The United States is now in the midst of multiple crises, even if we do not count the one precipitated by hyper-partisanized Republican senators immunizing clearly corrupt acts by a sitting president. The pandemic is ongoing, and federal efforts remain just as incompetent. Now a new crisis mounts as a white nationalist administration is now mobilizing the military, warning governors that if they do not ‘dominate’ protests in their state he will use that military against American citizens.
Trump made a brief Rose Garden appearance to make exactly that threat today, an appearance timed to coincide with the tear gassing of nearby protesters so Trump, basking in the violence, could hold up a Bible at a nearby church. It was an action intended to provoke further violence across America.
In a call to state governors today, Donald Trump sputtered for nearly an hour making those demands—but backed by administration loyalists. Attorney General William Barr, who reportedly has dispatched Bureau of Prisons riot police to use against the protests, repeated Trump’s call for governors to “dominate” the protests with a show of force. His Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, told them “we need to dominate the battlespace.”
A brief summary of today’s protest news, all of which will be horribly obsolete by morning:
• Over 4,000 people have now been arrested by police. While some areas have seen looting of businesses, most violent incidents captured on camera appear to be instigated by law enforcement, including a repeated targeting of journalists.
• Terrence Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, visited the site of the killing today, where he urged the crowd to “educate yourself” and vote. “That’s how we gonna hit them.”
• Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has now turned the Floyd case over to state attorney general Keith Ellison, who promised to “bring to bear all the resources necessary” to prosecute the case.
• Republican Senator Tom Cotton, an idiot, made multiple demands for protesters to be met with military force, including the “101st Airborne.” “Whatever it takes to restore order.”
• Former President Barack Obama was among the leaders to step up as Trump shifts between public silence and furious tweeting. “The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable,” writes Obama, but actual change only happens “when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.”
• Former Vice President and Trump election challenger Joe Biden made multiple public appearances, meeting with protesters and community leaders.
• Trump, however, spent the weekend in relative sequestration, including a brief move to the White House’s underground bunker (and a shutdown of the building’s outside lighting) during one evening’s protests. Trump’s advisers “calculated that he should not speak to the nation because he had nothing new to say and no tangible policy or action to announce,” reported The Washington Post.
• The vast majority of violence continues to be against protesters, not by them. James Scurlock was shot and killed while protesting in Omaha, Nebraska, this weekend, shot by a bar owner with multiple prior gun-related arrests.
• The “neck restraint” tactic used by officers during the Floyd arrest was known to be dangerous, with 44 people rendered unconscious by Minneapolis police officers during the past five years.
• After her restaurant caught on fire during the protests, the owner had a clear and direct message. “Black lives matter.”
• The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, and while outside gatherings appear to spread the virus much less extensively than indoor ones, the protests are still considered dangerous transmission points. Some types of aggressive police actions could make those dangers worse.
• Under Trump, the Justice Department of Jeff Sessions and William Barr eviscerated Obama era programs aimed at investigating and reforming violent police departments. This was intentional.
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