Why Protest in Lancaster?

The first night included the vandalism and destruction that a great many words have been murdered to excuse elsewhere, to no avail. The second was more peaceful. But there was a disconnect the first night. The call to the wild was that the cops killed another black man. That was all it took, since no one bothers to ask why it happened, as if there were any possibility that the cops couldn’t be the bad guys.

The guy with the knife wasn’t necessarily a bad dude, but a sick dude.

[Ricardo] Munoz, 27, was mentally ill — diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia — and hadn’t been taking his medications, his sister told Lancaster Online.

Then again, he could have been a sick dude who was also quite dangerous.

Rulennis Munoz, 33, said she had called a crisis intervention organization and a police non-emergency number to get her brother involuntarily committed.

“He had an episode. He was just incoherent and acting out,” she said. “I called to find out what the procedure was to get him some help.”

Authorities did not immediately explain why an officer was dispatched, although Munoz was facing four counts of aggravated assault after he was accused last year of stabbing four people, including a 16-year-old boy in the face, following a fight.

Facing Munoz, a police officer fired his gun while running back. Munoz fell to the ground, dead.

Protesters gathered outside the police station and, in video posted to social media, they chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “No justice, no peace” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”

Did the protesters know what happened? They didn’t appear to care. Cops killed a guy and that meant they had to protest.

Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters, turning the issue from Munoz attacking the cops with a knife and the cops shooting him, to the use of “chemical munitions” to end the protest. And the destruction.

In the aftermath, local officials addressed the situation as they’re wont to do.

“I grieve for the loss of life and know that there are more questions to be answered as the investigation continues,” Mayor Danene Sorace said in the statement.

City officials called for calm and stronger social services to help avoid deadly confrontations with police.

It’s understandable that Munoz’s sister wanted some sort of mental health intervention rather than the police to show, even though her brother had some history with knives. It’s not that he was undiagnosed. It’s not that he lacked for medication. He didn’t take his medication, a very common theme, and she wasn’t able to either make him do it or manage him when he was off his meds. These are also very common themes.

The city council president, Ismail Smith-Wade-El, said that more long-term investments must be made in crucial human services, such as mental health care support for adults, housing, crisis intervention and social workers.

“I cannot help but wonder, if Mr. Munoz got all the care he needed years ago, could we possibly be in a different place, could his family and could that officer all be in a different place,” Smith-Wade-El said in a news conference Monday.

She wanted him involuntarily committed, which may have been possible or not, but what she wanted doesn’t dictate the response. Had a social worker shown up, would the social worker be dead from a knife wound in the face instead?

It’s always possible that had things been different, the tragic outcome of a dead mentally ill person might not have happened. It’s also possible that there is no combination of good intentions and governmental interventions that could have changed anything. Munoz might have been given “all the care he needed” and still, after his necessary release from custody, chosen to stop taking his meds and gone on a violent rampage.

People want so desperately to believe that there are simple solutions to tragic problems.

But at the moment that the cops were faced with Munoz coming at them with his knife, the options were limited. This wasn’t the instance where they reacted pre-emptively, before they knew they were facing an actual threat to their life. This was the moment where it was him or the cop.

The locals who protested the killing say that the violence, destruction and looting wasn’t being done by locals, who protested peacefully, but outside agitators.

What remains unclear is what they were protesting. What any of them were protesting. What was it that they would have had the cop do, die rather than shoot? What would they have done if Munoz had attacked these well-intended young people with a knife? It wouldn’t have been the first time.

City council member Janet Diaz said social media played a big role in spreading false rumors and fanning the flames of anger based on misunderstandings of the facts of the case.

Yet, the protests continue in Lancaster, and its mayor is stymied.

“I need help. We need help,” Sorace said, calling on leaders across Pennsylvania to help forge a solution to shootings involving police officers. “I am clear beyond a doubt that we lack the tools, the resources, the expertise and the capacity to do this on our own here in the City of Lancaster.”

“We need an evidence-based protocol for responding,” she said. “What is that protocol?”

“Additionally, how do we create and staff a system that can respond 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and within minutes? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered to create a countywide plan,” she said.

Inexplicably, there is an expectation that there is a cure for every horrible scenario mankind can create, and with that “evidence-based protocol for responding,” no mentally ill person will ever attack a cop with a knife and no police officer will ever shoot him dead. Maybe there is, but it still doesn’t explain what they’re protesting in Lancaster.

31 thoughts on “Why Protest in Lancaster?

  1. Hunting Guy

    Heather Mac Donald.

    “ If the nation’s police officers walked off the job today, it would be hard to blame them. Sunday’s anti-cop riots in Lancaster, Penn., have made the current de facto rules of engagement clear: Officers may never defend themselves against lethal force if their attacker is a minority. They should simply accept being shot or stabbed as penance for their alleged racism.”

      1. Christina Laczko

        Tear gas is NOT mustard gas. Chemically two very different compounds and different effects. Tear gas is o-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile; chemical formula: C10H5ClN2. Mustard gas which damages the lung ans heart irreparably, is bis(β-chloroethyl) sulfide, (ClCH2CH2)2S, is a potent chemical warfare agent. Mustard gas, though technically not a gas and often called sulfur mustard by scholarly sources, is the prototypical substance of the sulfur-based family of cytotoxic and vesicant chemical warfare agents, which can form large blisters on exposed skin and in the lungs.

          1. Lee Keller King

            I know the difference between Mustard Gas and CS. 🙂

            I mentioned it because the young woman in the video claimed the police had used Mustard Gas against the protesters. Now that WOULD be over-escalation!

  2. B. McLeod

    The protest goal has become to establish special immunities for black people, so that police cannot use force against black people, no matter what.

    The responsive evidence-based protocol will have to be that when police arrive at a call and see that the subject of the call is a black person, they will just need to drive on without stopping.

    1. SHG Post author

      This is why the Abolish Police movement is comprised primarily of white kids from elite colleges. Black people don’t want to be mugged or beaten, so they can’t afford the radical indulgences.

  3. Guitardave

    As a life long resident of Lancaster county (only lived in the city one year and this farm boy couldn’t stand it) there is one thing that don’t add up. Slightly more than 10% ( 59K out of 550K) of the population live in the city. That 10% also has a lower % of people born in the county.
    Ever since I’ve been reading it (40+yrs), the Lancaster news papers (there was two, one ‘right’ leaning, one ‘left, owned by the same publisher[cough cough], but now just one, called LNP, short for Lies N’ Propaganda) has sucked the asses of the city dwellers and businesses, and mostly ignored the 90% majority living outside of the city…unless, of course, its a story about some rube idiot pervert or ‘guy with a gun’. The bias is so obvious it’s not funny.
    The “protesters” are less than 1% of the city’s population. They have the same stupid, entitled, illogical and thoughtless ideas that all of ‘the woke’ have adopted. And yes, Lancaster does draw in this type of fool from a lot of the surrounding small towns and counties, as most of those communities have no place for useless idiots who, though they’re capable, won’t even try to pull their own weight.
    I know, I’m ranting, but the point of it is my answer to your question…Why Lancaster? Because it’s the ONLY place in a fairly large area that you could pull off a bullshit, control the narrative psy-op that this whole ‘woke’ movement is. I’d guess 95+% of the people in this county know it’s all crap, but they’re too busy putting food on the table and taking care of their families to waste their time on it.
    So go ahead now, call me a conspiratard or any other derogatory name you can muster, cause frankly, I don’t give a flying fuck what you say about me and my ‘been here my whole life’ observations. When the narrative that drives peoples thinking turns into events that have real world damage and repercussions, and it is wholly controlled by a small soulless elite minority, this is what you get. And when…not if, but when, the 90+% finally get pissed enough to do something, there’s gonna be just as much unjust stupid shit going on as there is now….but, at least it will be a short and ‘democratic’ war. The majority will rule.
    GD OUT.

      1. Guitardave

        Dear Al,
        Sorry about that. When i read what i wrote, and knowing your disdain of rabbit holes, the fact that it does have the distinct odor of an ‘elite presstitute progressive control conspiracy’ kinda thing wafting from it, I went into a preemptive defense mode. Again, my apologies…i should know by now not to write stuff on the third cup of coffee before breakfast.
        Your friend, Betty

  4. Jay

    You do know that police in Europe use lethal force almost never, right? That cops in Alaska don’t carry guns? I know it’s hard for you to accept that cops don’t have to kill people at all, but maybe learn something new. Instead of believing you already know everything.

    1. SHG Post author

      People don’t have to kill cops (or other people) either, yet they do. It’s a two-way street.

      And Alaska troopers carry Glock 22s.

      1. John Barleycorn

        Just for the record, there are no boys and girls running around with tin badges and guns on their hips keeping the peace in the vast majority of the territory, via land mass, in Alaska.

        In these territorial areas with no armed “peace keepers”, they do sometimes, but not always have what is known as Village Public Safety Officers. Who attempt to do “public safety” or something like that.

        These Village Public Safety Officers do not carry no stinking guns but are known to call the Alaska State Patrol and suggest that they catch the next flight to town when they figure they can not do that “public safety” thing without guns by themselves and with the help of their neighbors.

        The overwhelming majority of time the Alaska State Patrol shows up to a Village Public Safety Officer’s request they don’t need no stinking guns either, but they bring them anyway.

        And go figure the Alaska State Patrol always, and I mean always, brings their guns when they are not invited too.

        Because that is what cops do. That is, what it is, I guess… but if you think about it, showing up uninvited with a gun on your hip and another four or five in a duffel bag is just rude.

        But I guess they want to get back on the plane eventually and it makes them feel better to have their owns guns to accomplish that feat, or something like that.

        But really, when you think about it, it is actually is pretty rude. I mean if they really needed a gun, or three or four guns for that mater, during these announced and unannounced visits all they would have to do is ask around after they land.

        But alas community policing is dead, and it does not appear as though there is enough medication around to bring it back, not even in Alaska, or so it seems….

    2. Charles

      When adjusted for population, at least one study lists Alaska as the #3 state in killings by police officers since 2013.

    3. David Meyer-Lindenberg

      Hi again, Jay! Many a European cop in this situation would’ve shot the guy. In fact, a German cop in exactly this situation did shoot the guy in a recent case out of my little hometown.

      1. SHG Post author

        I fondly recall walking in Madrid outside the Prado where there were police carrying machine guns wearing bedpans on their head, and thinking, “If I had a machine gun, I’d make them give me a hat that didn’t look so stupid.”

    4. delurking

      Let’s throw more numbers around.
      US police kill over 60 times as many people per capita as UK police.
      48 US police officers were killed feloniously in 2019.
      1 UK police officer was killed feloniously in 2019
      55 US police officers were killed feloniously in 2018
      0 UK police officers were killed feloniously in 2018
      USA (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014): 46, 66, 42, 51
      UK (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014): 2, 0, 1, 0

      I would like our police to be the best in the world. We are the richest nation in the world, so we can afford it. Comparing apples and oranges isn’t going to get us there, though. There are reasons these numbers are different. Understanding takes time and effort.

    5. Richard Parker

      “You do know that police in Europe use lethal force almost never . . .” At least 5% of English police officers carry guns. The number is increasing as English society is changing. We are very different countries.

      Jay, you do have a point to be discussed, but where on earth did you get the idea that police in Alaska aren’t armed?

      You or someone you know may have seen the same TV documentary about a small tribal law enforcement department that has some unarmed officers. The officer featured was very brave, but he was not armed due to funding issues. I’m guessing the problem was much more due to the cost of training to be certified than the cost of the firearm.

  5. Christina Laczko

    The cop was being literally chased down by a mentally ill guy wth a knife. A guy who had stabbed other people and had a warrant our for his arrest. Should the cop (or social worker or Bobbie) allowed said mentally ill person to stab him? What could the cop or unarmed person have done? The reason the cop is alive and not stabbed was he shot the man. An a=unarmed interventionist, would be either severely injured or dead.

    I have great sympathy for the mentally ill. As horrible as institutionalization was and is, there are some people who can not be in society. This man needed full time care – and our system of allowing free choice and “family care” is not working. He is dead because of it. Perhaps mental hospitals with long term confinement for seriously ill people is the answer – as hard as that may be.

  6. Rengit

    A great question: why Lancaster? If I were a protester, I wouldn’t protest anywhere BUT Portland. You can assault an officer, resist, arrest, commit vandalism, smash windows, block traffic, start fires, and you will be released without bail and your charges will be dropped by the DA a day later, back on the street to do the same thing next night. A bit like Pleasure Island in Pinocchio, then.

    Contrast this with Lancaster, where the protesters who were arrested for, say, throwing a brick through the police station window are being detained and charged with multiple felonies.

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