Bombs For Baby Kittens!

Kristin Devine

Kristin has humbly retired as Ordinary Times' friendly neighborhood political whipping girl to focus on culture and gender issues. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of

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94 Responses

  1. George Turner says:

    Great post. 🙂

    The DA for Portland who is refusing to charge rioters, even ones that assault and seriously injure police, has been an Antifa supporter for decades. Legally he’s not a co-conspirator, but his refusal to uphold the law does make him complicit in the illegal criminal acts being committed. I’m curious whether the feds will step in because he is refusing to enforce federal law and protect the rights, property, and lives of US citizens.

    It may come as a shock to some, but elected officials do have certain responsibilities, and gross failures to meet those responsibilities is a malfeasance that can result in consequences. After Hurricane Katrina, Democrats at least expressed some awareness that officials have a duty to act, in that case to provide relief, but the same applies to enforcing the laws against rebellion, insurrection, rioting, and looting. Antifa and BLM are Katrina level events inflicting widespread injuries and property destruction. It’s not a big mental leap to think that somewhere in government, there is a duty to stop that. But at present, voters in Seattle, Chicago, and Portland are being given a harsh lesson in why voting matters. They obviously chose poorly, and are now suffering the dire consequences.Report

  2. Kazzy says:

    Weird… you open talking about the importance of not having different rules for different people and then… advocate for different rules for different people with different ideas.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

      I’m pretty sure that the problem isn’t the idea about throwing a Molotov cocktail. Who hasn’t daydreamed about throwing one?

      The problem is that the rule is that “you can’t throw one”. Even if you do daydream about doing it for good reasons. Even if you have a bunch of ideas about the importance of throwing them so long as they’re thrown against the *APPROPRIATE* government property.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’m not saying they shouldn’t be charged. But the OP seems to be saying they should be charged more harshly because they did it in protest or because they’re lawyers or some other reasons.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

          I think that they should be treated as if they did it on any given Tuesday evening in 2013.

          If we want to argue that our laws are dumb and holy crap, we’re not *CONDONING* burning police cars or anything but, have you ever seen what the sentencing guidelines are for burning cop cars?!?!?, I’d love to have that conversation too.

          (I mean, do you realize that Marijuana is still Schedule 1? It’s absurd.)

          But if we don’t want to have the conversation about the whole “tough on crime” thing, we’re stuck with what happened and what seems to be the whole issue with making an improvised incendiary device and then throwing it.

          And pulling a “well, you have to understand…” for this particular improvised incendiary device-throwing that we wouldn’t have pulled for any given improvised incendiary device thrown on any given Tuesday in 2013 should, at least, understand that the burden of proof isn’t on the “lock them up according to what the law says” people.Report

          • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

            According to this article a few people who torched a police car in Utah are facing a sentence of up to 20 years. I have a lot of problems with the guidelines and sentencing policy generally but this isn’t unusual.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

          My take on that is not different rules for different people, but that the mitigating factors that often apply when considering sentencing (heat of the moment, youthful ignorance, etc.) don’t apply here.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            If we are being invited here to opine on the moral gravity of their crime, then I agree that the specific factors, whether mitigating or aggravating should be taken into account.

            In this case, does it matter that the car was already abandoned and vandalized? I think it does.

            Does it matter that they have no priors? I think so.

            Does it matter that there was justification for at least some level of anger and outrage at the police, given that there were massive protests occurring and arguably massive displays of police brutality and unprovoked violence? I think so.

            None of which exonerates them. But as I pointed out below, there are other examples of people setting fire to government property with sentences in the 5 year range.

            So something around there seems reasonable enough of a deterrent to provide justice.


            • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Some have also mentioned that this was done in the heat of “battle”.

              Perhaps merely holding them until hostilities have ended would be appropriate.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              IIRC, one of the charges was distributing a destructive device.

              It’s one thing to grab an empty bottle, an old rag, and some flammable liquid to make a political point.

              It’s quite another to grab a 6 pack and make a bunch for all your new friends.

              I mean, this isn’t even Defense Distributed territory, this is handing out ghost guns territory.Report

    • That’s about par for the course, only about 6000 words between those sets of rules.Report

  3. Brent F says:

    This sounds like a scenario where disbarment and a sentence between 6 months to 4 years depending on various circumstances is appropriate. They’re officers of the court who swore an oath to uphold the law and the need to make a molotov cocktail ahead of time vitiates against any claim that they did this in the heat of a moment.

    How American sentencing law got so fucked that someone can seriously ask for pre-meditated murder territory of 30 years is a topic of its own.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Brent F says:

      It not like they stole a pair of hedge clippers, after all.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Brent F says:

      The laws against committing arson against an occupied structure are extremely severe. I think one of the Portland or Seattle protesters is looking at a 35 year minimum federal sentence. Burning people to death with fire is not okay in normal society. I mean, suppose I went to a packed grade-school auditorium, blocked the exits from the outside, and set the building on fire? “Hah! I’ll be out in six months on a misdemeanor!” is not what you want going through some sicko’s head when they’re idling turning that scenario over in their mind.

      Fire, acid, poison gas… We punish such attacks with the severest penalties to make sure such things rarely happen, if they happen at all.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Brent F says:

      I’m trying to think of the difference between throwing a Molotov cocktail and murder, and I’m not really seeing it. It’s a deliberate act which could easily kill someone. If someone died, I think that would be second-degree murder, whereas pre-meditation would be first-degree.Report

      • Brent F in reply to Pinky says:

        Its a massive difference. Arson is a property crime, albeit a very serious one. You need a few more steps of reckless endangerment for it to be a manslaughter equivalent. Similarly to drunk driving isn’t equivalent to manslaughter either.

        You’re conflating the more serious act of setting fire to an occupied structure to arson more generally.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Brent F says:

          Arson is a property crime, in a lab. If I cordon off streets and set up cameras and wear a lab coat and set a car on fire, I’m assuring that no one is going to get hurt. Throwing a bottle of flammable liquid with a burning rag in the end is a crapshoot. You don’t know if it’s only going to damage property. A Molotov cocktail is far less precise than, say, a gun. If you walk into a jewelry store and shoot out the security camera, there’s less risk of injury than if you throw a Molotov cocktail.

          I’m not talking about arson in general as much as I’m talking about this particular case. If someone had died, I think this would be depraved indifference, murder two, right? (IANAL.)Report

          • Brent F in reply to Pinky says:

            Throwing one into an empty vehicle doesn’t present that much foreseeable threat to human life as far as these things go. Its more dangerous than equivalent vandalism but that’s already accounted for by being an arson charge.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    One thing that I noticed when the Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz requested Federal Funds and hoping to have Minneapolis recognized as a Federal Disaster Area was that he pointed out “Hey! We arrested 10 people!”

    If arresting people is a signal that you’re taking the actions that result in Federal Disaster Areas seriously, it strikes me that “ten” is a laughably small number.

    I’m wondering if New York will request federal funds. I wonder if these charges will be demonstrative of how seriously this issue is being taken.Report

  5. greginak says:

    It seemed pretty simple to me. They should be punished but the potential sentences is way to harsh. To many Americans love overly harsh punishments. Disbar them of course but this is over the top.Report

    • George Turner in reply to greginak says:

      The maximum federal sentence for arson is 25 years if there were no occupants involved. If there are occupants, the maximum sentence is life. But the target wasn’t a federal building or installation, or any maritime facilities, so they would be charged under New York state law.

      1. A person is guilty of arson in the first degree when he intentionally damages a building or motor vehicle by causing an explosion or a fire and when (a) such explosion or fire is caused by an incendiary device propelled, thrown or placed inside or near such building or motor vehicle; or when such explosion or fire is caused by an explosive; or when such explosion or fire either (i) causes serious physical injury to another person other than a participant, or (ii) the explosion or fire was caused with the expectation or receipt of financial advantage or pecuniary profit by the actor; and when (b) another person who is not a participant in the crime is present in such building or motor vehicle at the time; and (c) the defendant knows that fact or the circumstances are such as to render the presence of such person therein a reasonable possibility.

      2. As used in this section, “incendiary device” means a breakable container designed to explode or produce uncontained combustion upon impact, containing flammable liquid and having a wick or a similar device capable of being ignited.

      Arson in the first degree is a class A-I felony.

      Going to the sentencing laws:

      (a) In the case of a class A felony, the minimum period shall be fixed by the court and specified in the sentence.

      (i) For a class A-I felony, such minimum period shall not be less than fifteen years nor more than twenty-five years;

      New York takes a very dim view of arson, whether committed by sweat shop owners, landlords, mob figures, or protesters.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

      So 15-25 is too high. Fair enough. I’ve long thought that Federal Sentencing Guidelines are probably bad procedurally for reasons related to Separation of Powers.

      What *WOULD* be appropriate for making a makeshift bomb and throwing it at government property?

      Disbarring means… what? In practice? “Sorry, now you have to work at Wal-Mart”? Can they still do paralegal work? Can they teach law stuff at a local community college?

      Should they get any prison time in addition to having to get a crappy job?Report

      • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        Disbarred means they can’t have a license to practice law. They couldn’t do any job that requires one. They likely could do some law related stuff if someone would hire them but they wouldn’t be representing someone in the court. If a college hired them they could teach law, but that applies to me and i’m not a lawyer.

        Appropriate sentence: urr…ummm… the top of my head 5-7 years with early parole for good behavior and some restitution for the lost property.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

          Aaron Persky, the judge who faaaaaaaaaaaaaar too leniently sentenced Brock Turner, was recalled.

          Maybe we could put whomever sentences these bomb-throwers too harshly up for a recall effort. Just publicize “5-7” and threaten recalls for numbers higher than 10 or so.

          (I assume that we agree that the Federal Guidelines not only shouldn’t apply but don’t and since they don’t the judge will know that s/he has the elbow room to sentence however they want, right?)Report

          • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

            This was in federal court, right. Fed judges are elected.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

              This is a great opportunity for a handful of donors to make their voices heard privately to the judges. Let them know that their re-election will be opposed, and harshly, if they don’t rule the right way.Report

            • Federal judges are not, in fact, elected.Report

              • InMD in reply to Christopher Bradley says:

                It’s the one thing the Senate still does between bathroom breaks and extravagant luncheons.Report

              • greginak in reply to Christopher Bradley says:

                D’oh…yup….someone miswrote my comment. I’ll have my people look into how something like that could happen. Fed judges are not elected.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                This may make them less subject to changes in public opinion.

                Might there be something we could do to make federal judges more directly accountable to the public they ostensibly serve?Report

              • Logically the senators you elect are supposed to represent the public opinion of the type of judge that is put forth to be nominated. So, if your state is represented by two wingnuts, then the flavor of your federal judge will be a 40-something FedSoc ideologue that has never tried a case in his or her (let’s be honest it is a white “his”) life. If your state is represented by one Dem and one Republican, then typically the selections are made with some kind of political horsetrading–which in my opinion is not in the public interest either. They are Article III judges, so short of a Constitutional amendment, they will never be elected.Report

              • Well, is there a way that we could influence seated federal judges? You know, nudge them in a good direction on this? For the greater good?Report

              • Hire a better lawyer, hold elected officials accountable–because US Attorneys are also political appointees and they are the ones doing the charging in these particular cases.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Christopher Bradley says:

                One of the important historical checks on judicial behavior was that all the older folks in town would go sit in court and watch trials, because we didn’t have TV. So the judge knew that he was being judged by the public every time he opened his mouth, because all of those folks sitting in the peanut gallery would form an opinion and then go tell all their friends and fellow citizens about any mistake he made. A judge’s reputation and social standing were potentially on trial just as much as the defendant.

                The only thing that distracted the old folks from court watching was the occasional war or Indian raid. Then we developed radio, then TV, and then the Internet, and now the judge’s own neighbors might not have any idea he’s a judge.Report

        • Nathan in reply to greginak says:

          Why 5-7?
          Why did you pull numbers off the top of your head?

          What if 5-7 isn’t enough of a deterrent?

          Why is 5-7 more fair than 10-25?

          Why should your opinion of what is fair matter more than people who were elected to write laws, wrote these laws, and then maintained these laws?

          The sentencing guidelines have been on the books for probably years. Why did you wait until now to advocate a lighter sentence?Report

          • greginak in reply to Nathan says:

            5-7 was as deeply thought out and considered as possible at 830am or so. Why not just pull numbers off the top of my head? 5-7 years is a lot of time. Do i have extensive research i’m willing to read on every f’ing subject at the tip of my fingers?

            Seems like enough deterrent to me.
            I think we punish people far to harshly, so less is often better imho.
            My opinion matters because i’m a citizen, a voter and a commenter emeritus on this blog. My opinion matters enough for you to respond to it.
            I’ve said we punish people to harshly for years and also today is the day Kristen published this.

            Does that cover all your questions?Report

            • CJColucci in reply to greginak says:

              Lots of us have our own ideas about appropriate sentences in general and in specific cases, and we all have a right to them. I have such ideas myself. For example, when Paul Manafort was sentenced to roughly 4 years, many people howled. My own view was that I’d like to live in a world where the sentence Manafort got was the appropriate sentence for what he did, but Manafort was given early admission to that world while others weren’t. Like a lot of people, I believe most sentences for most things are too high, but being “tough on crime” with high sentences has almost always been a political winner, and I’m not sure that has changed. I know that many federal judges hate the sentencing guidelines and hate high mandatory minimum sentences even more, but there isn’t much they can do about it. The prosecutor’s charging decision defines the playing field.
              I suppose anyone’s preferred numbers come out of their nether regions, but so do the officially-sanctioned ones. The only difference is that the latter mean something and the former are just talk, which anyone is free to do.Report

              • Brent F in reply to CJColucci says:

                Most people with opinions on this kind of thing have very little visceral idea how serious a six month sentence is, let alone 6 years or 16 years. If you don’t work in the system they’re just numbers.Report

              • greginak in reply to Brent F says:

                Agreed. People think going to prison for 5 years is a short time. It’s actually a long time to be gone. It’s a giant hit to a life.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to greginak says:

                I used to say that people who compared prisons to country clubs hadn’t spent time in either. As far as I’m concerned, five years should be enough for all but the worst crimes. Then again, I’ve long thought everyone should do 30 days just on general principles.Report

  6. Chip Daniels says:

    It’s very easy to lose perspective, in times of battle. Its hard to keep a balance between what is worth a human life and what isn’t, what is necessary suffering and what isn’t.

    When I was facing that mob that evening, the idea that they might set fire to my building as foremost on my mind, as was my range of options and how far I was prepared to go.

    Was I willing to physically fight with one of them if he tried to loot the store? I decided clearly, no , I wasn’t.
    What if they tried to torch it? I told myself I might, but weighed the risk of being beaten to death against the option of just evacuating the building.

    I thought later, what if I had owned a gun. How would that have changed the calculations? Would it have made me bolder, more willing to confront?
    Yeah I think it would have. But of course that made me a bit ashamed. In the heat of the moment, was I willing to take a life, or maybe lose mine to save the trifles of soda pop and snacks?

    In the heat of the moment our perspectives get warped, the long view fades and nothing seems as important as the imperative of the moment, to hurt someone or something to make a point.

    This woman thought she was striking a blow for justice by burning a cop car; The longer view, that justice will be achieved by political means faded from her view in favor of the imperative of the moment. The cop car wasn’t a tactical victory, it wasn’t a beachhead of a larger strategic vision, it was…just a cop car.

    It was, in fact, just a cop car, abandoned and vandalized. This wasn’t a great terrorist strike, no lives were threatened or harmed. Equating this to murder is itself losing perspective to the imperative of the moment, the need to hurt someone to make a point.Report

    • greginak in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Yeah, but setting stuff on fire is a bad idea outside of a fireplace or bbq. Punish them: yes. But not this overly harsh stuff.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to greginak says:

        As with all things, there are gradations of moral culpability.
        Setting a trash can on fire is one thing; Setting a cop car on fire is another;

        And setting a fire to federal land in order to conceal illegal hunting is yet another thing, the penalty for which is 5 years.
        At sentencing, the federal prosecutors requested the five-year mandatory minimum under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA).[23][25][26][27] U.S. District Judge Michael Robert Hogan independently decided that sentences of that length “would shock the conscience” and would violate the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

        So yeah. Proportionality is the thing here.Report

        • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          The mandatory sentence was reapplied by another court.

          And the purpose of that set of federal laws was to prevent terrorist attacks. In this specific case, from burning federal lands. Just a couple of years ago ISIS and other groups were telling Muslims to set fire to forests, scrub land, and national parks in Israel, the US, and Europe, as a low-cost, low-risk way of crushing the infidels.

          Yosemite, Sequoia, Yellowstone, Glacier, the Smokies? If it’s okay for Antifa to burn down Portland, why should liberals object to ISIS burning down all the forests? But that law wasn’t aimed at poachers or ranchers trying to destroy evidence of their less-than-approved wildlife management strategies.Report

  7. Aaron David says:

    Excellent piece Kristin, and I agree whole-heartedly. We have elastic sentencing guidelines for situations just such as this, and it is heartening to hear you advocate for the use of them, especially in the face of critics saying that you are advocating for a second set of rules. No, it is clear that you are advocating for the extent of the law, not for it to be waved away or to use some undecided new punishment, one that society hasn’t agreed upon.Report

  8. b-psycho says:

    Government at its essence is violence, and thus by extension so is politics. Nobody other than pacifists truly thinks violence is always bad, what this argument does is hide the inherent violence by accepting it as legitimate and good.

    The thing is, even if one accepted that (I don’t), it cannot be *permanently* legit regardless of what it does via constantly pointing challengers to that norm, otherwise rather than deterring tyranny you’re guaranteeing it by refusing to draw a line after which said legitimacy becomes void.Report

  9. b-psycho says:

    By the way: the claim that if politicians in the US suck it’s really Our Fault cuz We The People really makes the words “our” and “we” carry a lot of questionable weight.

    There are issues that the public regularly expresses majority support on which “our” politicians regularly ignore or even fight tooth and nail. Recent studies have shown that the likelihood of politicians being swayed on issues coincides almost entirely with whether rich people are in agreement on them. In many localities real estate developers and the owners of the biggest business in the area clearly have more weight than the citizens who outnumber them.

    The idea of “representative government” is a huge fraud in practice. There is no “we the people” here, there’s a ruling class and then those who are expected to just roll over for them in perpetuity.Report

    • George Turner in reply to b-psycho says:

      Workers, throw off your chains! Endemic poverty and mass graves can be yours!

      Some of the blue cities are fixing the problem of real estate developers and businesses. They will have neither, and will look like vast swaths of Detroit.Report

      • b-psycho in reply to George Turner says:

        That is the quickest I’ve seen someone conflate an Anarchist with Marxists and then Marxists with Democrats in years. Well done 👏🏽

        Speaking of mass graves, the richest Greatest Country in the World sure is doing a heckuva job against that public health crisis, huh? Bodies stuffed in freezer trucks, giant medical bills, lack of equipment for hospitals, massive housing insecurity… but the bombs can still fall overseas and the cops get every penny they want so all is well actually.Report

        • George Turner in reply to b-psycho says:

          The vast majority of those deaths are in a handful of states run by Democrats like Cuomo. When faced with a virus that’s lethal to the elderly, he and people like Governor Whitmer decided the best place to put infected people was nursing homes.Report

        • Damon in reply to b-psycho says:

          Perhaps you’d rather live in China, where they weld doors and windows closed of apartment buildings….you the virus doesn’t spread.Report

  10. DavidTC says:

    Firstly, because we do not have taxation without representation – the situation may be screwed up in many American cities, but at the least we get to vote for our leaders, they are answerable to We The People to some extent.

    This is a rather unserious sentence…first, because the protestors aren’t actually protesting taxation by the government, but killings by the government.

    But more importantly: If a population consists of 70% white people who vote in leaders who ignore the fact that the police kill a lot of black people, who make up 20% of the population…that’s not really ‘representation’, is it?

    I mean, we do understand minorities can still be _able_ to vote and yet, due to their lack of numbers, not actually have representation, right? Which is why we ultimately encode minority rights into difficult-to-change places like the constitution instead of just having normal laws about them?

    Saying ‘people have representation’ is silly. No, they often do not.

    And before anyone says ‘These cities are Democratic’…and, yeah, and a lot of the white Democratic voters are racist, at least to the point of _ignoring_ the concerns of black people, and will quickly vote out anyone who tries to do anything restricting the police, or isn’t ‘tough on crime’.

    (In fact, pointing out that white Democratic voters often vote in a fairly racist manner would be a very useful tactic in prying away black voters to an opposite party…but only for an opposite party that wasn’t clearly trying to not piss off their own, most numerous and more overt, racists. Draw your own conclusions as to why the Republicans always fail at this.)Report

    • George Turner in reply to DavidTC says:

      The trouble with your reasoning is that if consistently applied, no individuals in a democracy have representation (because they’re all a minority of one), and thus every individual is oppressed and justified in protesting, rebelling, assassinating political leaders, or whatever. And that flaw still exists as you expand from individuals. Armenian-Americans, for example, have no representation, nor do Turkish-Americans, Norwegian-Americans, or Canadian-Americans.

      As for Republicans having the more overt racists, check out last night’s stream from Young Pharaoh and be enlightened. Now, if I, a Republican, was “more overtly racist”, why would I be gaining so much enlightenment on racial issues? Why would I be learning all about neural melanin theory, the links between Hindus and the Aryan Brotherhood, how white people stole the swastika from Ethiopians, and how white people are descended from albino Dravidians?

      Back in my day, our white racist school teachers didn’t let us know these important bits of science and history, and my education was poorer as a result.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to George Turner says:

        The trouble with your reasoning is that if consistently applied, no individuals in a democracy have representation (because they’re all a minority of one), and thus every individual is oppressed and justified in protesting, rebelling, assassinating political leaders, or whatever.

        I didn’t say anything about what people have a ‘right’ to do due to lack of representation, so I don’t know where you got assassination or rebelling from. This article is talking about protesting, and some people who decided to add arson to that. (Which is bad, and dangerous, and a crime, but it is neither assassination nor ‘rebelling’ in the literal warfare sense of the word.)

        And any individual person _does_ have the right to protest, with or without representation.

        This is part of the very disturbing conservative tend of adding ‘protesting’ to a list of crimes, like protesting is some sort of crime also. People can protest for literally any reason they want.

        I think people really need to notice this, about how conservatives have started trying to define protest itself as an act we need to be worried about.

        However, to address the lack of representation: Governments exist by the consent of the governed. The ‘consent’ of a large group of people is going to be somewhat vague, especially since it’s at multiple level, multiple different competing authorities, etc.

        But there are groups and mostly-minority areas that haven’t consented to the governance of cops for _decades_, (Or, actually, ever.) because those cops behave in extremely racist ways.

        ‘Don’t talk to the cops’.

        We know this because that fact, that there’s no cooperation with the police and often active hostility towards to them, is often presented as _failure_ of those those places.

        But…this is literally people unconsenting to their government, or at least a part of it.

        It’s easy to get into the weeds trying to debate why that is, from badly drawn local boundaries to racist state governments to felony disenfranchisement to general white apathy toward fixing problems that generally affect minorities. Honestly, a good chunk of the problem is the two party system and neither party making this an issue, and also the ‘local government’ being large enough that it includes large swatches off white voters who, while not overtly racist, are entirely happy with this sort of policing against minorities.

        But there’s really no objective measurement at that side of ‘representation’. You can’t look at a government from the outside, count up elected officials, and say ‘This is correct’.

        The thing you do is look at the other end, at the outcomes, and just notice that a significant subset of the population feels that there is a group of government that is extremely harmful to them, and has felt this way for decade. And, at this point, they literally are protesting to dismantle the entire system.

        And the fact this situation _has not been able to be changed_ by voters in those locations, that they haven’t replaced the police with a system they like better, or no system at all, is a very very strong indication they do not have proper representation. People in a general area _should_ be able to have the general sort of police force they want, that behaves roughly as they want it. Note I said ‘general area’, not ‘everyone gets their own police’. Again, this is vague, but problems should, eventually, sort themselves out.

        But it _hasn’t_, at all, despite it supposedly being a local issue.Report

        • DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

          Oh, and someone’s about to point out that, by my logic, all sorts of people don’t have representation, and present example X. So let me do that instead: By my logic, the Bundy standoff protestors don’t have good representation either, because that ‘anti-Federal land’ position, while somewhat popular locally, is actually controlled by Washington, and they’ve complained about that for decades.

          This means I’m using some sort of rhetorical trick of trying to argue that certain things should be under local control, like the police, and other should not, like ownership of land, and defining consent at whatever level I feel like.

          Except my answer is: They don’t have very good representation either. I mean, I’m unsure of how popular this position is _within_ the Western states with large Federal ownership, but they really don’t have representation at the level it matters, the Federal level.

          And it is entirely possible that Western states are treated unfairly, that the Federal government owning huge areas of them is not fair, and other states don’t care about this, because it doesn’t affect them, in a matter analogous to police racism. I mean, there’s a difference between ‘overt violence’ and ‘we own this land and you have to pay to graze cattle on it’, but, it’s an analogy.

          I don’t know this is really true, I think their position is sorta dumb in that they seem to assume the government should be forced to sell _the local ranchers_ Federal land, when in reality if it sells it should auction it off and the odds of them actually ending up with the land is low, which means they will have just hurt themselves…but whatever.

          My point is, I think a lot of this country, in fact, is extremely poorly represented, and that only about the wealthiest 10% have their issues taken seriously at all.

          But there are levels of lack of representation. In fact, it’s sorta easy to see which group has _some_ political power, by checking which group is treated respectfully by the authorities.

          The Bundy guys were treated extremely well. BLM is not treated well by the police, but I don’t think we should look at that, the police are bastards and don’t like people complaining. BLM have been started to be treated sorta moderately well by many of those cities, precisely because it has become clear that they had started to _accrue_ more power, because they have started to get the people with power on their side. They are gaining representation.

          Which is, of course, one of the point of protests.Report

          • George Turner in reply to DavidTC says:

            The “treated respectfully” test is a good one. Scores of city governments bent over backwards for BLM and Antifa, even as they looted, burned, and covered the city centers with graffiti, while those same governments arrested anyone who dared deface a BLM poster.

            In fact, the problems seem to be by far the worst where minority representation is best. Milwaukee burned. Their entire city council supports defunding the police, their mayor is a fellow traveler, and their congressmen is a radical Muslim from Somalia. Chicago’s mayor is a black lesbian. Seattle’s police chief was a black woman (who had her pay slashed to 100K less than the previous white police chief to prove how non-racist Seattle is). Portland’s DA has been close allies with Antifa for twenty years and he dedicated his legal career to not sending any left wing radicals to prison.

            These “reformists” seem to directly cause the problems. The left’s prescription for this civil intestinal upset seems to be the consumption of a variety of highly toxic mercury compounds.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

          …are entirely happy with this sort of policing against minorities.

          I wouldn’t say that they are necessarily happy about it, but rather that they’ve bought into the police narrative that there is a dichotomy of policing as police want it to be, and anarchy. I.e. any reforms that would impact the ability of the police to over-police those areas means the police can’t do their jobs and are going to take their toys and go home.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            The CHAZ/CHOP did a pretty good job of disabusing me of my notions that a massively reduced police presence would be a net benefit.

            The question seems to be how much accountability do you want the cops to have and to notice that the police, as they seem to exist, have more than a previously idealized civilian security force.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

              How do the police have more accountability than the CHOP idealization?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Do you know the names of the cops who killed George Floyd?

                (Or, if you wanted them, could you find them?)

                Do you know the names of the security forces who killed Antonio Mays Jr.?

                (Or, if you wanted them, could you find them?)Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

                Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we did know who killed young Mr. Mays, but the police were unable to arrest him (or, if I am being very pessimistic, the police are unwilling to, because they want to make a point).

                What happens if the public chooses to shun Mr. Mays killer? He’s known to the public, so the public can choose to deny him access to their events, to their stores, etc. He can become persona non grata in his own community, or any community that learns of his acts and chooses to shun him. He can be effectively cancelled.

                Now what do you think will happen is, say, Minneapolis decided to ‘cancel’ Derek Chauvin while he still wore the badge? If he couldn’t get service at a restaurant, or even a donut shop. If no one would hire him for after hours work?

                How long before the Blue Gang let the public know that they aren’t allowed to treat their ‘heroes’ that way?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I think that my argument about the accountability of the police versus enthusiastic locals hinges on the fact that we don’t know who killed him and nobody who knows who killed him will say.

                Say what you will about Derek Chauvin, but we know that he was involved in the officer-involved death of George Floyd.

                And we still don’t know who killed Antonio Mays Jr.

                It doesn’t strike me that we’re particularly likely to find out who did. (Maybe, if we find out, I’ll update my assumptions about accountability.)Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

                Should we ever find out who killed Mays, there is a greater probability that he will be held accountable, than there is that Chauvin will.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I’m pretty sure that’s true.

                But therein is the problem.

                Which system protecting its enthusiastic security forces do you trust less? (It’s not really a “which one is better?” situation given that both are in the toilet.)

                Which one strikes you as more likely to be changed, in theory, by a process that you, yes you, can participate in?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

                The police, but only marginally so (and a very thin margin at that).

                This is asking me to choose between crap sandwiches, wherein you argue that the dog crap sandwich is not as bad as the cat crap sandwich, because it lacks the gritty texture from the litter box.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Yeah, the more bread you have…

                Anyway, before the CHAZ/CHOP, I was willing to say that the other one was less horrid. Now I’m back to being startled that, nope, it’s even more horrid than the thing I thought it’d be less horrid than.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

                As long as we remember that CHAZ/CHOP is not the only alternative to our current policing paradigm.

                It’s perhaps the alternative at that far end, but not the only one.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Colorado has recently passed a reform or two that gives me hope about the future…

                but the alternatives to the current policing paradigm that we’ve seen in the past mostly include increasing the training budget.

                The CHAZ/CHOP was the first alternative that I’ve actually seen actually put into practice.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

                Increasing the training budget too often means paying for Killology seminars, which strikes me as a problem.

                We the people don’t have enough visibility or oversight on what training budget is spent on.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

                Do you know the names of the cops who killed Jose Guerena?

                (Or, if you wanted them, could you find them?)

                Do you know the names of the cops who killed Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal?

                (Or, if you wanted them, could you find them?)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

                Nope, the police sealed the files on Jose Guerena. I imagine that, in theory, a judge could have them unsealed.

                (Note: There appears to have been a $20 million dollar settlement following the shooting.)

                The names of the cops who shot Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal seem to also have been sealed from the public following the DA declaring the shooting a good shoot.

                Presumably, a DA willing to pursue charges would release the names of the cops (or, I suppose, a judge could unseal that part of the record).

                Which means, in both cases, there *IS* a process. Even if we don’t get the names, there is a process whereby we might get them.

                What’s the process for the enthusiastic amateurs in the CHOP?Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to Jaybird says:

                3.4 for Guerena’s widow. The thin blue line got off cheap there.

                The names of the police in the other case are available in an article in the SLC paper. He was an idiot.Report

    • Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC says:

      20% of the population voting in lockstep is the Wrath of God in our political system and can be expected to be almost 100% of the population in some local areas.

      Chicago is majority minority with Whites at 49%. Baltimore is 62% Black. Detroit is 83%.

      This is a local issue.

      It’s also weird that Team Blue is so racist that they can’t be anything else.

      I don’t think this line of reasoning is correct.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

        20% of the population voting in lockstep is the Wrath of God in our political system and can be expected to be almost 100% of the population in some local areas.

        Yes, and in many places that 20%…or closer to 50%…is fact racist ‘tough on crime’ voters.

        But just focusing on minority-majority cities for a second, because that seems to be where everyone decided to look at:

        Yes, they do exist, and in those locality, a _lot_ of government have suddenly, for the first time ever, decided that they need to be responsible to the black citizenry.

        Ie., you’re right about how black Detroit is…which is why Detroit is now dismantling their police. Same with Milwaukee.

        This really highlights the fact they didn’t have representation before.

        These protests have, in many places, made what had been a demographic reality for _decades_ into a political reality.(1) BLM already were a success…it doesn’t actually matter whether the specific demands get meet or not, they’re a success in that they have changed the political window and removed the immunity and utter reverence for the police.

        We had a discussion about this sort of thing a while back…you remember Michael Brown? Not the shooting specifically, but what we learned about the place it happened: Ferguson Missouri had gone from a 99% white sundown town in the 60s, to a 67% black town that still _somehow_ had almost entirely white government with a 94% white police force and basically collected all its operating expenses via fining black residents over trivial things, heavily policing the side of town they live in?

        Yeah, that’s not something that just happened once in the US. There’s all sorts of places like that.

        It’s possible to literally have the majority and _still_ not have proper representation.(2) We often talk about, in economics, how ‘sticky’ prices and wages are, and people need to understand that governments can be extremely sticky, because governments are actually self-perpetuating entities, and people aren’t just going to leave because the voters don’t want them as much.

        1) Or, what has actually happened is that the wealthy have decided that the blatantly out-of-control police need to go, because the police utterly showed their whole ass to the entire world and embarrassed everyone. But we’re all pretending that voters actually matters.

        2) And in all this, I’ve totally ignored voter suppression and just ineligible voters in general. Baltimore may be 62% black, but that doesn’t mean that 62% of _voting age_ people are black. It could, in theory, be less than 50%! The population of the US is so skewed agewise with race that the median age of a white person is 43.5 years old, and the median age of a black person is 34.2!

        Even once we get past that, there is felon disenfranchisement and other various forms of voter suppression. Or…if they’re even citizens at all.Report

        • Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC says:

          Ferguson Missouri had gone from a 99% white sundown town in the 60s, to a 67% black town that still _somehow_ had almost entirely white government with a 94% white police force and basically collected all its operating expenses via fining black residents over trivial things, heavily policing the side of town they live in?

          How did the city gov fund itself in the 60s? I checked but couldn’t find it, however it would be amusing if it was by via fining white residents.

          Yes, and in many places that 20%…or closer to 50%…is fact racist ‘tough on crime’ voters.

          What percentage of the Black population of Detroit are you claiming are racists? More than a third? If the claim is that a third of black voters are anti-black racists, then maybe the issue isn’t really racism?

          Ie., you’re right about how black Detroit is…which is why Detroit is now dismantling their police. Same with Milwaukee. This really highlights the fact they didn’t have representation before.

          I think what you mean is “they didn’t have the policies that I think they need”.

          I think it’s a fine social experiment for Detroit (etc) to dismantle their police and see how that works out for them. Maybe things will improve. Maybe in 30 years we’ll look at this as our “pass the tough on crime bill” moment, i.e. with 30 years of hindsight the flaws in this idea will be so apparent we’ll question whether the people doing it were racists.

          This, right now, is the moment of optimism when we’re sure we know what needs to be done and we’re going to power it in. We haven’t had a moment like this since Clinton passed the crime bill.Report

  11. I really liked this post, Kristin.

    If I disagree with anything, it’s that I have a much harsher verdict against the Boston Tea Party. While it wasn’t as damaging as what’s going on now, it was, in my opinion, in the same ballpark. Even if we grant that the colonists were taxed without representation (in a way they had no representation, but in a way, they did), I’m not ready to say that justifies their vigilantism. Even the relatively minor damage the tea party caused is not, in my opinion, proportionate to the “harm” caused by the tea tax. I’m not saying people are never justified in damaging property or even killing, but I don’t believe the tea tax qualifies.

    But….that’s my own little axe to grind. Thanks for indulging me. And I realize that your main point is that even if someone is going to damage “only” property, they have to face the music. I disagree with those above who seem to believe you’re advocating for selective punishment against certain individuals.

    Again, thanks for writing this post!Report

  12. North says:

    Those left wing idiots distributed Molotov cocktails. Throw the book at em the same as if they were right wing idiots distributing Molotov cocktails.Report

  13. Jaybird says:

    Here’s one of the reasons that Freedom of Speech Bottles are not toys.


  14. George Turner says:

    Your video lacks context, or a theme, or a soundtrack..
    You’re welcomeReport

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