If you ration your reading of Twitter threads, bump this Michael Harriot thread to the top of your to-read list, and learn what you don’t know — about Martin Luther King, Jr., civil disobedience, direct action, the Montgomery bus boycott, the Selma to Montgomery march, James Forman, Robert F. WIlliams, the Black Armed Guard, and Rosa Parks.
For several weeks at the beginning of the outbreak in the U.S., the need to control the virus took precedence over other concerns. Now, for many people, the pandemic is no longer the most pressing national issue. As protesters and some public-health officials have said they are weighing the harms of police violence against the risk of increased viral spread and choosing to gather in the streets, state governments have made similar risk-reward arguments about balancing public-health and economic concerns. The virus does not care about these trade-offs. Retail reopenings and racial-justice protests may exist on different moral planes, but to the virus they both present new environments for spreading.
From America Is Giving Up on the Pandemic by Alexis C. Madrigal and Robinson Meyer
Protests, I assume, have their own terms of art. I’d openly wondered what you’d call the person who is leading the crowd in chants and, this being a notorious soccer town, someone suggested to me capo — which I don’t think is correct but I’m now too enamored of it not to use it.
All of which is by way of getting around to mentioning that one of the things which struck me about the capo at the Black Lives Matter/”defund the police” demonstration on Sunday in downtown St. Johns was the bringing a chant to a close with the flourish, “Woo-hoo!”
It was this striking bit of extra emotional work, whereby after leading it in heavy, meaningful chants — say, the call and response of, “Hands up! (Don’t shoot!)” — the crowd is invited to let out the tension with cheers and applause.
This combination memorial and protest sign depot stood at the center of the downtown plaza in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland during tonight’s Black Lives Matter/”defund the police” demonstration. Area residents have committed to daily demonstrations, split between lower (Monday through Friday) and upper (Saturday and Sunday) North Lombard, a major through-street in North Portland.
That the reforms instituted post-Ferguson appear to be insufficient is part of why support is building for a more dramatic overhaul of policing in America. Specifically, calls to defund the police have made the leap from protesters’ handheld signs to mainstream policy discussions on Twitter. When a Vox correspondent tweeted that the idea of abolishing the police was “poorly thought-out,” he was dragged to the point of rescinding it, as advocates pointed out that the theory has in fact been developed over decades by careful thinkers. It’s an example of how social media can help to propel a political critique from the fringes to the point of acceptance by a media establishment that would have otherwise comfortably dismissed it.
From The Protests Remind Us Why Social Media Is Worth Fixing by Will Oremus
Effie Baum: “Antifa” is short for anti-fascist. It is not a unified organization. Anybody can use (the term), and anybody who identifies as an anti-fascist could also say they are antifa. You don’t have to “join” antifa. It is a self-designated thing. If you are anti-fascist, you are antifa.
Where it gets muddy is that the media representation of “antifa” is often images of people utilizing a tactic known as “black bloc,” which is big groups of people dressed all in black that you see on television. And the issue with that is that, in addition to equating antifa only with that specific tactic, it does a huge disservice to all of the work that anti-fascists do besides that one very small thing, which is community defense. Ninety-eight percent of the work that anti-fascists do does not happen in the streets. Black bloc is a tactic — it is not an organization or a group.
The stereotype is that (people in black bloc are) disruptive, that they’re just troublemakers, but the fact of the matter is they are our front lines of defense from state violence and from violence that would be inflicted on us by the right.
Portland’s initial legal arguments in this excessive force case seem pretty dubious, and whatever the eventual outcome I’m glad the judge slapped them down.
“Even if there are court decisions ruling on the merits on PPB’s alleged use of excessive force at every Portland protest during the relevant time period, the Court could not conclude that those cases addressed every protestor’s experience at every Portland protest during the relevant time period,’’ Beckerman wrote.
My research has found that some protest movements have more trouble than others getting legitimacy. My co-author Summer Harlow and I have studied how local and metropolitan newspapers cover protests. We found that narratives about the Women’s March and anti-Trump protests gave voice to protesters and significantly explored their grievances. On the other end of the spectrum, protests about anti-black racism and indigenous people’s rights received the least legitimizing coverage, with them more often seen as threatening and violent.
From Riot or resistance? How media frames unrest in Minneapolis will shape public’s view of protest by Danielle K. Kilgo
What did the weekend of terrifying civil unrest that has seized America’s cities look like from City Hall? For the mayors of major U.S. cities, what began as protests over police violence triggered by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25 has intensified into something else — a national uprising that’s also a complex, fast-changing threat to public safety, driven by forces and actors not yet fully understood and threaded with the unseen menace of a still-active pandemic.
From What Mayors Are Saying About the George Floyd Protests by CityLab Staff
Instead, it’s become normal in the U.S. for police departments to revert to tactics that amplify tensions and provoke protesters, Maguire said, including wearing intimidating tactical gear before its use would be warranted. Maguire does training for police officers and has tried, for years, to get buy-in on the idea that there could be a different way. “I have good relationships with police and I’ve been working with them for 25 years, and I’ve never experienced pushback like I do on this,” Maguire said.
From Why So Many Police Are Handling the Protests Wrong by Magie Koerth and Jamiles Lartey
Second, I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.
From How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change by Barack Obama
My biggest fear as a Black woman and public health leader was the all-too-likely murder of an unarmed Black person at the hands of police leading to mass protests amid the virulence of two infectious diseases: racism and Covid-19. And here we are, a few weeks later, in the nightmarish scenario I can’t unsee: Black America and allies, rightfully angry and fed up with 400-plus years of racist violence and white supremacy, taking to the streets to protest in cities around the country and the world.
From My nightmare: Covid-19 meets racism meets the killing of a Black person by police by Lauren Powell
Ruhel Islam, owner of Gandhi Mahal Restaurant in Minneapolis: “Let my building burn. Justice needs to be served.”
Michelle Brown, owner of Teaism in Washington, DC: “Before anyone puts a single word in our mouths. Black lives matter.”
Dan Simon (ibid.), owner of Founding Farmers in Washington, DC: “I would rather it be expressed peacefully, but if I need to ‘suffer’ some broken property, let’s be real, that isn’t suffering.”
Robb Duncan (ibid.), co-owner of Dolcezza in Washington, DC: “I mean, if it’s a window that’s broken, it’s not that big of a deal. I mean, there is change that has to happen.”
Safia Munye, owner of Mama Safia’s Kitchen in Minneapolis: “But this can be replaced. George’s life cannot. George’s life was more important.”