- We are in an overly cautious moment when it comes to criticizing incidents of violence and property destruction, even if they are tangential to protests against police brutality and racism.
- The protest movement is fair and the demonstrators deserve respect. However, opportunists and violent vigilantes should not be undeservedly legitimized by coming into conflict with "demonstrators".
- Protesters who act like bad cops hurt the cause. And not clearly distinguishing between protesters and guards, Trump and the brigade play "law and order" directly into the hands.
- This is a split opinion. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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When an innocent man – pulled out of his car and held captive by a mob in the middle of a Portland street – was kicked in the back of the head and knocked unconscious, it is a criminal and sadistic act. It should be clearly and unambiguously described as such.
It doesn't matter if either of the perpetrators shouted a slogan referring to a protest movement rooted in a just cause. It is an unjustifiable act of violence that is not worthy of the word "protest". But the Washington Post still identified the mob as "protesters".
We are in an overly cautious moment when it comes to criticizing incidents of violence and property destruction, even if they are tangential to protests against police brutality and racism.
But the excessive shyness and amalgamation are myopic and destructive. They are also insultingly patronizing.
We – the general public, the media, and academia – shouldn't shy away from denouncing behaviors that are eerily similar to violence perpetrated by abusive police. If Trump and his Law and Order brigade do not distinguish between civil disobedience and rank crime, it is much easier to equate every peaceful protest with every shop front burned down.
And if Polls show support for Black Lives Matter is eroding are indications that a lack of clear definition of what is part and not part of the racial justice movement can undermine popular support for its just causes.
Police brutality is not stopped by "demonstrators" acting like bad police officers
In June, protesters established a police-free "autonomous zone" in downtown Seattle. In the press it was described that there is a "block party atmosphere".
But a not insignificant number of people Anyone who lives and works in this area – including members of marginalized groups – did not feel like a party or even a cop-free zone. Rather, they described that they were not allowed to leave or enter without the permission of armed, mostly white, young men.
They have been widely referred to as "protesters" in the media. More precisely, they could be described as brutal police officers or perhaps militiamen exercising their self-declared authority.
Looting has occurred on such a scale In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been raising the city's bridges on a regular basis for weeks to restrict access to downtown. Light foot said on the riots: "This is not a legitimate speech that is protected by the first amendment. These were not poor people involved in petty theft to support themselves and their families. This was direct criminal behavior."
But there is still a pause in referring to the destruction and theft as "looting". ProPublica Illinois went with "an outbreak of property destruction and unrest."
In Portland this August a group of people hanging out in front of a 7-11 robbed and beaten a trans woman, then turned hers Attack on an unarmed manAdam Haner entering to defend them. When the incident was over, Haner had been falsely accused by the crowd of trying to run people over, chased, detained in the street and then knocked unconscious until he was bleeding profusely from the back of his head.
Adam Haner's girlfriend, Tammie Martin, was also beaten.
"You kept calling me names that called me a white supremacist [expletive]. You have a friend who is a white supremacist and you say you're a loser. I hope your friend dies," Martin said KPTV Oregon.
Although the people who nearly beat their boyfriend to death rarely used the same slogans and rhetoric as the Black Lives Matter protesters, Martin said they apparently had nothing to do with the BLM protest, which took place a few blocks away.
The Washington Post heading The report of the incident read: "A man was seriously injured in an attack after crashing his truck while protesting against Black Lives Matter in Portland."
But they weren't protesters, they were bullies, the bad cops of this block. They did not line their bodies against authority, they sought the weakest signs available and used violence to demonstrate their own authority.
The independent journalist Nancy Rommelmann, who until recently lived in Portland, was Reporting on the riots in the City of Roses this has been going on every night for more than three months in a row. She has experienced the inherent conflict firsthand when she tried to report directly on events that are so fraught with socio-political consequences.
"When you call them protesters, some people yell," You call them violent protest! & # 39; When you call them rioters, different people say: "They don't support it when people can say what they want to say," Rommelmann told me.
Sometimes it is really difficult to make a distinction. Peaceful protests were tarnished by marginalized groups who took advantage of the crowd to pillage and riot without the support of the vast majority of demonstrators.
However, in the Seattle, Chicago and Portland cases mentioned above, it is more difficult to justify failing to distinguish between violent violence and protest.
The failure to call violence by its name makes it much easier for critics of the anti-racism and police brutality protests to twist the message and label all demonstrations as violent – which is what Trump and many spokesmen for the Republican National Convention attempted last month.
You cannot win justice through brute force alone
There are those who feel It is wrong to criticize violence and destruction by members of marginalized groups on behalf of their cause. Some even believe that the use of the word "violence" is not pale.
While fires burned in Minneapolis after the murder of George Floyd, the author of the New York Times Magazine and creator of the "1619 Project" wrote Nikole Hannah-Jones confirmed that it is "disturbing" to "see people take property out of business" and "property is destroyed". But she argued that it was immoral to call such things – typically described as looting and rioting – "violence".
"Violence is when a state agent kneels on a man's neck until all life is drained from his body. The destruction of property that can be replaced is not violence," said Hannah-Jones.
That's true up to a point. Murder is the most hideous violence. And when such violence is used by an agent of the state against an unarmed person, it is morally indefensible, as is the act of living. But a cop who commits murder is not the only thing that can properly be condemned as violence.
Many also argued that the burned down shop windows in Minneapolis were of little concern. Insurance would cover it, so the theory goes.
It shouldn't be terribly surprising to learn that it doesn't. The whims of the small print of the insurance policy and the bureaucratic bureaucracy are Many small businesses remain permanently destroyed.
Isn't that violence, or at least a tactical and moral impasse for a protest movement that seeks justice, justice and accountable authority?
Couldn't get it right automatically. This is one of the lessons that should already be learned from the criminal justice reform movement. Whether it is distributed by police officers, reactionaries or demonstrators, brute force does not automatically serve justice.
Violence should not automatically be viewed as a political act, and the legitimation of vigilantism by the term "protest" is a terrible precedent.
Bad police officers are a scourge, their conduct should not be copied by protesters, nor should the rest of society tacitly excuse it.