Why This Tidal Protest Movement will Prod Us to Save the Planet
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement that surged after George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020, is not the first revolutionary wave that shouted a demand for justice, freedom and equality, and that spearheaded a new worldview on the planet. Similarly, 1968 was a year of protests for freedom worldwide.
In the United States, the civil rights movement peaked with the onset of the Black Power and Vietnam war protests. On April 4, Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed, and violent revolts erupted all over the country, leading to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1968. After their win in the 200-meter race at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos protested against racial discrimination by bowing their heads and raising a black-gloved fist — a Black Power fist — during the playing of the national anthem. In France, the May 1968 student revolution was a demand for more freedom — its core rallying cry was “L’imagination au pouvoir (Imagination in power)!”
However, the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement is a unique consciousness leap in many respects, not only because it is erupting in a tidal wave of change endorsed by the majority of the U.S. population, but because it affects so many communities and legal domains. Moreover, it is garnering traction and support in many countries, prodding them to deal with their own history of racial and social inequality, as well as police brutality toward minorities. And in so doing, it will be both powerful and enduring.
A focused conversation in the U.S. and in the world until change happens
It’s the first time that a socio-political crisis erupting as a spontaneous tidal protest movement in the U.S. has been regarded by the protagonists as a “conversation” with the stated intent to keep it (1) focused, and (2) ongoing as a process until significant changes and reforms do happen. Indeed, BLM has conquered the communication space and is ushering a non-stop and full-fledged flow of change.
And this conversation brings to the conscious awareness of our societies worldwide the African Americans’ depth of experience of 400 years of oppression, both as individual plights and community ordeals. It’s a moment also when we see deep empathy from people of all races for the historically and presently oppressed ones, and a shared willingness from all aware individuals to indeed stop the systemic racism in the laws and police organizations, and recurrent in police brutality and social behavior.
In the wake of a tone-deaf leadership in the U.S. that, beyond being unable to understand what was at stake, started to spurt out debilitating orders-by-tweets, massive efforts were initiated by cities, states, corporations, sport leagues and influential individuals, in order to make changes happen here and now, and to carve these steps in history.
The BLM motto was not new. It was launched as a grassroots movement when, in 2013, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi formed the Black Lives Matter Network, which is part of the larger coalition Movement for Black Lives (M4BL). However, the movement took over as a massive collective self-criticism and atonement this year, with the death of George Floyd. The wave of social justice it has created keeps moving worldwide and will without doubt end up shaking the geopolitical status quo. At the end of May, over 450 major protests were held in cities and towns across the United States and three continents; as of early September 2020, 15 to 26 million people participated in protests in the U.S. alone.
Democratic societies facing their own colonialist and imperialist past as a collective shadow to be dismantled
As democratic societies, we are confronting our past flaws as the brutal imperialist and colonialist powers we have been. We certainly need to address our own systemic racism and endemic biases and reflect on what is impeding us from living up to the stated democratic principles of equality of all human beings and to the constitutional rights of individuals and communities. And I believe that facing these deep flaws and shortcomings amounts to facing our own collective dark side — our collective shadow.
The infamous blunders and self-serving blinkers of Donald Trump choosing the Juneteenth date for a rally, set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, no less, fueled an earth-shaking realization of the damning massacre of a thriving Black community (who prided itself as the Black Wall Street) in Tulsa in 1921. Juneteenth, or Emancipation Day, is the most sacred celebration for African Americans commemorating the announcement on June 19, 1865, by Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army, of freedom from slavery in Texas — although Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. The end of slavery only became effective in all U.S. states with the 13th Amendment ratified in December 1865.
Well, what was supposed to be a triumphant comeback rally (the first one after the Covid-19 lockdown) met a revengeful fate of its own karmic doing; not only did it need to be pushed off the sacred 19th date to the next day, but it happened to be a miserable flop, with two-third of the seats in the large venue remaining unoccupied. Now the coup de grâce came on July 10 when The Supreme Court declared a large region in eastern Oklahoma, including Tulsa, to be Native American land in terms of federal criminal law. This was based on the ancient treaties with the Creek Nation that had been forced, together with several other Indian nations, to leave their ancestral land in the Southwest (following the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830) and walk the Trail of Tears to their new territory west of the Mississippi. This July 2020 decision was now upturning all previous criminal prosecutions carried at the state level.
Given that we are dealing — all of us, and especially the White descendants of these colonialists such as me — with the focused and implacable dismantling of a collective shadow, I expect the self-critique and the sea-change that BLM sets in motion to address more and more global problems, notably imperialism (already raised through the statue of Christopher Columbus), as well as royalty, colonial era treaties and authoritarian regimes.
Thus, the BLM movement expresses a momentous shift in consciousness — a global worldwide revolution. It amounts to a collective realization:
• About systemic racism, police brutality, the oppression of African Americans, of Native Americans, of Aborigines, of LGTB+ and the endemic discrimination based on race and gender;
• About the extreme violence of White Supremacists — both physical and psychological — that reveals a will to erase the cultural, emotional, artistic, philosophical and ecological worldview of Black people, Native Americans, communities of color, and minorities.
Police brutality in the U.S. targeting black and brown people
Make no mistake: the Black Wall Street community in Tulsa’s Greenwood quarter had its people slaughtered, its buildings burnt down, its wealth looted, its community newspapers and services reduced to ashes because they were thriving! Rare accounts following the massacre often painted it as perpetrated by an angry White mob against so-called “riots,” as if it had been a spontaneous attack. But the fact is, thousands of people were slaughtered or wounded by numerous rifles at ground level, hundreds of survivors were later detained, and a large number of classy buildings and streets were destroyed by fire-bombs dropped from a dozen airplanes — and all that suggests a totally different scenario. Indeed, the scale of the destruction resembles that of a war zone! (See photo above.)
As the Wikipedia article states, “Numerous eyewitnesses described airplanes carrying white assailants, who fired rifles and dropped firebombs on buildings, homes, and fleeing families. (…) Law enforcement personnel were thought to be aboard at least some flights. (…) A number of newspapers targeted at Black readers heavily reported the use of nitroglycerin, turpentine and rifles from the planes.” Explosions were also witnessed, as well as fire-bombs dropped on the gas station.
Historians without blinkers will definitely have to check if state law enforcement, military personnel or federal forces were involved. What is certain is that the whole operation had been carefully planned, that it took a lot of military resources and had a substantial cost, and also that the highest state officials couldn’t not be implicated and responsible for the death of at least 300 Black civilians and the wounding of 6,000 others, who posed no real threat at all.
Of course, the massacre was dutifully hushed as this Black community was reduced to despair and utter poverty [See archival photos]. However, Mary E. Jones Parrish set herself to write immediately a first-hand account of the “Events of the Tulsa Disaster,” which was published in 1922. Also, thanks to the relentless work of Jim Goodwin, the publisher of the Oklahoma Eagle newspaper, Tulsa’s massacre historical recollection endured; yet, even the mass graves have yet to be found.
The perceived nuisance this Black community posed to the White supremacists was certainly the fact that they had managed their business so well that it was making them wealthy, happy and free. In a historical photo, the Black residents of Greenwood showed such assertive carefree faces and buoyant bearings that it convinced me that was precisely their high “crime” — the fact they were so successful and no more the subservient poor.
Similarly, many people murdered in custody in our times may have been targeted because they were bright and gifted, talented and thriving, full of life and with a high emotional intelligence. An offensive and harrowing fact for me as a woman and a psychologist is that the great majority of Black men shot and/or killed in custody were young fathers; even worse, sometimes the harm was done in front of their kids, thus harming the kids psychologically (such as with Jacob Blake, as we’ll see).
Police unions have to be investigated thoroughly as they embark in a show of force to protect their own legal unaccountability and militarized equipment. Fortunately, since George Floyd’s death, the racial justice protests in the name of unarmed African Americans killed in custody have, for the first time, brought some of the perpetrators to justice. In Minneapolis, the three officers responsible for George Floyd’s death by chokehold while in custody were fired, arrested and charged. The White father and son who killed Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, while he was jogging were arrested and charged. In Atlanta, the officer who killed Rayshard Brooks who had been drunk and asleep in his car at a Wendy’s drive-through was fired and charged.
It is to be expected that the immunity provided until now to officers by their local police unions will be challenged and upturned successfully in the courts and by lawmakers in Congress. Yet, despite these recent noteworthy charges leveled against abusing officers, their use of lethal force goes on unabated, as if it was so entrenched that they couldn’t figure out that the times had changed!
Appaling non-sequiturs in most police shootings and killings
Let’s be aware of the fact that there is a disconnect, a non-sequitur, in most police shootings and killings scenarios.
Take, for example, Breonna Taylor’s murder, in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 13, 2020. Breonna, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was shot eight times at her home where she had been sleeping with her boyfriend. There was a disconnect between three police officers who were given a no-knock search warrant on the basis of her ex-boyfriend purportedly receiving postal drug packages at her address, and a commando-style ramming of her apartment door after midnight by officers in plain clothes who immediately fired military-grade weapons at her!
It’s hard to believe that her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who grabbed his gun next to the bed in rightful self-defense, called 911 to ask for help, and shot a warning shot in the legs at the first intruder (wounding him lightly), who was arrested and jailed — despite the fact no drugs were found on site!
Worse, while they were arresting him and taking him to their vehicle, Breonna was left mortally wounded on the floor of her hallway, where she had been moaning for five minutes, then lay unconscious or dead for some 20 minutes with no ambulance being called or medical help given to her. If medical assistance had been on the scene quickly, she may have been resuscitated and could have survived. (Walker was only released from home incarceration due to Covid-19, on May 22.)
The whole operation makes no sense at face value, and shows several non-sequiturs:
• A no-knock search warrant is not a no-knock kill warrant.
• Officers should be in uniform and wearing body cams; those who rammed Breonna’s door were in plain clothes and never announced who they were, according to several witnesses.
• Self-defense as a response to the boyfriend’s warning shot would have meant the officers shot at the man holding the gun, not at Breonna, who went to the door to ask, “Who is it?”
• Another officer shot indiscriminately through the window (and was charged for that), yet that doesn’t explain why Breonna was shot with five to eight bullets herself out of an overall 20 that were fired, but her armed boyfriend, also in the hallway, was not hit.
• The officer shot in the legs was taken to the hospital immediately; meanwhile, they arrested Walker outside and left Breonna dying on the floor.
• The coroner said she was not called to the scene until at least an hour after the shooting.
A search warrant for drugs would entail a mandatory entry early in the morning and a thorough search of the house before people are taken into custody, let alone killed. We cannot escape the conclusion that the real cause of the murder doesn’t lie in the official explanation, but rather that Breonna had been beforehand marked and targeted for an instant kill. Furthermore, the three officers were neither arrested nor charged, and only the main one, Detective Brett Hankinson, was fired, believe it or not, from the Louisville Police Merit Board and only after three months! This is despite the fact that it was known that the police had filed a flawed incident report stating that Taylor had no injuries and that no forced entry occurred.
The group VICE News, which launched The 8:46 Project (8.46 minutes was the time the officer had his knee and body weight on Floyd’s neck), is conducting very thorough investigations of police brutality. They uncovered, notably, that multiple cases of misconduct and even of child molestation that had led to internal criminal investigations of Detective Hankinson didn’t block his being “elected,” no less, to the Police Merit Board “which helps make decisions about police misconduct.” How deeply disturbing! Yet, the promotion of officers with previous internal misconduct investigations has happened in too many other cases.
Things are starting to change at a great pace, thanks to the BLM movement loudly asking for justice by organizing gigantic protests. On June 11, the Louisville Metro Council unanimously (26-0) passed an ordinance called “Breonna’s Law” that bans no-knock search warrants and mandates the use of body cameras during searches by the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD).
Consider Rayshard Brooks’ murder. Similarly, a non-sequitur applies to the killing of Brooks in Atlanta on June 12, 2020. A drunk driving case without accident (in the worst-case scenario) should lead to a driving under the influence (DUI) indictment, which would be fought in court with the help of attorneys; moreover, forced DUI breathalyzer tests remain banned under Georgia bill, and drivers have the right to request an independent test at their own expense.
In this specific case, an unnecessary escalation occurred after Brooks failed the breathalyzer test. The two officers, who had been interacting with Brooks for more than 40 minutes without him resisting, suddenly moved to cuff his hands behind him without stating that he was under arrest (something that is mandatory and led to one charge).
When Brooks resisted being pulled down to the ground, he was shot with a taser. Brooks grabbed it, shot the taser back at the officer and fled. Brooks then turned back and fired the taser a second time above the officer’s head — thus, the officers knew the two-shot taser was now empty. Furthermore, it was established through one of the police body cams that the main officer already had his hand on his gun, ready to shoot, before Brooks resisted.
There is a non-sequitur when the main officer drew his gun and fired two lethal bullets, hitting Brooks in the back while he was fleeing, even though he posed no threat with the taser now empty.
A second non-sequitur was when Brooks had fallen to the ground, deadly wounded and was not moving. The officer who shot Brooks proceeded to kick the prone body while the second officer stood on his shoulders for about two minutes — instead of providing him timely medical aid. Brooks died soon after at the hospital during surgery. The main officer was fired and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.
The two officers had Brooks’ ID and his car. Why would Brooks choose to flee if not for having sensed that they were after his life and not a simple DUI charge? Again, it seems the cause of the murder lies in another dimension than the actual event in time and place. Could we be dealing with something else than random encounters with police here?
Consider George Floyd’s murder. The same disconnect between an unarmed Black person and an alleged lawbreaking or “probable cause” led to the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. How can a counterfeit $20 bill lead to the killing of a handcuffed man who was pinned to the ground by no less than three officers? The lead officer, Dereck Chauvin, while kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, acted like he had killed a prized game in a Safari park and was posing for the photo-op. He looked defiantly at the cameras of the shocked and pleading witnesses, while a fourth officer stood at the ready to intervene in case anybody tried to intervene.
There are two additional problems in this case.
First, why did police arrive at the scene (after the shopkeeper called 911 about the passing of a fake bill) so quickly that Floyd was still in his car parked near the shop? The same question applies to the Rayshard Brooks murder, in which the police, via 911, were called by the Wendy’s employee because a car stopped in the drive-through lane caused other customers to drive around it. Isn’t this the case of just a badly parked car?
Furthermore, compare these two cases with Breonna’s murder, in which three neighbors independently called 911 after hearing many gunshots, and five minutes later her boyfriend called 911 to report that Breonna was deadly wounded — and yet 20 minutes elapsed before she was looked at by medics. In her case and George Floyd’s, no resuscitation procedure was tried. Why is that?
Secondly, why did the police need military-grade weapons? Why do they use tasers (sometimes repeatedly and lethally) on non-resisting people? And why, when shooting, do they always seem to kill Black citizens instead of incapacitating them?
Due to BLM, the essential questions are finally investigated
Killings by police and other law enforcement agencies in the U.S. reached 1,146 deaths in 2015 and 1,093 deaths in 2016 (according to The Guardian database); as for 2019, The Washington Post reported a total of 1,004 people were shot and killed by police.
The debate triggered by these cases began to question the involvement of heavily armed criminal police in cases of petty thefts and misdemeanors, and in dealing with persons experiencing mental health or substance use episodes, or non-violent domestic problems.
People also began to consider whether it would be more effective to utilize other community resources to deal with such incidences. That seems to be a very sensical solution, especially considering the number of young people and even kids who are being killed, hit with tasers, or put at great risk of losing their lives for such carefree behaviors as walking beside the pavement (18-year-old Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014), crossing a street haphazardly, playing with toy-guns, having a mental health episode (13-year-old Linden Cameron, Utah, September 4) or using substances — or just because some deranged White woman called 911 because a Black man suggested she leash her dog in Central Park. Shocking examples of such cases have indeed hit the news in the months following George Floyd’s death.
Because too many Black and Brown people end up dead while in custody, we have also to consider the possibility of intentional and targeted stalking and hunting — in which the person targeted has no chance whatsoever to get away alive. That is ensured because the hunter is heavily armed and may have numerous allies against one person or only a couple. Second, the hunter holds the apparent aura of law enforcement — and no witness would dare to do more than record the event with a cell phone, rightly fearing for their own life, because they would be shot instantly at any hint of interference beyond pleading or shouting. That’s an absolute certainty, and sadly this could be part of the game hunting.
One cannot help but reflect on the existence of one or several organized clans of vicious supremacists and unhinged sadistic ex-mercenaries that may have infiltrated police departments (in the same way that pedophiles infiltrate churches and schools to be near their prey). They would be shielded by their official status (and police unions), and they could even assist in the elimination of another group’s targets.
In a country where the KKK can still exist lawfully and the president simultaneously tries to frame Antifa as domestic terrorism, these suggestions are by no means farfetched. As for the couple who wore large swastikas stamped on their Covid-19 masks while wearing a Trump 2020 t-shirt and were expelled from a Minnesota Walmart, they for sure were exemplifying the subscript: whoever is against anti-fascists is logically a fascist.
In Breonna Taylor’s case, VICE News unearthed a bombshell. On the night she was killed, the Louisville Metro Police Department targeted five properties, three of them on a single block of Elliott Avenue. The brutal intervention was led by a suspicious Place Based Investigations (PBI) unit, a previously unknown squad that the Louisville Metro Police Department dedicated to the Elliot Avenue area. (PBI was created only in 2019 to focus on crime hot spots in the city.) In a video presenting various official documents, VICE News referenced that “since 2017, the city’s Land Bank Authority (…) has acquired 22 properties here, or nearly 40 percent of [Elliot] street.” (See graphic above.) In one case, the owner was forced to sell his house for $1! A Louisville resident said, “We know particularly when they are trying to push Black communities out of a place over policing and nuisance ordinances.”
Let’s keep in mind, though, that even if in the (now FBI-investigated) Breonna Taylor murder, the non-sequitur clearly points to the city’s multimillion-dollar, real-estate project called “Vision Russell,” the ulterior motive for other cases may not belong to the same category. The response from the present Trump Administration to the BLM protests (and its 2020 election slogan ‘Law and Order’) raises other questions at the federal and political level.
Indeed, regarding the present electoral period, we can’t eliminate the possibility of a political agenda that hopes to trigger a nationwide Black revolt, thus creating an apparent racially framed chaos that would give ample pretext for muscular intervention and eventually a rule of (martial) law to be enforced in specific (democratic or swing-states) cities. We have seen this in Portland, and Donald Trump has warned he intended to send federal forces (which he claimed to be 75,000 strong) to several cities where recurrent daytime peaceful protests have been held, and where limited clashes and looting happened at night.
However, events have not followed this course. Instead, a cross-racial consciousness leap manifested instead of a mere Black insurgency —involving a sizable portion of the White population. All oppressed minorities worldwide were suddenly vindicated in their demand for equal justice. Racial injustice, of any type, couldn’t be tolerated anymore, anywhere. On July 21, ABC News reported that “63 percent of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement and a record 69 percent – the most by far in 32 years of polling – say Black people and other minorities are denied equal treatment in the criminal justice system, two of several signs of deep changes in public attitudes on racial discrimination.” (See graphic below.)
On June 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, as well as the top military brass of several current and past administrations were part of a robust bipartisan siding with the Constitution. They strongly opposed the President’s order to invoke the Insurrection Act and deploy the army to quell protests against police brutality. Hence, Trump’s interference in the protests led to interventions by Border Patrol and ICE squads, federal agents without identifying insignia, and armed supporters acting as vigilantes, with deadly consequences.
Meanwhile, new protests erupted in Wisconsin and Portland, Oregon, following the August 23 shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as he opened the door of his SUV, in which three kids were sitting. Seven bullets in the back left him paralyzed. Just as in other cases of police shootings, this situation involved a police response to a 911 call made by Blake’s girlfriend regarding a non-violent domestic dispute. Police arrived only a couple of minutes later! It is beyond crazy that armed police would be called instead of a psychiatric community-based counselor team. And in all of these cases, it is beyond appalling that police would use live ammunition and shoot, sometimes killing, a parent in front of their kids.
On August 29, the Portland protesters faced the massive intrusion of a “Trump 2020 Cruise Rally” acting as vigilantes; they “fired paintball guns and pepper spray at protesters from the backs of pickup trucks as they rolled through the city.” One of them, Aaron Danielson, a supporter of the right-wing group “Patriot Prayer,” was shot to death.
During the August 25 protest in Kenosha in response to Blake’s shooting, a Trump-supporting militia led to the killing of two protesters (and the serious wounding of a third one) by a 17-year-old boy from nearby Illinois who was armed with a semi-automatic AR-15. He was a member of an Illinois Police Cadet Program that obviously taught youths how to shoot, but apparently forgot to inform them about the constitutional rights of citizens to protest, or how to control their own emotions — thus mirroring the total lack of ethics in the adult police programs.
On June 1, after the president’s infamous Bible photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church facing the White House (for which occurrence A.G. Barr ordered Lafayette Square’s peaceful protesters and journalists to be kicked out violently using irritants, truncheons and gases), the mayor of Washington D.C., Muriel Bowser, ordered federal forces out of the city by the next day. On June 5, Bowser renamed part of a downtown street, near the White House, Black Lives Matter Plaza and had Black Lives Matter painted with a vibrant yellow paint that is visible from space.
As of July 29, a deal vigorously steered by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was reached with the White House so federal forces would leave Portland the next day. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Democrat, compared the federal agents to an “occupying army.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, called them “storm troopers.” Governor Kate Brown tweeted on July 21, “This is a democracy, not a dictatorship. We cannot have secret police abducting people in unmarked vehicles.” We have to expect the same overarching principle of state sovereignty in these matters will shun and thwart efficiently new invasions of these federal forces elsewhere.
Yet, let’s remember that one operational definition of stupidity is to keep following the plan’s sequence even when the previous steps have gone awkwardly wrong.
U.S. oil companies fund police foundations
An investigation by the Public Accountability Initiative revealed that some of the most powerful oil companies in the U.S. are funding the police foundations of major cities (such as Chicago, New Orleans and Houston), thus allowing them to buy militarized equipment, while simultaneously dodging any scrutiny due to the fact these police foundations are nonprofits. As the July 27 article by Nina Lakhani for The Guardian states: “Police foundations in cities such as Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City are partially funded by household names such as Chevron, Shell and Wells Fargo.”
The abuse of eminent domain for private development
The Institute for Justice (IJ) has researched the problem of cities handing over their power of eminent domain — the ability to take private property for public use — to corporations (private bodies), invoking the pretext of economic development. Notably, consider the Kelo v. City of New London, Conn., ruling, on which this handing over is based.
In 1998, when pharmaceutical giant Pfizer built a plant next to Fort Trumbull, the city of New London ceded its power of eminent domain to the New London Development Corporation, a private body, and allowed it to take control of an entire neighborhood for private development. An IJ article stated, “The fight over Fort Trumbull eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Court in 2005, in one of the most controversial rulings in its history, held that economic development was a ‘public use’uj under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision against Susette Kelo and her neighbors sparked a national backlash against eminent domain abuse, leading eight state supreme courts and 43 state legislatures to strengthen protections for property rights. (…) Since the Kelo ruling in June 2005, citizen activists have defeated 44 projects that sought to abuse eminent domain for private development.” Ironically, Pfizer was later unable to obtain enough financing and abandoned the plant project near Fort Trumbull.
The problem could be notably pertinent in the many cases of evictions and disowning of homeowners in predominantly Black neighborhoods, and could play a role in the Vision Russell project in Louisville.
DHS Intel Chief ordered to downplay the threat of White Supremacists and fabricate Antifa’s threat
Brian Murphy, former under secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and, as head of its Office of Intelligence and Analysis, its chief intelligence officer, filed a whistleblower complaint on September 8, 2020. The complaint asserts that in August he was demoted from his position because of his refusal to go along with the fabrication of intelligence to match Donald Trump’s rhetoric, and for making formal complaints about the political pressure.
According to The Guardian article, “A homeland threat assessment (HTA) drawn up by Murphy’s intelligence analysts in March this year was also blocked by [the acting secretary of Homeland Security, Chad] Wolf and other DHS political appointees because of its sections on Russian interference and the white supremacist threat. Murphy was told by his superiors he ‘needed to specifically modify the section on white supremacy’ (…) When he refused, the HTA was taken out of his hands.”
A New York Times article stated, “In other instances, the [DHS]’s second-highest ranked official, K.T. Cuccinelli II, ordered Mr. Murphy to modify intelligence assessments to make the threat of white supremacy ‘appear less severe’ and include information on violent ‘left-wing’ groups and antifa….”
We cannot not recognize the semantic source of this order when, according to The Guardian, Wolf reportedly told Murphy his Russia assessment should be ‘held…[because it] made the president look bad.’ We know how Donald Trump is always afraid of “looking bad” — for instance, if he were to don a mask to protect others.
In a September 4 article, The Guardian reported that “Donald Trump has directed the Office of Management and Budget to crack down on federal agencies’ antiracism training sessions, calling them ‘divisive, anti-American propaganda.’” This shows just how insensitive he is to the shout born of collective intelligence! “The OMB director, Russell Vought, in a letter Friday [9/4] to executive branch agencies, directed them to identify spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege’ or any other material that teaches or suggests that the United States or any race or ethnicity is ‘inherently racist or evil.’”
Make no mistake: the Trump-Pence team is not running solely against Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the gold and silver finalists; they’re running against the flow of history. Again and again, Trump sits on the wrong side of history, holding a Confederate flag and a back-flipped Bible, tone-deaf to the magnitude and loudness of the demand for racial equity, and the focused will of now-aware citizens.
Questioning the militarization of police
It was a shock for me to learn about the predator culture being willfully and expertly fed to aspiring police officers — by means of very expensive training seminars. (See John Oliver’s well-researched “Police” video on YouTube.) The logic being taught to potential offers went this way: All people you’ll deal with are predators, and only by being a predator yourself, ready to kill, can you defeat them. As an ethnological psychologist, the perversion of the humanistic values (not even mentioning the moral ones) is alarming. Gone is the principle that somebody is innocent until proven guilty; buried is the outdated expectation that people in influential positions should “set an example about what’s a socially sound behavior.” And this trend is certainly why the strong pushback against a “dehumanizing influence” (in social media posts and tweets, in aggressive behavior) is gaining so much traction.
The militarization of police (allowing its lethal brutality) — one key target of the BLM protests all over the U.S. — has suddenly become a dire concern in regard to basic democratic values. It also raises the question of the allocation of funds by cities and states. It has been repeatedly emphasized, during the BLM conversation, that police unions and police forces are being overfunded, and that takes an enormous toll on city funding, which comes from taxpayer’s money. And moreover, the demand by law enforcement for more money is detrimental to the funding of community based services. Yet, these services — such as education, healthcare, creation of jobs, and diverse assistance and protections plans — have been shown to drastically reduce the poverty, helplessness and survival problems that often lead to petty delinquency and domestic problems.
The full and armored covering of the face and body of federal agents with their heavily militarized gear and equipment, their guerrilla tactics of snatching people off the streets and taking them away in unmarked vehicles, all the while sometimes bearing no insignia, is of course the height of such dehumanizing, bullying and gaslighting behavior. When these war accoutrements and tactics are used against an unarmed group of protesters inside the country, the decent rationale put forth early June by top military officials siding with the Constitution, in their bipartisan standoff against the use of the Insurrection Act — that the army should not be used against one’s own civilian population — definitely applies. Military accoutrements, especially making the police forces look like faceless and emotionless robots, definitely should be banned, and quickly — because at any point in some future warfare, humanity could well be faced with exoplanetary AI and robotic enemies. Let those be the faceless ones, and let us, the people, remain human.
In an extraordinary counterpoint to these dehumanizing behaviors, the “wall of moms” soon joined by the “wall of veterans” and even a “wall of dads” who locked arms and stood proudly in between federal agents and the protesters in Portland has been heartening.
So has the full-fledged endorsement of the BLM movement by sport teams and leagues this 2020 season, in the U.S. and abroad, vindicating former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who first took a knee in 2016 to protest against social injustice in Black communities and continued doing so during that whole season. It ended up costing him his job. Now in 2020, teams throughout the National Football League are taking a knee and uniting for equal justice, and shirts, banners and fields are stamped with the BLM mantra.
As The Guardian’s 9/24/2017 article by Les Carpenter subtitled it: “The quarterback [Kaepernick] wanted kneeling in protest for the anthem to start a national talk about race and justice. Thanks to the president’s blast of rage, we have one.” In the same vein, NASCAR at last banned the Confederate flag on its speedways, and Black driver Bubba Wallace’s car sported the #BLM hashtag.
The BLM Movement will prod us to save the planet
It’s clear that the BLM movement has upturned the chess table in such a drastic way that momentous actions and decisions, one after the other, have been taken (and will continue to be) at all levels of governance and society, including by the judiciary, Congress, states and cities, sporting leagues and fans, and more. They will instigate real and lasting changes in our social organization, aimed at defeating systemic racism and ending the overarching gaslighting of a hitherto powerless population by an abusive immunity cladded police force.
What turned the tide was an awesome collective intelligence that suddenly blossomed out of the Black community and spoke out loud and clear, irresistible, as a call for togetherness, empathy, shared humanistic goals and emotional intelligence.
Green activist Naomi Klein has brought the message home repeatedly, especially in her new book On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, writing that the environment goes hand-in-hand with social justice and worldwide solidarity. The domains of civil rights that have been infringed upon through the oppression of Black, Native and Brown communities, as well as minorities, are so variegated that they cover most of our social and environmental lives. These unbearable injustices, brought to light by the BLM movement, have made most of us, We The People, aware and determined to act. They include the topics I raised in this article, and much more.
We now have to find highly efficient legal and organizational ways:
• To treat the Black, Brown and Native American communities with equity, empathy and fairness; to protect their ownership over their land, neighborhoods, private homes, their lives and own bodies;
• To sustain their health, their clean air and water, the integrity of their land and soil, their access to education and resources;
• To respect and protect the youth, those suffering psychologically, as well as the poor and the sick.
We also, collectively, must enable the cities and counties to organize their own community life and safety, and to be the decision-makers as to their investments, and how they equally access and share their resources.
In most instances of abuse, we see the deleterious, pernicious warping of power and wealth to profit the very few, thus impoverishing and disempowering the 99 percent. We see the too powerful lobbies and corporations crushing the lawful exercise of constitutional rights and perverting the democratic process itself. For too long, we have watched them turn the planet into a scorched Earth just to serve their own insatiable greed.
As we, the decent people of all colors and all walks of life, are watching in horror day in and day out the constant assault on our sense of justice, on our empathy for others, and on our intelligence, it gives us the strength and the immense soul power to raise ourselves higher in consciousness and to come together as one collective intelligence, in order to jumpstart a creative and empathic, socially-just, holistic society — and save our planet.