Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter

‘Anti-riot’ legislation is really ‘anti-protest” bill

Let us say you, consumed with righteous fury, take to the streets should the jury in the George Floyd murder case reach a verdict of not guilty. Protest leaders caution you and your colleagues to avoid provocations. Then, for reasons known to those who have attended these things and experts in crowd dynamics, shit gets crazy. To assume the cops will throw you in the paddy wagon isn’t a stretch; nor is a night in the hoosegow. Unless evidence exists of your destroying private property and/or assaulting the police, you might expect the charges to get dropped or at worst a misdemeanor. Continue reading

‘They were clearly trying to destabilize our movement’

Ah, Florida.

When local Black Lives Matter activists started marching through the small, coastal town of New Port Richey, Fla., last summer — shouting slogans through bullhorns demanding racial justice — it took only a few days for the Proud Boys and other counterprotesters to show up and confront them.

Burly groups of mostly White men encircled the demonstrators. They revved motorcycles while yelling threats, obscenities and support for the police and President Trump, at times using their own bullhorns.

Amid fears that the confrontations could lead to clashes or shootings, police started enforcing the town’s rarely used noise ordinance, which essentially forbids disturbances louder than a close conversation between two people. But only the Black Lives Matter protesters were cited.

“We were harassed [by the counterprotesters]. We had a few guns brandished on us. … One guy even came up to me and flashed a White Power gesture in my face, but they didn’t get any noise violations,” said Christina Boneta, a Black 32-year-old mother who was taken into custody in late August and saddled with a $2,500 fine. “We are the ones who got the noise violations when, all summer long, we never threatened anybody, looted anything or burned anything.”

After months of public outrage and accusations of discrimination over the disparate penalties, New Port Richey police dropped the citations against Boneta and six other Black Lives Matter demonstrators in early January. But not before the Tampa-suburb became another front in the national debate over whether authorities treat left-wing protesters too harshly while cozying up to far-right extremists.

The contextual framework for this article is HB1, a bill proposed by Governor Ron DeSantis after last summer’s BLM protests scared the bejeezus out of white people. Never mind that Florida (the state with the prettiest name!) has laws punishing vandalism, arson, and resisting arrest; if I were to informally poll my neighbors in deepest Westchester, where Blue Lives Matter flags — a defacement of the flag more egregious than anything essayed by BLM — flapped crisp and stridently until the day after Joseph Robinette Biden’s inauguration.

Let’s be clear: seriously eyeing a presidential run, DeSantis wants violent protests in Florida so he can pin it on Joe Biden and run as the order candidate (I will not desecrate “law” by associating it with Ron DeSantis).

Finally, please note the article mentions Pasco County as a Ku Klux Klan redoubt for decades.

John Lewis, RIP

Freedom Rider. Leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Along with Bayard Rustin one of the organizers of the 1962 March on Washington. The victim of a skull fracture at Bloody Selma three years later. Pioneer in the practice of “redemptive suffering.” Thirty-four years representing parts of Atlanta in the House. Continue reading

‘The goal is parity, not superiority’

“All told, liberal society in the U.S. is, at best, just over half a century old: If it were a person, it would be too young to qualify for Medicare,” Osita Nwanevu writes in “The Willful Blindness of Reactionary Liberalism,” his response to liberal critics — Jonathan Chait types — of progressive identity politics. “Reactionary liberals,” he calls them, signatories to “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate” published in Harper. Readers will recognize, with dismay, the names of Greil Marcus, Dahlia Lithwick, David W. Blight, and Helen Vendler; others like Bari Weiss appear as predictably as infectious spread at a Trump rally. They lent their reputations to statements like this:

While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.

As Charles Pierce is fond of saying, bull, and also, shit. “Blinding moral certainty” confronting a MAGA-ite is the least we can arm ourselves with; maybe the courage to say, “Fuck you, racist asshole” too, but perhaps the obscenity is too morally blinding for these intellectuals, who must rue the day Susan Sontag died so she could join them (who knows, maybe she wouldn’t have). Continue reading

‘I was a bastard. We all were.’

“I was a police officer for nearly ten years and I was a bastard. We all were.” So starts an essay by one Officer A. Cab, a former cop who divulges to what extent police systems inculcate suspicion, paranoia, contempt for the citizens they protect, and, of course, a taste for violence. From the arrest of homeless people for dumpster diving at the behest of a city whose contract with a waste management company pays dividends and lying about the law to bullying recruits, police, he writes, “are part of the state monopoly on violence and all police training reinforces this monopoly as a cornerstone of police work, a source of honor and pride.”
And this system hates rats:

I want to highlight this: nearly everyone coming into law enforcement is bombarded with dash cam footage of police officers being ambushed and killed. Over and over and over. Colorless VHS mortality plays, cops screaming for help over their radios, their bodies going limp as a pair of tail lights speed away into a grainy black horizon. In my case, with commentary from an old racist cop who used to brag about assaulting Black Panthers.

To understand why all cops are bastards, you need to understand one of the things almost every training officer told me when it came to using force:

“I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.”

In Miami we know about these cops. Captain Javier Ortiz, suspended with pay in January after claiming he was a black man, is a shit stain with a history of proud racism and chronic stupidity. What can you do with a system this corroded from within?


For the first night in almost a decade, HTV will publish no content. That is, this image is the content. I’ve seen and read too many reports from friends, former and current students, and journalist acquaintances hurt and arrested for exercising First Amendment rights against a system that will not allow brown and black Americans to live a banal life while an attorney general orders the tear gassing of DC protesters so that his immoral president can march a few hundred feet and hold a Bible upside down for the sake of a photo op for his mindless rabble of supporters.

I will refresh this link to post worthwhile content.

For example, The Source of Self-Regard, Toni Morrison’s 2019 essential collection of non-fiction, reckons with the conflict of working under white eyes as the exemplar of your race yet struggle with the burden of also creating art as a black woman. In a 1998 lecture titled “The Trouble with Paradise,” Morrison explains the cul-de-sac of racist thought, insofar as it exists:

One of the more malevolent characteristics of racist thought is that it seems never to produce new knowledge. It seems able merely to reformulate and refigure itself in multiple but static assertions. It has no referent in the material world. Like the concept of black blood, or white blood, or blue blood, it is designed to create and employ a self-contained field, to construct artificial borders and to maintain them against all reason and all evidence.

Protesting against protesters

Black Lives Matter eroded the cerebral cortex of many state legislators. Consequently, legislators wrote bills exempting drivers who think it’s fine to run over protestors if these drivers were late for a nail appointment or a PTA meeting. The trend began with a North Dakota state representative named Keith Kempenich in January:

He proposed a piece of legislation that would waive a motorist’s liability for any damages caused by striking any person who was “obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway,” including injury or death. Kempenich’s proposal was born in the wake of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests and was a not-so-subtle jab at the anti-DAPL crowds that stalled construction on the pipeline, in part, by blocking area roads.

Kempenich explained at the time how protesters on the road were catching drivers off guard—“This isn’t their issue,” Kempenich said of motorists—but lamented the fact that, “if something had happened, [motorists would] wind up being accused of it.” He added that when a protester “comes up on the roadway and challenges a motorist… that’s an intentional act of intimidation—the definition of terrorism.”

The bill died in committee. So did Florida’s Senate Bill 1096, which would have made protesting a second-degree misdemeanor (emphasis mine) if cops decide (and a judge rules) that the protesters are blocking traffic. Clearly unconstitutional, most likely declared so by every state supreme court. But it doesn’t matter. These bills signal to chamber of commerce types that legislators have their backs. Legislators were set to approve bills that sanctioned one set of citizens driving three-ton vehicular weapons into other citizens. I suspect the events at Charlottesville put a stop on future versions. It’s chilling how often our dreams and desires eventually become real.

The nature of ‘identity politics’

Thank you, Jacob T. Levy, for explaining why “identity politics,” that execrable term, didn’t cost Hilary Clinton the election:

Identity politics at its best, in other words, isn’t just a matter of being on some group’s side. It’s about fighting for political justice by drawing on the commitment that arises out of targeted injustice, and about having the intellectual resources to let us diagnose that targeted injustice. It lets us spot the majority group’s identity politics rather than treating it as the normal background state of affairs, and to recognize the oppression and injustice that it generates.

By all means, we should criticize identity politics when it goes wrong, as it often does in moments of symbolic, cultural, and campus politics. But there’s no source of political energy and ideas that doesn’t sometimes go wrong; goodness knows that a commitment to abstract philosophical principles often does. But a revitalized liberalism must be a vital liberalism, one with energy and enthusiasm. The defense of liberal principles—freedom of speech and religion, the rule of law and due process, commerce and markets, and so on—has to happen at least in part in the political arena.

Far from being discrete zones of occasionally intersecting enthusiasms, my politics and my identity are a praxis, defining my voting patterns, choice of profession, and hair style. No one asks white men to separate their biases and privileges from their voting habits, for not only would it be impossible but it’s who they are. Even when voting to strike down miscegenation laws or, say, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, always I get a sense that an elected official who is an ostensible ally is tapping his – usually his – foot and glancing at his watch, quashing an instinct to blurt, “OK, you got this done, let’s move on to more important things.”

‘The movement began as a call to end violence’

Another massacre. We’re still sorting. Important words:

DeRay Mckesson, one of the best known voices for the Black Lives Matter movement, and who was arrested at a demonstration in Baton Rouge, La., earlier this month, called for peace in a phone interview after news of the shooting broke on Sunday.

“I’m waiting for more information like everybody else,” he said. “I have more questions than answers”

“The movement began as a call to end violence. That call remains.”

Watching Miguel perform at Pitchfork tonight, I saw several young men cry and get comforted when the singer condemned the violence and wondered how long, how long.

A brief history of American empathy


Eric Loomis:

As I often tell my students, there are only 2 times in all of American history when enough white people cared about black rights to do anything about it, from about 1863-1870 and from about 1954-1965. Other than that, most white people have generally supported the oppression of black people. And at the very least, the reaction to the Obama presidency leading up to and including the Trump campaign shows that demonizing of people of color is still a very potent political weapon in the United States. So will everyday white people come to believe that the police do commit wanton violence against black people? You can color me very skeptical, even if Paul Ryan and Newt Gingrich are even admitting it. The rank and file white folks who vote Republican simply don’t want to hear this. To them, the police are heroes precisely because they protect the good people of the community from those scary black men who want to do unmentionable things to us.

This is correct. Ulysses Grant may have been a credulous imbecile who hired cronies, charlatans, and embezzlers, but when it came to protecting what were then called the freedmen he didn’t hesitate, thanks to the options available to him through the Ku Klux Klan Act. Consequently, the Klan vanished as a menace until the 1920s. I don’t tend to name Grant among America’s worst presidents, not when Grover Cleveland still places among the good ones and the once sainted Woodrow Wilson resegregated the federal government.