Oppressive Photo Op 6/2/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

A good friend of mine and I got into a discussion that turned more heated than I would have liked today. The discussion centered around a meme that has been circulating today (I’ve seen a few of them actually). The meme shows the photos of the police kneeling, praying and marching with peaceful protesters in a display of respect, understanding and shared grief. The words added to the meme suggest that in less than an hour after the photo was taken, the police suddenly, without provocation or warning turned on the protesters firing rubber bullets and tear gas.

Of course, I cannot say one way or the other if this actually happened or not, but I’m suspicious. It is unreasonable to assume that police departments, in a show of respect, successfully deescalated the tension and avoided violence merely for a photo opportunity. There is nothing to gain by lulling peaceful protesters into a false sense of security simply so the police could turn on them and instigate the very violence they managed to avoid. A meme such as this has only a few words and cannot give the entire story. Where is the video of this alleged atrocity? I would think there would be many phones recording this situation since it is so unexpected, and yet nobody has released a video of what these memes claim. If we assume that the police did turn on the protesters (which, again, I highly doubt but will not dismiss), was it truly without provocation? Did somebody start throwing rocks or assault the officers in some other way? Was it truly without warning or was a request given first?

What I do know is that there is mounting evidence that external forces are inciting the violence in these protests. Evidence seems to suggest that the extreme right, neo Nazis and White Supremacists, some with ties to the Nations Rifle Association (NRA) have been using social media posts to send false information and posts to increase anger and incite violence. These efforts seem to be in the hopes of destabilizing our society perhaps to the point of a new civil war.

When I put myself in their shoes, I think about how they found the perfect flash point. The murder (yes, murder) of George Floyd stirred up anger and memories of centuries of systematic oppression. Anger of liberals, Democrats and the collective “left” is already high. If the protests turn violent, to destruction and looting against police and white business owners then both sides will have a common enemy. And their plan worked brilliantly, and protests and violence spread into every state.

I think of how these people must have felt when they saw the first photos of successful deescalation by a show of solidarity. This must have infuriated these people hoping to stoke fury, to see their plans and efforts thwarted by such a beautiful display. What easier way to turn this around than to make claims that this was all just a trick by the oppressive police.

Compare this with a video released by Anderson Cooper at CNN of the president’s display of force. Instead of calling for calm, solidarity, or reform, he has been calling for the equivalent of a police-state, insisting that governors clamp down with violence on protesters to force them into submission and even threatening to send the army into cities where mayors do not heed his call. The video was presented as a spit-screen showing the president, and the protesters simultaneously. The video begins with the police force in full riot gear plowing into a crowd of people peacefully protesting and pushing them back with shocking violence clearing the streets of all people, without warning and thirty minutes before the curfew was scheduled to go into effect. This was indeed for nothing but a photo opportunity for the president. Apparently angered by the reports of his holding up in the White House bunker, he had the streets cleared, with might of force, so he could walk a very short distance, be seen “bravely” walking through the very empty streets to a church that was closed, not to pray, not for a speech to try to calm nerves but for a photo opportunity. Somebody handed him a Bible that he hilariously held for the photos as he tried to pull others from his cabinet in to join him for the photo opportunities. If it were not so upsetting to watch, the video would be comical.

The president is now calling himself the law and order president. This is just as ridiculous as his posing in front of the church. This is the president that courted the minority vote claiming he will turn things around for the minority community, and yet in over three years he has done nothing. Today he has made clear that his idea of “law and order” has nothing to do with reforming the legal system of the nation, but to use the military and police system to oppress those who have any criticism of his presidency. Is this still the man we want in the White House bunker?

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