Days of sound and fury

I’ve been watching the protests-slash-riots over the past few days with a growing feeling of dissatisfaction not just at how little good they’ve achieved, but at how little good anyone involved seems to want to achieve.

I could understand rioting, at first. General window smashing tends to happen when people are pissed off, and if all the cops lose is a few squad cars and a precinct house, they should consider themselves lucky. The looting of businesses is borderline, but a lot of the participants believe that capitalism is the root of all evil, and while they exaggerate to the point of absurdity, I’m not going to weep over a corporation taking a hit…

…or at least I wouldn’t if the corporation actually took the hit, but that’s not how the system works. Most businesses serve as middlemen, skimming a percentage off of every transaction between producers and consumers; the cost of repairing a storefront will just be passed along in the form of lower wages or higher prices. After a couple months of widespread and government-mandated unemployment, people are less able to take another hit, and an unknown but non-zero number of them are going to die from this.

You’d have to have a chance for real, positive societal change to justify risking other people’s lives, and the current crop of protesters isn’t even pushing for real societal change, if the #8CantWait thing is anything to go by. Minor tweaks in use-of-force policy and the occasional hollow gesture toward the mirage of accountability aren’t going to keep cops from killing people.


I’m going to assume, for the moment, that the people who burned down an apartment building in Columbus, Ohio knew it was vacant. I haven’t seen any “before” photos of the one in Minneapolis, but the one in Columbus looked finished. If they didn’t know, or didn’t care… as someone who’s lived in an apartment building hit by arson in the wee hours of the morning, I have strong feelings on the subject.


“So,” I’d say to the other side if I didn’t already know the answer, “tell me more about this law and order you’re offering – ”

Nothing to see here, just a bunch of cops calmly strolling down a quiet suburban street, noticing someone’s filming them, and switching to tactical screaming and excessive force immediately. Good thing they were loaded with paintballs… but if they hadn’t been, would they have responded any differently?

Side note: the Minneapolis PD doesn’t know that Wayback exists.

And then there’s this:

Although Washington, D.C. is under curfew due to the George Floyd protests, the DC Board of Elections and Mayor Muriel Bowser have made clear that anyone waiting to vote in the district’s primary elections are exempt from the curfew.

But according to the reports of at least one voter, some police in the district are still telling people waiting in line to vote to disperse and return to their homes.

“If you don’t like what you see on the news, then what you need to do is vote in November.”

And this:

The radio station reported that two medics came forward and helped the man into an ambulance. Police later said that a man was injured after tripping and falling, the radio station said.

But after viewing the video, Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood ordered an investigation and suspended the two officers…

“It’s just a few bad apples! The police can be trusted to hold each themselves accountable!” Apparently it works the other way around:

And my “favorite” is probably…

Seriously, watch that last video:

  1. A guy walks up to a line of cops and starts talking at them – “fuck the police,” etc. – from what he probably thought was a safe distance. He’s blatantly unarmed.
  2. One of the cops steps toward him and sprays him with mace.
  3. The guy turns away from the cop, reaches for his face, then apparently thinks better of it. At this point he’s standing still, hunched over a bit, in pain, and even less of a threat to the cops’ safety than he was before.
  4. Another cop walks forward a bit and SHOOTS HIM IN THE HEAD AT CLOSE RANGE WITH A GRENADE LAUNCHER.

This is law and order.


When the fires have gone out, the crowds have gone home, and the cops have partially demobilized, the result will be:

  • A few more people will be hardened in their politics, either for or against the police. (Didn’t G. Gordon Liddy claim to have become a more radical righty after seeing an anti-riot sandbag emplacement in a hallway?)
  • A few people will be punished, justly or unjustly, proportionately or not.
  • The foul system we’re living in will roll along, essentially unchanged.
  • Sooner or later it’ll all happen again. Next time, though, the belligerents will have built up their burn-down-apartment-buildings and shoot-at-unarmed people reflexes, so it’ll happen a little faster, or a little bigger. And we’ll suffer a little more.


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