This week, two local Republican leaders published and then deleted social media posts which threatened violence in an imminent right-wing clash against Black Lives Matter and Antifa (anti-fascist) activists.
First, Iron County, Utah commissioner Paul Cozzens published a now-deleted picture showing a soldier with a gun and the words: “Warning to BLM & Antifa—Once you’ve managed to defund & eliminate the police, there’s nobody protecting you from us. Remember that.”
— Jesse Harris (@elforesto) September 16, 2020
Cozzens later told Newsweek that he never supports violence against protestors but merely wanted to say that “If we defund the police, fathers and mothers will be forced to protect their families and properties which would descend us into anarchy.”
What Cozzens may not realize is that many Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists already believe that police do a terrible job protecting them from right-wing violence. Such activists have sometimes been subject to violence from the police themselves, bringing into doubt the whole question of whether police “protect” them from anything.
Second, Michael Brown — a Republican member of the Johnson County Commission in Kansas City, Missouri — published a now-deleted Facebook message in which he urged his followers to “buy a firearm and ammunition” for “the coming war” that is both “inevitable” and caused by left-wing police reform activists and Democratic leaders who are “silent” and “weak.”
“[This] isn’t a joke or hyperbole,” Brown wrote. “I’d rather fight and die than live in their dictated world.”
At a time when heated rhetoric rarely surprises me, I have to admit shock in seeing something like this from a local elected. Gross distortions; encouraging constituents to prepare for armed war w/political opponents?
This is reckless. This is racist. This is wrong.
Just stop. https://t.co/Zc50URHgEW
— Mayor Q (@QuintonLucasKC) September 14, 2020
In response, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas wrote on Twitter, “At a time when heated rhetoric rarely surprises me, I have to admit shock in seeing something like this from a local elected. Gross distortions; encouraging constituents to prepare for armed war w/political opponents? This is reckless. This is racist. This is wrong. Just stop.”
Brown later said that he had made the post in response to Monday reports of a gunman who opened fire on a parked sheriff’s squad car, killing two officers in Los Angeles. Brown said he was “speaking out against violence and calling on other electeds, community leaders and citizens to do the same.”
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NYPD Commissioner Says MLK Day Racial Justice Protesters Wanted to “Destroy Our Way of Life”
New York Police Department commissioner Dermot Shae has said that racial justice protesters who marched across the city on Martin Luther King Day were trying to “destroy our way of life.”
It was a curious way for a white policeman to characterize Black racial justice activists, to say the least, especially as the state Attorney General Letitia James is in the process of suing the NYPD for excessive force against racial justice demonstrators during the George Floyd protests during the summer of 2020.
On Martin Luther King Day 2021, the national holiday commemorating Black civil rights leader, NYPD officers arrested 29 protesters with a Black Liberation March for racial and social justice. The group marched from Brooklyn to City Hall.
Police claimed that protesters began lobbing bottles at a bystander recording the protests after police formed a protective ring around the bystander. Police also claimed that protesters tried to block traffic over one of the city’s roads and tried to spray graffiti. However, NY1 reports that video shows police officers arresting protesters at random.
Less than a week after I filed a lawsuit against the @NYPDnews for using excessive force against peaceful protesters, last night we saw officers exhibit the same concerning behavior.
As we laid out in our lawsuit, this is a longstanding pattern that must stop.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) January 19, 2021
“When you march from Brooklyn over a bridge, you try to shut down the traffic on the bridge. You’re bringing bottles. You’re bringing graffiti. You’re spray painting our city. This is our city. You’re spray painting to burn our city down,” Shea said. “This isn’t actions that are caused by police officers so that’s a news flash for the AG. This is actions caused by people that want to destroy our way of life and our city and we’re not going to let it happen.”
Isabelle Leyva, an NYC resident who recorded video of the police attacks (below) told NBC News a completely different story. She said that the police played an audio recording ordering the protesters to stop marching in the streets and then police began rushing anyone who dared step off of the sidewalk. She said police rushed protesters at least six times.
“At that point, a small group broke away from the crowd and was standing on the roadway a few feet off of the sidewalk,” Leyva said. “Riot police then charged the crowd and ran onto the sidewalk to beat and arrest people. [Police] continued this pattern for the rest of the night, grabbing anyone who stepped off of the sidewalk and then charging the entire group.”
NYPD attacking protesters at City Hall Park pic.twitter.com/BHtH76kyde
— Isabelle Leyva (@isabelle_leyva) January 19, 2021
Eleven officers received minor injuries and 21 protesters were charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, while seven received a desk appearance ticket.
Considering the long history of police using intimidation and force to beat back racial justice protesters, Shae’s characterization of protesters seeking to “destroy our way of life” is telling.
Researchers have said that the police’s tepid response to the white insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was quite permissive and friendly compared to the violent beatdown that Black Lives Matter protesters experienced at the same site the summer before—and it fits a larger pattern of police allowing white protesters to riot while stomping down on Black protesters who dare challenge police authority.
GOP Lawmaker Says Black People Are Glad Their Ancestors Were Brought Over as Slaves
Terry Jones, a Republican lawmaker in North Dakota, has submitted a bill that would require state forms to list “American” as a racial choice option because he’s “disgusted” with how race is used by bad actors to divide the country, he says.
In trying to explain how his bill would unite Americans by focusing “on commonalities rather than differences,” he told the press that “citizens of all backgrounds are proud to be American,” adding that Black Americans are “glad their ancestors were brought here as slaves.”
InForum reports: “Jones said he believes in this sentiment because he read a Reader’s Digest article from the 1980s in which a Black doctor visited an African country during a period of civil conflict and made remarks about being grateful that his ancestors had been taken to America. Forum News Service’s attempts to find the article were unsuccessful.
Jones’ ignorant comment are just part of a long history of racist lawmakers saying that people of color should be grateful for their ill-treatment in this country just because it’s better than living in poorer nations — hardly an endorsement of great living under the American system.
Trump Didn’t Want to Rename Military Bases Named After Confederates. It’s Happening Anyway
On December 23, 2020, President Donald Trump followed through on his promise to veto the massive military spending bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), because it contained a measure to rename military bases named after Confederate generals who wanted to keep slavery legal.
However, both the House and Senate overrode his veto on December 28 and January 1, respectively, and now the renaming is getting underway as the Pentagon just named the first four members of its eight-member renaming commission yesterday.
The renaming of bases was part of a measure included in the NDAA by Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren giving the Department of Defense three years to remove Confederate names, symbols, monuments and other honors from military bases, buildings, streets, ships, aircraft, weapons and equipment, according to Politico.
The committee has until October 2022 to submit a plan for which things should be renamed and possibly alternative names created with input from local communities.
On July 1, 2020, Trump wrote, “I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars, is in the Bill!”
Considering how many of Trump’s supporters waved Confederate flags at his pre-riot rally and while ransacking the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, it explains why he strongly opposes removing the names of traitorous Confederate military leaders who fought against the federal government and spilled American blood for the “right” to own, rape, torture and kill Black slaves.
By vetoing the bill, Trump also denied a pay raise for troops, prevented funding for female-specific uniforms and body armor, and ended “funding to support quality of life for service members and their families, including measures this year to support education for military children with special needs whose families have to frequently change school districts,” according to NBC News.
Members of Trump’s own party united with Democrats to stop him from doing that and now the Confederate legacy will be erased from the U.S. military.
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