I slept far better than I thought I would last night. That’s about the beginning and the end of the good news.
I live only a couple blocks from where the downtown protests were being held yesterday and I had steeled myself for a long night of sirens and angry screaming. I could hear explosions a few times and the chanting, horns and drums were easily audible from my balcony, but the downtown protests seem to have remained mostly peaceful. Either I somehow slept through the noise or it died out soon after 11pm.
This was not the case around Lake and Hiawatha, the neighborhood where I grew up and attended high school, where cops and citizens clashed all night long, culminating in the evacuation and eventual destruction of the Third Precinct. It’s difficult to condemn this shocking event when it was so, well, “deserved” I think is a fair word, all things considered.
Also, oddly, 170 buildings in St Paul’s Midway neighborhood are damaged or in ruins today, miles and in a completely different city from where George Floyd was murdered. How and why did a rapidly deteriorating protest start in a unrelated area so far away? And how, when the police arrived, did the people doing this damage scatter, reconvene and carry on in suspiciously organized fashion?
Why was this CNN crew arrested for no reason?
Why was this GI Joe reject motherfucker firing rubber bullets at bystanders – not protesters, bystanders.
SPPD shooting rubber bullets at people outside Midway Target as we demand to ask why — @MayorCarter @sppdmn DO NOT ESCALATE this situation. My phone battery is dying. We CANNOT let our city law enforcement make this worse. I am here talking to people & monitoring pic.twitter.com/niPEj9oPHf— Mitra Jalali, St. Paul City Councilmember – Ward 4 (@Ward4STP) May 28, 2020
And why did this piece of shit unleash an unprovoked, unnecessary tear gas spraying drive-by, targeting bystanders at the light rail station?
Well THAT was uncalled for. pic.twitter.com/Qdu4LyrZ9U— Jennifer Brooks (@stribrooks) May 29, 2020
And the question that will undoubtedly fuel all manner of conspiracy theories, or just theories, who is this glaringly out-of-place guy wearing a $300, police-issue gas mask, dressed in black, carrying an umbrella for security camera protection, and a single hammer, who walked up and started smashing the windows at AutoZone where there was no rioting happening a mere one block from the now burned down Third Precinct?
The 13-year-old, mean girl tone response from ST Paul police regarding the not-crazy evidence that the AutoZone guy was St Paul police officer Jacob Pederson was ham-handed and hilariously unconvincing, even for people who aren’t familiar with the subtle art of PR. Snopes has judiciously marked the theory as “unproven” for now.
Our officer? He’s been working hard, keeping people and property safe, and protecting the right to peacefully assemble. It’s sad that people would post and share this untrue information, adding more confusion to an already painful time in our community.— Saint Paul Police Department (@sppdmn) May 29, 2020
In an age of misinformation, one hesitates to believe anything they see online, but the fact that information being released by law enforcement is blatantly misleading and untrue makes it far easier to assume the worst, since the worst has overwhelmingly been the truth in recent years, particularly in regards to police killing black men.
Coinciding with all this is the startling difference in police behavior when confronted with armed rednecks versus unarmed protesters. They’re not strategically, calmly deescalating when white guys with automatic weapons yell in their faces. Of course not. They’re not responding, because they know that if they fire on or tear gas entitlement-drunk idiots, the idiots will probably shoot back. Unarmed protesters on the other hand, can’t defend themselves. The cops are cowards.
When unarmed protesters marched in Minneapolis, police attacked them with tear gas and rubber bullets.— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 28, 2020
A month ago, armed protesters marched in Michigan … police did nothing. pic.twitter.com/P01kiWr6hd
I’m certain there’s no end in sight for the Minneapolis protests. Why should there be? There has been zero deescalation by city and state authorities. Mayor Frey’s and Governor Walz’s attempts at getting a handle on the conflict are flailing at best and hapless at worst.
The police appear to be operating without effective leadership, or, even worse, possibly following compartmentalized leadership by boner-sporting, riot gear-clad insubordinates who know their jobs are secure, no matter how often and flagrantly they defy orders on national TV.
In a normal job, such overt defiance of command would mean immediate termination, but it’s impossible to hold people individually accountable when cops will do anything to cover up their colleagues’ crimes and the President of the Minneapolis Police Union is an unapologetic liar who runs a side business selling “Cops for Trump” t-shirts. This asshole, Bob Kroll, who looks he came straight from corrupt cop central casting, routinely gets away with undermining the authority of the Mayor and Governor in what is effectively an ongoing coup d’etat against democratically elected leaders, without consequences.
To say the system is broken is no longer accurate. The system has been explicitly rewritten to give cops the freedom to arbitrarily kill people, politicians to lie to and then profiteer off their constituents, whites to call the cops when a non-white dares to point out they’re breaking the law, and the rich to destroy millions of lives, so they can end the year with a few extra million dollars. Meanwhile, regular people are doused with tear gas, shot at, arrested and killed for no reason.
I’ll never condone mob rule, but what other options are available in the face of this steadfast and blatant authoritarian fuckery?