Philadelphia's City Hall was quiet and closed off in the early afternoon of June 3rd. As much as I was tempted to be present during a time of marching and shouting, I'm in the at-risk demographic of older people, who have a higher chance of catching COVID-19, so I went to downtown Philadelphia to see how the city looked after the marches of the 2nd (Tuesday) and before the 3rd.
How did the current troubles start? In a lengthy and thoughtful monologue, the comedian Trevor Noah of The Daily Show identifies Amy Cooper as the initial provocation that got the whole mess rolling. Cooper understood the power of white supremacy and of her being white and felt (not without reason) that accusing a black man of accosting her would trigger the police into taking her side.
After people were primed by Cooper, George Floyd, a fellow who had apparently tried to pass off a counterfeit $20 bill, was seen on a video with a policeman pressing a knee into Floyd's back. Floyd was pronounced dead on arrival when he got to the hospital. All four of the policemen involved were charged with murder as all four played some role in killing Floyd. Minneapolis, MN saw many demonstration that quickly spread to the rest of the country.
The President has tried to blame Antifa (short for anti-fascist) for all of the damage done at the demonstrations that broke out nationwide. As the Anti-Defamation League points out, Antifa is not a single, centralized group. It's instead a "loose collection of groups, networks and individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements." They are closely associated with anarchists and oppose white supremacist groups.
One of the accusations made against Antifa was they were planting loads of bricks around town so that George Floyd protesters could throw the bricks at police officers. The lone liberal on the Fox News show Outnumbered (regularly featuring four women and "one lucky guy") pointed out that yes, loads of bricks were around town, but no, they were left by a construction company and there was nothing suspicious about them.
There was plenty of evidence of destruction downtown.
Unfortunately, looting and destruction have been part of social protests for as long as there have been social protests and the George Floyd protests have been no exception. Protesters and looters are generally not the same people. Looters are generally aware of high-value symbolic targets and will try to attack say, Whole Foods, a more up-scale grocery store and not a local grocery store that serves more low-income people.
Shortly after the President gained for himself the title of Bunker Boy (by retreating to a bunker deep beneath the White House because crowds were demonstrating outside), he had a discussion with Vladimir Putin and apparently decided he wanted to appear more macho and in-control, so
Yesterday, there was a group of peaceful protestors in Lafayette Square. There was no violence or unrest, and those assembled in the park had every right to be there. (There was a curfew in Washington, D.C., last night, but it had not yet taken effect.) Nevertheless, shortly after Trump touted himself as "an ally of all peaceful protesters," law enforcement launched a rather extraordinary offensive against the demonstrators, which included, among other things, firing tear gas and flash-bang shells at those who had peaceably assembled.Was this action justified? The White House has clearly concluded it wasn't as they're now trying to downplay what happened. The Episcopal Church was outraged as it was in front of their church that the President posed with a Bible after clearing the park.
This was the only sign I saw of any protesters during the late afternoon. They were carrying signs, so they probably intended to march later.
The Attorney General made a claim:
Barr told reporters that some demonstrators had thrown projectiles and that the group was "becoming increasingly unruly." Forces only expanded the security perimeter after demonstrators refused to move back one block, Barr said Thursday. "We asked three times."But a piece in Daily Kos (3 June) says:
...it was exactly then that forces around the White House began firing flash-bang grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets at the crowd in order to clear the peaceful protest immediately. Numerous reporters at the scene confirmed that there was no violence at the location and no warning was given before the attack.Personally, I find the DKos report to be far more plausible.
Black Lives Matter has been a major political beneficiary of the last two weeks. People now understand why Colin Kaepernick "took a knee" back in 2016.