Black Lives Matter Protests June 6-8

Head of march from Art Museum
March returning from Art Museum in downtown Philadelphia, moving towards City Hall.

After a series of marches that received police interference and resulted in some violence, Saturday's march to and from City Hall to the Art Museum and back again (the march continued around City Hall and then went North on Broad Street) was carried off without any apparent problems. The marches on Sunday and Monday were also peaceful, with the police cooperating.
I'm pleased to report that of the protesters I saw for Saturday, Sunday and Monday, all of them were wearing masks! Everybody was aware that was a necessity.

marchers approaching City Hall
Video of the march

So what comes after the marches? The next phase is beginning with the introduction of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 and

...would make changes like banning chokeholds and most no-knock warrants.
...would make it easier to hold law enforcement officers accountable for misconduct.
It would change what’s known as qualified immunity.
More detail on the bill.

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There's a movement in Minneapolis to "defund the police." What exactly does that mean?

What would replace the police?
The idea generally would be to have a social services-based approach, possibly using the fire department to handle drug overdose calls, health care and social services professionals to tend to mental health matters instead of militaristic, uniformed officers with guns.
But even the council members who want to dismantle the police aren’t yet articulating detailed agreement on a new approach.

Police guarding area of City Hall
Police lined up at top of photo. Thomas Paine Plaza and Dilworth Park were both closed off, though we could get to the walls on the other three sides of City Hall.

Joe Biden came out with a reasonably good statement that still requires plenty of work. The left will have to push him once he's in office.

“Biden supports the urgent need for reform — including funding for public schools, summer programs, and mental health and substance abuse treatment separate from funding for policing — so that officers can focus on the job of policing,” Bates said. “This also means funding community policing programs that improve relationships between officers and residents, and provides the training that is needed to avert tragic, unjustifiable deaths. This funding would also go towards diversifying police departments so that they resemble the communities in which they serve. We also need additional funding for body-worn cameras.”

Soldiers guarding plaza
Tch, tch, tch! Doesn't look as though the soldiers guarding the Thomas Paine Plaza were wearing masks!

The President put out an insane conspiracy theory on a 75-year old man who was knocked down, hit the back of his head hard on the pavement and started visibly bleeding. Oh, and by the way, OANN accuses Martin Gugino, the elderly protester, of using some crazy, new-fangled technology on the police. There is no such technology. Is this an isolated instance of police using excessive force? Unfortunately, it isn't. Activists have been compiling video evidence of police violence and excessive force. As of 9 June, they've collected over 600 entries. This is hardly "a few bad apples."
The real problem here is the over-militarization of the police. Police departments simply have far more equipment than they actually need for any purpose that's legitimately consistent with maintaining a democratic and constitutional republic.

Coming around City Hall
After I had gone around City Hall and was chilling on Broad Street, another large group started passing by and going North.

Both AG Barr and Press Secretary McEnany claim that people in Lafayette Square were throwing objects towards police shortly before the police charged into the square. They also both claimed that there were three loud warnings given. I don't believe either claim and no one on the receiving end of the charge into the square has confirmed either assertion. And yes, there were troops among the police. I find Barr's use of the term "perimeter" very troubling. That's a term that belongs in a discussion about guerilla war. The US is not at war!

Warrington, about 30 miles North of Philadelphia
High school students from Warrington PA, roughly 20 miles North of Philadelphia.

Problem with violence after George Floyd's killing is that the vast majority of it comes from police. Our "Forever Wars" have come home to us in a big way. Our service people used to be Citizen-Soldiers. Now they're Warriors. Our police have followed suit, becoming far more militarized than is good for any of us.

Warrington students

So the primary election in Georgia, unfortunately probably a preview of what November's election will be like, was a complete and utter cluster$%#@. Gotta love this passage:

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, called the problems “unacceptable” while pointing the finger at specific counties and insisting he—the state’s top elections official—bore absolutely no responsibility.
Stacey Abrams, the voting rights advocate and former candidate for Georgia governor, had things to say about that:
Georgians deserve better. I voted today bc of absentee ballot defects. From Jasper to Fulton to Coffee & Chatham, long lines, inoperable machines & under-resourced communities are being hurt. @GaSecofState owns this disaster. He must stop finger-pointing and fix it. #gapol

waiting at Hatoboro-Horsham High School
Waiting at the Hatboro-Horsham High School, roughly 20 miles North of Philadelphia.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution provided live-blogging of the election, ending with:

Human error or mechanical problems plagued many polling places. At some, hundreds of voters waited to cast their ballot – some for hours. State and local officials traded blame for what some deemed a complete meltdown of Georgia’s voting system while the nation was watching.
And no, Georgia's election problems weren't an accident. Georgia's Secretary of State had plenty of time to prepare and the current governor there came directly from that office, so Georgia has absolutely zero excuses for the screw-us in the voting.


So how are we doing on the whole coronavirus issue? The President appears to think that the problem is solved and that everything can re-open again. Big problem with that idea is that holding big campaign rallies is a guaranteed, sure-fire way of making a really bad problem even worse. Medical experts are being shushed and the President is "taking a victory lap." As a tweet from the WaPo put it:

14 states just had their highest-ever 7-day average of coronavirus cases:
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah
No, the problem has moved on from places like the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region, but it's actually growing in other areas!

observing moment of silence
Crowd observes moment of silence.

I guess one of the things that amazes me most is that there's a quick, cheap and easy way for the President to win points with black voters. That would be to take down some Confederate statues. The reason they were erected (largely during the Jim Crow era of 1877 to 1964) was to provide an oppressive, daily reminder of just who was in charge. Taking some statues down wouldn't provide a solid, substantive policy answer, but it would a real crowd-pleaser. The President doesn't even want to re-name military bases from Confederate generals to Union ones or to distinguished military people of the last few decades. And yes, the reason isn't mysterious. If he did that, members of his "base" voting bloc would be disgusted and would turn to even more radical candidates.