Categories
Demonstrators Public

Demonstrators say public safety re-imagined is a future without police

(CNN)Tony Williams remembers pulling into a gas station in rural Minnesota late one night after getting lost on his way back home to Minneapolis in 2018. He saw a couple of police cars parked on the lot and thought he’d ask for directions. Williams, a black man, pulled his car in near them and two white officers immediately jumped out and ran to him, both with one hand on a holstered gun and the other holding a flashlight that shined in his face.

Williams did what society conditioned him to do in such situations: he put both hands up in the air.

“I was acutely aware as a black man that my life was in danger in that moment if I didn’t have the right answers,” said Williams, an organizer with MPD150, a Minneapolis effort created by local organizers that supports the dismantling of the city’s police department and the reallocation of police funding to community-based organizations without a history of violence.

“What I needed then was not militarized folks who were worried that they’re under attack at any given moment,” Williams added. “It really drove home for me that even in the most benign of circumstances, police are a threat to me.”

Activists, like Williams, who are calling for the defunding and abolition of police, say the future of public safety doesn’t need to include police forces that systematically oppress black people, marginalized communities and communities of color.

Instead, public safety could mean supporting and funding a network of organizations, health care providers, social service agencies, religious and community leaders and others who provide safety, support and prevention. Directing funding in that way would lead to a decline in crimes linked to poverty and systemic disinvestment, activists say.

Once thought to be a pipedream that bounced around activist circles, the idea of public safety without the police forces of today has turned into a viable policy platform in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the protests that have followed. Floyd, a black man, pleaded that he couldn’t breathe while he was held down with a knee to his neck by a former Minneapolis police officer.

“We are seeing the political shift that is happening in real time here,” David Kennedy, director of National Network for Safe Communities and a criminal justice professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice said.

‘I have…zero examples of police helping me’

But there’s no one vision for what a future without today’s police would look like.

On one end of the spectrum, it means pulling money out of policing budgets and redistributing it to community-based intervention programs and services. Instead of sending an officer to a mental health or a domestic abuse call, for instance, a team of crisis workers who are better equipped to de-escalate and provide rehabilitation services would respond. In that example, some sort of policing force would remain, called on for violent situations.

On the other end of the spectrum, the goal is to completely abolish police in the US. Policing, some activists say, profits punishment over rehabilitation because of its origin as slave patrols that paid vigilantes to recapture escaped slaves.

“My horizon goal is a future where people are not policed,” said Kristiana Colón, an afro-Latina playwright, poet and co-founder of Chicago’s #LetUsBreathe collective, which began in 2014 as a way to support protesters on the ground at the Florissant Avenue encampment in Ferguson.

Colón, who works to bring the abolition of police to Chicago, said she is still recovering from being beaten by officers during the initial days of the demonstrations following Floyd’s death.

“I have absolutely zero examples of the police helping me,” she told CNN in an interview, recalling an instance when she couldn’t get police to file a report about a break in at her home.

“I kept reaching out to them as though that’s going to happen. And that’s simply not how they function,” she said.

Cities are reallocating money from police budgets

In the wake of Floyd’s death, pushed by activists and the protests that have followed, some cities have announced plans to shift money from police departments.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Commissioner Eileen Decker announced that the city’s police budget would not be increased as planned and $100 million to $150 million would be reallocated to “further enhance community neighborhood policing.” New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio said he would reallocate some of the NYPD’s $6 billion budget to youth and social services, reversing an April budget proposal that suggested cutting $400 million from the same programs.

But no place in the country has gone as far as Minneapolis recently, where nine members of the city council — a veto-proof majority — pledged at a community meeting on June 7 to dismantle the police department in its current form.

Demonstrators marching to defund the Minneapolis Police Department pause outside the Minneapolis Police and Fire Union Office on June 6.

‘Case study for a new era of how to enhance public safety’

Last week, 12 city council members unanimously approved a resolution to declare the intent to create a “transformative new model” of policing in the city, setting off a year-long process to envision and create a new way to keep people safe.

Five members also announced their intent to introduce a charter amendment for the November ballot of this year, which would propose the elimination of the Minneapolis Police Department to create “a new Charter Department to provide for community safety and violence.” A tedious process, according to local reporters, if it makes it to the ballot and is approved by voters, it would remove MPD from the city’s charter and the city could begin to dismantle it. Activists say this would circumvent Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who has said he’s not in favor of dismantling.

The council’s moves come after years of organizing from community activist groups including Black Visions Collective, Reclaim the Block, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and MPD150.

After a series of high-profile killings by the police in Minneapolis and demonstrations to demand action, Black Visions Collective along with Reclaim the Block began a campaign in 2018 that organized hundreds of community members to go to city budget hearings and explain to their council members what makes them feel safe. More often than not, the answer was not police presence.

Those efforts bore fruit after video of Floyd’s death went viral and protests began.

Minneapolis Councilmember Steve Fletcher said police weren’t responding to 911 calls during the initial days of the protests, so community leaders and activists started emergency troubleshooting. Some of his colleagues, Fletcher said, broke curfew to organize neighborhood watches while he and others took calls and emails from citizens to resolve issues in the middle of the night.

“We were deeply engaged in the kind of community problem solving and crisis work that both brought people together and showed people how much community capacity for problem solving we have. And also, prompted a lot of in a very tough conversation among us informally,” Fletcher said.

Exactly what dismantling the police department in its current will look like in Minneapolis is unknown. Some say they don’t want it to look like Camden, New Jersey, which broke its police unions, hired more officers for less money and implemented reforms, but residents still experience aggressive surveillance and policing, according to criminology professor Brendan McQuade.

Still, Fletcher says he’s heard from his constituents that they’d like to have some sort of tactical force with the capacity to respond to dangerous situations. The rest will be decided with massive input from the community and organizers, along with the city council.

Responding with prevention in mind

In a police-free future, activists described a world where communities decide what behavior is allowed and highlight the importance of neighbors — not as watchdogs but as those who can respond with prevention in mind.

“There will be a focus on in-the-moment de-escalating a situation, and also making sure that everyone involved has the resources that they need,” said Molly Glasgow, a member of MPD150.

The restorative process will focus on understanding why the issue happened in the first place, Glasgow said.

In the case of a robbery or violent crime, Williams highlighted the use of community patrols that arose during the demonstrations in effort to guard against crime for the short term, until more money is invested into social services.

“Our neighborhood defense networks were an important part of recognizing that it was a threat and defending folks against it,” Williams said.

Another idea is to use an operator for emergency services that would direct 911 calls to a tactical force, fire department or a mental health crisis line depending on the situation instead of all calls going directly to the police. A version of it is already being used in Austin, Texas.

Another option is to deploy crisis teams, similar to the “CAHOOTS” program in Eugene, Oregon, that dispatch a medic, and crisis worker trained in the mental health field to each case.

In a police-free future, domestic violence cases could be handled not by relying on a carceral system, but by focusing on understanding where violence stems from, be it a mental health problem, a substance abuse problem, an unemployment problem or unaddressed trauma problem, Vitale said. Safety for the victim would be prioritized, as police typically respond to domestic violence calls after they’ve already been committed.

“What we want is a place in the community that people can go to and say, ‘I got a problem. I need some help, but I don’t want anyone sent to jail. I want to keep this family together if I can.’ And if that doesn’t work, then ‘I need help getting out of this arrangement,'” Vitale said, adding that communities can create violence centers or women centers with trained professionals to identify resources already present in their lives.

Organizers acknowledge the framework has to come together at a quick pace, even as potential challenges loom, including pushback from the police union.

Non-profits may be guides for cities

There are guides for how Minneapolis might create its new reality — though they exist on a smaller scale as non-profits or community-based programs funded by local governments.

The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention is one non-profit example. Used in hospitals in 70 cities across the nation, violence intervention specialists from the same community arrive after a victim has been admitted to the hospital. They sit bedside to run a retaliation screening asking what happened and if the victim is still in danger, while providing supportive resources. And if the victim identifies the perpetrator or a network of community members does, the specialist then goes to the assailant to identify if risks still remain — hoping to bring both the victim and perpetrator into the organization, halting the cycle of violence and promoting restoration through mediation.

“We’re able to lower violence and their likelihood of coming back into the hospital with another gunshot wound, we’re really focusing on their health and healing,” said Fatimah Loren Muhammad, HAVI executive director.

The process works in large part because they’re not asking police-like investigation questions, but asking what the victim needs in effort to create a solution, as victims are less likely to talk to the police after injury, according to DLIVE executive director Ray Winans, a partner of the HAVI in Detroit.

“Our approach is never to go after the perpetrator in a sense of an investigation but it’s to get the perpetrator and the victim and or the network of folks to sit down and have communication.”

Asked what challenges Minneapolis can expect during their transformational process, Muhammad said it’s understanding the scale of investment that it will take. And without that, the initiative could fail.

“This is not a Band-Aid issue, right? We’re talking about structural racism, we’re talking about systems that have perpetrated harm or in whole communities for a long time. So, you’ve got to be very strategic and you’ve got to invest deeply,” she said.

Community knows ‘best way to keep each other safe’

Even organizers in favor of abolishing police departments still worry about what the future will look and what mechanisms will be put in place to handle crimes like sexual assault and violence, when the current system goes away.

“What are we going to put in place in order to make sure both things don’t happen? And that’s a larger reimagining of what liberation and freedom looks like for everybody moving forward,” Fadumo Ali, an organizer and teacher based in Minneapolis said.

But organizers and council members, who during the June 7 community meeting asked attendees to write down what makes them feel safe along with their questions and concerns as the first of many conversations, anticipate setbacks.

“We actually want to be honest about the fact that it sounds scary because we’re like, how are we going to keep ourselves safe? Our assertion is that our community knows the very best way to keep each other safe.” Noor added.

Replicating across the nation

As Minneapolis pioneers a plan to dismantle its police force, legislators at the federal level are not on the same page. Republicans have been looking to tie Democrats to the issue, while Democrats have voiced support for investing more in communities but not dismantling police forces.

“I think that a big part of this conversation really is about reimagining how we do public safety in America, which I support,” Sen. Kamala Harris said on ABC’s “The View” earlier this month.

“We have confused the idea that to achieve safety, you put more cops on the street instead of understanding to achieve safe and healthy communities you put more resources into the public education system of those communities, into affordable housing,” among other initiatives.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she was not in favor of “abolishing public safety departments and police departments,” but said conditions can be put on their funding.

Federal legislators point to reforms like a major bill introduced in the House and Senate Democrats called the Justice in Police Act that would create a national ban on chokeholds as an acceptable use of force, create a National Police Misconduct Registry, provide incentives for local governments to conduct racial bias training for officers, and set caps on the transfer of military-grade equipment to law enforcement, among other initiatives.

But advocates of dismantling police forces say cities with some of the worst policing records have passed many of the reforms and not much has changed, as it falls on individual police chiefs to implement them and just lessens the amount of damage done by police officers instead of eradicating it.

“When we talk about reform, often what that looks like is more funding for the police justified by, ‘oh, we’re going to do more training, or we’re going to do different kinds of training,'” said Colón. “Reforms are to police what thoughts and prayers are to mass shootings.”

Williams is one of the people pushing for not just reform, but what he says is transformative change through the abolition of police forces.

Officers eventually accepted that he wanted to ask them for directions, he said.

    But they warned him that should he need directions again, he should park far away and approach officers with his hands up, so as not to look like a threat, Williams said.

    “Police abolition is ultimately about getting our communities the things that they need to be successful.”

    CNN’s Sarah Moon, Manu Raju, Clare Foran and Aaron Cooper contributed to this report.

    Read More

    Categories
    cleared Demonstrators

    The Last Time the U.S. Army Cleared Demonstrators From Pennsylvania Avenue

    Bonus Army veterans’ camp is burned down in Washington, D.C., July 28, 1932. | AP Photo

    Gordon F. Sander is a journalist and historian based in Riga, Latvia. He specializes in writing about forgotten or overlooked figures and episodes from 20th century American and European history.

    The Washington D.C. authorities told him “that they can no longer preserve law and order,” the president’s statement declared. “In order to put an end to this rioting and defiance of civil authority, I have asked the Army to assist the District authorities to restore order.”

    The author of the above presidential ukase was not the current, 45th occupant of the White House, Donald Trump, but his predecessor, Herbert Hoover, the 31st U.S. president. The year was 1932. And the authors of the aforementioned “rioting” were a scraggly, disgruntled group of World War I veterans who hoped to force the government to pay out their service bonuses. When Hoover sent in the troops to clear the protesters that July the newsreels showed U.S. Army troops wielding bayonets and tear gas as they brazened their way through the camps the demonstrators had built and set them ablaze. Time magazine called it the Battle of Washington.

    It isn’t difficult to see the parallels with today, as protests rage in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the knee of a white police officer. Last Monday, as on that infamous afternoon 88 years ago, a militarized force backed by the White House roughly expelled a group of diverse, peaceful, unarmed protesters on Pennsylvania Avenue. Once again, the Capitol was silhouetted in tear gas smoke. Once again the cameras rolled and the nation was horrified.

    So were a slew of retired senior military officials and uniformed officers, among them former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, and former director of the National Security Agency Michael Hayden, all of whom expressed their outrage at Trump’s militaristic response to the peaceful assembly in Lafayette Park.

    There are also lessons from the original Battle of Washington for the current commander-in-chief, and anyone else curious about President Donald Trump’s 2020 prospects—including the effect that Hoover’s militarized response to the disorder on his front yard had on his re-election campaign. As Trump meditates further escalating his own Battle of Washington, he would do well to recall what happened the last time a president ordered troops to clear Pennsylvania Avenue.



    Herbert Clark Hoover, who took office at the onset of the Great Depression, was one of the unluckiest men to occupy the Oval Office. Intelligent, competent, self-effacing to a fault, he had a stellar record of public service behind him when he was elected in 1928, most notably his acclaimed work as head of the life-giving U.S. Food Administration during World War I, and the American Relief Administration afterwards when he strove to provide food for the starving masses of Central and Eastern Europe. But unfortunately, the good will that Hoover had accrued quickly dissipated after the stock market crashed in October 1929. Matters were not helped by the former engineer’s stubborn opposition to involving the federal government in alleviating the human toll of the historic depression that followed. By 1931 unemployment had reached 15 percent, breadlines filled the country’s streets and hordes of miserable Americans were encamped in decrepit shantytowns, or “Hoovervilles” as they were called. Hoover’s name had become a synonym for indifference.

    By 1932, the third year of the economic catastrophe, this national tableau of misery had set the stage for a dramatic confrontation.

    In 1924, when the economy had been strong, Congress had passed the World War Adjusted Compensation Act, awarding bonuses to surviving veterans of the Allied Expeditionary Force, as the American servicemen who sailed to France to fight against the Central Powers during World War I were called, as a gesture of gratitude for their service. There was a catch, however: The “bonus” certificates, which would have been worth approximately $500 plus compounded interest, were not redeemable until 1945.

    One former sergeant and combat veteran from the Great War, Walter Waters of Portland, Oregon, decided that wasn’t good enough. Like many, if not most of the surviving veterans, by 1932 Waters was unemployed. He wanted his money now. At a Portland veterans’ meeting in March, Waters raised the idea of descending on Washington en masse to pressure Congress to paying the bonus immediately.

    Thus the so-called Bonus Expeditionary Force—also known as the Bonus Marchers or the Bonus Army—was formed. In the late spring of 1932, the ragtag “army” of 17,000 veterans and their families, led by the charismatic Waters, descended on Washington by foot, truck and train to demand their pay.

    Most of the Army settled in Anacostia Flats, a muddy area across the Anacostia River south of the 11th Street Bridge. There they erected a sprawling network of camps—which they of course called Hoovervilles—to serve as their base to lobby Congress and make their presence known around the capital. A smaller group of veterans bedded down near the White House in a group of abandoned buildings on government property on Pennsylvania Avenue near Third Street.

    The sprawling cluster of camps, which included sanitation facilities and even a library, were tightly supervised by “Commander Waters,” as he was now called, and his adjutants. Veterans were required to register and prove that they had been honorably discharged. Although there were doubtless a number of radicals among the ranks of the shambolic Army, most of the veterans were non-political and avowedly patriotic. There were a lot of American flags at Bonus City, the main Anacostia cantonment. Basically, the vets just wanted their money.

    The Army was partly successful. On June 15, after an impassioned debate which caused one representative to drop dead of a heart attack on the floor of Congress, the House passed the $2.4 billion Wright Patman bill by which the Bonus Marchers and the other surviving doughboys would immediately be given $1,000. There was a lot of cheering in the House Gallery that afternoon.

    The celebration was premature. Two days later, to general consternation, the Senate rejected the bill by a wide margin. Crushed by their defeat, the bulk of the BEF did an about face and skulked out of the capital. However a sizable number, estimated at 2,000, continued to hunker down, both at Bonus City and other sites around the capital, including the row of half-demolished buildings near the White House, hoping that somehow their presence would move the government to change its mind—and because they had nowhere else to go.

    The government didn’t change its mind. Meanwhile, the remaining BEF holdouts got on Hoover’s nerves, a living testament to his failure to alleviate the Depression. Angry, brooding over his dimming chances in the forthcoming election, Hoover persuaded himself, with the aid of Douglas MacArthur, his Caesar-like Army chief of staff that the BEF had been infiltrated by Communists and was planning to stage a revolt. This was balderdash. In fact, Waters had made a point of ferreting out any Reds or would be Reds from his “troops.” No matter. As far as Hoover and MacArthur were concerned, the Marchers were a horde of criminals and Communist subversives.

    Finally, on the afternoon of Thursday, July 28, 1932, under prodding from the White House, the commissioners of the District of Columbia ordered the D.C. police to clear the smaller, disheveled site near the White House, where several hundred of the Marchers were squatting. The police moved in. The veterans, who were armed with nothing more than bricks, resisted. The squatters were joined by several hundred of their comrades from Bonus City. Bricks were thrown. Shots rangs out. When the brick dust and gun smoke cleared one veteran was dead, another was mortally wounded and a D.C. policeman also lay near death.

    That is when the D.C. commissioners asked the White House for federal troops.

    Unlike his jingoist successor, Hoover was hardly a militarist; if anything, he was the opposite. Just a month before, Hoover had startled delegates to the World Disarmament Conference in Geneva when he introduced a proposal which, if enacted, would have further reduced America’s already modest peacetime military forces by discarding submarines, tanks and military aviation.

    That was then. Now, pacifist no longer, Hoover, fed up with the rabble outside his house, was happy to oblige the District commissioners’ request for reinforcements. The president passed the request to his Secretary of War, Patrick Hurley, who passed the request to strutting four-star General Douglas MacArthur, who also was happy to oblige.

    In Hoover’s statement justifying sending in federal troops, which was carried on the front page of the New York Times and other major American newspapers, he asserted: “An examination of a large number of names discloses the fact that a considerable part of those remaining are not veterans; many are Communists and persons with criminal records.”

    “Damned lie,” Waters raged. “Every man is a veteran. We examined the papers of everyone.” No matter: The then largely conservative American press trumpeted Hoover’s hollow, martial words. Waters’ protest was ignored.

    To say that MacArthur was eager to do battle with the Bonus Army is to understate the case. For weeks his men at nearby Fort Myers had undergone anti-riot training for just such a confrontation.

    Still, there was neither need nor call for MacArthur himself to actually be on the scene that afternoon, as his aide, Major Dwight Eisenhower, reportedly told him. “I told that son of a bitch that he shouldn’t go there,” Eisenhower later recounted. MacArthur’s subordinate, General Perry Miles, was technically in charge.

    But there MacArthur was, in his shiny jodhpurs, as the bayonet-wielding men of the 12th Infantry Regiment, and the mounted troops of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, supported by six M197 light tanks, marched up Pennsylvania Avenue while thousands of civil service employees left work to line the street and watch.

    The New York Times reported what happened next: “Amidst scenes reminiscent of the mopping up of a town in the World War, Federal troops drove the army of bonus marchers from the shanty town near Pennsylvania Avenue in which the veterans had been entrenched for months. Ordered to the scene by President Hoover detachments of infantry, cavalry, machine gun and tank crews laid down an effective tear-gas barrage which disorganized the bonus-seekers, and then set fire to the shacks and tents left behind.”

    After that, Hoover, whose aides were keeping him updated on the fracas, ordered MacArthur to stop.

    But MacArthur had a fuzzy appreciation of the principle of civilian control of the military. Excited by the whiff of battle (even though it hadn’t been much of a battle) and convinced that the shoddy Bonus Marchers constituted a real and present threat to the government, the general disobeyed Hoover’s direct order and instead ordered his troops to cross the Anacostia River to Bonus City. There, as newsreel cameras rolled, his men proceeded to forcibly evict the remaining veterans and their families and torch their tents. Fifty-five veterans were injured and 135 arrested in the confrontation that day.

    Hoover, for his part, was unrepentant. Twenty years later, by which time the storied general was commander of U.S. forces during the Korean War, MacArthur’s disdain for the string of command resulted in his relief by president (and former Army captain) Harry Truman. But in 1932 MacArthur’s gross insubordination went unheeded and unpunished. Instead the government called him a hero. “It was a great victory,” Secretary Hurley exulted the next day. “Mac is the man of the hour.”

    Although Hoover himself never appeared on the scene, that night he could see the fires his men had set from his White House bedroom. So could all of Washington. So could all of America.

    The Battle of Washington was over, and so, for all practical purposes, was the presidency of Herbert Clark Hoover. The Bonus March fiasco was seen by many as the death knell for Hoover’s re-election campaign, already facing long odds because of the cratering economy. The sight and sound of his and his top general’s troops tear-gassing the pitiful remaining tenants of Bonus City and their weeping families, as shown in biograph theaters around the country, certainly didn’t endear him to voters. In November, Hoover lost by a landslide to Franklin Roosevelt.

    Flash forward to last Monday’s confrontation at Lafayette Park.

    To be sure, Trump’s Battle of Washington is quite distinct from the first one. The vainglorious, saber-rattling Donald Trump bears little resemblance to the modest, if misguided Hoover. The largely young, well-dressed and well-fed protesters who assembled in Lafayette Park on Monday bore little resemblance to the aging, ragamuffin Bonus Marchers who were driven away by MacArthur’s cavalry nearly 90 years ago. Their cause—police brutality—differed from that of the Bonus Marchers. And the heavily swathed, helmeted men who pushed back the protesters at Lafayette Park—a mix of police from several federal agencies as well as National Guardsmen were—were not actually active duty troops, like the saber-drawn cavalrymen who confronted the Bonus Marchers near the White House in 1932. (Though Trump did threaten to call in active troops.)

    No, General Mark Milley, the relatively mild-mannered chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, is not anything like the blustering Douglas MacArthur. Still, like that infamous long-ago day, Milley was very much on the scene on Monday, as his glowering commander-in-chief strode across Lafayette Park after the phalanx of federal police had cleared away those protesters so he could he take his photo op in front of St. John’s Church. Milley was wearing combat fatigues, the first time the chairman of the joint chiefs had been thus adorned in recent memory. As General Michael Hayden recounted for the Washington Post in its oral history of last Monday’s debacle: “The chairman of the Joint Chiefs was walking with [Trump] and I said, ‘Oh my God, what is he doing. The military would not do that.”

    Once again, as in 1932, many feel a line has been crossed. Just as Americans were aghast at the newsreel scenes of the original confrontation, so were many of today’s Americans, who looked agog at the surreal, Goya-esque scene unfolding on their TV sets and smartphones as the heavily armed federal police pushed and flashbanged their way through the defenseless crowd in Lafayette Park while Trump prattled on about the threat to the U.S. government in the Rose Garden. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis put it succinctly when he wrote this week, “Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C. this week, sets up a response, a false response between the military and civilian society. It erodes a vital bond between the men and women in uniform and the society they were sworn to protect.”

    Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst for the Brookings Institution, further elaborated on what is potentially at stake, particularly if the current, martial-minded chief executive takes the throttle up a notch and actually does call in active duty forces, as the hapless Hoover did in 1932: “This is a time when anyone who worries about the image and role of the military in society should shudder. It doesn’t take long to go back to the days of the 1960s and the 1970s when Americans were disdainful of both the Vietnam War and the troops. Beyond the blow to its prestige, a military that is roughly half minority could suffer enormously in its ability to recruit if the armed forces are seen as adversarial by large chunks of the population.”

    “Also all the progress we have seen in modern times with good civilian-military relations—we’ve had no Douglas MacArthurs lately, dancing right up to the edge of outright insubordination in this country for a long time, thank goodness—could be jeopardized if Defense Secretary Esper and General Milley are seen as serving the illegitimate political agenda of a badly flawed president.”

    Only time will tell if the second Battle of Washington will damage Trump’s electoral prospects as badly as the first quashed Hoover’s. Still, Trump should be worried: If history is any lesson, the American people aren’t happy when federal militarized forces bulldoze their way through peaceful protestors. The real worry, though, is the lasting damage Trump’s decision to blur the line between the civil and the military—the same mistake that Herbert Hoover made on that long ago day of infamy—may have on America’s relationship with its military and law enforcement. Put simply, once our troops, as well as our police, turn their bayonets and batons on us, who can we trust?

    Read More

    Categories
    Demonstrators worth

    Demonstrators say it’s worth braving coronavirus to protest George Floyd’s killing

    (CNN)Jazondre Gibbs was up early Saturday morning, packing her car and driving with her mom into the center of Washington, DC. She wanted to be there in time to park and set up a table loaded with bags of snacks, water, hand sanitizer and other supplies to hand out to crowds demonstrating after the death of George Floyd.

    Gibbs was worried about the risk of coronavirus. Doctors from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield on down have cautioned demonstrators that crowds provide a perfect opportunity for the virus to spread.

    Over 1,000 health professionals sign a letter saying, Don't shut down protests using coronavirus concerns as an excuse

    But after weeks of holing up at home under pandemic lockdown, she was glad to finally have something she could do.

      “The pandemic has made us feel kind of helpless,” said Gibbs, a 23-year-old behavioral science consultant.

      “We can’t really control how many tests there are and how many masks there are — those types of things,” Gibbs told CNN. “But I can control the time that I spend to put these bags together and I can control how much time I want to spend doing this. Those are things I can be in control of.”

      On Friday, Gibbs hit the store. She wasn’t feeling brave enough to march shoulder to shoulder with strangers, but she wanted to be part of the demonstrations. “So we just made a run to Costco and bought a whole bunch of stuff,” she said.

      As she spoke, Gibbs was handing out her care packages to the throngs of people headed down 16th Street towards the White House, where thousands were gathering for a ninth day of demonstrations in the capital.

      With traffic blocked and police showing a minimal presence, the four lanes of one of the city’s main avenues provided plenty of room for distancing. Demonstrators, almost all of them wearing face masks, were spaced out widely among ice cream vans and food trucks.

      “It’s a beautiful way to participate while still staying far away. I feel comfortable,” Gibbs said from behind her woven face mask.

      Two Viruses: Dr. Sanjay Gupta's coronavirus podcast for June 5

      Sarah Foster also felt the demonstrations were a chance to take action after weeks of passive inaction.

      The 36-year-old engineer walked from her home to join the demonstrations, loosely organized by several groups in Washington on Saturday. “So this is finally something we can do, and something important that we can be part of, that we can help solve,” Foster told CNN.

      She wore a black cloth mask and said she had no trouble keeping her distance from other people on wide avenues closed off to traffic by police.

      “Obviously, people are a little bit closer together than is the recommended six-foot distance, but I think what we are doing is so important,” she said. “Everyone’s gotten used to finding a way to stay separated.”

      Experts worry about virus spreading among protesters

      Surgeon General warns of coronavirus outbreaks from Floyd protests

      “I do think there is a potential, unfortunately, for this to be a seeding event,” Redfield said during a hearing in the House on the coronavirus response. He said the risk of infection is higher in major cities where there’s been significant transmission.

      “Based on the way the disease spreads, there is every reason to expect that we will see new clusters and potentially new outbreaks moving forward,” he added. While there was no tear gas in DC on Saturday — no conflicts at all between demonstrators and police — Redfield noted that the coughing caused by tear gas would be an effective way to spread viruses.

      Monica Schoch-Spana, a senior scholar of medical anthropology at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said she sees the issue of George Floyd’s killing as a crisis important enough to bring people out despite their fears about the coronavirus.

      “People have been sequestered for a long period of time. And, quite frankly, the majority of people have stuck in there with regard to physical distancing,” Schoch-Spana said. “They have now found a reason to break with that established pattern that has gone on for weeks and weeks and weeks.”

      “I am sure it feels very freeing and invigorating to be out. But that was a conscious choice to embrace this particular message. It wasn’t the opening of the malls. It was political injustice that’s been brewing for quite some time,” Schoch-Spana said.

        For Gibbs, it was reason enough to take the risk.

        “We have been social distancing to the max — working from home, staying inside, quarantining — all of the above,” she said. “This is our first time out in actual public, and it’s for this, and I think that says something.”

        Read More

        Categories
        defied Demonstrators

        Demonstrators defied curfews but there were fewer clashes and less chaos on a night of mostly peaceful protests

        The eighth night of protests saw less violence, fewer police clashes and more acts of civil disobedience.

        Unprecedented curfews are in place in Washington, DC, Atlanta, New York City, Cleveland, and several California cities to dissuade gatherings after a weekend of sometimes violent confrontations and looting.

          But that didn’t stop thousands of people from showing up to call for justice following the death of George Floyd, who died last week after he was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds.

          Police officers are joining protesters for prayers and hugs in several US cities

          In Philadelphia on Tuesday, protests culminated in a nine-minute “moment” of silence.

          In Los Angeles, a group of protesters knelt with their hands up in peace signs outside the home of Mayor Eric Garcetti as they waited to be arrested.

          In Atlanta, where days ago a police car was lit on fire, a large crowd marched peacefully through the same streets.

          And after what New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called “coordinated criminal activity” and looting in parts of the city the night before, protests over Tuesday night looked completely different, de Blasio said.

          People marched through Manhattan, with some store owners, residents and supporters lining the sides of the streets and cheering on demonstrators.

          Though there were some instances of looting, it was nowhere as widespread or chaotic on Monday night.

          At one point, protesters trying to cross the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan were blocked off by police, who closed the Manhattan side of the bridge. There were fears of a confrontation, but police allowed the protesters to turn around and walk off the bridge back into Brooklyn without arrests.

          “We want peace,” Joseph Haynes, a demonstrator in Los Angeles, told CNN’s Kyung Lah. “Look at all these wonderful people out here. Look at us. And this is not just black people.”

          Peaceful protests have been spurred on by Floyd’s family: both his brother who called for an end to violence Monday and Roxie Washington, the mother of his 6-year-old daughter, who called for justice for Floyd on Tuesday.

          “He will never see her grow up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle. If there is a problem she’s having and she needs her daddy, she does not have that anymore,” Washington said of Floyd’s daughter, Gianna. “I am here for my baby, and I’m here for George because I want justice for him.”

          Floyd's daughter, Gianna, and her mother Roxie Washington.

          Where Floyd’s case stands

          Floyd’s death sparked what has been more than a week of protests, calling for justice in his case and an end to police brutality.

          George Floyd's memorial and funeral services will take place in Minneapolis, Houston and North Carolina

          Last week, the 46-year-old died after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pinned him to the ground with his knee pressed to Floyd’s neck, according to a prosecutor’s statement of probable cause.

          Chauvin has been arrested in his death and Floyd’s family attorney Ben Crump said he expects the other three officers at the scene will be charged before Floyd’s funeral next week.

          “We think all of them should be charged with some type of felony murder for participating in the horrific killing of George Floyd,” Crump said.

          An independent autopsy showed that the knee on Floyd’s neck as well as two other officers’ knees holding him down contributed to his death.

          Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Tuesday that the Minnesota Department of Human Rights is launching a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, which will look into practices from the last 10 years.

          A news release says the inquiry will try to determine whether police engaged in “systemic discriminatory practices towards people of color and ensure any such practices are stopped.”

          Chauvin is expected to make his first appearance in court on charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on June 8. Floyd’s funeral is planned for June 9 in Houston.

          Atlanta police prepare to enforce a 9:00 pm curfew with gas as demonstrators chant, Tuesday.

          Conflict and confrontations

          A night marked by more peaceful displays of civil disobedience was not without confrontation between law enforcement and protesters.

          This man sheltered dozens of protesters in his Washington, DC, home to protect them from arrest

          As Atlanta reached its 9 p.m. curfew, law enforcement deployed tear gas at protesters gathered near the CNN Center who through the day had been marching peacefully.

          Hundreds of protesters were arrested in Los Angeles, LAPD spokesman Tony Im told CNN. By 10 p.m. Tuesday the NYPD had arrested 40 protestors and expected that number to grow.

          After rocks and glass were thrown at officers Tuesday, according to the Milwaukee Police Department, officers used tear gas on the crowds.

          Police in Boise, Idaho, formed a line between the hundreds who showed up for a vigil on the steps of the capitol and counterprotesters holding American flags and Blue Lives Matter flags, according to CNN affiliate KBOI.

          And after President Donald Trump called for tougher efforts against protests earlier this week, 1,600 active duty troops moved to the Washington, DC, area to assist civil authorities if needed, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday.

          Spokeswoman Anne Bettesworth said Tuesday that the Seattle Office of Police Accountability received about 14,000 complaints concerning the conduct of Seattle police officers during demonstrations over the weekend.

          Protesters gather at a memorial for George Floyd where he died outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis.

          Maintaining the peace and making change

          Measures are starting to be enacted to ensure the safety of the demonstrations as well as to address the concerns at the heart of the protests.

          Facebook said Tuesday that it had shut down pages and accounts whose members were discussing bringing weapons to the protests.

          The activity was tied to a group called American Guard, according to Facebook. The Anti-Defamation League says American Guard “has a background with connections to anti-immigrant extremism, hatred, and violence.”

          Police brutality prompted the protests. In some cities, the police response only proved the protesters' point

          To provide relief for businesses that have been harmed during protests, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a $10 million fund on Tuesday.

          Lightfoot also put forward a police accountability reform measure for “some immediate necessary next steps on our journey toward reform.”

            Measures “critical to resolving our crisis” will be implemented within the next 90 days, Lightfoot said.

            “I stand with those who are sick and tired of the lack of fundamental change,” Lightfoot said. “Change that results in the respect, dignity, and freedom that black people deserve in this country.”

            CNN’s Eric Levenson, Steve Almasy, Laura Ly, Dave Alsup, Raja Razek, Jamiel Lynch and Adrienne Winston.

            Read More

            Categories
            Demonstrators streets

            Demonstrators take to New York City streets in Floyd protest

            Updated

            • Protesters rally over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis Friday, May 29, 2020, in New York. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. Photo: Frank Franklin II, AP / Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

              Protesters rally over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis Friday, May 29, 2020, in New York. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. less

              Protesters rally over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis Friday, May 29, 2020, in New York. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on … more

              Photo: Frank Franklin II, AP

            Photo: Frank Franklin II, AP

            Protesters rally over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis Friday, May 29, 2020, in New York. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. less

            Protesters rally over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis Friday, May 29, 2020, in New York. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on … more

            Photo: Frank Franklin II, AP

            NEW YORK (AP) — Demonstrators took to New York City streets on Friday for a second day in protest of the death of George Floyd, the black Minnesota man killed in police custody, and invoked the names of other black people who died at police hands.

            In Brooklyn, crowds of demonstrators chanted at police officers lined up outside the Barclays Center. There were several moments of struggle, as some in the crowd pushed against metal barricades and police pushed back.

            Scores of water bottles flew from the crowd into the officers, and in return police sprayed an eye-irritating chemical into the crowd twice.

            The names of black people killed by police, including Floyd and Eric Garner, killed on Staten Island in 2014, were on signs carried by those in the crowd, and in their chants. Protests have taken place around the country, with some in Minnesota and elsewhere becoming violent.

            “It’s my duty to be out here,” said Brianna Petrisko, among those at Foley Square in lower Manhattan, most wearing masks, where the demonstrations started Friday. The protest took place despite coronavirus prohibitions on large gatherings. The demonstrators were gathered in the square, while gathered police stood across the street.

            “Our country has a sickness,” Petrisko said. “We have to be out here. This is the only way we’re going to be heard.”

            At his Friday briefing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he stood with the Minnesota protesters.

            “Nobody is sanctioning the arson, and the thuggery and the burglaries, but the protesters and the anger and the fear and the frustration? Yes. Yes. And the demand is for justice,” Cuomo said.

            At a press conference, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York Police Department officers had been told to respect peaceful protest.

            He also had a message for protesters. “If you are angry with the government, if you are angry with the elected leaders, direct that angry to all of us, because if we haven’t done enough, we are the ones who should be held responsible,” he said. “But the police officer in front of you is a working man or woman just trying to do their job.”

            Read More