It’s a muggy but otherwise pleasant late summer evening. I’m having a socially distanced happy hour with my good friend and next-door neighbor, Barb. We are sitting in our suburban cul-de-sac enjoying a glass of wine. After awhile she says to me, “I’m so confused over the well … everything going on in the country. But the killing and violence in the streets? I hate Trump, but if he can bring back law and order — I might just reconsider and vote for him.”
And then her husband Don calls out from the garage “And what about that antifa and Black Lives Matter looting in the cities?”
I knew then that Trump — by falsely putting blame on the “anarchist protestors” along with the outright lie of Biden trying to defund the police —was hitting his mark.
So, for all the Barbs and Dons out there, living in suburbs or towns big or small, here’s the straight talk of what’s happening.
For starters, it’s not the protestors.
Let’s take a look at some stats from the ACLED (The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project). They are the data collectors for political violence and protest events. ACLED reports that from late May to late August 2020, approximately 10,600 demonstrations took place across the country. Of that number, almost 95% were peaceful and 5% involved violent behavior.
The protests for the most part were about police brutality aimed at Black Americans. They were organized by Black Lives Matter (BLM) and triggered by the horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands (and knee) of police. The protests were designed to raise awareness of racist police brutality and murder through peaceful demonstrations — and not by violence. And momentum for this righteous outrage has been increasing. If you don’t know the story of Breona Taylor’s death, for example, now’s the time to learn about it.
FYI, Black Lives Matter is about righting racial inequality. Their mission is “to build local power and to intervene when violence was inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”
But isn’t antifa the radical side of BLM? The 5% inciting violence and causing damage?
No, but Trump would like you to think so. According to Trump, the “violence and vandalism is being led by antifa and other radical left-wing groups who are terrorizing the innocent, destroying jobs, hurting businesses and burning down buildings.”
Antifa stands for anti-facism, which got its origins in Nazi Germany. Today, it is a loosely formed network of mostly left-leaning individuals who are against social injustices, racism being at the top of the list. They are connected through ideology and not through any formal structure. Antifa came onto the national scene on the streets of the Charlottesville protests. Are they violent? They can be if they see white supremacists attacking peaceful protesters. But the FBI has been diligently investigating antifa and has found no evidence of any unprovoked violence by them.
But those protestors were carrying guns!
What the FBI found out may surprise you. The violent, gun-toting instigators are white supremacists who are avid Trump supporters. According to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), these radicalized right-wing groups are the most lethal domestic terrorist threat to the United States. Some of their names may be familiar to you such as Proud Boys, the Boogaloo, QAnon and Patriot Prayer. They are the vigilante militia that you see outfitted with camo and ammo.
So, Trump declaring that only he can restore “law and order” doesn’t make any sense. It’s his rabid followers who are committing violence to the point of outright murder in the first place. Why would he punish some of his most vocal and demonstrative supporters? He needs their votes.
But then in a curious statement Trump’s Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway stated, “The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order.”
Are we to understand that Kellyanne Conway is promoting the murder of peaceful protesters and all of the associated destruction to help reelect Trump? If Trump is supposedly the clear choice for bringing about law and order, so far he’s failed miserably. All of the horror we’ve witnessed in American cities has been on his watch. He’s already been given a chance to bring peace and unite us in common causes. But so far, it’s been the exact opposite. One of the great tests of leadership is how well a president leads during a crisis. How would you rate Trump for restoring law and order … and managing the pandemic? Now imagine four more years of that.
And protestors throwing bricks into windows and looting!
Looting is an act of opportunism. Looters have no political or ideological agenda other than to steal when no one’s looking. The protests spawned violence that broke store windows, and the looters just helped themselves. Thievery happens. And pointing fingers at either side is well … pointless because the looters themselves were not necessarily part of the protest.
But Biden is going to defund the police, right?
Wrong. Trump is outright lying again about Biden and his plan to defund the police.
In a CBS interview with Norah O’Donnell, Biden said, “I don’t support defunding the police … I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness.” His campaign calls for equipping police departments with better training and officers with body cameras. Biden also wants funding to enable police officers to develop better relationships with the communities they patrol.
So where does Biden stand on law and order?
Here are the actual on-the-record comments Biden has made:
“[P]rotesting brutality is a right and absolutely necessary. But burning down communities is not protest, it’s needless violence — violence that endangers lives, violence that guts businesses and shutters businesses that serve the community. That’s wrong.”
“I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same.”
The clear choice.
So, wherever you are reading this right now, you have a right to feel safe. Do you? This fall, we Americans have a choice. We need a leader who will unite us instead of fanning the flames of divisiveness for personal gain. And Trump has already proven that his strength comes from lawlessness and disorder. So, the decision is pretty simple, a vote for Biden/Harris is a vote for unity that could put us on the path of law and order. Otherwise, the potential for much worse — is all too real.
Photo by Avi Waxman via Unsplash
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