anti-government extremism and has shown herself to not only be a reliable source of information but also one of the more insightful chroniclers of the world of sovereign citizens, anti-tax protesters and other assorted pissed off white dudes. Some Boogaloos support the police, some detest them. Some support the military, some detest it. Some support Trump, some loathe him. Some are explicitly white supremacist, some are explicitly racist. Age, economic status, race, all of that is secondary to an anger and resentment that's looking for an outlet. It's as varied and lacking in coherent ideology as anarchism is. Some explicitly call for violence, while some merely warn that it's inevitable.
Me, I don't know. I will never understand why we all can't just be nice to each other and have a good time. Corporate America doesn't have to be a soulless, empty hole of mendacity and greed, and the government doesn't have to be crooked, small and greedy. The masters of the internet don't have to be craven bootlickers to power who sell their soul for 30 pieces of silver and stock options. The cops don't have to be violent and thuggish, and the military doesn't have to bully the rest of the world at the behest of business interests. We don't have to screw each other over and horde all we can just to survive or, if not that, feel worthy of respect and admiration.
I've said before that as much interest as I have in anarchism, I've never really felt welcome by any of the various strains of thought. Being a weird old writer on a hill suits me more, in that if no one wants me around, I'm fine by myself. Maybe it isn't that drastic, but I'm too tired to care and have too much fun doing what I do to risk screwing it up. Part of me wishes I could be in the thick of things, as I wonder if this is how the air smelled in the late '60s in places like Chicago and Berkeley. Only now, you don't have to actually be in those cities to be a part of the ride. The wonders of modern technology have put us all on the front lines if we want to be there.
Again, I don't know, man. It's all too big for me. And on top of that, we're still seeing an unchecked, raging epidemic that's killed 100,000 people and shows no signs of slowing down. Be nice to each other. Have a good time but not if it comes at the expense of someone else's enjoyment of life. Don't trust the government, the cops or even the media. Trust yourself and be able to make decisions.
Above all, get a helmet and buckle in, neighbors. It's going to be a bumpy ride in this long, hot summer.