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running riot 4 race

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xianjiro
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running riot 4 race

#1

Post by xianjiro » June 1st, 2020, 9:42 pm

These are difficult, emotional times for many of us. These are days when our beloved medium (film) is showing so much of what it wrong in the world: a man dying under another's knee, rioting, brutality, calls for even more brutality - and all this fast on the heels of months of dealing with the response to CoV-19. So I pose some questions:

1) How are you feeling about current events?

2) Many people talk about "doing something" about racism, privilege, and police reform. What do you think would help? What makes the problems worse?

3) What give you hope?

This thread is a place for people to share their concerns and hopefully find support. Please be respectful of other forum members.

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#2

Post by blocho » June 1st, 2020, 10:19 pm

xianjiro wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 9:42 pm
1) How are you feeling about current events?
A bit jaded and surprised. When protests broke out across the nation as opposed to just in Minneapolis, I wondered why. Why these protests now instead of after the last 50 black people murdered by cops? I talked to my boss about it, and she pointed to the particularities of the case of Floyd (the length of the video, hearing him call for help so many times). She's got a point -- in a fucked up way, I think there would have been less of a reaction if the cop had just shot him. but I think a lot of the protest is an explosion of anger and grief not just over police brutality and racism but over 130-150k dead and an economic catastrophe. That might not be the headline item, but I'm convinced it's fueling the feelings.
xianjiro wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 9:42 pm
2) Many people talk about "doing something" about racism, privilege, and police reform. What do you think would help? What makes the problems worse?
I can't speak for other cities, but here in New York City there has been a very long and consistent record of police corruption and brutality. The last widespread police reforms here were in the 1970s. None of the outrages since has spurred significant change, and at this point it's clear that the main obstacle is the two police unions, the PBA and SBA. This is hard for me to say because my support for unions is nearly absolute. Collective action by workers is a force for good because those actions are almost always directed at noble ends -- worker safety, protection from discrimination, better wages and pensions, etc. One thing unions also do is protect workers from reprisal and punishment, which sometimes means protecting them from consequences for fucking up on the job. But for most workers, fucking up means hurting a manufacturing process or being inefficient. For cops, it sometimes means beating and murdering people. The NYC police unions have protected cops from their own fuck ups for over a century. For decades, the unions prevented the formation of an independent body to hear complaints about the cops. And the unions have successfully defeated legislative proposals to make internal discipline records public. What's worse is that while many cops are honest and fair, the heads of these unions are certifiable (the head of the SBA most recently referred to the city's health department leader as a bitch on twitter). They suffer from a persecution complex, and they respond with actions that are sometimes illegal.

For decades, NYC was a high-crime city. But that hasn't been true for more than twenty years. The police have not adjusted, but the public has. Seven years ago, New York elected a new mayor who campaigned on a promise to change police practices. Shortly after he took office, the cops initiated an undeclared work slowdown and most of them simply stopped making arrests or issuing summons for several days, which is an illegal labor action. The mayor got the message, and he's been kissing NYPD ass ever since. Private-sector unions have been destroyed over the past 40 years by outsourcing and automation. That won't happen to public sector unions. The solution can only be political. New York will need to get city councilmembers and a mayor who are not scared of the police. Until that happens, nothing will change.

If anyone wants to know more about recent NYPD history, let me know.
xianjiro wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 9:42 pm
3) What give you hope?
Nothing. A few years ago, I predicted to my family and friends that the United States would not have a functioning democracy (or even the facade of a functioning democracy) in 30-40 years. I also believe the effects of climate change will worsen every current social and economic problem and lead to a mass sociopolitical breakdown on a global scale over the next half century. I don't believe our political structures are robust enough to ward off these threats. You won't find many people more pessimistic than me. I'm a depressive, after all.

Does this pessimism give me an excuse for inaction? Is it ultimately self-serving and self-defeating? Yeah, probably. Don't be like me.

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#3

Post by sebby » June 1st, 2020, 10:27 pm

Everything in the US needs to be overhauled. Everything. Political system, healthcare, education, law enforcement, military, economy, etc. I am close to feeling like it's too damn late to save the American experiment from catastrophic failure.

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#4

Post by OldAle1 » June 1st, 2020, 10:44 pm

I used to think that the fact that we are edging towards becoming a majority-minority country was going to help, was going to save us. The conservatives can't keep preaching only to white Christians, and particularly white, straight, Christian men, can they? To a smaller and smaller number, with less and less influence? I was wrong. When DJT takes his second oath of office next January (and I don't see the slightest chance that he won't, unless by some miracle Putin and the rest who put him in place abandon him), and he eventually gets to replace RBG, we're going to see the erosion of what we though were our "sacred" liberties to an extent none of us could have predicted outside of nightmares. We're going to see women executed for having abortions, we're going to see gay marriage taken away, we're going to see trans people locked up just for being trans, we're going to see newspapers and news stations shut down for criticizing our Emperor -- I think most of us know our 20th-century history well enough to imagine the rest. Trump has only not been as bad as some of the worst tyrants of the past because we've still been holding on to democracy at least a little bit. That's all going to end.

In short, I am as pessimist or moreso than those who have already posted here. If it were just America that would be one thing - and a huge thing given our outsize influence. But we are not the only country turning away from Democracy. And that, and COVID and climate change...

You want my prediction? The human species, and most higher animal life will be largely if not totally extinct by the end of this century. The planet itself will quite likely be a dead world by the end of the next.

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#5

Post by xianjiro » June 1st, 2020, 10:50 pm

thanks for sharing even though it's not necessarily easy - so I'm not only one feeling particularly grim after this weekend

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#6

Post by blocho » June 1st, 2020, 11:10 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 10:44 pm
You want my prediction? The human species, and most higher animal life will be largely if not totally extinct by the end of this century. The planet itself will quite likely be a dead world by the end of the next.
Well, shit. I found someone more pessimistic than me. Come on, OldAle, humans won't be extinct. :D We're a very adaptable species. Hundreds of millions dead, billions even. But people will survive.

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#7

Post by OldAle1 » June 1st, 2020, 11:10 pm

blocho wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 11:10 pm
OldAle1 wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 10:44 pm
You want my prediction? The human species, and most higher animal life will be largely if not totally extinct by the end of this century. The planet itself will quite likely be a dead world by the end of the next.
Well, shit. I found someone more pessimistic than me. Come on, OldAle, humans won't be extinct. :D We're a very adaptable species. Hundreds of millions dead, billions even. But people will survive.
One word:

Venus

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#8

Post by blocho » June 2nd, 2020, 12:24 am

OldAle1 wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 11:10 pm
blocho wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 11:10 pm
OldAle1 wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 10:44 pm
You want my prediction? The human species, and most higher animal life will be largely if not totally extinct by the end of this century. The planet itself will quite likely be a dead world by the end of the next.
Well, shit. I found someone more pessimistic than me. Come on, OldAle, humans won't be extinct. :D We're a very adaptable species. Hundreds of millions dead, billions even. But people will survive.
One word:

Venus
That will work.

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#9

Post by Pretentious Hipster » June 2nd, 2020, 12:40 am

Dismantle capitalism and have the leader of a revolution be part of the marginalized community.

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#10

Post by xianjiro » June 2nd, 2020, 3:27 am

OldAle1 wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 11:10 pm
blocho wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 11:10 pm
OldAle1 wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 10:44 pm
You want my prediction? The human species, and most higher animal life will be largely if not totally extinct by the end of this century. The planet itself will quite likely be a dead world by the end of the next.
Well, shit. I found someone more pessimistic than me. Come on, OldAle, humans won't be extinct. :D We're a very adaptable species. Hundreds of millions dead, billions even. But people will survive.
One word:

Venus
:mw_confused: :mw_confused: :mw_confused:

"Venus"
(originally by Shocking Blue)

Goddess on the mountain top
Burning like a silver flame
The summit of beauty and love
And Venus was her name

She's got it
Yeah, baby, she's got it
I'm your Venus, I'm your fire
At your desire
Well, I'm your Venus, I'm your fire
At your desire

etc

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bananarama/venus.html

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#11

Post by xianjiro » June 2nd, 2020, 4:05 am

It does rather seem that the first half of the year has lain bare the weaknesses of the dominant economic model. I'd hate to think what it would be like if this thing had an 80% kill rate. "Oh, my economy is just too important to quarantine people ..." What would it take to put anything other than profits first? One local employer has now TWICE been mentioned for local concentrations of CoV-19.

I've also wondered at why has this gone the way it has over the past week. Didn't blocho mention prior death - I'll add a remembrance of a poor man who was ass raped with a broomstick while in custody of a certain police force. And of course there was the whole Rodney King thing ... Most of what I'm reading has talked about how horrified or angry people are feeling after seeing this recent video, not to forget the result. But my gut is also saying this is tied to underlying angst caused by both the economic and social instability we've glanced at followed by the relative insanity of Let My People Gather Now! protests. And yes, it seems likely that some attending marches/rallies just feel this is too important to ignore/stay home and for some this is just one death too many.

Living on the margins as I do, it's rather amazing how unscathed I am personally by the virus: nothing can be classified as more than a minor inconvenience in my personal life. But I do wonder about a single parent with a couple kids and a minimum wage job that was barely keeping the rent paid. I have no difficulty envisioning the worry such a parent might feel, especially if the support network came from neighbors and friends. Yes, I can imagine a lot of angst.

And the anger seethes on for another night ... Have any of the protests/remembrances turned ugly outside the US? I haven't seen any reports that they have. I'm also not seeing anything that gives hope this current round of violence will end soon. I'm also not convinced any one group can be blamed for the violence, at least directly.

In closing, I do hope everyone is staying as safe as they feel the need to be. :hug:

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#12

Post by blocho » June 2nd, 2020, 5:24 am

A tale of two cities tonight in New York. In Brooklyn/Queens, peaceful protests. In Manhattan, peaceful protests and a ton of looting. Look, my sympathy will usually be with civilians over the police*, but to me there really can't be much disagreement about what's happening right now. Protestors are rightfully expressing dissatisfaction regarding what is clearly a massive national problem with police brutality, police militarization, and the carceral state. And some people are taking advantage of this situation to do some bullshit destructive things like loot stores and set things on fire. I think very, very few people would disagree with those two statements. People will disagree on the emphasis they give one trend over another, but I think ultimately those people are really expressing their own identity.

*Please note that I didn't always feel this way. If you asked me a dozen years ago, I would have said that the police have a tough job and can be trusted to do the right thing. I still think the first part is true. But a close friend of mine who is an investigative journalist has reported extensively on police misconduct in New York and California over the past ten years, and his work has really opened my eyes. I've never been mistreated by the police in any major way (I've been pulled over for bullshit reasons a couple of times but didn't suffer any harm), which is partially why I originally thought they could be trusted. But also, like many people, I perhaps made an assumption because the alternative -- that a group of untrustworthy people with little accountability own a monopoly on the legal use of violence -- is unthinkable.
xianjiro wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 4:05 am
Didn't blocho mention prior death - I'll add a remembrance of a poor man who was ass raped with a broomstick while in custody of a certain police force.
Just so people know, here's a partial list of NYPD scandals and outrages in recent years. There's so much more -- just look at this article.

1997 - Abner Louima raped and tortured by NYPD
1999 - Amadou Diallo murdered by NYPD
2001-2012 - NYPD establishes enormous surveillance network of mosques and other Muslim communities. It is illegal to investigate people based on their religion, absent evidence of actual criminality. The NYPD eventually settled a massive lawsuit, but there are widespread suspicions that the practice continues.
2003-2013 - Bloomberg institutes a policy of stop-and-frisk, in which hundreds of thousands of civilians each year are stopped and searched without evidence of criminal behavior. This is blatantly illegal and unconstitutional, especially because 90% of those stopped were black or hispanic.
2004 - NYPD essentially outlaws free speech and free assembly during Republican National Convention. Thousands arrested for protest activity. Almost all of them were released without being charged. It was just Bloomberg wanting to keep the city peaceful for his rich cronies.
2004 - Timothy Stansbury murdered by NYPD
2006 - Sean Bell murdered by NYPD
2008 - Michael Mineo raped by NYPD
2010 - NYPD officer Adrian Schoolcraft reports to internal affairs that his precinct is instituting arrest quotas (which is illegal). Fellow NYPD officers later break into his apartment, abduct him, and hold him against his will in a psychiatric facility for a week.
2012 - Ramarley Graham murdered by NYPD
2014 - Eric Garner murdered by NYPD
2014 - Akai Gurley murdered by NYPD
2015 - Revelations that the NYPD is partially funded by foreign governments, receiving secret donations from countries like the United Arab Emirates.
2015 - Illegal work slowdown by NYPD, which stops arresting people for about a week because they didn't like how the public reacted to the murder of Eric Garner.
2016 - Revelations that the NYPD has been entrapping store owners to install police security cameras by blackmailing them with the threat of bogus fines. There are no consequences, and the practice continues.
2018 - Massive corruption in NYPD Vice squad, as several cops are arrested and convicted for operating a prostitution ring.

Please note -- the above list is just stuff that's happened since I was old enough to follow the news. It doesn't include all the shit that went down earlier, like several more killings of civilians and the Central Park Five. Ultimately, all of this can be summarized very easily in one sentence: New York City pays about hundreds of millions of dollars every year to settle thousands of civil lawsuits over police brutality and other forms of misconduct. $229 million in 2018, and that was the fourth year in a row that the total had fallen!

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#13

Post by xianjiro » June 2nd, 2020, 6:04 am

Yeah, hundreds, maybe thousands, are defying the curfew and I've not seen reports of looting or violence here tonight (so far).

The issues related to policing and over-policing are almost too complex for such a forum as this: I feel like even attempting to discuss them could be seen as facile and an over-simplification. Americans get the policing the ask for: if they want it to be different, they need to demand accountability and changes to the legal framework.

But that said, I get that some are angry - post-anger if you will. Looting and vandalism feels pretty counterproductive to me if for no other reason than it's a general unleashing of the anger in all directions. I believe anger should be focused on those causing the pain, not on innocent bystanders. But we've all snapped at our loved ones when our anger has been due to an external cause, right? We can relate to that. Maybe this can be viewed as a collective, social lashing out in all directions, often because people feel so impotent in the face of power.

And speaking of facile: certain news reports are painting a very painful, disgusting scene in DC today. To sum it up, peaceful protesters were tear-gassed to make way for a presidential photo op. Could this be the Great Undoing?

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#14

Post by maxwelldeux » June 2nd, 2020, 6:37 pm

I don't know how to feel about any of this. And I'm not sure I care to do anything. I don't think it's apathy, just pessimism and depressively overwhelmed.

Personally, this whole riot thing does nothing but annoy me. I'm more acutely aware of and working on things that directly affect me. Like the fact that I'm unemployed, can't afford my house payment, have been denied unemployment because my prior company didn't report wage information correctly, and am generally terrified that I'm going to kill my wife and/or myself every time I leave the house. So I'm trying to focus my energy there.

But I understand the protesters. I empathize - I do. I'm just not going to do anything about it because I don't have the financial resources to do anything. I can't bail myself out if I get arrested. I can't pay for medical treatment if I get injured. I can't donate to any of the causes. (Not to mention, I want neither my wife nor myself to die from COVID.) So I'm just going to sit in my house and hope the protests don't extend to the grocery store or pot store.

I'm also not going to do anything because I'm lazy. Honestly, I don't feel like trying to do anything. Too much effort for something that's not going to really move the needle meaningfully. We're going to have protests nationwide for a couple weeks, it'll dominate media coverage for a bit, a few token local changes will be made, and then we'll forget. We always forget. Ferguson was crazy and nothing changed. LA92 was crazier and nothing changed. This is just going to be another chapter of American "cool story, bro" times.
xianjiro wrote:
June 1st, 2020, 9:42 pm
1) How are you feeling about current events?

2) Many people talk about "doing something" about racism, privilege, and police reform. What do you think would help? What makes the problems worse?

3) What give you hope?
1. See above. Hopeless, to be frank.
2. Honestly, as much as I loathe myself for saying this, I think the answer to both is "violence." It's going to make the optics worse, hurt innocent people, destroy property, and get a lot of people killed. But Jesus Fucking Christ... maybe, maybe, if police officers had to worry about getting their police station burned to the ground every time they killed someone, they'd be a bit more concerned about doing their jobs the right way every single time. I don't advocate this, but nothing else seems to be working. :shrug:
3. Nothing I've seen so far.

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#15

Post by xianjiro » June 2nd, 2020, 6:42 pm

:hug:

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#16

Post by blocho » June 2nd, 2020, 7:47 pm

maxwelldeux wrote:
June 2nd, 2020, 6:37 pm
Too much effort for something that's not going to really move the needle meaningfully. We're going to have protests nationwide for a couple weeks, it'll dominate media coverage for a bit, a few token local changes will be made, and then we'll forget. We always forget. Ferguson was crazy and nothing changed. LA92 was crazier and nothing changed. This is just going to be another chapter of American "cool story, bro" times.
I suspect your prediction will come true. One of the reasons is that I'm dubious that street protest can accomplish much on its own. Street protest is a tactic, and it can be an effective one, but it's not an end in itself. And it's only effective if it can galvanize people to engage in collective efforts that tend to garner more direct results, like political organizing. The street protests in New York, as large as they've been, have involved maybe 10-15 thousand people every night. In a city of 8.5 8 million (them rich people fled to their mansions), it's not a lot. I suppose those protestors could affect millions of people watching at home, but the narrative has already been hijacked by looting. I think very few people will change their minds about the police and race. And I fear that the use of mandatory curfews will lead to the struggle being about the protesting itself, rather than the cause of the protests -- like how the occupy protests became about the right to live in a public park rather than anything actually meaningful.

I also recognize that my pessimism is useless and self-defeating. Positive change happens because people are willing to keep a struggle going against the odds, no matter the drawbacks and risks and defeats. But I can't help it. I'm just a pessimistic person. Maybe I could learn something from Oddball, a true American hero:


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#17

Post by xianjiro » June 3rd, 2020, 3:54 am

I remember similar talk back in the days of ACT-UP: how could a die in at St Patrick's Cathedral or in front of the Rose Parade affect change? Get new meds approved? Some even argued that direct action against the CDC, NIH, FDA was counter productive. And maybe none of those acts in isolation had much affect, but direct action equals pressure and ultimately it became clear there would be no easing of the pressure until change was effected and change came. (While not a "great documentary', I suggest United in Anger: A History of ACT UP (2012) to better understand the movement, it's goals, and how it was successful. It also sheds interesting light on the community that develops. It's streaming on Kanopy, Prime, Play, and Apple's streaming service).

The problem I see is too often with these modern, leftist movements is they are so amorphous with this and that group joining in but they tend to lack a focus like Gandhi's or King's movements. Yes, we know most protesters want greater police accountability (especially in terms of death in custody) and an end to racism (institutionalized, systematic, and let me call it generic) - but this is like saying we want greater prosperity for all. Most of us agree on the general need but not the details. Take Covid: Rs mostly want a return to 'normal' like nothing has changed and Ds want institutional support of a 'new normal' to bridge the period to a hoped-for vaccine.

We have even less agreement on plans for the new issue. Rs think the problem is mostly antifa and left of Ds think the problem is racism and police accountability. Even if we got everyone to agree that the easiest of these to deal with - police accountability - was going to be our national focus, protesters aren't supporting a unified plan. Has anyone actually suggested an X Point Plan to Greater Police Accountability? (I'm guessing someone has, but why hasn't it caught on? Why aren't protesters waving copies of the plan?)

However this isn't new and has been a continued difficulty with leftist/progressive protesting for pretty much everything since and other than protesting the invasion of Iraq: there was little doubt what the protesters wanted: no armed invasion. Since then, it's way to amorphous. I get the idea of grassroots and supporting a multitude of voices, but change came when we got specific - gay marriage. (And remember, gay men especially had to fight against police harassment - while not generally lethal, at least initially - the stigma attached to bar raids in the 50s/60s and the subsequent prosecution ruined many lives, some ending in suicide. We were still dealing with organized police persecution into the 90s in a 'liberal' bastion like Portland.)

Until someone is willing to stand up with a plan (specifics, not just this make it great bs), I agree nothing will change. People will continue to protest until either force is unleashed against them (many will return home and the rest will get much more violent) OR someone is willing to stand up and say, "We have a plan to reduce in-custody deaths by X% over five years. To start, we will form a national task force on police accountability, including an independent investigative unit similar to the National Transportation Safety Board ..."

Racism, as in how to cleanse it from the Euro-American psyche, well, this is going to be much more daunting. But like going into rural communities to talk about homophobia (and at least not killing gays), it can happen: I've seen it done first hand. But the effort is about changing hearts and minds, sometimes an individual at a time. It's a process, not a light switch. Most of us want it, but do any of us know how to get there?

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#18

Post by blocho » June 3rd, 2020, 6:11 am

Complete agree with what you say about lack of focus. Occupy will perhaps always be the poster child of ineffective social protest for me. I remember going to Occupy LA and seeing a booth set up for every cause under the sun: anti-nuclear, Palestine, global warming, incarceration, save the whales. It was ridiculous.
xianjiro wrote:
June 3rd, 2020, 3:54 am
Has anyone actually suggested an X Point Plan to Greater Police Accountability? (I'm guessing someone has, but why hasn't it caught on? Why aren't protesters waving copies of the plan?)
Actually, several people have suggested such programs. Thousands of scholars and activists have worked on police reform over the past several decades. Corruption, brutality, and misconduct are very old police traditions in the United States, after all. Perhaps most applicable in light of the present moment is the policy program put forward a few years ago by Campaign Zero, an organization that grew out of the general Black Lives Matter movement. It's a program that seems eminently sensible to me. Most of the items in the program have been instituted successfully by some police departments, just not many. You can read more here, but I'll summarize a few points below:
- Tighten rules about use of force.
- Require all police to wear body cameras.
- Better training.
- End the transfer of military surplus equipment to police departments.
- Provide more effective processes for independent investigations of police misconduct.

Now, why hasn't it caught on? Why aren't protestors waving copies? I don't know. Maybe they are. I read some media reports on the program when it was released, but nothing in the past week. You can't really depend on American media anymore.

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#19

Post by xianjiro » June 3rd, 2020, 6:48 am

true - you can't depend on the media as they are asked to do more with far fewer staff and let's not forget, people pointing various weapons at them

I'm going to take a look at that link: thanks for providing it :thumbsup: I think the key points you've outlined make good sense. I'm thinking that we need - right now - a national organization to raise funds (if Campaign Zero isn't already), write example bills (ditto), and lobby every state legislature for passage (ditto). I'm sure someone would pick up the cause on the federal level, but not sure how long before it could get passed there.

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#20

Post by xianjiro » June 3rd, 2020, 10:12 am

so, another night of mostly peaceful protesting and calls for justice. It's interesting, but once again Portland decided to take a different tack after it was clear the initial aggressive approach wasn't helping. The city has fenced off about 16 blocks where things like the jail, city hall, county and federal courts, etc are located. All were targeted during the first couple of nights (as well as the commercial district to the north, but it's not fenced off).

So, the main protests and marches come and go (Monday night against curfew, but the curfew wasn't renewed for Tuesday night) with everyone, even police spokepeople thanking the biggest crowds for remaining non-violent. Literally thousands come and go quite peacefully each night.

However, around the fenced off enclosure to the south there have been fairly regular scuffles. People shake the fence, the cops use grenades and tear gas - the opposition starts throwing things (water bottles, fireworks, who knows what all), they set things on fire ... The cops declare it an unlawful assembly or riot and it escalates to cat and mouse.

Information the press has so far had access to reveals little about who's actively 'fighting'. The vast majority are local - I think 2 out of 30 of 90 arrests were out-of-towners with little or no information about the other 60 yet. So the only suggestions of who is responsible come from the reactionaries who see 'antifa' everywhere or their foes who see white supremacists/nationalists, and these crazies who want to start a race or civil war. But really no reliable information about who is behind the fighting other than some angry 'neighbors'.

I tend to believe that, right now, the "get tough" approach will do more harm than good. If we've got such good police and other investigators, I'd say then they need to do their job and find the provocateurs, if there are any, and otherwise arrest people who actively break the law (vandalism, looting, assault, etc). But hey, I'm not the one grandstanding so I can get re-elected, right?

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#21

Post by xianjiro » June 4th, 2020, 4:22 am

so, the latest trend - rallies in the 'burbs & I'm talking ones that usually vote for the reds & thousands marching in the central city peacefully

anyone else seeing this?

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#22

Post by 3eyes » June 4th, 2020, 4:07 pm

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/twitter-fa ... s-removal/
(Just posted that in response to some of the above comments.)

As for hope etc. - I fear the Blob is the president we deserve. I remember reading The Greening of America, then-popular book about how the 60s counterculture was going to change everything, and telling a friend it was garbage. Of course we've spent the last 50 years trying to undo the gains of the 60s... The years in Norway left me with a schizzy feeling about my own country that is still with me. (After the King and RFK assassinations I thought, the next person who lectures me about the typisk amerikansk voldsmentalitet is going to get a demonstration of same. They did - in the form of all the most violent folksongs I could think of.)

What hope I have comes from knowing so many people who are fully able to look evil in the face and just keep on faithfully trying to mend the world.
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#23

Post by maxwelldeux » June 4th, 2020, 6:03 pm

xianjiro wrote:
June 4th, 2020, 4:22 am
so, the latest trend - rallies in the 'burbs & I'm talking ones that usually vote for the reds & thousands marching in the central city peacefully

anyone else seeing this?
My tiny little town of 10k people that votes pretty deep red had a rally over the weekend. We even had looters attempt to smash up our little downtown, but that was thwarted without incident by police and community members.

Meanwhile nothing going on in Seattle... :circle:

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#24

Post by blocho » June 5th, 2020, 6:02 am

After last weekend, I thought the return of the workweek (even if most people are not actually going to work) would calm things down in New York. And at first it did. The mayor put in his curfew, but for the first two nights the cops didn't enforce it. And everything got very calm. No looting. A few thousand protestors walking around the city, trailed by absurdly large groups of cops, but no conflict.

And then, the cops started enforcing the curfew and arresting people. And because they're NYPD, some of them have done it in a predictably brutal fashion. I don't understand why a cop has to beat the shit out of someone before they arrest him if that person is not resisting. It's possible to arrest someone without violence. The cops have also adopted a tactic of trapping protestors by putting up a barricade in front of them, and then penning them in from behind. Three days ago, they trapped a couple of thousand people in the middle of the Manhattan Bridge for a few hours in the middle of the night. The cops wouldn't let people leave but also wouldn't arrest them. The tactic, it seemed, was to isolate them and hold them captive until they were exhausted.

So, tensions are rising, and now we have a weekend ahead of us. And I have a feeling tempers will explode again. A friend of mine who is fairly radical (he's a journalist who specializes in investigating police misconduct) was happy last week when a few police cars got burned. I think that's very stupid. I think it's dangerous, destructive, and counterproductive. But after seeing so many videos this week of police beating people up for no reason, I understand people who feel like they're facing an invading army. If I got repeatedly bludgeoned just for standing in a public space, I would feel a strong desire to strike back with violence.

The tactics of the police have been insane from the start. I'm convinced there would have been no violence or looting if they just had not showed up in protests in such large numbers, and carrying riot gear. The last think you should do at a protest against police brutality is provide a target which so perfectly represents police brutality. Also, by putting so many of their people on protests, the cops left other streets empty for looters (although my brother thinks the cops let the looting happen as a political ploy, which makes sense, though I won't believe it without some evidence).

The curfew, meanwhile, makes no sense. If looters are already breaking the law by looting, why would a curfew stop them? After all, breaking the curfew is a misdemeanor, while theft and breaking and entering are felonies. The main function of the curfew has been to dare protestors to stay outside against a public safety order. And that then provides a situation in which the cops both can and feel they must make mass arrests--because to not enforce the curfew makes them seem accommodating, and clearly these are not people willing to be seen as accommodating. And then a chain of inevitability forms -- a curfew means mass arrests must happen, mass arrests mean police brutality will happen, and police brutality will ultimately lead to violent resistance at some point. All for the sake of a curfew that accomplishes ... something. Has New York ever danced so frivolously atop a volcano?

I don't know how this ends. The protestors seem inexhaustible. I suppose the only thing that might work is that on Monday, New York City goes to "Phase One" of reopening, which means construction, pick-up retail, manufacturing, and wholesale can reopen. If more people are going to work, I think that leaves less energy for protest. But phase one still means more than half the city is at home. What else could break this fever dream? Perhaps a week of particularly bad weather, or some sort of disaster. Of course, the police could change their tactics, which would rapidly de-escalate the situation. But I guess that won't happen.

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#25

Post by blocho » June 5th, 2020, 2:26 pm

I've been following news almost exclusively from New York, so I'm not really aware of what's happening elsewhere in the country. The twitter thread below contains 301 examples (and counting) of police brutality since the protests start. I watch this, and I think there's no conclusion possible other than the police are in a state of insurrection against the citizenry.


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#26

Post by xianjiro » June 5th, 2020, 5:59 pm

Yes, will be interesting to see what happens this weekend - the good news is that so many entertainment establishments are still shut, so folks won't really be able to head to the pub for a few pints first (but of course they could bring a six-pack). Anyway, not sure how closely related employment and protesting are though - the vast majority of arrests here were in the 18-35 range and I wouldn't be surprised to learn some were college students or only had casual work. But the lower number of commuters has not lead to the usual problems when protests in Portland have targeted the evening commute - that always goes over well.

No idea how long this will continue: in a way, have to hope the peaceful protests and rallies don't lose steam too quickly but at the same time don't go violent or destructive again. But how can just a bunch of people getting together to listen to speakers and then march through a city really affect change? At some point inconvenience has to come into play as that's what gets attention. And we all know the press will lose interest in covering the 20th peaceful protest - maybe even the 10th.

On the curfew front, one problem from the start of the Portland one was that while it was meant to be city-wide, it also was pretty much a swiss-cheese of exceptions and everyone quickly figured out it would be entirely selectively enforced AND was pretty much a red flag to the most bullish of protesters. Think that's why they tried to go with cordoning of the governmental sector of the central city, but haven't seen that stated any where. Also, not sure if we'd have had a curfew but for the fact that Mayor's mother was/is dying and he was out of town and relying on others to make decisions. Funny how 'real life' affects these things.

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#27

Post by blocho » June 5th, 2020, 6:12 pm

xianjiro wrote:
June 5th, 2020, 5:59 pm
But how can just a bunch of people getting together to listen to speakers and then march through a city really affect change? At some point inconvenience has to come into play as that's what gets attention. And we all know the press will lose interest in covering the 20th peaceful protest - maybe even the 10th.
This is one of the reasons I'm so dubious of street protest. The sad and unfortunate truth is that the more the police brutalize the protestors, the more successful the protests will be. The protests are a plea for attention and action from the general public. The violence visited upon the protestors is the most effective way to get that attention and action. And violence is sure to keep the press' attention.

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#28

Post by xianjiro » June 5th, 2020, 6:26 pm

blocho wrote:
June 5th, 2020, 6:12 pm
xianjiro wrote:
June 5th, 2020, 5:59 pm
But how can just a bunch of people getting together to listen to speakers and then march through a city really affect change? At some point inconvenience has to come into play as that's what gets attention. And we all know the press will lose interest in covering the 20th peaceful protest - maybe even the 10th.
This is one of the reasons I'm so dubious of street protest. The sad and unfortunate truth is that the more the police brutalize the protestors, the more successful the protests will be. The protests are a plea for attention and action from the general public. The violence visited upon the protestors is the most effective way to get that attention and action. And violence is sure to keep the press' attention.
Well that clearly worked for the Civil Rights protests of the 50s and 60s. Did anyone really care until they saw kids pinned against building by water cannons or packs of dogs viciously barking (not to mention the white supremacists and others than can only be described as anti-blacks or 'good Southerners')? I'm surprised the protesters haven't tried sit-ins or human chains around police buildings etc. And not being involved, I can't really say much more about their tactics than what I'm able to glean from the media, but at some point someone is going to need to get serious about non-violent confrontation.

I'm just surprised that the looters/vandals didn't focus their rage better - say on properties that are branded with a certain politician's name. But it's not entirely surprising since the focus of the anger is on the local police for the most part and to a lesser extent other governmental institutions. I think I'd be working for sit-ins at both city hall and the statehouse (not to mention DC, but I understand a March on Washington is being planned as we speak).

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#29

Post by xianjiro » June 6th, 2020, 8:16 am

so, another declaration of civil disturbance ... still focused on the "justice center" and reportedly separate from earlier marching and rallying

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#30

Post by blocho » June 6th, 2020, 10:08 pm

I just spent a couple of hours at a protest in downtown Brooklyn. There were enormous crowds. I don't have a good way to estimate how many protestors were there, but it must have been over 20,000. There were also several thousand cops--just an enormous number of them sitting in cars or standing around in riot gear, doing nothing. If any of them were there on overtime, they were making $100-$200 per hour to do nothing. The police deployments will end up costing New York a stupendous amount of money, and that's not even counting the many millions that will be needed to settle lawsuits regarding civil rights violations.

The protest felt energetic but unfocused. The emphasis was on expression, with a lot of chanting. I don't know much about street protesting, but I think the tactics need to be more confrontational. The protests have already succeeded in getting everyone's attention. Now they need to convince those people who are paying attention to take action. And it seems the best way to do that is by producing images that stir the conscience. That has definitely already happened with the late-evening arrests and beatings. It would be even more effective if the protestors could reveal the police's brutality in broad daylight before an even bigger audience. I'm not sure which tactics would work, but I think the emphasis has to be on confrontation, non-compliance, and non-violent resistance.

Then again, I'm a neophyte who is also a pessimist and a cynic. What do I know.

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#31

Post by Pretentious Hipster » June 7th, 2020, 11:36 am

Someone made a good meme of it

Image

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#32

Post by blocho » June 7th, 2020, 1:57 pm

blocho wrote:
June 5th, 2020, 6:02 am
What else could break this fever dream? Perhaps a week of particularly bad weather, or some sort of disaster. Of course, the police could change their tactics, which would rapidly de-escalate the situation. But I guess that won't happen.
I was wrong. The police changed. It's been hard to understand NYPD's strategy over the past week. Since the police in New York essentially operates as a mafia under the imprimatur of the state, maintaining the support of the state is the most important thing for them. Why then, would they spend an entire week depriving New Yorkers of constitutional rights and committing dozens of acts of brutality? Why would they do that at a time of heightened attention for brutality and the safeguarding of individual liberty? Strategically, it's an insane choice for a gang that depends on the support of the state, when that state is subject to democratic checks and when both state and gang receive media scrutiny. All the beatings of innocent civilians over the past week was the exact opposite of what the police should have done (in terms of strategy, not to mention ethics). My only hypothesis is that the police live in such a state of paranoia that they concluded they had to defeat the threat to their power in the streets, even if that meant losing in the theater of public opinion. And then it stopped. There were very few arrests on Friday and Saturday, and those that happened occurred without the wanton beatings. I think the cops finally figured out that they were hurting their own cause. It reminds me of a line from Stalag 17: "Just because the Krauts are dumb doesn't mean that they're stupid."

The cops didn't stop their deployment strategy. Tens of thousands of cops, along with several police helicopters, have been shadowing protestors everywhere. After all, they've got to collect that overtime pay. But the most outrageous attacks on liberty are over. On Sunday morning, the mayor announced he was canceling his curfew, which was originally set to expire on Monday. A lot of news organizations have reported that the last curfew in New York City was in 1945, but even that's misleading because that "curfew" was a wartime measure to conserve energy and it only shut down certain businesses at night -- it didn't stop people from being outside. There is no precedent in New York's history for what has occurred over the past week.

What happens now? I haven't a clue. Protests will continue for awhile, but I suppose the police state will keep its truncheons holstered, at least for the moment. I think the struggle will have to move to new arenas, to the halls of government, and the election process, and those places where private organizing happens. The past two weeks has built an enormous impetus of public opinion for something to happen in those arenas. Time will tell if anything actually does.

And then, of course, there's the rest of the United States, which I haven't been paying much attention to unfortunately. Every city and state will need to reckon with the police in their own way.

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#33

Post by xianjiro » June 7th, 2020, 3:41 pm

blocho wrote:
June 6th, 2020, 10:08 pm
There were also several thousand cops--just an enormous number of them sitting in cars or standing around in riot gear, doing nothing.
guess the donut shops haven't reopened yet :lol:

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#34

Post by blocho » June 8th, 2020, 8:01 pm

I stopped by another two protests today. Numbers were far diminished (because it's a workday), but I couldn't not go -- both protests were less than a ten minute walk away. I spent most of my time walking up to police officers and taking pictures of them. Most didn't react, though a few tried to say hi. I just want them to feel like they're being watched.

It's amusing that the police helicopters serve as the most reliable indicators the protest locations. I didn't know where either protest was before I walked outside. I just followed the helicopter. But I've come to think that these helicopters serve an acoustic purpose more than anything else. They're so loud that they do a great deal to drown out the voices of the speakers at the protests. Also, the noise helps to remind everyone that they're living in occupied territory.

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#35

Post by blocho » June 12th, 2020, 2:15 am

I have a weekly call with my brother, and yesterday was the first chance we had to discuss the police state in New York since it spent an entire week binging on violence against civilians. He started talking for a bit about the safetyism and anti-free speech sentiments of the cultural left, which I kind of agree with. But then he started talking about the police, and I thought my head was going to explode. He started criticizing people who want to abolish the police. And I told him that I'm one of those people. I want to close the NYPD and replace it with a completely new and very different police organization. And he said that I'm not one of the people he's talking about, that he was talking about people who want to get rid of police and replace it with nothing. And then he said something like "the entire police reform movement has adopted this position." And I pointed out that I had just expressed a different position, but he seemed unwilling to hear me.

In my entire life, I have never yelled at my brother like I did yesterday. I told him that he was focusing on the viewpoint of a tiny minority in order to dismiss the concerns of a much larger movement because he couldn't intellectually grapple with the ideas of that movement. I told him that the NYPD had enacted the largest mass arrest in the city's history. I told him that hundreds of people had been assaulted for no reason at all. I told him that for the first time in NYC's 400-year history, going outside was illegal. I told him that the police had effectively outlawed the first amendment. And I told him that the police were a bunch of criminals who were in charge of our city. And I told him that though I think American democracy will collapse within 30 years and much of humanity's political/economic structure will do the same within 50 years, that until that happens I'm committed to the idea that my hometown will not be a police state run by terrorists. And if that's not worth fighting for, nothing is.

And then, for the first time that I can remember, my brother apologized. He has no problem apologizing for small things like bumping into someone or showing up late. But I don't remember him ever apologizing for his ideas.

I feel very empty and sad now. I'm worried about the anger I feel inside me every day. I saw two cops while walking to the supermarket today and told them they were pigs, but it didn't make me feel any better.

Here are a few links to help people better understand what's happened in New York recently:
- A bunch of men are assaulted by police for standing in their own courtyard
- A woman is assaulted for protesting. She was charged with resisting arrest.
- A summary of the mass arrests, along with a video of a Canadian reporter being assaulted for being a reporter

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#36

Post by xianjiro » June 12th, 2020, 3:48 am

Sorry to read that - emotional times these. Can't say I have a lot of pity for the 'law and order' types, after all, they've been in control for over a century and have brought us to this place.

But I think the progressives/defunders/etc are overly-optimistic in exactly the same way people were overly-optimistic that gay service members would be allowed to serve openly when Bill Clinton was campaigning. After all the speech-making, grand-standing, and promising, we were left with a compromise that was decidedly worse and ruined many more lives than the prior policy. While I generally support the idea of local control and different locales trying different approaches, it just leaves so much fluid and flexible. I don't believe anyone in the establishment really believes they will fundamentally change policing. Oh, they'll chip away here and there, but as soon as the next mass shooting or terror attack happens white, middle class America will only be too happy to hand over their rights for police protection. Hell, they still willing queue and undress to board airplanes like sheeple. And need we be reminded about local options to place a sticker on automobiles to 'allow' searching without cause?

Dems want to appear to be doing something: it's election season after all. I just don't really trust them to follow through. And even if they do, like with the Voting Rights Act, after the big photo op, the old guard will work to systematically chip away at whatever is gained and we can't trust the courts at this point. No, this (both racism and police accountability) are long haul fights and six months is longer than the American system can think.

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#37

Post by blocho » June 15th, 2020, 5:39 am

Worth sharing the only two things I've found funny in the past two weeks:




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#38

Post by OldAle1 » June 15th, 2020, 12:34 pm

I dunno, I still find things to laugh about. But they tend to be small things, and the laughter is bitter. Those are good ones though.

I also allow moments of hope for myself and for the world occasionally, still -- the pushback against Agent Orange (thank you Mr. Lee, this is now my go-to name) by the military top brass was gratifying and I'm a little less worried about martial law and a military takeover led by an ex-*President next January. And many of the actions around police reform do seem to be moving faster, and seem to have more of a chance of sticking.

But then there are events like those in Atlanta over the weekend. And the continued inability to deal with the pandemic crisis - or the disinterest in doing so - by the several authoritarian leaders who run most of the world. And the fact that Agent Orange still, somehow, has an over 40% approval rating.

Yep, drinking myself to death still seems like a better option than most others out there.


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#40

Post by blocho » June 15th, 2020, 5:52 pm

I went to protests on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It felt like the right thing to do, but I have to admit I didn't feel good doing it. I suppose I had some anger I needed to release, but I'm simply not a confrontational person. To be confrontational and to express anger always makes me feel sad, and that's how I feel today.

The protest on Friday was a bit of a disappointment. It was a stationary rally, and some famous musician showed up with his band and started playing, and the whole thing turned into more of a party than a protest. I understand that these protests are partially a means of self-expression and self-affirmation, and I understand that many people need those things, so I don't begrudge them at all. But it wasn't what I was looking for.

Saturday's protest was a lot better -- a long march that went from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back, with somewhere between three and five thousand people. There were a lot of cops, especially when the march ended in a park. There were about 250 cops there, with some in riot gear, and a police helicopter overhead. I had a sign that said "NYPD = Terrorists" and I really let the cops have it verbally. I told multiple police to their face that they were criminals and terrorists. They're clearly under strict orders not to beat protestors this week, and most of them refused to even look at me. There was one exception, though. A police lieutenant saw my sign and said, "I can accept that." I was very surprised. I asked him how many protestors he beat up in the past two weeks. He said zero. I asked him how many cops he had arrested for beating up protestors, and he said zero. I told him that's why he was part of the problem, and he said OK. The problem isn't the bad cops as much as the entire culture which allows brutality to exist.

Sunday's protest was huge. Maybe 25-30 thousand. It was actually a "Trans Lives Matter" rally/march, which I didn't know ahead of time. There were dozens of protest events throughout NYC during the weekend, and I didn't know what any particular one was devoted to. I just monitored police radio and left my apartment to join whenever one came close. A lot fewer cops at this one, even though the crowd was much larger.

In summary, I know the sign I carried and the things I said to the police were incendiary. I also think they're true. Terrorism is violence practiced against civilians for political purposes, and that's what the police in New York did for a week. I wanted to express my outrage, and I also wanted the police to know that they are resented, that their actions will not be forgotten. I also have to admit that in some deep, dark part of my mind, I wanted to provoke a reaction. I guess I feel guilty because I mostly stayed home during the worst of the police atrocities. My main excuse was that my hip was fucked up (which it was) but I also felt really nervous. The police were doing scary awful things, and I wanted to avoid it, and I feel guilty because other protestors suffered for a cause I believe in, while I didn't.

I'm going to stop going to protests, and I'm going to try to limit my news consumption for a bit (though the second part will be difficult). There's just so much ugliness, and I'm not able to handle it emotionally. Choosing to withdraw like that, of course, is a retreat. Every movement for social change would fail if people went away when things got ugly. But it's what I need right now.

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