And the Good Troublemaking Goes On

A Surge of Power” sculpture of Jen Reid in Bristol, UK, commemorating her stand with raised fist in place of a toppled statue of a British slave trader
[h/t Sam Saunders, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

I went to bed in tears last night.

They weren’t tears of pain or shock or outrage. They were the tears that college presidents cry at the retirement of the last of the teachers and professors who helped make them who they are. The tears sports figures cry at the death of the last player on their favorite great championship team. The tears you cry when the last of your grandparents “goes home.” They’re the tears of grief at the loss you’ve suffered, and the tears that say “It’s your turn now.” You have to tell the stories you learned at their knees, as you go on to make a difference in the lives of others as they made a difference in your life.

I’m still in tears this morning, because I’ve got lots of stories to tell. (That’s a hint, folks, that this might be a tad lengthy. But don’t let that deter you from reading. They’re good stories.)

As I noted in January after John Lewis announced that he had stage 4 cancer, John Lewis was not always old. He was young when he started making “good trouble” as one of the co-founders of SNCC, one of the first Freedom Riders, and one of the lead marchers on the Edmund Pettis Bridge on March 7, 1965. As the best storyteller at the Root, Michael Harriot, spelled out in a Twitter thread, this was a march with a purpose:

The Selma to Montgomery march wasn’t a symbolic demonstration. It wasn’t even an original idea. See, black ppl all over Ala. were attacked when they tried to register to vote. So local organizers would get large groups of people to march to their respective courthouses.

That’s how those marches started. They weren’t protesting. They were GOING TO REGISTER. And they figured: “If we’re in a group, they can’t beat us all.” But y’all know white people. They will definitely try their best. I think they call it “American exceptionalism.”

They were headed to Montgomery to confront the governor in person and demand their right to vote when Bloody Sunday happened. But here’s the part about the Selma to Montgomery marches most people are never told: It was NOT nonviolent.

Let me spell it out: the Civil Rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr, John Lewis, and others, was only non-violent from the perspective of the how those in the movement acted. On Bloody Sunday, Lewis and his fellow marchers may have acted non-violently, but Sheriff Clark and his fellow police most certainly did not.

It’s hard to type that without noticing the other big story in today’s news cycle, which puts the coverage of John Lewis’ life alongside this:

“What is happening now in Portland should concern everyone in the United States,” said Jann Carson, the interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. “Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street, we call it kidnapping. The actions of the militarized federal officers are flat-out unconstitutional and will not go unanswered.”

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon on Friday also sued the Department of Homeland Security and the Marshal’s Service for “indiscriminately using tear gas, rubber bullets and acoustic weapons.”

One demonstrator, Mark Pettibone, 29, said agents who were in camouflage but lacked any insignia forced him into an unmarked van and did not tell him why he was being arrested. Deploying agents without any identification violates the protocols of police departments across the United States.

Mark Morgan, the acting secretary of Customs and Border Protection, said the agents did display signs that they were federal agents but withheld their names for their own safety.

You know what would keep these federal agents safe? Staying out of Portland in the first place. From the Oregonian, here’s more of the news from Portland:

During a news conference Friday with Police Chief Chuck Lovell, [Portland Mayor Ted] Wheeler said the city has no oversight authority on federal officers during downtown demonstrations. He reiterated that Portland officials didn’t ask for federal officers to be deployed and said local officers can end any violence that occurs on the streets without federal help.

“Mr. President, we see right through you,” Wheeler said. “So do us a favor: Keep your troops in your own buildings or have them leave our city.”

[snip]

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon on Friday granted the oregnization’s [sic] request to add the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service to a temporary restraining order preventing police from dispersing, arresting or targeting journalists or legal observers at protests.

Meanwhile, the president and Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf have blamed state and city leaders for not doing enough to end violence that occurs during protests in Portland and in recent days have doubled down on their plans to keep federal officers on Portland streets.

[snip]

Lovell said although the police bureau’s main headquarters are sandwiched between the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse and the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, Portland police and federal officers have operated separately. He did say both jurisdictions do communicate with one another and know when the other engages in some form of action during demonstrations.

Lovell and Wheeler said they didn’t meet with Wolf while he was in Portland, but the police chief later said police union president Officer Daryl Turner did.

Of course he did. It seems police union leaders are following the lead of Catholic bishops like Boston’s former Cardinal Bernard Law, who would rather cover up violent abuse by officials in their organizations than address the actual problem itself.

James Gardner Clark, Jr. may be dead, but his spirit carries on. Unfortunately for Sheriff Clark, so does John Lewis’, and it’s a helluva lot stronger.

Now-Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) was the local prosecutor in 2002 (!) who finally convicted the last of the Klan members who bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 (!!!), killing 14-year-old Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson and 11-year-old Denise McNair in the basement of the church as they awaited the start of worship. Doug Jones is not dead, and he’s still making good trouble.

[Note to Alabamans: If you want to make some good trouble yourself, voting to keep Doug Jones in the US Senate in November’s election would be a very good way to do it.]

But let’s get local. Last month here in metro Kansas City, students at a local school district made a bunch of school board members, administrators, and teachers in their school district very nervous as they responded to a simple call in a single tweet, put out because of some tone-deaf statements made by those same board members at the BLM protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in Minnesota:

Maryam Khalil @maryamkhaliki01 Jun 4

Okay LSR7 let’s talk about the racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, classism, homophobia, sexism and blantant [sic] prejudice etc we have experienced. I’ll start. #OurstruggleLSR7 (use this hashtag)

She did, and her classmates responded. They said out loud what they had experienced, and forced school and community leaders to admit to the reality of racism in their midst, and its impact on the student they claim to value so much. Even more powerfully, students in other local districts in the area picked up on the hashtag and started their own, to tell the stories of their own districts.

Some teachers and administrators reacted defensively, and others were noticeably silent. But then there were those who were not only shocked, but glad to be shocked so that change might happen. All across metro Kansas City, young people forced adults to own their actions, or more critically, their inactions, by telling stories like these (from the KC Star):

In Lee’s Summit, more than 100 students, teachers and residents gathered for a rally at the administration building, saying they were “fed up” with as lack of response to complaints of racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.

The chanting quieted as Yonny Astatke, a 2019 graduate, shared the racism and fear he faced during his days in the district.

He was a sophomore at Lee’s Summit High School when he posted his political viewpoints on social media. Another student replied with a threat of violence: “Black Knives Matter.”

“I was terrified,” he told the crowd. He reported the incident to school leaders. “They made me shake his hand. They made me shake the hand of the person who threatened violence toward me,” he yelled through a megaphone. “I complied because I was afraid. I am vehemently frustrated with our school district.”

[snip]

In Blue Springs this month, students created the hashtag #BlackatBSSD on Twitter and posted about their experiences: Many have been called the N-word. One said a white classmate told him he wouldn’t mind dating a Black girl but wouldn’t marry one.

“That is why we are taking action,” a Blue Springs statement said. “We are reviewing and changing policies, addressing teachers with violations, creating an anti-racism campaign and so much more.”

[snip]

The Black Student Union at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, organized a demonstration last week as well. Parents and students said they faced discrimination in the district, or pointed to a lawsuit filed last year in which a Black student said she was told that her skin was “too dark” to perform with the school dance team. She sued the district for racial discrimination. The dance team’s coach, Carley Fine, was fired.

[snip]

“They don’t feel seen,” [Shawnee Mission school psychologist Brandi] Newry said. “They don’t feel respected. There are Black children in a building where there is no one, no one, who looks like them. It just about makes me cry.”

These kids made good trouble last month, just by recounting what they had had to deal with. They made lots and lots of good trouble. [Edited to add: These kids also did more than just talk. They put together a list of changes they want the district to make in terms of teachers, administrators, and curriculum, and submitted these to the school board at the same meeting the first African American was seated as a member of the school board.]

I wonder what lies ahead for these students. What will the reactions be when they come back to school (in person or virtually) and have to deal with these teachers and administrators again? What will they do as they go to college or enter the workforce, and face racism in other settings?

And which one of them will end up making good trouble as a member of Congress?

Rest in peace, my brother John — your good troublemaking goes on.

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71 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    Since this is a tribute to a voting rights icon, it seems short without a mention of of the disenfranchisement occasioned by SCOTUS in the last week, not to mention earlier this term, as John Lewis lay dying.

    People should also hammer John Roberts and the other four conservative justices who just brazenly blocked the enfranchisement of hundreds of thousand of former felons in Florida.

    This article by Totenberg is pretty good.

    The dissent by Sotomayor, joined by RBG and Kagan should be read and understood. Why Breyer did not join it, I have no clue.

    The Roberts Court is simply going to protect any and all GOP disenfranchisement efforts. And it is extremely nakedly partisan and racist.

    John Lewis cared about that. Everybody else should too.

    • BobCon says:

      Absolutely right, and GOP lawmakers too.

      In 2006, to their credit, the large majority of the GOP in Congress voted for the reauthorization bill, which passed the House 390-33 and the Senate 98-0. The right wingers on the Supreme Court who gutted the act based their decision to a large part on inventing mysteries as to what Congress believed, despite the overwhelming support for the the VRA.

      Sadly, fast forward to today and the GOP has embraced voter supression, and the latest VRA reauthorization passed the House with only one GOP vote, and it is, of course, blockaded in the Senate by McConnell and Grassley.

      As a symbol of how little concern the GOP in congress has about civil rights, see this supposed tribute to John Lewis from Marco Rubio. Except the little weasel posted a photo of himself with Elijah Cummings and made it his Twitter profile pic.

      https://twitter.com/joshtpm/status/1284563404351590404/photo/1

    • ernesto1581 says:

      question to bmaz: I assume the process of “expungement” of a felony proceeds on a state-by-state basis. what does it look like, generally? I know, for example, that the state of VT has fairly clear information/lists of eligible felonies, etc (under VT statutes, Title 13/ch. 2603), and that one county in the state actually maintains a virtual expungement clinic on line. But I am guessing it’s somewhat of an outlier, given that VT is one of only two which allows imprisoned persons to vote (Maine is the other.)

      what do you see around the country in this regard? in the southwest?
      another guess on my part, but Florida felons are probably up a creek concerning expungement, caught between owed penalties/court costs and selectively lousy state record keeping

  2. Ed Walker says:

    This is from the statement by Barack Obama:
    https://medium.com/@BarackObama/my-statement-on-the-passing-of-rep-john-lewis-fa86761cd964

    It’s fitting that the last time John and I shared a public forum was at a virtual town hall with a gathering of young activists who were helping to lead this summer’s demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Afterwards, I spoke to him privately, and he could not have been prouder of their efforts — of a new generation standing up for freedom and equality, a new generation intent on voting and protecting the right to vote, a new generation running for political office. I told him that all those young people — of every race, from every background and gender and sexual orientation — they were his children. They had learned from his example, even if they didn’t know it. They had understood through him what American citizenship requires, even if they had heard of his courage only through history books.

    • Peterr says:

      From the NYT:

      Some of Mr. Lewis’s own colleagues grew up reading about him in their history books. Representative Ilhan Omar, a liberal Democrat from Minnesota and one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, was so overwhelmed when she met Mr. Lewis for the first time that she burst into tears. (This was not an uncommon occurrence for Mr. Lewis, and he often felt sheepish about it.)

      “I said to him, ‘Sir, I read about you in middle school, and you’re here in the flesh, and I get to be your colleague,’” she said during a tearful interview shortly after her election in 2018.

      • posaune says:

        And you know what else? John Lewis was a paragon of congressional ethics — in everything he did. Living on the Hill, so many times, we’ve seen congress reps and senators send house-senate staff over to shovel their walks. Not John Lewis. Never. He was shoveling his own walk until just a few years ago. I sent my teenage son over a bunch of times to finish the shoveling. He signed his book for our son. Sweet.

  3. Rugger9 says:

    I’ve observed that the fundamental problem with militarized police is that they love the power but refuse the accountability that goes with it. Even in the free-fire zones, Geneva Conventions still apply (as they do in the USA since we ratified that treaty) so acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf (who never served, he’s just a lobbyist) doesn’t grasp what his obligations are to Portland and the USA.

    Also, the number of days without a Senate-confirmed DHS secretary is something like 460, it’s almost as if DJT doesn’t want to face even his pet GOP rubber-stamp Senate.

  4. Drew says:

    Thank you, Peterr. This is exactly in the spirit of John Lewis. For him, it was always about justice and moving toward healing in our broken world. There is complete consistency between young John Lewis, so angry as to be ready to denounce the Civil Rights Act in 1963 and the John Lewis working in the leadership of the House. He was there, always, to get the most done for the world, not to curry his own image or legacy. He was never a hero to be put on a pedestal and looked at, he was a brother showing us all what we can and must do.

  5. Jenny says:

    Thank you Peterr.

    Jacob Soboroff on Twitter: 9:59 AM · Jul 18, 2020
    @repjohnlewis, height of child separations: “There cannot be any peace in America until these young children are returned to their parents and set all of our people free… I will go to the borders. I will get arrested again… I’m prepared to go to jail.”
    https://twitter.com/jacobsoboroff/status/1284487884754452481

  6. Charles says:

    Thanks, Peterr. Lots of tears here today as well. It seems that giant after giant is falling in this nightmare year.

    I comfort myself in thinking that when giants fall, they make way for new leaders to come up in their place. I only wish that the crucial lesson that John Lewis taught–that of non-violence–were more widely understood.

    Non-violence is not just declining to strike back. It is also refusing to speak in anger. It is a dedication to being truthful. It is a rejection of contempt for one’s opponents. It is a commitment to seek reconciliation with one’s enemies. It is a desire to understand one’s opponents and to develop solutions to problems that meet the needs of all sides. It is a dedication of one’s life to preserving and nurturing what is beautiful. It is a refusal to accept or be silent in the face of wrong.

    It is very, very hard. John Lewis’s life was perhaps the best model of it the world has seen in many generations. The fire of that life brought light to many.

    • aliris says:

      Wow: “Non-violence is not just declining to strike back. It is also refusing to speak in anger. It is a dedication to being truthful. It is a rejection of contempt for one’s opponents. It is a commitment to seek reconciliation with one’s enemies. It is a desire to understand one’s opponents and to develop solutions to problems that meet the needs of all sides. It is a dedication of one’s life to preserving and nurturing what is beautiful. It is a refusal to accept or be silent in the face of wrong.”

      I will strive to remember that; in just this way. Thank you.

  7. Chetnolian says:

    You will want to know that the statue at the head of this piece has been taken down and is now in a Bristol City Council warehouse. I don’t know if it is the same warehouse as the one where the original statue of Colston resides, having been fished out of the harbour protesters threw it in. The reason is the new one was a guerilla effort by London sculptor Mark Quinn. The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees who incidentally is black, says Bristolians should decide what goes on the plinth. I would not be surprised if the new statue comes back.

  8. BobCon says:

    I think it is important to understand that the principles of nonviolence championed by MLK and John Lewis were not really about reconciliation, refusing to speak in anger, and trying to develop a solution that met the needs of all sides.

    If you read King’s Letter From a Birmingham Jail, it is about the urgency of NOT compromising in the face of long running discrimination and avoiding the urging of those who want to find accommodations. King is absolutely speaking out in anger.

    And this is something King repeated over and over until his assasination. As for Lewis, he had wanted to give a much more confrontational speech at the 1963 March on Washington, but was eventually talked out of it by Bayard Rustin on tactical grounds after Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle threatened to walk out if Lewis gave the speech unaltered. Lewis notably struck a reference to the civil rights marchers going through the South like Sherman to nonviolently strike down Jim Crow. And much later in life he bluntly criticized John McCain for the racist tone at the rallies with Sarah Palin. McCain fumed about it for years, but Lewis was rightfully angry about the tack his campaign had taken, and he was not about to try to come to an accomodation with Sarah Palin.

    • Charles says:

      You missed this part, Bobcon: “It is a refusal to accept or be silent in the face of wrong.”

      I’m sorry to contradict you, but I know whereof I speak. Loving one’s enemies means being willing to reconcile, refusing to speak in anger, and seeking solutions that all can accept. It doesn’t mean staying silent when people claim to be Christians but refuse to stand for justice. It doesn’t mean that practitioners of non-violence don’t feel anger. But when they speak in the heat of anger, it leads to injury rather than transformation; therefore, one speaking *in* anger should be resisted. And it doesn’t mean accepting unjust solutions, only being open to just solutions other than the ones we have come up.

      This are excerpts from Wikipedia on satyagraha:

      “[Gandhi] asked satyagrahis to follow the following principles…:

      Nonviolence (ahimsa)
      Truth – this includes honesty, but goes beyond it to mean living fully in accord with and in devotion to that which is true

      Gandhi proposed a series of rules for satyagrahis to follow in a resistance campaign:…

      Harbour no anger.
      Suffer the anger of the opponent.”

      From the Wikipedia entry on Ahimsa:

      “Ahimsa’s precept of ’cause no injury’ includes one’s deeds, words, and thoughts.

      While the war is in progress, sincere dialogue for peace must continue.”

      What I have said flows naturally from the principles that Gandhi taught. The New Testament has parallels. For example, Jesus warns against anger, and says that if you have something against your brother, more important than even religious duty, one should reconcile with him.

      Even in the midst of battle, one must be willing to consider peace, since the opponent is capable of change. To deny this of the opponent is to be bent on destruction. People who are convinced of the righteousness of their cause are in danger of forgetting this.

      Unfortunately, few in the current generation understand how powerful genuine non-violence can be, or even really understand it.

      • milestogo says:

        Very well said. Non-violence requires great courage. Violence is almost always a surrender to impulse and destruction – the opposite of courage. This is very hard for some folks to understand and accept and a view that is too often in the minority. I understand those who cannot accept non-violence as a primary duty to humanity since it seems hypotheticals abound for the righteous use of violence and force. But that is why we’re in the pickle we are as a society. Jesus, Ghandi, MLK, and many others were trying to teach us something.

        • Rayne says:

          First, it’s all well and good that white men prescribe non-violence as a path to success. Physician, heal thyself.

          Second, you didn’t learn from Jesus, who flipped tables in the temple in his fury at money changers desecrating a place of worship, or MLK who understood that “riot is the language of the unheard.

          Stop projecting desires and pay attention to the voices of the marginalized, even if they upset you because they are angry. That anger is righteous and earned. There are times when burning it all the fuck down is the answer because it forces those who are empowered by the status quo to deal without that false prop, without their weapon of control.

          EDIT: And no, I am not advocating violence. I am explaining why riots happen — because the white supremacist patriarchy doesn’t shut the fuck up and simply listen. Because the white supremacist patriarchy continues to act without the consent of the people, ALL the people, by manipulating government in a way that assures their grip on power though they are a minority.

          Start asking yourself about the nature of violence — what is it when a majority of people can’t be heard, aren’t represented, are denied their rights systematicallY? Does it require flames and bloodshed and property loss one can measure in dollars before it’s called violence? Or aren’t the quiet undignified deaths and loss of freedoms of women, persons of color, disabled, LGBTQ+ under this systemic repression violence?

          • milestogo says:

            I understand Rayne yet none of this will change my belief or approach. Violence is self-perpetuating and I remain a pacifist. Regarding Jesus, not sure the money lender argument contradicts my original assertion. Also, I’m not sure it is all fiction regarding Jesus anyways. I prefer more recent examples of leadership and did not see MLK advocating violence when he spoke of riots as the language of the unheard. Finally, I am not part of the white patriarchy in any way but that shouldn’t matter. I am very private but am a proud member of one of the oppressed groups you mention above which has known its share of repression.

  9. e.a.f. says:

    My question is how will those students, and their friends, family associates feel when that student its picked up in an unmarked vehicle by people alleging to be federal officers?
    How will they feel when the find out they weren’t federal officers but white supremists?
    How will they feel when they find out the person was held without the ability to contact a lawyer by federal officers and kept in a cell for 48 hrs. before being released? How will people feel about protesting then?

    Knowing the last of the great trouble makers has died is heart breaking. What is even more heart breaking is knowing things are returning to what they were prior to the marches.

    The U.S.A. is starting to look like Chile when General P. took over. At least the Mothers of the disappeared would go to the square with signs asking the government where their children were. Right about now at least 50 million Americans ought to be standing outside federal buildings asking what is going on in Portland and insisting it stop. Wait until it happens to their kid.

    At this rate Canada and Mexico may have to open borders to political refugees coming in from the U.S.A. because the U.S.A. is just another “shit hole country” led by a “shit head”. Democracies don’t operate like things are going in Portland.

    • Peterr says:

      John Lewis was *not* the last of the great trouble makers. He may have been the last of his generation, but there is a new generation of troublemakers stepping up.

      • posaune says:

        My son is attending the ACLU Social Justice Camp for Voter Advocacy starting tomorrow. Usually held in DC, the camp will be virtual this summer. It is a full curriculum of presentations, group workshops, keynote speeches, training for organizing and solidarity groups. Son talked two classmates into registering as well. All the kids are already texting each other – son already traded texts with 240 kids tonight!! The conference ends with kids in groups organized into local ACLU offices — to assist in their continued contact.

        • bmaz says:

          Extremely cool. If he wants to keep going down that road, let me know, I have several longtime friends in the ACLU, and would be happy to help. Also, is there a curriculum/schedule you would feel comfortable sharing? I would love to see that.

          • posaune says:

            Hi Bmaz, thank you!!

            Yes, he’s 16 now, and very very passionate about civil rights. Very excited about this camp and would appreciate meeting your friends. He has a high level internally-wired sense of right ( I think from his experience of being in foster care.)
            I’ve sent the draft program (as of Sun 7/18) to the email address under Contacts. Couldn’t get into the site to link to it.

            One component of the program is showing the new film “The Fight” about the census Question challenge, the immigrant bans, LBGTQ case and the family separation cases. Plus a panel for Q &A with all those attorneys.

        • Pete T says:

          This is perhaps a bit OT, but there are parallels to the younger generation activist movements like Never Again MSD borne out of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School murders. There are no doubt others. The common ground, to me at least, is activism to effect social and political change. Think about a Venn Diagram where there is a union, but also a common intersection of movement elements.

          In fact to the extent that logos have any value, I can see a series of common intersecting circles showing commonality of purpose while highlighting separate purposes and yet all in the union of change that is so sorely needed in so many areas.

          • Peterr says:

            Not OT at all. Click on the first link in the post above to my earlier post “John Lewis was not Always Old” and you’ll see more on that.

    • Rayne says:

      First off, the country hasn’t returned to what it was before George Floyd’s murder. What’s returning to normal is the media’s coverage. My last post was related to ongoing protests in Portland which the feds want shut down for the benefit of the orange asshole in the White House. Protests are still happening across the country in addition to Portland, which is why Trump and his minions have been threatening to send federal security forces to more cities.

      Second, this isn’t Chile because Pinochet wasn’t dealing with a pandemic. Unlike Chile this country could erupt because that orange asshole is actively killing swaths of Americans and lying about it and all of us know it. It’s not whispered about, not rumored, it’s openly discussed in media that the White House is suppressing data on hospitalizations and deaths and they’re still interfering with health care delivery and essential personnel safety.

      Unlike Chile we are dealing with a mounting economic depression. You want to see the return of a movement like Argentina’s Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo? They will becoming soon with children in tow because they are both unemployed and they don’t want their kids forced back into classrooms.

      This time Henry Kissinger had better keep his fucking mouth shut, though we know that Pompeo as well as Lavrov have already been at his knee.

      And unlike Chile or Argentina this country is documenting everything and sharing it through social media. Pinochet got away with a lot of crap because the rest of the world didn’t see what was going on in real time, and his enablers in Washington (Operation Condor) were able to keep their hands clean. That’s not happening now.

      Worry when they cut the internet.

      • BobCon says:

        And it is appearing that Chad Wolf’s move may be backfiring, in a similar way that the police riot on Pettus Bridge did.

        While I have bashed the NY Times DC and politics desks, their field reporters have been much more honest, and this article shows what is getting into their reports:

        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/18/us/portland-protests.html

        It has the striking subhed “Rather than tamping down persistent protests in Portland, Ore., a militarized presence from federal officers seems to have re-energized them.”

        Polls show that Trump’s crackdown on Lafayette Square significantly hurt him, and there is reason to believe Portland will too, or at a minimum continue to keep him underwater.

        Portland is scary as hell, but I am far from convinced Trump can keep it up. He has plenty of other ways to hurt people over the next six months but I think the comparison to Pinochet — who was competent at being a dictator — seem dicey.

        • bmaz says:

          Re-energizing “them” is the plan. Trump’s plan is all about making us versus “them” a reality.

          • BobCon says:

            I think you may be right that it is part of Trump’s plan, in the same way that Sheriff Jim Clark’s self-defeating plan involved the attack on marchers on Pettus Bridge.

            In contrast to Jim White, in 1961 Albany GA Police Chief Pritchett managed to stop protests by deliberately avoiding violence by police and refusing to keep MLK in jail. I think if Trump had any grip on reality he would follow Pritchett’s example, but I think he is at a point where he fails to see two things — more and more people see all of his actions as provoking chaos, not preventing it, and he is also only increasing the contrast with Biden on COVID, which also hurts him with a solid majority.

            Trump is on a path of maximizing division, but I think we are somewhere down the road where that stops being about winning and simply is about vengeance. I don’t think he has completely given up on winning, but I think that is slipping. That’s really scary to see in a president, because he could do a lot more harm. I wouldn’t put orders for using live ammo past him.

      • vvv says:

        Replying to Rayne’s first paragraph, Chicago is still seeing protests, today involving in part an attempt to take down a statue of Columbus in Grant Park. Protesters (# unreported) and police (18 claimed) were injured, the latter apparently by fireworks and water bottles, etc., the former by police directly striking them – one young woman (about to start as a state senate intern) had her phone pushed into her mouth and lost some teeth.

        Mayor Lightfoot, who IMO has been as good as she can be (note her calling the WH spokesbarbie a “Karen” – perhaps in an attempt to p.o. bmaz – I kid) throughout recent issues including covid and WH threats (including to send in Fed forces), etc., is walking a fine line, castigating both the protesters and the cops.

      • e.a.f. says:

        Rayne, I’ve read what you wrote twice. I don’t want to insult you because you’re way better at this type of analysis than I am and you do live in the U.S.A.

        Its true Chile didn’t have a pandemic, but I don’t think the pandemic is going to change things for Americans except they will try to get out of the country,. I don’t think the dying will stop. Some states may be able to bring the death rate down, but medical in the U.S.A. is private and profit driven. People are not going to be able to get the health care they need. I don’t see Americans turning on Trump yet, in mass, as in enough to dump him. when things get like this, it becomes usually every person for themselves, except for the “trouble makers” and those committed to social justice.

        Of course I think first we need to know who these “police people” are and how many of them, how many people have they picked up and where are those people now. Have any failed to resurface. if they haven’t resurfaced its time to check small airports around Portland.

        The U.S..A maybe documenting everything, but what does that matter. the Nazi’s documented everything. It blew me away because when reparations were paid to those who survived, it was in a way so easy. It was all there, but it didn’t stop anything from happening. No other country is going to interfere with what is going on in the U.S.A. just like no one really interfered with other genocides.

        we are all the products of our environments. I heard all the stories about the Nazi’s in the Netherlands, the camps, the dead relatives. there are those who stayed, there are those who tried to get out. I’ve watched things play out since the 1950s and if I had kids and lived in the U.S.A. I’d be checking out because things aren’t gong to get better. I think a lot of very good people are going to die and not just from COVID.

        • Rayne says:

          I don’t think the pandemic is going to change things for Americans except they will try to get out of the country.

          Sure. Tell me which countries are currently accepting Americans, because even your own won’t because of how badly Trump admin has handled this pandemic. The truth is that Americans’ passports are now worthless; the truth is that Americans need to pull up their big people panties and start facing COVID-19’S challenges collectively instead of running away while throwing a tantrum. Most of us are doing that.

          And the pandemic is definitely changing things — Republicans know Trump is killing them, too.

          People are not going to be able to get the health care they need.

          This isn’t new to us. It’s one of the reasons why there is a broad spectrum of people in the street — raw anger about the misallocation of resources toward “security” whether homeland or national defense versus security in health and real public safety.

          I don’t see Americans turning on Trump yet, in mass

          A majority didn’t vote for him in 2016. That majority hasn’t diminished as the blue wave of 2018’s mid-term elections demonstrated. Yet another reason why people are in the street is the country’s structural racism including the electoral college which elected Trump over the will of the majority.

          The U.S..A maybe documenting everything, but what does that matter.”

          The Nazis, the Pol Pot regime, the Hutu government — they documented their own atrocities. This time the targets are documenting from the other side and it matters as it has always mattered who controls the narrative.

          if I had kids and lived in the U.S.A. I’d be checking out because things aren’t gong to get better.

          You live in a sparsely populated country with about 11% of the people we have. The US in contrast is +320 million people, and a majority didn’t vote for this bullshit. Why should the majority leave this country? It’s ours. Trump is an expression of white racist resentment against losing illegitmate majority power — they’ve lost it and now they are further delegitimizing themselves. We’re not leaving even if our passports let us.

          Worry about what happens when Canada comes to the same realization that it is on occupied lands and it is rapidly becoming less white. Will you flee then rather than face reality?

    • Stephen Calhoun says:

      Could the US government give a scrupulous accounting of the physical status of all the immigrants of the Trump era, what are their current locations, and, if under the age of 18, whether or not they are still with their families?

      Have any infants been stripped from their parent(s) and adopted by American families?

    • Mary R. says:

      “How will they feel when the find out they weren’t federal officers but white supremists?”

      Infiltrating law enforcement has been an overt goal of right-wing extremist groups for decades; it was apparent even back in the late 70s, when, as a volunteer at a free clinic in Oregon, I participated in training police recruits in addressing mental health and other sociomedical crises. Since 9/11 and the creation of DHS, overseeing a vast paramilitary security apparatus, as well as the perpetual state of armed conflict abroad and the militarization of law enforcement at all levels, local and federal, what had been a worrisome fringe element has now risen to the highest echelons.

      And today we learn that the Trump administration is plumbing the shallows of Waterboard John Yoo’s constitutional scholarship for creative avenues by which to justify legalizing law enforcement’s infringement of basic constitutional protections.

      It’s all so much worse than people imagine, it’s not new, and it didn’t stop during the Obama administration. That’s why I stopped going to the States for 10 years, starting halfway through W’s second term and encompassing all of Obama’s: apart from a few tweaks here and there, the institutional underpinnings for what we are seeing now not only remained in place, but became ever more entrenched and accepted. The complacency, even (especially) among my friends (progressives all), was too hard to swallow.

      • P J Evans says:

        Wolf and Trmp are amping up their rhetoric – Trmp claims that there are cities in the US that are
        “worse than Afghanistan” – which is going to be news to everyone in those cities *and* in Afghanistan.

  10. Jan says:

    John Lewis fought in a very much more hostile territory. I love it that he said “It’s up to you now”. Yes, it is. I don’t know if I have his courage, I hope I do, but he’s left me with no choice. I’m either a coward, or not, I have no excuses. God rest your soul John Lewis, and thank you.

  11. Yogarhythms says:

    Peter,
    Thank you for this thread. RIP John as your mantle is in our hands now. Hope Honesty and Courage will counter balance the pepper spray, rubber bullets, sonic attack, no insignia’s arrests inertial stagnation. Thank you John for sharing and shining your light on us for so long.

  12. Nehoa says:

    Ronald Regan became a guns right restrictionist when black People showed up in Sacramento, the Capitol building with guns. Good trouble happens when there is something else behind it.Those federal troops in Portland were equipped to kill people. Are you ready to respond? When I travel internationally, local assholes want to extort me. Amazing what a credible threat of death will do.

    • vvv says:

      Stop it.

      Your calls for violence, direct (“Trump’s Rump Coverer’s” thread) and indirect, are unacceptable.

      • Sonso says:

        Violence is not a solution, although “conservatives” think it is, if state-sponsored. The problem we will be facing is how much ‘poking in the eye’ will the overly weaponized American population accept. Because we don’t yet have a fully galvanized movement for genuine progressive democracy, there is a strong probability that some folks Will react in an adolescent and violent way. We don’t have a lot of time here to get ourselves together to plan for the Trump incitement that is already here, and escalating. Tipping points are binary, unfortunately.

      • Nehoa says:

        I am sorry that I came off that way. I hate violence. But deterring those willing and able to use force for their own purposes is not born out of respect for the principles of non-violence. It is born out of fear of some greater accountability. The Civil Rights movement succeeded in part because it gained the respect and support of large numbers of people who in turn supported the use of the resources of the U.S. federal government.

        • Nehoa says:

          To be clear, for the average citizen, I think the non-violent approach in protests in this country is absolutely the right way to proceed. Don’t even throw water bottles. Provide no excuse for violence by law enforcement. There are legitimate holders of the use of force, though – state and local law enforcement – that need to be brought in to stand up to Barr’s attempt to take control of blue cities. Barr wants the state and local forces to join him. The civilian leadership needs to make sure they don’t, and are there to protect their citizens from Barr’s forces.

    • Nehoa says:

      Washington Post headline: Federal officials dismiss Portland leaders’ calls to leave city as clashes with protesters continue.
      Do I need to say more?

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    There will be a long list of first things to do waiting for Joe Biden as he sits down at the Resolute desk. One of them should be to issue blanket pardons. One of those should be for the arrestees Wolf-Barr-Miller-Trump will have created for daring to resist/impede/harass the thugs they have sent out to incite violence, so that they can then claim to quell it. Claiming to preserve order – while viciously upending it – is a defining characteristic of the fascist dictator (or wannabe).

    • bmaz says:

      Maybe. But I have an inclination there may be less in n need of that than we think. Many of the people in Portland getting snatched up by the unbadged federal goon squads seem to be getting released without charges. One guy asked for a lawyer and was released within an hour or so. It is kind of hard to know yet how many will really be charged and prosecuted. Doing t hat is going to give the chance for a LOT of questions to be asked. Ones that will not have clean answers. And FPD’s are very good at asking them.

        • Peterr says:

          Absolutely – just ask Trump about the arrests of Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, etc. and “unlawful” will probably be in the first sentence of his reply.

          *grin*

        • bmaz says:

          Earl, the answer is yes, there is. But that “slippery slope” thing some of us were whining about even back in law school (I was fortunate to have a couple of beyond great mentors) was real.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        One silver lining in Portland, among the abusive state conduct, would be if people arrested were not charged. Or had them dropped (better yet, with their records expunged, too), like the protesters sitting peacefully on the Kentucky(?) AG’s lawn. But there are a lot of people elsewhere who still face charges. I think there are 500 odd just in Milwaukee. An overwhelming loss for Trump would probably bring other prosecutors around. And a new US AG could encourage that with some vigor. But there will still be lots of clean-up to do.

        • Peterr says:

          I’d love to see the district attorney in Portland secure an indictment of DHS Secretary Chad Wolf for conspiracy to kidnap, and then get the DC police to visit Wolf in his DHS office, read him the indictment, slap the handcuffs on, and bundle him into a police van for a ride to their facilities. He should be just fine with that kind of procedure, right?

          Oh, and I also want a pony.

          • Eureka says:

            Welp, if they try this stuff in Philadelphia, it would make a nice honorarium to call your new pony*, “Krasner:”

            “My dad volunteered and served in World War II to fight fascism, like most of my uncles, so we would not have an American president brutalizing and kidnapping Americans for exercising their constitutional rights and trying to make America a better place, which is what patriots do,” [Philadelphia D.A. Larry] Krasner said.

            “Anyone, including federal law enforcement, who unlawfully assaults and kidnaps people will face criminal charges from my office.”

            https://www.inquirer.com/news/donald-trump-philadelphia-portland-federal-authorities-department-of-homeland-security-20200720.html


            *Sure, conspiracy (and “Acting Chad”) didn’t come up in the brief blurb(s) today, but he’s a smart guy.

    • bmaz says:

      “General strike”. Lol, that is a joke. Such a cliched joke. If these people care, maybe they ought not try to stop commerce in the time of pandemic and should instead promote and protect the vote. What a load of crap.

      • Mitch Neher says:

        Who do “you” mean by “these” people??

        Did “you” say “don’t stop commerce” during a pandemic??

        “Really”??

        • bmaz says:

          Who did I mean? Anybody and everybody, including you, thinking “general strike” is a solution to anything right now.

          And, yes, you bet your ass I said do not stop commerce in a time of pandemic when almost every American depends on shipping and delivery of everything from food to medical supplies. How bad do you want to screw people, Mitch, out of a feckless gesture? Go sign an internet petition and try not to make things worse in people’s lives.

          • Mitch Neher says:

            “. . . when almost every American depends on shipping and delivery of everything from food to medical supplies . . .”

            . . . is exactly the right time to strike. And you know it as well as anybody else.

            • bmaz says:

              What a load of stupid. Anytime any person clacks about “general strike” they should be laughed at uncontrollably.

              People are living and dying on the availability of shipping currently. Your idea to break that commerce chain is not just stupid, but detestable.

              • Mitch Neher says:

                Can you please explain the difference between your latest position and the position espoused by Trump??

                Assuming that there is a difference. O! Stable Genius.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      There’s such a thing as the right tool for the right job. A so-called general strike – in the middle of a pandemic – is not the right tool. As bmaz says, in a year in which Donald Trump is seeking re-annointment as god-emperor, a more effective use of those resources would be to protect the vote, and to help others exercise theirs.

      • Mitch Neher says:

        Direct action at the site of struggle is neither the wrong tool nor the wrong job for “the people” actually going out on strike–such as nursing home workers and fast food clerks “during a pandemic”.

        Besides, “they” were all wearing masks and standing six feet apart while out on strike and up until they returned to work eight minutes and forty-six seconds later.

        https://www.seiu.org/2020/07/tens-of-thousands-in-25-cities-to-strike-for-black-lives

        • P J Evans says:

          That isn’t a “general strike”, and you don’t – can’t – speak for anyone but yourself.

          • Mitch Neher says:

            Excerpted from the article linked above;

            Angely Rodriguez Lambert, an Oakland McDonald’s worker and leader in the Fight for $15 and a Union [said,] “We’re going on strike because McDonald’s and other fast-food companies have failed to protect us in a pandemic that has ravaged Black and brown communities across the country. We’re going to keep joining together and speaking out until McDonald’s and other companies respond with actions that show they really value our lives.”

            “Here in Detroit, us nursing home workers are at the center of the COVID-19 crisis. We’re putting our lives on the line every single day without proper PPE, paid sick days or safe staffing levels,” said Trece Andrews, a nursing home worker from Detroit, Michigan. “Thousands of workers and residents have needlessly lost their lives. I’ve seen firsthand how this virus is devastating the Black community, exposing the systemic racism that has always existed. That’s why I’m going on Strike for Black Lives: to demand greater protections for my coworkers, our residents and working people across the nation.”

            Evidently Angely and Trece didn’t need permission slips from anyone here on this turnip cart.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          You might consider the utility of what you call a general strike during a pandemic, as opposed to resorting to abstract language about “direct action at the site of struggle.”

          A strike, like a boycott, uses the denial of business as leverage. The leverage of a strike is less when demand is less, such as during a pandemic, or when businesses already think they face existential threats. Appeasing strikers might bring them back to work, but if it won’t avoid business failure, appeasement is unlikely.

          Strikes are more useful when people and legislatures are not utterly distracted by so many conflicting demands. It is harder, for example, to elicit sympathy for someone who willingly refuses to work – regardless of how right they are to do so – when the audience for it has not itself worked for months. This gubmint, in particular, is more likely to cut aid than to increase it. It would use a widespread strike to justify what it already wants to do, as would employers, which have a blind faith in the healing powers of mass firings.

          There hasn’t been anything like a “general strike” in this country for generations, certainly not since Taft-Hartley imposed excruciating financial burdens on sympathy strikes. American governments traditionally and violently support capital. This one, in particular, has and will.

          I agree that strikes, boycotts, and taking it to the streets, are essential tools in persuading governments and capital to change their behavior. Their goal is productive change and a seat at the table where priorities are set. But Donald Trump is incapable of accepting that. He would consider accepting it a form of self-gelding. His response would be greater use of federal employees using illegal weapons of war. That gives businesses little reason to accept strikers’ demands.

          With an election and the prospect of productive change coming so soon, strikers demands could be better met – at less cost to strikers and their families – by helping the Democrats win an overwhelming victory, which no cheating by Donald Trump could hide.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Never one to forego a “punitive act of retribution,” no matter how small, Donald Trump cancelled the Presidential Rank Awards for 2020. Those are the Oscars for career federal civil servants, public employees at which no one throws applause or money. The excuse is Covid-19, which is odd. Trump says it’s gone away or is about to; that the federal government need take no further steps to make that happen; and that state and local schools should reopen in a few weeks, taking no special Covid-19 precautions, because His election.

    Trump hates what he doesn’t have. He hates competence, he hates exemplary skills and leadership, especially when shown by government employees. They might make gubmint work. To him and his patrons, that means higher taxes, more regulations, and fewer dispensations for the well-heeled. What Trump hates more is that some public employees haven’t read the Omerta memo. A few of them even testified at his impeachment. So, vindictiveness and retribution are the order of the day, the pettier, the better. Like many good CEOs, Trump starts with his own employees.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-award-cancel-deep-state-qanon-opm-ig-2020-7

  15. sls642 says:

    Unless Trump does some type of pivot toward sanity and soon, I suspect his fate Is sealed. And he knows it as do the people around him. And just what does he do about the pandemic at this point? Wear a mask? That’s it?

    He made a fatal miscalculation that Repub presidents seem to have a special knack for doing, Trump’s judgment is the worst yet, even topping G.W.’s remarkable screw ups and constant nonsensical statements (remember those?).

    Many people are going to die or live with the lingering, still unknown long term effects of this virus. This will be how history will remember Trump. I am virtually certain Trump will lose and the question remains, how many Repubs does he take down with him? Based on past situations involving Repub presidents, the answer likely will be a whole lot. And Trump’s astounding stupidity will make G.W look like a genius in comparison. It will take a miracle to somehow save him. Or will the Repubs cook the books with outside help, again.

    Maybe he can get his evangelical base to engage in mass prayer and hope God saves him with a miracle. Of course, if God cared, we wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.

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