Supporting Riots Won’t Play Well for Democrats in November


The first I heard of the killing of George Floyd was on the Facebook feed of a Ron Paul libertarian who has been questioning the militarization of our police for years.

Immediately, the commentary across the political spectrum was sharp condemnation.

Most people who have lived past their 20s have seen the look in that police officer’s eyes in some dark place in their memories. Combined with the movement of his knee over the throat, it appeared deliberate and self-satisfied and meant to injure.

Although I was willing to concede the possibility that it derived mostly from one man’s personal pathology, I thought this time it was more systemic.

This police officer felt entitled to cut off someone’s airway and to suffocate him in broad daylight while cell phone cameras were rolling. That doesn’t just happen.

He was poorly trained. He did not fear discipline. He thought his uniform made him impervious.

And, yes, race did seem to play a part. Justin Bieber passing a counterfeit $20 would not have been treated the same, no matter how wasted he was.

Then, just as an entire nation reflected deeply upon the lessons and meaning of this event, the sloganeering began, and what had been an opportunity to make a correction suddenly turned ugly.

“Black Lives Matter” is a great slogan. Nobody can argue with it.

It does not work, though, when anarchists march under its banner and damage black lives. Then there is a contradiction.

The legacy media ignored the killing of black law enforcement officers in the riots, and the destruction of black businesses, because those lives do not matter when the propagandists at the New York Times are intent on making a point.

But they could not hide it. Everyone read about the killing of St. Louis police captain David Dorn somewhere in their social media feed.

Ordinary people (black and white) who work and vote pretty much exited the sloganeering when the first Molotov cocktail was thrown by a pasty white kid in a black bandana mask.

The biggest purposely ignored story of the last week has been how local government officials provided instant analysis that was lockstep with William Barr’s Justice Department.

Without the chance for coordination or choreography, democratic mayors and police issued statements that the instigators of mayhem were outsiders unconnected to the ostensibly just objectives of the protests.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields stood on a dais during a press conference, where Shields said those who incited the violence were a “highly calculated terrorist organization” not from Atlanta. She continued:

We know the organizers of protests in the city, but we didn’t know these people and the organizers didn’t know them either. These people weren’t here to fight for civil rights, they were here to destroy Atlanta. To those who came here and pulled this crap, know that it won’t happen again. You caught us off balance, but it won’t happen again. There will be zero tolerance for violence. I’m ready to lock people up.

Eric Johnson, the mayor of Dallas, Texas, said:

At this point, it appears that a serious majority, I mean, maybe two-thirds of the folks who are engaging in the mayhem, are not from our city. They are folks from outside of Dallas who are coming into our city and causing trouble and creating pain and doing damage and that has to stop.

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (where I live and work) Mayor Bill Peduto said the protests were “hijacked” and the Police Chief Scott Schubert elaborated 

We believe a lot of these individuals that are creating trouble are not from the city. I am so angry at the fact that some segment hijacked this and then took some of the youth and brought them into the mix…. I’m willing to bet my check that there’s a lot of people who are anarchists, who, they’re not here to protest what happened, they’re not here to protest what happened, they’re here to take advantage of situations and throw it their way and bring other people into the mix and cause damage and cause injury. There’s no doubt that that’s who’s doing it and a lot of things we’re seeing are white males, dressed in the anarchist, ANTIFA, they’re ones who are fueling a lot of this. It’s just a damn shame that they took advantage of the situation, for something, something happened in another state where somebody died who shouldn’t have died, and they hijacked that message for their own.

You would have to search long and hard to find a story in the Washington Post that acknowledged these mayors and police chiefs pointing to an organized outside element infiltrating the riots to cause destruction and mayhem.

That’s because they have been busy criticizing President Trump for saying the same thing.

However this is playing in the echo chamber of legacy media, and in the fever swamps of social media, it is not playing well in middle America.

President Trump has taken to tweeting “the Silent Majority” without context, and he has a point.

Nixon’s landslide victory was because ordinary Americans had grown sick of liberal whining on behalf of lawlessness.

It is difficult to discern the broader political strategy but running a senile candidate and failing (at least on the national level) to condemn insurrection is not too smart.

In Pennsylvania, a state that Democrats must win, add to those problems a Democratic governor who two weeks ago was scolding everyone for congregating in crowds, only to himself violate his own rules and join the throngs of Harrisburg protesters.

It is not necessary to poll that one. Just peruse the comments on any Facebook post of Governor Wolf’s march and you’ll see a lot of, “You mean I was not allowed to attend my father’s funeral, but you could participate in this march?”

There is still a long time before the election of 2020, but appearing to side with arsonists, murderers and looters is bad politics.

Thomas J. Farnan

Thomas J. Farnan is an attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His writing has appeared in Forbes and he is a regular contributor to and the Observer. Follow him on Twitter @tfarnanlaw.

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