Sunday, May 31, 2020

Reaping the Whirlwind: America Now Confronts the Reality of Its 2016 Election

Imagine what they're capable of when they're not live on national television. 

One sadistic cop might be an aberration; four at the same scene of a minor arrest is evidence of systemic cultural rot. 
It's not enough for Minneapolis to fire the four, or even to prosecute them — although they have all been fired, and the kneeling officer has been charged with third-degree murder. The entire department needs to ask why these individuals fit into its culture. Why did Officer Derek Chauvin think that he could be filmed crushing the life out of a man without consequence? Why did three fellow officers think that they’d be better off letting Chauvin do it than if they stopped him? That's one sick brotherhood of the badge.

The tale of the tapes
The Minneapolis police didn't tell the truth in their initial press release, claiming Floyd, a black man, resisted arrest. They also omitted that an officer pinned him to the ground by the neck. (He was originally stopped for a nonviolent offense.) 
Two subsequent tapes put an end to those lies. Floyd could be heard on one video saying that his neck hurt and that he couldn't breathe: "They're going to kill me."
The police then treated protesters like insurgents instead of citizens, using flashbangs, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protests — which became riots. 
Those riots destroyed property and resulted in another death, but at the beginning of that story is the murder of a black man by police officers. 
"I've wrestled with, more than anything else over the last 36 hours," said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, "Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?"

Put yourself in the position of a relatively conscious black person in America just since this past March. Black people have seen a pandemic disproportionately rip through their communities while the media continually runs live press conferences of a racist president lying about the disease. We’ve seen layoffs and unemployment ravage our communities while Congress funnels billions of dollars to white-owned businesses. We've seen white people absolutely lose their minds, waving guns and Confederate flags at police officers, pushing them into lakes and gathering in large groups without consequence while we've seen police literally sit on black people for allegedly violating social distancing orders.
And then the stories of the killings started. In the past three weeks: Ahmaud Arbery was lynched, on video. Breonna Taylor was killed by police in her own bed, offscreen. And George Floyd was choked out on the street in broad daylight by police while strangers literally begged for his life. 
Imagine you've been black this whole time and watched all of this happen and you show up to protest and, instead of being met with docile, restrained police that the white Confederates get, you are confronted by police in full riot gear who use tear gas and rubber bullets to control your crowd. 
And then you see a rock. And then you see an unguarded white-owned business. And then you see a match. 
The fact that most black people do not pick up the rock in that situation is a miracle. The fact that the overwhelming majority of black people respond to the violence and terrorism practiced against us with words and songs instead of rocks and bricks is altogether supernatural. America should be thankful black and brown people respond to state-sponsored violence with nonviolence. In other times, in other places, the injustice regularly practiced by the white American paramilitary forces known as the local police would be met with rebellion or revolution. Here, black people take to the streets, and almost all of us do so nonviolently. America is the luckiest place on earth…. 
This country could be on fire almost every night in almost every city. It's not, because most black people in this country choose to exercise tremendous restraint. Most black people are still willing to talk this out. Most black people have the courage and fortitude to withstand the violence done against us without lowering ourselves to the level of an American police officer. 
America should be more thankful for that. And it should remember that it's a choice.

Wendell Griffen, "The Whirlwind Is Here!":

Have you viewed the ten minute and twelve second video of the May 25, 2020 killing of George Floyd by former members of the Minneapolis Police Department? 
        Why haven’t you?
        What are you afraid you will see?
        What are you unwilling to see?
        What are you unwilling to admit? 
Have the four now former members of the Minneapolis Police Department responsible for killing George Floyd in broad daylight before onlookers who also videotaped their conduct been arrested on suspicion of committing a homicide (causing the death of another person) of George Floyd? 
        Why haven’t they been arrested?
        Why have they not been held in custody and required to post bond?
        Who decided they should not be arrested?
        What message was sent when they were not arrested?  … 
As the prophet Hosea wrote concerning the ancient Hebrew nation of Israel, this society has always sown the wind of white supremacy with its tolerance of state-sponsored terrorism and slaughter of black, brown, red, yellow, and poor white people.  People of color have long known that this society "shall reap the whirlwind."
The whirlwind from the seeds of long pent-up outrage about systemic law enforcement abusive and homicidal conduct has arrived at the same time the nation and world are gripped by the global Covid 19 pandemic which highlights racial disparities in countless areas of life.  The whirlwind from generations of corrupt and racist political leadership now has arrived when the US is led by a vicious idiot, despot, racist, and sociopath named Donald John Trump.  
The whirlwind is here.  The United States cannot, should not, and will not escape.

Josh Marshall, "The Gang Leader as President":

That this all occurred as the country remains gripped in an historic epidemic which has just taken the 100,000th American life and the national economy staggers under the weight of that crisis simply adds to the surreality and crisis of America under Donald Trump. 
In 2016, Will Saletan made an observation I've returned to again and again. "The GOP is a failed state and Donald Trump is its warlord." What was and is true of the GOP is now, in a sense, true of America. A warlord never rules, let alone governs, a party or country. He dominates a chunk of it by force and violence and overawes the rest of it by that example. He pillages the whole and rewards supporters with the pickings to maintain his hold on the political rump that sustains his power. It is the fundamental brokenness or fragmentation of the larger unit that makes this feat possible. 
We see this today on every front.

Second, police aggression is a key ingredient in turning peaceful protests violent. The situation in Minneapolis began with nonviolent demonstrations, but the police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, and as was true in Ferguson and Baltimore — where police met protesters with military equipment — this changed the dynamic of the confrontation. When crowds feel threatened, they get agitated, and agitation creates the conditions for property damage and other forms of disruption. 
Last, it is impossible not to note the contrast in how the Minneapolis protesters have been treated compared with armed demonstrators protesting lockdowns in Michigan and other states. I wrote earlier this month about how the idea of "freedom" is shaped by race and racism. Here, we have a perfect example of exactly that: how the perceived legitimacy of protest and dissent is shaped by who is doing the protesting. Screaming, gun-toting white people can demonstrate with little resistance. Mourning black people, on the other hand, are liable to face state violence.

Reproduced from Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

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