Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, August 12th, 2015.


Misfires

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Racism

From the Guardian:

A group of young black men were incorrectly arrested on suspicion of firearm possession during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, as a group of white militiamen, armed with rifles and wearing body armour and camouflage, claimed they had been granted permission to walk through the protests by police officers. …

… On Monday night, a group of at least three black men who were standing by a car next to a hair salon on West Florissant Avenue were arrested after a phalanx of St Louis County police surged towards them, using pepper spray and batons. A spokesman for the police department told the Guardian by email on Tuesday that officers had received information “that the occupants or folks near that vehicle were possibly armed with handguns”.

But the spokesman later confirmed that none of those arrested during the swoop were in possession of any weapons.

The treatment of these suspects, who were wrestled to the ground and placed in plastic flexicuffs, came in seemingly stark contrast to a group of white militiamen, who arrived at the protest at around 1am, after the arrests occurred, carrying loaded M-15 rifles with several magazine cartridges strapped across their body armour.

So, yes, white guys from out of town are allowed to strut around with assault rifles while black men are wrestled to the ground and handcuffed in their own neighborhood on suspicion that they might be armed. We’re not looking at equal treatment under the law, I don’t think. If Ferguson residents took to calling themselves a militia and marched around visibly armed to the teeth, would the cops leave them alone? Um, probably not. For the record, Ferguson police say the Oath Keepers did not have permission to patrol the streets with guns. But neither were they arrested.

Lots of other people have been arrested in Saint Louis County in the past few days, including:

The philosopher Cornel West was among those arrested, as were prominent Black Lives Matter protesters DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie, according to reports. The Reverends Renita Lamkin and Osagyefo Sekou were also reportedly arrested. Rev. Lamkin, an African Methodist Episcopal church pastor, and Rev. Sekou, a pastor from the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, have been prominent figures in protests in Ferguson since Michael Brown was shot by police officer Darren Wilson last August.

They were arrested while standing on the steps of the federal courthouse, which usually isn’t a criminal act. The federal courthouse I know of is near downtown St. Louis, not in Ferguson, so I assume these activists can’t be said to have been instigating riots in Ferguson by standing on steps.

Since I live in a Buddhist temple with no television I don’t always know what’s going on on the tube. But it seems to me we’re not hearing as much about these events as we should be hearing.

There’s lots of bickering about #BlackLivesMatter on the web, but it’s all about Bernie Sanders. I personally think #BLM badly violated my Bigger Asshole rule by hijacking and taking over a couple of Sanders events. The fact that you can find thousands of discussion threads on #BLM and Bernie and practically nothing about Cornel West being arrested for standing on the steps of a federal courthouse rather proves my point. Stupid protesting is worse for your cause than not protesting at all. We’re just pissing each other off and having the wrong conversation.

Charles Pierce:

What happened in Seattle was an embarrassment to the tradition of public protest.  It was a hysterical piece of performance art that accomplished absolutely nothing toward whatever goals its performers sought to achieve. Rage is not an excuse. Frustration is not an excuse. This was a simple act of public vandalism, aimed (again) at the wrong target. I have been to a bunch of rallies already in this godforsaken campaign. If the two principals here had tried this at any Republican rally; if they had tried it at any rally for any candidate of the party that largely has supported the militarized state of American policing, that more than any other political institution has worked to create the climate of The Other by which Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin are thugs while the people who killed them are blameless victims; if they had tried this at a Republican rally, they’d have been hauled off in handcuffs within five minutes, if they were allowed into the hall at all. This is taking advantage of the openness of a campaign that is overwhelmingly sympathetic to your goals, instead of bringing your fight to the politicians who actively oppose you, because it’s easier to do. Consider me unimpressed by the courage involved. I feel absolutely no compunction about saying that this “action” was stupid and counterproductive. It was loud and spectacular and it accomplished nothing good.

After days of people asking why #BlackLivesMatter was targeting Bernie Sanders — and sometimes Martin O’Malley– and not Hillary Clinton, finally some BLM activists talked to Hillary Clinton. That’s right; they sat down and talked to her. What a concept. Oliver Willis, however, was not impressed.

Representatives of the Black Lives Matters movement met with Hillary Clinton, and if you actually thought this movement was about stopping black people from being killed and reforming criminal justice issues with minorities, you should not only be disappointed but disgusted. …

…All along I’ve been worried that #BlackLivesMatter was some sort of millennial-flavored angst, a generation once again letting its feelings cloud out everything else. I’ve hoped that wasn’t the case. I hoped that what we’ve been seeing is about getting actual change to happen, the sausage making boring stuff that past movements – women’s rights, minority rights, gay rights – got done that have made America a better country now than it used to be.

Perhaps this exchange has been mis-characterized. God, I hope so. Because if this is accurate, if its about feelings and notions and not laws and rules and policies, the movement is doomed.

I’m seeing all kinds of wild rationalizations why Bernie Sanders was targeted and not the Republicans or Hillary Clinton. None of those rationalizations make sense. Avedon Carol wrote (on Oliver Willlis’s blog):

The Clintons pushed all those horrible Tough On Crime policies in the ’90s that massively increased incarceration of black people.

Bernie Sanders is one of very few people who objected to those policies at the time and has never stopped objecting to them. Contrary to the press (and BLM) narrative, he didn’t add racial issues to his speeches, he was saying that stuff all along.

My impression is that there’s a lot of pent-up rage against white liberals who don’t always “get it” or come through when needed, and Bernie Sanders’s supporters — who do sometimes come across as way too ebulliently giddy about Their Guy than is emotionally healthy — push their buttons. But effective demonstrating has to be more disciplined than that.

See also: A woman of color and Washington state senator expresses huge ambivalence about Seattle.

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