Posts Tagged ‘george floyd’

Vandals Attack Monument to Black Civil War Soldiers

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Rioters deface monument honoring all-black regiment of Union Civil War soldiers.”

Bystanders Plead with Cops Not to Kill George Floyd

Monday, June 15th, 2020

This video is very painful to watch.

The Heroism of Patrick Hutchinson

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Patrick Hutchinson, a protester in London, carried an injured white man over his shoulder to safety. He said, “You have to show some sort of love for your fellow man.” He said, “I want to see equality for everybody. I am a father, a grandfather and I would love to see my young children, my young grandchildren, my nieces, my nephews have a better world than I have lived in. The world I live in has been better than my grandparents and my parents and hopefully we can continue until we have total equality for everyone.” He added, “We’re all one people, we’re all one race.”

Was George Floyd Set Up on Drug Offense?

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

The drug war is a moral and legal atrocity, overtly racist in origin, still racist in effect. One problem is that it heavily incentivizes dirty policing. It turns out that George Floyd “served time in state jail” for a 2004 drug offense by a lying cop.

Vincent Carroll on Policing

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

Vincent Carroll, Colorado’s greatest living columnist, points out that he has long advocated various police reforms. “But that doesn’t mean I have to buy into today’s simplistic pieties that cops, as a rule, are bigoted and brutal, that nothing has changed in 40 years and that it’s easy to identify suspects who pose little threat,” he writes. He relies heavily on data of Colorado police shootings compiled by CPR to put events in context. I do think policing today is better than it has been in the past but that it continues to fall far short of where it should be.

Sam Harris on Policing

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

Sam Harris makes some eminently reasonable points about the current moment, which of course means that he probably will be pilloried. He argues (among other things) 1) various police reforms obviously are needed, 2) good policing is crucially important, 3) rioting and looting is immoral and politically dangerous (as it gives Trump a campaign issue). But I think Harris is overly worried about the breakdown of civil society. America has almost always had this sort of unrest. White mobs literally used to enforce a reign of terror against black people in this country; we’re nowhere near that level of chaos. I think (or hope) there’s a lot more consensus around these issues than what Harris presumes.

Harris points out that violent crime as well as police violence are down dramatically over the past quarter century. He also points out that by important measures police violence is not especially worse against minorities. But I think this largely misses the point. Much of the problem is not measured by easily accessed statistics, as many instances of racist and abusive policing aren’t even reported or recorded. And I think a big part of what’s driving the protests is the recognition is that policing often is bad across the board. It’s not like all black cops are angels or cops only abuse black people.

Harris also makes the point that many of the now-infamous videos and cases of police violence are not as clear-cut as many assume. Granted. And, granted, the police officers who killed George Floyd almost certainly did not intend to kill him. But they reasonably should have known that putting that sort of weight on him, including the knee to the neck, easily could have killed the man, as it did.

Harris makes the really important point that a police officer, who has a gun on the hip, cannot afford to be overpowered. We should interpret arrests with that in mind. At the same time, I add, we should also recognize that cops now reflexively repeat, over and over, “stop resisting,” regardless of the behavior of the person being arrested, to cover any misuse of force on the part of the officer.

Harris has a great line: “The problem is that these no-knock raids are an obscenely dangerous way of enforcing despicably stupid laws.”

Harris hopes for a future, the same future that Martin Luther King Jr. hoped for, in which “the color of a person’s skin really doesn’t matter.” A “post racial future.”

Harris closes with some powerful words. He worries about the person “who has rendered him or herself incapable of dialogue . . . who will not listen to reason, who has no interest in facts, who can’t join a conversation that converges on the truth, because he knows in advance what the truth must be.” He adds, “The only thing that makes conversation possible is an openness to evidence and arguments, a willingness to update one’s view of the world when better reasons are given.”

Cautious Optimism about Protests and COVID-19

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

Protests in Minnesota don’t seem to have resulted in a spike in COVID-19 illnesses so far. Looking at the state’s data, cases seem to be headed down, as do hospitalizations. But the numbers remain worrisome, as hospitalizations haven’t declined by much, and daily reported deaths remain relatively high (with 25 as of the last update). I’ll be interested to see real studies that evaluate whether the protests led to any measurable uptick in cases.

You Have Entered the Autonomous Zone

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

“Claims that bands of militant Antifa members are roving the Seattle streets appear to be grossly exaggerated in right-wing media,” CNN reports. It would be nuts to think that! “It is true that demonstrators have occupied a small, six-square block section of Seattle and designated it an ‘autonomous zone.’ And it is true that, after clashes with police, a precinct was boarded up and evacuated in an attempt to deescalate the situation.” Move along, nothing to see here . . .

Governor Jay Inslee assures us, “The area is largely peaceful.” It has a nickname: CHAZ, for Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.

The New York Times has a piece about this.

Emily Pothast has a leftward take on CHAZ.

Objectivists on the Protests

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

People who follow Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism may be interested in a recent video featuring Objectivist scholars discussing the protests. Of interest to me is a difference in emphasis between “second generation” Objectivist Peter Schwartz and “third generation” Objectivists Onkar Ghate and Gregory Salmieri. Schwartz argues that the Black Lives Matter movement is essentially bad because it promotes the overthrow of capitalism, a generalized “white guilt,” and the defunding of police. Ghate and Salmieri argue that some people sympathetic to the movement have legitimate concerns regarding police abuses. (With that I completely agree.) Ghate argues that an intellectual’s job is to help people sort out the good from the bad aspects of a given broad movement. The speakers use environmentalism as an analogy; Objectivist discussions of libertarianism and religion also are pertinent.

What should people do, rather than support the Black Lives Matter movement? The speakers say support individualism and capitalism, explain the proper purpose of government, support objective law, and promote sensible police reforms toward protecting people’s rights. Objectivists generally are on board with ending the war on drugs and reining in asset forfeiture, among other specific reforms.

Salmieri notes that a philosophic perspective integrates the more-concrete concerns of the day with abstract principles. Ghate notes that rising racism on both right and left is part of a general cultural trend toward collectivism, tribalism, and irrationalism. The speakers agree that intellectual intimidation is a growing problem in our culture. Toward the end the speakers delve into some of the problems of finding good research on particular issues such as police abuses.

Police Brutality on Display

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

Here is a Guardian headline: “Protests about police brutality are met with wave of police brutality across US.” That’s about right. I’ve seen video after video of police needlessly assaulting peaceful protesters and journalists. Ironically, the police themselves, because of their often-despicable behavior regarding the protests, have catalyzed the movement for reforming the police.

COVID and the Protests

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

Ashish K. Jha writes, “1. I support the protesters. 2. I am deeply worried protests will fuel outbreaks. 3. I am angry we are in a position where there is tension between racial justice [and] fighting COVID because we didn’t suppress the virus.” I think that’s exactly the right take.

I also Tweeted something about the relationship between the disease and the protests: “Ironic: The government’s incompetence in stopping the coronavirus early led to the lockdowns, which contributed to restlessness and social-starvation that contributed to the protests, which will lead to mitigating the government’s incompetence with respect to criminal justice.”

A Note of Optimism

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

I Tweeted June 8: “Some people see America falling apart. I see countless Americans rising to meet twin crises with intelligent discussion, tireless effort, moral resolve, and an eye toward a better future.”

Hong Kong Protest Tactics

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

American protesters picked up various strategies from protesters in Hong Kong, such as using umbrellas as shields, traffic cones to cover teargas canisters, and leaf blowers to blow away tear gas. Protesters in Hong Kong use various other strategies, such as using lasers and paint to disrupt cameras and rapidly moving to new locations.

Chicago’s Horrific Violence

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

In Chicago, “18 people were killed Sunday, May 31, making it the single most violent day in Chicago in six decades, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab. The lab’s data doesn’t go back further than 1961. From 7 p.m. Friday, May 29, through 11 p.m. Sunday, May 31, 25 people were killed in the city, with another 85 wounded by gunfire, according to data maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times.”

Here is what Reverent Michael Pfleger told the paper, “I heard people saying all over, ‘Hey, there’s no police anywhere, police ain’t doing nothing. I sat and watched a store looted for over an hour. No police came. I got in my car and drove around to some other places getting looted [and] didn’t see police anywhere.”

This is horrific. I don’t pretend to have the answers to this. End the drug war, yes. Clearly deep socio-economic problems are at play. But it does seem obvious that the people most at risk from inadequate policing are those in the most distressed neighborhoods where violent crime is high. We need reformed policing, not no policing.

Armed Black Protesters Arrested in North Carolina

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Jordan Green has the story: “As a peaceful protest was dispersing on Tuesday night [June 2], Greensboro police arrested six African-American men, charging them with violating a North Carolina statute called ‘Weapons at Parades Etc. Prohibited’ and seizing guns from five of them. In contrast, three white men, including one with a history of firearms training with open white supremacists, showed up armed with handguns and rifles while wearing paramilitary gear at the protests on the first three nights while making violent posts on Facebook, and have so far managed to avoid incurring any similar charges from the Greensboro Police Department.” The double standards here are shocking.

Colorado Police Reform

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

An important Colorado police reform bill, SB20-217, just passed the Senate unanimously. It went through so fast I haven’t been able to track the amendments. This is real reform, though, not just fancy wrapping. Update: Alex Burness reports the bill passed 32–1.

Denver Police Blind Bystander

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Shameful: “Denver protest bystander blind in one eye after being hit by police with ‘less lethal’ projectile. The 21-year-old said he was walking to his car and not participating in protest.” In other news, at this moment the Colorado Senate is passing a police reform bill. The officer or officers who blinded this man should be prosecuted.

Tattered Cover Pilloried

Monday, June 8th, 2020

Tattered Cover, a Colorado institution as Denver’s most-successful independent bookstore, affirmed that “Black Lives Matter” and pledged to carry and host “a wider diversity of books” and author events. But, the store’s owners said, they weren’t keen on taking an active role in public debate. That’s a perfectly reasonable stance for bookstore owners. For that statement, of course, the owners were pilloried. So, of course, the owners issued a groveling apology. I’m sure others will draw the obvious lesson that it’s better simply to shut the hell up and keep your head down.

The Extraordinary Courage of Samantha Francine

Monday, June 8th, 2020

This photo by Grace Jensen of Whitefish, Montana is one of the most powerful portraits of courage I have ever seen. It shows a large, belligerent white man aggressively towering over a smaller black woman at a Black Lives Matter rally. The woman is Samantha Francine. She stands, resolute, calm, unflinching, looking the man in the eye.

Video of the event also captures the confrontation. As the protesters chant “Peaceful,” the man screams, “F*** all of you.”

Samantha Francine told her story: “I have been trying to find my words about this moment for the last few days. For all who have reached and checked on me, thank you. For all of you that have stood by my side, THANK YOU! I want to start off saying I am so proud to be standing there with all of you, especially you beautiful teenagers! There is a lot of emotion and it’s awesome that your generation is leading the way. Secondly I have received so much love from family, friends, and strangers! It’s been overwhelmingly beautiful. My perception of myself and how others see me are vastly different and you all have given me so much love and support. Thank you. A friend of mine sent me a screenshot of this photo the day it was posted by my beautiful friend Grace Jensen. With everything going on I immediately just thought ‘wow, what a powerful photo,’ then I realized it was me. The words are still hard to find, but I wanted to share the one thing that did go through my mind in this moment. As a child, I grew up with a single white father and who was originally from Chicago. He taught us from a young age that things were going to be different for us just because of the color of our skin. One of the things he use to remind us constantly was that ‘no matter the threat, always look them in the eye so they have to acknowledge you’re human.’ My father pased 16 years ago this month. In this moment, those are the words that went through my head. When I lifted up my glasses, he saw me. I saw him. He was acting out fear, I know that. I hold no malice in my heart for this man. I hope this moment will soften him. I hope he will be changed. But even if he isn’t, I am. Yes I had power this day, but I couldn’t have done it without all of the courageous people around me. We are stronger united and in this moment I felt the that. Whether you will be standing with us tonight, or holding space, I ask you to join US as we continue to be apart of the change. Dear Whitefish, big things are coming. It’s going to be beautiful!”

Armed Black Gym Owner Seeks Peace at New Mexico Rallies

Monday, June 8th, 2020

Generally I worry about people bringing guns to protests. But the Santa Fe New Mexican tells the interesting story of how an armed black man and gym owner in Albuquerque, Jon “Bones” Jones, sought to keep the peace at protests. I found it amusing that the article does not even mention the fact that Jones is black, although it shows a video of him. I have no problem with armed shop owners protecting their shops from looting and destruction, so long as they’re careful about it and not needlessly confrontational. I’d rather the professional police forces actually do their jobs and keep the peace and protect people’s property. As for those who want to “defund the police,” what do they think that looks like, if not more people taking defensive measures into their own hands?

Lockdowns for Thee but Not for Me

Monday, June 8th, 2020

Tyler Cowen worries about health experts who supported the lockdowns and also the protests. Discussing one such party, Cowen writes, “My worries run deep. Should the original lockdown recommendations have been asterisked with a ‘this is my lesser, non-citizen self speaking’ disclaimer? Should those who broke the earlier lockdowns, to save their jobs or visit their relatives, or go to their churches, or they wanted to see their dying grandma but couldn’t . . . have been able to cite their role as ‘citizens’ as good reason for opposing the recommendations of the ‘scientists’? Does the author have much scientific expertise in how likely these protests are to prove successful? Does typing the word ‘c-i-t-i-z-e-n’ relieve one of the burden of estimating how much public health credibility will be lost if/when we are told that another lockdown is needed to forestall a really quite possible second wave? Does the author have a deep understanding of the actual literature on the ‘science/citizen’ distinction, value freedom in science, the normative role of the advisor, and so on?”

As I have noted, various health experts have indeed voiced concerns about the protests spreading SARS-CoV-2. Still, Cowen has a point.

Related: Dan Diamond writes, “For months, public health experts have urged Americans to take every precaution to stop the spread of Covid-19—stay at home, steer clear of friends and extended family, and absolutely avoid large gatherings. Now some of those experts are broadcasting a new message: It’s time to get out of the house and join the mass protests against racism.”

I’m going to watch the numbers closely. If it turns out that the protests don’t lead to a disease spike, I’m going to totally stop worrying about outdoor activities. If there is a spike, I’ll maintain stricter distancing.

Romney Marches

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Mitt Romney marched in Washington D.C., saying, “We need a voice against racism, we need many voices against racism and against brutality. And we need to stand up and say black lives matter.”

Virginia Officers Faces Charges for Tasing Distressed Black Man

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Well this is painful to watch. Police in Fairfax County respond to an obviously distressed black man. One officer tases the man repeatedly as officers wrestle him to the ground. “Fairfax Co. officer faces assault, battery charges for tasing man.” This is a good illustration for why social and health workers should take these calls, not Rambo Wannabe cops.

Minneapolis Disbands Police Department

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Minneapolis Votes To Disband Police Department.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but apparently the plan is for more community-based policing. I’m skeptical. But this should be interesting to watch.

The New York Times reports, “Council members said in interviews on Sunday that they did not have specific plans to announce for what a new public safety system for the city would look like. They promised to develop plans by working with the community, and said they would draw on past studies, consent decrees and reforms to policing across the nation and the world.”

Update: Minneapolis councilor Phillipe Cunningham clarifies (June 8), “We did not vote to disband the police yesterday. A super majority of the City Council formally announced support for beginning the process of doing so to build new systems of public safety. That distinction matters because a plan has to be put into place first. Creating the plan to build new systems of public safety is THE critical component of getting this right. We have to work alongside our amazing Police Chief Rondo and our community to build these new systems and plan to transition to them. For me, ‘disband the police’ means ‘end policing as it current exists and build new alternative systems to public safety.’ That isn’t easy and is going to take time, but we can do it together.”

French on Structural Racism

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

David French explains to conservatives why they probably don’t take “structural racism” seriously enough. He says his views changed after adopting a daughter from Ethiopia and witnessing first-hand the racism she endured: the “white woman who demanded that [she]—the only black girl in our neighborhood pool—point out her parents,” a “police officer approached her at a department store and questioned her about who she was with,” the time a young girl said she couldn’t come over because her “dad says it’s dangerous to go black people’s neighborhoods.” And then the racial nationalists went after French. He writes, “It’s hard even to begin to describe all the ramifications of 345 years of legalized oppression and 56 years of contentious change, but we can say two things at once—yes, we have made great strides (and we should acknowledge that fact and remember the men and women who made it possible), but the central and salient consideration of American racial politics shouldn’t center around pride in how far we’ve come, but in humble realization of how much farther we have to go.”