It’s not unusual for multiple bad things to occur at the same time and to be done by both sides, or all sides assuming there are either more than two or the sides are indeterminable, but in the midst of physical and intellectual confusion, the narcissistic sense of entitlement becomes a significant burden. The problem is that the people doing the harm are incapable of realizing they’re in the wrong, because they are of the belief that they are a law unto themselves. If they do it, and they’re good people, then what they do is good and they’re in the right.
While Portland continues as a litmus test between the the right, cheering on the feds exceeding their jurisdiction and using force indiscriminately, the left, apologizing for those trying to burn down a federal courthouse for no cognizable reason, and those unaligned who say a pox on both their houses, protests and riots are blooming elsewhere,* whether in sympathy or because people need something to do with their time. These pop-up protesters have decided that they are the good guys so they are entitled not just to shut down city roads, but to command other city residents to turn away and, well, just get lost while they seize the city.
It happened in Austin and cost a life. In D.C., protesters closed a bridge.
Blocked the bridge and an old white couple refused to turn around like everybody else so we’ll keep them company 🙂 pic.twitter.com/LvWRFvxXTh
— Seun (@seuntheactivist) July 27, 2020
They were forthright about the entitlement of three passionate young people to stand in front of the car, blocking their proceeding.
I just want it to be known that every car turned around except for them. They literally stayed for over an hour and refused to turn around until instructed to by an officer. Minor inconvenience to them in comparison to the major inconvenience that Black folks face daily.
— Seun (@seuntheactivist) July 27, 2020
After all, black folks have suffered so no matter what they do or to whom they do it, they remain on the side of righteousness and get to seize the road and command what their fellow citizens are allowed to do. After all, it’s merely a minor inconvenience, they’ve decided, and what they’re doing is both right and their right.
A similar scenario occurred in Georgetown, except the driver wasn’t quite so reluctant to proceed.
As we blocked streets, certain drivers got annoyed and attempted to maneuver their way around us. This particular white woman tried to cut through a gas station. Me and a couple other protestors stood in front of her car and demanded she turn around. Instead she steps on the gas. pic.twitter.com/ODL1Evmmzf
— Julia Clark🇧🇷 (@jc_1303) July 26, 2020
The driver was later doxxed as a Department of Justice lawyer. And in New York, the Black Womxn March shut down the FDR Drive, a major artery around the city, likely impacting tens of thousands of cars, though it appears that no drivers tried to push through.
The Black Womxn’s March has shut down north bound traffic for miles on the FDR. The Black Women led demo decided do a health check on the attendees of the March. #BlackWomenMatter #blacklivesmatter #nycprotests #BlackTransLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/mOSxuZbE19
— Lanier ”Issa Khari” Lewis (@IssaKhari) July 27, 2020
Peaceful protest is a constitutional right, but peaceful doesn’t merely mean non-violent, but also non-criminal. Shutting down roadways isn’t included in the right to protest. The roadways are available to the drivers as well as anyone else, and the protesters have no greater authority to command drivers to turn around than the feds have to roam the streets of Portland.
Sure, not causing disruption makes the protest less important, impactful, and painful to the muggles who sit home and don’t dedicate their nights to singing songs, vandalizing property and occasionally attempting arson, but there’s no right to wreak havoc for the cause to put the “peaceful” protest on people’s radar.
But isn’t this all Trump’s fault, the by-product of Trump’s pushing camo-dressed DHS troops into cities when they weren’t wanted, and indeed were told to go away? Many local mayors and prosecutors have boldly spoken out that if these federal agents engage in crimes in their cities, they will be prosecuted. This not only raises the curious question of how local police plan to arrest fed agents, like a shootout at the OK Corral, but the irony that while these protesters demand police be defunded or abolished, they swiftly turn toward the very official sources they demand be shuttered to provide the structure to protect them from the fed intrusion.
There seems to be no serious question that the introduction of federal agents has exacerbated and reinvigorated these riots, which were dwindling before then, even if there had been attacks on the federal courthouse in Portland well before the feds arrived. Had there been no feds deployed, would any of this be happening? Maybe not.
But cause and effect is a curious animal, given that the deployment of federal agents to protect the courthouse was entirely lawful and proper, while their deployment beyond federal property was not. Then again, the attacks on the courthouse were criminal, and now the expanding sympathy protests, like the statue topplers before them, are engaged in criminal conduct as well, even though their sense of entitlement precludes them from grasping that their belief in the righteousness of the cause and conduct does not mean they get to decide what the law is and how far their seizure of the streets is permitted to go.
In Portland, an AP reporter, Mike Balsamo, was inside the federal courthouse and describes a different scenario than singing moms and riot ribs.
I spent the weekend inside the Portland federal courthouse w/ the US Marshals. Mortars were being fired off repeatedly, fireworks & flares shot into the lobby, frozen bottles, concrete, cans & bouncy balls regularly whizzed over the fence at high speeds. https://t.co/PU4xbzwniY
— Mike Balsamo (@MikeBalsamo1) July 27, 2020
In Austin, Garrett Forest is dead, having brought his AK-47 to the protest and pointing it at a driver who didn’t accept the premise that the protesters owned the road.
Austin’s police chief, Brian Manley, told reporters on Sunday that as the motorist turned, a crowd of protesters surrounded the vehicle, and some struck the car. The driver, whose name has not been released, then opened fire from inside the car as Mr. Foster approached. Another person in the crowd pulled out a handgun and shot at the vehicle as it sped away.
There is a saying, inter arma enim silent lēgēs. We haven’t yet reached the point of war, but we are inching ever closer. Both sides appear to blame the other and demand they stand down, they give up the streets to the other. And then what? As much as there may be strong support for the reform of policing, will the streets, the cities, in the hands of righteous rioters, with neither a grasp of the limits of their “power” nor any constraints upon their attacks on the property, rights and physical safety of others, prove better and less destructive than law enforcement?
The protesters cum rioters believe they are in the right, and they are seizing their moment, handed to them by Trump’s infusion of feds into places they don’t belong. Trump sees the opportunity to demonstrate his manly control over the “anarchists who hate America.” Those of us disinclined to defer to either side are left sitting in our cars, our roads in the hands of impassioned children who might well kill us just like the police or feds. As bad as the cops and feds might be, would you put your faith in the mob instead?
*In Oakland, ABC reports that “peaceful” protests “intensified” into setting fire to a courthouse. In LA, protesters attack police. In Seattle, it was a typical Sunday night. Remember when it was only statues being torn down night after night?