New York City

Police Brutality Protests Will Change Law Enforcement and the November Election

Americans are simultaneously joining marches and hunkering down for a long, hot summer of discontent.


I live on a short section of Bleecker Street in Manhattan that is in most ways completely unrepresentative of New York City, much less America. Yet as protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd continue, and violence, looting, and vandalism spread across the country, the 500 feet traversed by my block may spell out the two most-likely futures for a country that seems close to experiencing its most violent season since 1968, when major riots seemed part of everyday life. Do you see today's protests as representing the nonviolent, righteous anger of brutalized minorities who have had enough and are now demanding an end to a murderous status quo? Or do you see them as unleashing anarchy and chaos while masquerading as social justice? How you respond to them not only says something about you but about where the country might end up.

At the west end of my block, Bleecker intersects with Lafayette Street; there sits Kith, a hip, expensive streetwear shop so popular that it used to meter guests in with a velvet-rope system like a trendy nightclub would. When the coronavirus lockdowns went into effect, clothing stores were deemed nonessential by the powers that be, so Kith locked its doors and emptied the store of all merchandise to prevent would-be thieves from breaking in. You'd walk by the windows and just see naked shelves where $300 sweatsuits and $50 knit caps once hung.

Kith, June 1.

This past Sunday, though, the owners boarded up the windows with plywood, as if a hurricane were coming (many businesses throughout the city did the same). They shouldn't have bothered. On Monday morning, I walked by the store around 7 a.m. and saw that the plywood had been peeled back in places and some of the windows smashed. Kith merchandise bags were strewn out on the street.

Kith, June 1.

The damage was just part of massive looting throughout the neighborhood. A couple of blocks away on Houston Street near Broadway, a massive Adidas store was wiped clean of virtually all of its stock, with many of its windows broken. Early on Monday morning, I even saw two latecomer looters storm out of the store with armfuls of clothing and into their car, which they'd left running on the street. Around the corner on Broadway, an NYPD vehicle used by traffic cops was completely scorched and gutted, left in the street like the carcass of an exotic beast. Storefronts had smashed windows and many had, like the Adidas store, been wiped out of all but display stands. "Dozens of suspected looters were arrested in Soho Sunday night as protests over the death of George Floyd descended into chaos," reported The New York Post.

Kith, June 2, late afternoon.

In response to the damage, on Monday, Kith's owners started building a stronger barrier around the perimeter of the store, this time using a scaffolding system and thick green panels that were about 30 feet high. By the end of today, the barrier stood even taller and more imposing, providing what one assumes is an impervious defense to whatever mayhem the night in Gotham might bring.

New York's curfew kicks in at 8 p.m. for the rest of the week, in an attempt to put an end to a couple of days of what The Daily Beast's Rachel Olding has described as "complete anarchy." Throughout the city on Sunday and Monday nights, Olding documented in her Twitter feed roving bands of mostly young people were breaking into stores and running out with all sorts of merchandise.

The response of Kith's owners is emblematic of one way of dealing with the new reality in New York: hunker down more and more, worried about chaos. The coronavirus lockdown had been stultifying, but it didn't inspire fear the way the past few nights have. The city's streets had been deserted but they were also peaceful. Now, they are still mostly vacant but the nights are also punctuated by sirens, shouts, and the sounds of breaking glass. Police helicopters patrol the sky, providing a background rumble to the darkness.

In an encouraging sign, last night was calm. There was a massive show of force by the NYPD once the curfew hit and next to no looting. "Some protesters lingered and looting appeared to lessen with an earlier curfew," reports The New York Times. If there is relative calm until the curfew expires at the end of the week, even more of the tension will dissipate.

Anxiety about looting will also fade if there are more events like the one I witnessed yesterday at the other end of my block, where Bleecker meets Bowery. Around 4:30 p.m., a large, long, loud protest march streamed by, headed uptown, with thousands of people chanting, shouting, and making noise. Police were present, restrained, and sometimes smiling, even as the protesters called out law enforcement for killing George Floyd and other misdeeds.

All told, it took about 20 minutes or more for the protesters to pass by, a testament to their number and energy. They were a mix of ages, races, and genders—a Benetton ad for social action and social justice. These probably aren't the same people doing late-night smash-and-grabs at Footlocker stores and CVS pharmacies around the city. Protest organizers seem to be increasingly vigilant about making sure to keep their distance from the more-destructive elements. The Times' account of last night includes this:

As some people banged on windows at two stores at the intersection of Vesey Street and Broadway early on, a young organizer shouted into a microphone, "Stay calm and peaceful" and "Keep it moving!"

Similar scenes played out all night. Occasionally, as at Gentlemen's Barber Spa on Church Street, an entire window would be smashed, and objects would be thrown into the street. But organizers would corral the rest of the crowd, depriving the vandals of cover.

"It's really frustrating when the protesters get mixed in with the looters," said Moses Gardner, 26. "It's really hurtful to the message. People are looking for reasons to discredit the protests."

Events in New York and across the country are not taking place in a political vacuum. The presidential election looms large over recent events, just as it has during the coronavirus lockdowns. In an in-depth conversation published here earlier today, Princeton political scientist Omar Wasow discussed his research on how protests in the 1960s influenced elite discourse, public opinion, and the presidential race in 1968, which Richard Nixon barely won in a three-way contest with Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace. When protesters were nonviolent, he found, they moved public opinion and sympathy in their direction (the effect was stronger still if law enforcement acted violently against them). When protesters acted violently, though, voters recoiled. "Violent protests likely caused a 1.5–7.9% shift among whites toward Republicans and tipped the election" to Nixon, he concludes.

Exactly how his findings map on to today's situation isn't clear. In New York at least, marches and protests are bumping up against late-night crime sprees and many observers seem willing to conflate the two, either to minimize the looting or to use it to discredit calls for police reform. In 2016, Donald Trump explicitly invoked Richard Nixon's calls for "law and order." This time, he is once again running as disciplinary figure. But he's also the incumbent, meaning that he might well be held responsible for any chaos on his watch. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden gave a speech yesterday calling out Trump as a racist authoritarian and promising swift criminal justice reforms, but his 44-year career stands as a testament to his own hysterical law-and-order bona fides. From intensifying and expanding the drug war to successfully pushing longer sentences to supporting legislation that gave local police departments access to military gear, Biden has mostly been on the side of law and order himself.

Over the coming weeks and months, we'll have a better sense of how the protests over racialized police brutality play out and how the leading presidential candidates respond. Exactly how the protesters and the police respond to one another isn't yet clear, but it may well dictate whether police reform happens and who will win the 2020 election.

NEXT: Brickbat: The Not-So-Great White North

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  1. I live on a short section of Bleecker Street in Manhattan

    I think you’re great ENB but I wouldn’t tell the Thug-ass bitter clinger Peanuts the street I lived on.

    1. Oh, hell, It’s Nick. Forget it.

      1. Don’t apologize. It’s adorable that you get a little overeager in your praise of ENB sometimes. I recall when The A.M. Links became Reason Roundup and practically every day you’d say things like Oh wow ENB have I mentioned what an absolutely fantastic job you’ve been doing!

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    2. “the street I lived on.”

      Ah you’re homeless, but you still have to register guy.

    3. I’m gonna ask again politely: please stop calling people “Peanut”. It’s very creepy coming from a pedophile.

      1. oh god he wants to fuck Charlie Brown…

        it all makes sense now

        1. You don’t want to know what he has in mind for Woodstock.

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    4. Just in time for #whiteguiltwednesday

    5. No you wouldn’t. But that is because we would turn you into the feds for posting child porn links on here. Nick does not have that worry

    6. Very rich area of NYC.

      Funny how our elite’s heartfelt acceptance and tolerance of rioting and looting increases exponentially the further they live from it.

    7. “In an encouraging sign, last night was calm. There was a massive show of force by the NYPD once the curfew hit and next to no looting.”

      Seriously this is disturbing: Those sentences are barely highschool quality essay material. How can he afford to live in NYC? Does Reason pay that well, as a non-profit? No wonder the comment section seems agitated.

  2. In 2016, Donald Trump explicitly invoked Richard Nixon’s calls for “law and order.”

    Thusly “Fat Nixon” is appropriate.

    Including his cabal of convicted campaign staff and flunkies.

    1. “Including his cabal of convicted campaign staff and flunkies.”

      Ahahahaha I would do “libertarians for process crimes!!” but we all know you’re a prog

      losing on flynn is obviously killng you lololl

    2. Even though it was Obama and his convicted staff and flunkies and peanut gallery clingers who were caught redhanded spying on opposing campaigns.

  3. roving bands of mostly young people were breaking into stores and running out with all sorts of merchandise.

    Not racist — whew! — but AGEIST!!

  4. So Trump got Kith to build the wall? Huh, just so someone else pays for; it works for me.

  5. This election season is going to be one confused mess. That article the other day about the GOP platform fitting on an index card instead of being 58 dense unreadable pages, a new Contract OnWith America; the comparisons to 1968, law and order vs looters, peaceful protesters vs violent cops, cop reform and one candidate who doesn’t really care vs one candidate who bragged about locking people up for no reason and militarizing cops, Trump’s tweets vs Biden’s senile rambling.

    Gonna be interesting.

    1. you still have shit in your teeth SQLSRY

  6. Trump will win in a landslide. Nobody likes this shit.

    1. LOL

      My major predictions always come true (#BlueWave in 2018, impeachment in 2019) and I guarantee a Biden victory in November.

      1. put some skin in the game

        make a bet

        worst case you can just lie and say you paid off like screech does

        1. What should I bet? My username so you can steal that one too?

          1. Oo, that burn is going to sizzle for a good long while.

            1. Like a nice siderack of Labrador.

            2. um if he lost it he wouldn’t be having it stolen

              it doesnt even make sense

          2. So you skeered

      2. I’m honestly curious…would you mind listing a few major successes/policy changes that resulted from this #BlueWave I keep hearing about?

        1. Endless committee hearings in the House instead of legislation
          Useless impeachment hearings in the House instead of legislation
          Weeks of delay on ’emergency’ legislation in the House (TWICE!)
          The final unmasking of the legacy media
          Packing ’emergency’ legislation with tax breaks for the ultra rich
          Advocacy of fascism without apology

        2. Well, in the true blue state of New Jersey, a major contributor to the nation’s GDP, we have an unemployment rate of 15.3%, dead old people stacked like cordwood, small businesses either STILL closed or destroyed, and a governor that acts like a slave owner.

          If those aren’t successes, what are?

        3. The lockdowns. Duh.

          Without it CORONAGEDDON.

      3. Really just kind of sounds like your major predictions only come half-true. This is a misreading of what actually occurred. Yes, there was a “blue wave” in 2018. It was a wave of MODERATE democrats. The AOC types are exceptions, and few and far between. Yes, Trump was impeached. Did you also predict he wouldn’t be removed from office? An impeachment is just a trial. That’s no big win in terms of prediction. Biden isn’t winning. I’m sorry. He isn’t. I don’t know if that means Trump will win in a landslide, but everyone is missing an extremely key piece of context in these riots: the overwhelming majority of people are sitting at home, and have not attended any protest. Polls of voters shows that most support the use of the national guard, and either 41% of 58% of voters support the use of the full military. If you’re watching your city burn down then you’ve watched your city shit all over the legitimate interests of property owners. These people aren’t going to show up for Biden. When mayor Garcetti is telling LA residents that looters aren’t as bad as murderers, even if that is objectively true, how do you think that sounds to the average apolitical American? And make no mistake, Americans are largely apolitical.

      4. OBL is a satire account. Can’t believe how many are too thick to recognize it.

    2. I notice when comparing Trump’s electoral prospects to Nixon’s victories pundits always focus on the 1968 election and not the 1972 election, which is far more relevant.

      For those who watch exclusively the MSM, are too young to remember, or attended Publik Skools, Tricky Dick bitch-slapped McGovern by nearly 20 percentage points.

      Even comparing the 1968 election to today ignores the fact that Nixon won. And both times he claimed the title of Law and Order candidate for himself.

      This lesson has not been lost on Trump. The longer this shit goes on, the more it benefits him.

      1. There were more bigots — forty years’ worth — in America during Nixon’s time.

        Nixon benefited greatly from the old-timey bigots. Trump will not get that boost because most of those bigots have been replaced by younger, better Americans who prefer reason, science, tolerance, and modernity to whatever the clingers are clinging to these days.

        1. Typical liberal providing context to the stereotype that liberals don’t read the news. My Mexican neighbor cuts his lawn in a MAGA hat. You’re extremely underestimating the effect that the media, whom has been calling everyone a bigot non-stop for a decade, has had on the voting population.

  7. Relax, Nick.

    There just aren’t enough uneducated bigots and superstitious slack-jaws left in America to position Trump for another multi-cushion trick shot at the Electoral College.

    Our electorate is evolving in predictable ways — less rural, less religious, less white, less bigoted, less backward — every day. Four years of this improvement — with a shambling economy, a botched public health performance, and a candidate who could never attract a majority of modern Americans — should be plenty of insurance against another Trump fluke.

    The bigots always fail in America. They lost (and are still losing) against the Irish, Jews, gays, Italians, Asians, Catholics, women, blacks, eastern Europeans, agnostics, Hispanics, atheists, other Asians, Muslims, other Hispanics . . . better Americans always prevail over the bigoted and backward. This latest batch of bigots is nothing special, its reliance on the charms, insights, and integrity of Donald Trump notwithstanding. They’re losers. Deplorable losers.

    1. lol why do you even bother with your low energy efforts we can tell you know that you’ve lost

      1. When have the bigots won in America over time?

        Better Americans have beaten down the bigots every time. The vestigial clingers are desperate, defensive, and disaffected, bunkered down in deplorable backwaters.

        The culture war has consequences.

        1. I rarely agree with Kirkland, but he’s right here.

          The short history of the US is: bigots lose, capitalists win.

          Libertarians should be glad about both.

        2. “ When have the bigots won in America over time?”

          That’s why the Democrat Party is so fucking dead it can’t even win rigged elections, and spends all it’s time hatching failed impeachment conspiracies; culture wars have consequences.

    2. Usually, rambling and talking more than usual are signs of nervousness. This is the longest post I’ve seen from you.

      I think it’s a tell on which way you believe the election is going to go.

    3. There just aren’t enough uneducated bigots and superstitious slack-jaws left in America to position Trump for another multi-cushion trick shot at the Electoral College.

      Trump doesn’t need to make a trick shot. The rioters and the goaltending Democrats who support them will tip the ball in for him.

      1. 50 points!!!

        1. More like 270 points—only this time he’s looking at 320 points at least.

          1. Trump will clean up in West Virginia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and every other state toward the bottom of the educational attainment rankings.

            He will be defeated by America’s modern, successful, educated communities.

            Just not enough half-educated bigots left to elect him.

            Carry on, clingers. So far as your betters permit, and that’s it.

    4. “Relax, Nick.”

      Fuck off, bigoted asshole.

    5. Good to know that there are no bigots who are “Irish, Jews, gays, Italians, Asians, Catholics, women, blacks, eastern Europeans, agnostics, Hispanics, atheists, other Asians, Muslims, other Hispanics”.

      Your handlers need to adjust your algorithm again.

    6. You are one bitter mofo.

    7. Personally I can’t wait for my betters to start running small towns.

      My small town is so full of uneducated bigots and superstitious slack-jaws that I can’t wait for my betters to take over and remedy the depressing lack of riots, random murders/carjacking/robberies/etc, bums crapping on the sidewalk, dirty needles all over the parks and last but not least, police beatdowns.

      1. And take away our guns. Those of us living in small towns hate the prospect of being able to defend ourselves against the Democrats’ constituency. We love being weak and powerless and trusting in the good intentions of violent criminals.

      2. Enjoy life in the can’t-keep-up backwaters when your betters decide to stop subsidizing the clinger states and towns.

        1. Rev. do you fart out loud in public too like you do in here with your posts? I admit, reading your typed outbursts, at times, is like hearing someone rip a really loud one in public. First you’re shocked and surprised, then you burst into laughter at the boorish buffoon who cannot control his sphincter. Keep verbally farting Artie, we can all use as much humor as we can in these crazy times.

    8. You aren’t even an American. Get a new gig comrade.

  8. In an encouraging sign, last night was calm. There was a massive show of force by the NYPD once the curfew hit and next to no looting.

    Oh, you mean the NYPD dominated the streets, and there was no ‘wilding’ wherever they were. Now golly gee…who the fuck said that?

  9. Do you see today’s protests as representing the nonviolent, righteous anger of brutalized minorities who have had enough and are now demanding an end to a murderous status quo? Or do you see them as unleashing anarchy and chaos while masquerading as social justice?

    Can’t it be both?

    Thus far, the only attempts at reforming the police have mostly come from libertarians. It’s not like either of the major parties couldn’t start addressing it RIGHT NOW, but seem to be holding the protestors hostage with promises of nebulous reforms after the elections.

    Nor have the protestors seen fit to give libertarians their due or support, if for no other reason than to move the major parties closer to reform. Indeed, there has been no demands of specific reforms the protestors would like to see, except for “racial justice”, which I am still unclear how to codify into law.

    A more cynical person might view all this as calculated moves designed to milk as much as their respective parties can get by holding each other (and the folks caught in the middle) hostage.

    And should this play out over the next coming months, another scenario is that a large chunk of the populace declares a pox on all their houses, as support for any type of reform withers away, as it is starting to do now.

    1. another scenario is that a large chunk of the populace declares a pox on all their houses

      That is the ‘just won’t happen’ scenario. I haven’t yet figured out why it hasn’t happened in the 30 or so years that every single bit of polling data says that it should happen and that it would have happened in every other timeframe in US history. But it hasn’t happened. The reverse.

      Something has changed about Americans and even though I keep speculating about what exactly that is, I can’t really figure out what it is. And every time I leave the US for an extended time and then return, the reaction has shifted meaningfully in the ‘that’s odd’ direction. So it is presumably also happening at those times when I’m here for the extended time.

      1. Well, look! The cowardly piece of lefty shit crawled out of his hole!
        Did Mommy say you’re safe today, asshole?

    2. Yes.
      I see “today’s protests as representing the nonviolent, righteous anger of brutalized minorities who have had enough and are now demanding an end to a murderous status quo”
      I see the riots “as unleashing anarchy and chaos while masquerading as social justice”
      I see Reason trying vainly to conflate the two.
      Like a certain contributor does with legal immigration and criminal border crossings.

      1. “Like a certain contributor does with legal immigration and criminal border crossings.”

        They all do that

        1. Only one has no other subject to write about – – – – – – – –

    3. “Indeed, there has been no demands of specific reforms the protestors would like to see, except for “racial justice”, which I am still unclear how to codify into law.

      I’ve seen talk of (demands for) $14T in reparations for slavery.

      1. Suppose in an orgy rivaling Caligula this happens. Works out to around $300k per head.

        That isn’t even enough to get a nice home in a gated community.

        And as soon as you walk out of said gated community, BAM! “You match the description of a suspect…”

        Doesn’t really do anything for your police problem. In fact, you will probably pay it all back to a lawyer defending you from your existing while black charge.

        But it’s good to see the grifters coming out of the woodwork. Hell, $14T might be a cheap compared to 5 months of rioting.

        1. Considering the entire thing would be funded by running the printing press, $300k won’t buy you a trailer in rural Arizona with what it will do to the dollar.

          1. Installment plan man. Average it out over the average lifespan and maybe $5000 a year? Mark it as a tax credit and you wouldn’t even need to touch the press that much.

            You know, it might not be a bad idea to call them on it. Certainly more than $14T will be spent over the lifetime of the country on various programs, and you could end at least a portion of the endless dialogue in one fell swoop.

            And if you can manage to have the Republicans sponsor it, you could generate perpetual energy from the left’s heads spinning.

            Trump might even get his head added to Mount Rushmore.

            1. And how would you propose to pay for the additional $14T in riot damage from the people that are not getting a free $5000 per year based on skin pigmentation?

      2. Just give me 40 acres of desert out west and waive building permit fees and environmental impact payoffs, sorry, studies.

    4. Their fix for police brutality is slavery reparations and free college for black Americans. It’s been repeated several times by various #BLM demand lists.

      The reason we can’t fix policing in this country is that many people protesting the police actually aren’t too interested in fixing it.

      1. You’re saying that people are willing to take free shit over justice? You can’t see me, but I’m wearing my shocked face right now.

      2. I see the free shit brigade is out in full force today.

  10. “Do you see today’s protests as representing the nonviolent, righteous anger of brutalized minorities who have had enough and are now demanding an end to a murderous status quo? Or do you see them as unleashing anarchy and chaos while masquerading as social justice?”

    Individuals do what they do for different reasons. There are no overarching reasons why individuals within a group of people do anything other than 1) because they want to and 2) because they can.

    If we analyze the motives of what I’ll call, “the swing rioter”, we would be wrong not to factor in 40 million Americans who have lost their jobs over the past nine weeks. Those Americans who are working in restaurants, working construction, or working in service industries where they can’t work from home are probably over represented among the rioters. We have never experienced so many job losses so quickly. Strip these people of their jobs, lock them in their homes for nine weeks, and surely that dramatically increases their marginal propensity to riot.

    Some people protest because of injustice directed at black people. Their frustration certainly hasn’t been fueled by public support for the cop who murdered George Floyd–I haven’t seen one public figure in any party defend the murderous behavior of that cop. That cop has been universally condemned. Ultimately, those people are protesting against their local progressive governments in our major cities who have approved contracts that shield the police from accountability–whether they realize it or not, that’s the source of their frustration.

    It’s entirely possible that people who are protesting peacefully because they’re opposed to racism might also loot a store for other reasons at night, but the reason those people are looting and the reason they’re protesting may not be the same. There are others out there who would be looting given the opportunity regardless of whether the George Floyd murder or something else had made the unemployment + lock-down dam burst. Again, for those people, there are only two reasons why they riot, 1) because they want to and 2) because they can.

    They loot retailers (higher end and otherwise) because they want the things in those stores and because their prospects of buying them just turned bleak with the unemployment picture. They can loot those retailers because the police are overwhelmed and/or are purposely letting them to get away with it in the hopes of not stoking more resentment. I understand New York City released almost all the people who’ve been arrested for rioting over the past few days?

    That last group will stop looting when they can’t loot anymore or when the consequences of looting become serious.

  11. There just aren’t enough uneducated bigots and superstitious slack-jaws left in America to position Trump for another multi-cushion trick shot at the Electoral College.

    1. Yeah, if there’s anything we can be sure of, it’s that the rest of the country wants to be exactly like New York right now.

      Are you kidding?!

      The finger-pointing is making us all dizzy at this point. Cuomo is pointing the finger at the police chief; the police chief is pointing the finger back at Cuomo; everybody is pointing the finger at de Blasio . . .

      Progressive politics is a shit-show right now, and you think this shit-show makes people want to vote against President Trump?

      You’re fuckin’ delusional.

    2. Kirkland sock or spambot? And which one is better?

      1. Considering it basically seems like a copy and paste job everytime, I’ll go with troll trying to look like a spambot. The fact that any of us ever responds to him at all anymore still baffles me. I’ve been guilty of it too, but if we just stopped feeding him, he would go away.

  12. Maybe the storekeepers should just leave the mess untouched untouched until election day. Rub it in the face of all the woke Manhattanites who elected the cretins who fail to reform the justice system or rein in their bad actor cops. How do you like your $5 million 800 square ft. condo now that you are living in NYBaghdad?

  13. “brutalized minorities who have had enough and are now demanding an end to a murderous status quo”

    I could have sworn they had enough back in the Sixties, but maybe I was wrong, maybe they had enough after Rodney King. Look around at the cities where this is happening and tell me exactly who this murderous status quo is? Then tell me what sort of viable alternative any of these brutalized minorities have to choose?

    And Nick’s characterization of this being “racialized police brutality” is mostly hogwash. Unless blue is now a race, because at least one of the cops who stood and watched while his co-worker willingly suffocated a man was himself black.

    This is about the politics of impunity. The exact same police and city government that initially tried to sweep this under the rug is the exact same crew who tried to do the same when a black cop shot and killed that Australian woman guilty of nothing more than wearing pajamas in public. But facing up to that doesn’t serve Democrat party political interests, so better to turn this into a race thing. An approach which, not only morally and factually wrong, has also proven over the last four or five decades to be effective at changing nothing.

    So Nick please do not pose like you desire change while actually doing something that is objectively ineffective. It makes you look sleazy.

    1. There are people in this thread who think that the solution to police brutality in cities run by Democratic party machines is to put a Democrat in the White House.

      It’s like a battered spouse turning on the police when they show up save her from another beating.

      The union contracts that protect the police from accountability it Chicago, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, and Seattle were all approved and overseen by city councils that are 100% filled by progressives–and have been for as long as anyone can remember. When a city council person’s job doesn’t depend on the voters (because they’ll vote for whomever the Democrats nominate anyway) but on pleasing the public employee unions that determine who gets nominated for what, then they will vote based on what pleases the public employee union rather than what’s in the best interests of the voters. Until those voters become willing to vote for some other party, nothing will change, and the city councils in these cities have been monopolized by Democrats since the 1960s.

      1. But what about the white supremacists?

      2. “There are people in this thread who think that the solution to police brutality in cities run by Democratic party machines is to put a Democrat in the White House.”

        To be sure.

        And exactly what does happen when Democrats get into the White House? They then pander to the ‘tough on crime’ crowd. Which is really about throwing resources (ie. money) at the law enforcement apparatus at the expense of both the taxpayer and eroded civil liberties. The same law enforcement apparatus who then throw some of that money back in the form of Democrat machine campaign funding. Thus further entrenching the whole sordid mess.

  14. Yes Nick, Biden has a long record that will include years of tough on crime rhetoric. But Biden can go with the times and can see things have to change. President Trump will not change. He proved that when he was elected and each day since. Trump is reliably lazy, slow and incompetent. With Biden we have a chance for change, Trump promise is four more years of no leadership. Biden not the best, but he is the best choice for now. We can argue for more in 2024.

    1. Uh, sure. If only the RIGHT PEOPLE would tell us what to do.

      1. Don’t believe old Joe Biden, the new and improved Joe Biden is soo much better.

        Past performance doesn’t mean anything in Year Zero.

    2. Yeah, 40 years is a really short record compared to 4 which included actual criminal justice reform. I’m sure he’ll get it right this time.

    3. “ But Biden can go with the times and can see things have to change”

      Maybe he should try that, then, since you claim it’s something he’s capable of.

      But then, it’s clear you mean “change” in the “corrupt/incompetent/treasonous Obama business as usual” bullshit

  15. Well, Nick, are you done with NYC exceptionalism yet? Exceptionally COVID? Exceptionally riotous? Exceptionally full of themselves?

    So your street is exceptional. Do some math: over the past week, how many streets in the US had zero riots–or were not even within shouting range of riots?

    1. If it’s not in a major city, Nick considers it flyover country.

      1. That’s OK. I consider New York to be a maximum-security penitentiary.

        1. That’s not funny, Plissken.

  16. They shouldn’t have bothered. On Monday morning, I walked by the store around 7 a.m. and saw that the plywood had been peeled back in places and some of the windows smashed.

    Frédéric Bastiat would be so ashamed of you, Gillespie.

  17. 77 year old ex -cop finally gets the justice coming to him:

    Right, Reason?

    1. More evidence of racialized police brutality.

  18. After a period of reflection, I have concluded that any Reason contributor who lives in New York City is a hypocrite; New York City allows neither free minds nor free markets.

    1. He’s fighting the power from within, can’t you tell?

      1. Actually, no, I do not see that at all.

        1. Well, ok. I really don’t either.

          But Nick wants you to believe.

    2. There is a discussion there. The chief editors live in either NYC or DC. I don’t know of any contributors who live in a rural area on significant property. Those sorts of self-reliant individuals better exhibit the libertarian mindset than commercial whores with enough wealth and easy access to resources to not do for themselves. They aren’t even credible larpers

      1. Well said.

  19. “Police Brutality Protests Will Change Law Enforcement ”

    It’s not protests, demonstrations, or candlelight vigils that will change anything, not by themselves in any case. It’s riots and insurrections. They are the language that our elites most clearly understand and are most likely to respond to. The rest of us too. Violence is the most effective catalyst for chance. It took a civil war which consumed the lives of over half a million to end slavery.

    Non violent protests are essential, of course, but unless they are leavened by a little looting, they won’t rise to the level necessary to catch the attention of our elites.

    1. Kind of makes me wonder why so many elites want restrictions on guns.


      1. The guns prevent looting. The elites like the looting because it allows the mob to terrorize anyone the elites don’t like

        1. “The guns prevent looting.”

          The guns haven’t been doing a poor job the last few days.

          “The elites like the looting ”

          You sound like a petulant man child who may be retarded. I like your style.

          1. The looting is not happening in places where the public is armed. You are profoundly stupid and wasting everyone’s time here.

            1. Looting is occurring in cities all over the USA. Petulance is a good fit for you.

      2. “Kind of makes me wonder why so many elites want restrictions on guns.”

        Yet US taxpayers seem happy to fund an arms industry of stupendous proportions.

        1. As opposed to the government funded medical industry of even more stupendous proportion?

    2. “It’s not protests……. that will change anything…….”

      “Non violent protests are essential, of course…….”

      Haha. What a doosh.

      1. Peaceful protests, demonstrations alone won’t change anything. Some violent actions are needed to get people’s attention.

        There was a movie made back in the 60s. The Battle of Algiers. It’s worth watching if you haven’t seen it, though it was written and directed by a communist of Italian nationality. One of the performers in the film was an actual leader of an Algerian group responsible for terror actions against French, the same as his role in the film.

        His comments on the role of violence in social struggles are illuminating. You might want to look into the matter.

        1. Battle for Algiers is shitty, typical Communist agitprop that argues it’s okay to bomb cafes full of innocents, but wrong for police to kill the terrorists responsible.

          Small wonder you think it’s profound.

          1. I’m sorry you didn’t like the film. You should remember that next time I make recommendations about books and films etc. But I made it very clear in my comment that the film was made by a communist of Italian nationality. You have no reason to be taken aback.

            Those responsible for the campaign of terror grew ambivalent about the use of violence. The need for violence in confronting the enemy is accepted, but at the same time it’s likened to a drug that becomes an end in itself with diminishing returns.

            Ambivalent means having simultaneously two opposing views.


  21. I’m waiting for some one on either side of the political spectrum to propose something other than things must change and we need a conversation. I’ve seen others make suggestions but they aren’t in charge.
    We need
    1. eliminate asset forfeiture
    2. eliminate police qualified immunity
    3. citizen over view of all death by police with an unbiased presenter not the district attourney who is beholden to the police
    4. minimum police education and de escalation training
    5 we may have to take their guns away but many like Floyd, guns were not use
    6. limit swat only for active shooter and hostage situations only

    If any politician came out with half of this NOW publicly and actually proceeded in congress that day. that politician would be hero and anyone left protesting would be there for other reason and they can go to hell. as it is now everything is being asked for like reparations which has nothing to do with police brutality upon all people not just people of color

    1. “an unbiased presenter”

      That is just not possible, any other government employee will inevitably have the same taint as any DA. You could try a volunteer system but that is going to simply bring in a different set of biases.

      1. A Grand Jury would be sufficient but the grand jury needs to be told that for these cases their job is to independently conduct their own investigation on if charges should be brought and not rely on the DA.

        Let them subpoena witnesses and they get unfettered access to all government records related. Felony for government officials to withhold any records (hard to prove unfortunately but it couldn’t hurt to wave the stick at them)

        Maybe let them hire a professional investigator (non-gov employee) to give advice on what to look for, and give them access to a Judge from another jurisdiction, or a lawyer for advice.

        Of course even if you do this and it leads to more charges you still have to rely on a DA not half-assing it at trial.

        1. I’d think removing detective work from the police and placing it with prosecutors would help immensely.

    2. Agreed we need a dialog to correct the abuses of government. We need take back much of the power that governments (State and Federal) (Republican and Democrat) have seized from us.

      Government is the problem and it time for the citizens to send a very clear message that hits the two major political where it hurt the most. I propose supporting the Libertarian party and make the Republicrats pay the price. Not only for President, but for every other office local or federal.

      1. Can you stop saying shit like this? “We need a dialog” is an empty, tired, and retarded platitude. It doesn’t mean anything.

  22. Incidentally Nick, these riots will change nothing because creating change was not the purpose of these riots.

    This is all an attempt to fire up the Democrat base and get them to rally around an otherwise uninspiring candidate this November.

    1. Exactly that. The Democrats are now the party that thinks it should be illegal to run a restaurant or go to a movie because of the dreaded Chinese flu but think it is totally okay to have mass protests and riots. You can’t go to work or live your life but you can riot.

      That is a platform only someone as stupid as Kirkland or Shreek could support

    2. “This is all an attempt to fire up the Democrat base and get them to rally around an otherwise uninspiring candidate this November.”

      A couple days back notorious Reason commenter Ken Shultz was telling us these riots all but guaranteed Trump’s re-election. (He’s assuming, like you, there’s going to be an election in November.)


    Funny how the people who claim to be so concerned about police brutality don’t ever seem to give a shit about cases like this

    1. The hypocrisy is insane.
      Look at David Dorn, the murdered St Louis police captain trying to prevent looting. The MSM and Reason = crickets.

        1. Oh, well.

          Never mind then, right?

  24. Pretty sure most of Trump’s deplorables agree that the cop that killed George Floyd should be held accountable, but the looting and riots will motivate them to get to the polls and vote for Trump.

    1. But they won’t hold the city’s government responsible, since they’ve Democrats.

      1. “But they won’t hold the city’s government responsible, since they’ve Democrats.”

        That’s deplorable.

    2. The age of several Supreme Court judges will motivate lots and lots of people to vote for Trump.
      The same people who do not talk to pollsters or spend half their lives on twitbook.

  25. I expect that the people who own or work in these Minneapolis businesses which were destroyed, looted or damaged by the “protesters” there aren’t going to be too crazy about voting for the Democrats who caused this.

    1. It’s a blight on inner cities and urbanites. These are all democratic strongholds. If anything it will help Republicans.

  26. In 2016, Donald Trump explicitly invoked Richard Nixon’s calls for “law and order.”

    So shameless. Lincoln, before he became President, also had a speech about law and order where he was talking about how mob rule had led to the lynchings of blacks.

    The author here thinks this is going to be about the white vote. But black business owners who have had their stores burned down by white Antifa rioters are not going to be clinging to the arms of feckless liberals unable to stop riots just because they claim to be “allies.”

    1. “Lincoln, before he became President, also had a speech about law and order where he was talking about how mob rule had led to the lynchings of blacks.”

      Are you sure? It makes no sense to lynch a slave. Lynching in the USA was a phenomena that came about after the slaves were freed, after the civil war, after Lincoln was dead.

      1. Details, all the time bugging me about details – – – – – – – – –

      2. Yes, I’m sure. I can give you a link to the speech.

        Here’s an excerpt,
        “It would be tedious, as well as useless, to recount the horrors of all of them. Those happening in the State of Mississippi, and at St. Louis, are, perhaps, the most dangerous in example and revolting to humanity. In the Mississippi case, they first commenced by hanging the regular gamblers; a set of men, certainly not following for a livelihood, a very useful, or very honest occupation; but one which, so far from being forbidden by the laws, was actually licensed by an act of the Legislature, passed but a single year before. Next, negroes, suspected of conspiring to raise an insurrection, were caught up and hanged in all parts of the State: then, white men, supposed to be leagued with the negroes; and finally, strangers, from neighboring States, going thither on business, were, in many instances subjected to the same fate. Thus went on this process of hanging, from gamblers to negroes, from negroes to white citizens, and from these to strangers; till, dead men were seen literally dangling from the boughs of trees upon every road side; and in numbers almost sufficient, to rival the native Spanish moss of the country, as a drapery of the forest.

        Turn, then, to that horror-striking scene at St. Louis. A single victim was only sacrificed there. His story is very short; and is, perhaps, the most highly tragic, if anything of its length, that has ever been witnessed in real life. A mulatto man, by the name of McIntosh, was seized in the street, dragged to the suburbs of the city, chained to a tree, and actually burned to death; and all within a single hour from the time he had been a freeman, attending to his own business, and at peace with the world.

        Such are the effects of mob law; and such as the scenes, becoming more and more frequent in this land so lately famed for love of law and order; and the stories of which, have even now grown too familiar, to attract any thing more, than an idle remark.”

        1. Clipped off the preceding paragraph which I meant to include,

          “I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth, and an insult to our intelligence, to deny. Accounts of outrages committed by mobs, form the every-day news of the times. They have pervaded the country, from New England to Louisiana;–they are neither peculiar to the eternal snows of the former, nor the burning suns of the latter;–they are not the creature of climate– neither are they confined to the slave-holding, or the non-slave- holding States. Alike, they spring up among the pleasure hunting masters of Southern slaves, and the order loving citizens of the land of steady habits.–Whatever, then, their cause may be, it is common to the whole country.”

          1. Thanks for your response. I’m surprised at the concern over mob violence and extra judicial killings. Lincoln was probably concerned for Mormon and maybe even Indian victims as much as he was for blacks.

  27. I know the fake libertarian Trump lovers want to paint group all the protesters together with the looters, but the opportunist criminal element is heavily outnumbered by peaceful protesters especially during the day. The criminals come out at night.

    See For a Wall St Journal article on this. The only people who think all the protesters are “thugs” are authoritarian wishful thinkers who are looking for an excuse to send the federal troops in.

    1. “I know the fake libertarian Trump lovers want to paint group all the protesters together with the looters”

      If you say so…

    2. They’re the same people. You can see it tv coverage as it occurs. They break curfew, eventually walk down the streets in semi retreat from police, and then one guy breaks a store window. Then the rest just streams inside as if on cue. That’s what’s happening in Riverside and LA, half the time under daylight.

      These are aimless urban youth who don’t have “stealing and destroying someone’s property is wrong” in their brain. The section not rioting basically don’t want looting to distract from the cause but won’t stand in he way of violence. Three are maybe a handful of people who actually physically try to stop looting.

      I suspect that there are latcher ons who seek the cover of protest to loot, but the line between them and others is thin. They have no respect for rule of law.

  28. Yeah, as in, voters may start to wonder why they should vote for people who put them under house arrest for no good reason and then send mobs of violent thugs to destroy their neighborhood and property.

  29. The changes will not happen for three reasons:
    1. The cops will oppose it, and they have major political sway. The cops are being abusive openly on camera, and sometimes to the camera crew itself, so they feel quite confident.
    2. Our politically polarized environment will not allow it. The Democrats will propose reforms and the Republicans will oppose them. The Republicans will make it about “standing with the police” and “don’t be soft on crime”. It will never get enough votes.
    3. There are so many Trump judges on the federal courts that they will block any measures that do get passed.

    1. There’s only one “reason” – people were involved and the reason you list . . . well, they’re silly.

      First: you and others are extrapolating evidence, proof or culture of “police brutality” from an extraordinary event. That is stupidly offensive, don’t repeat it.
      Second: we’re not in a more ‘politically polarized environment” than before, the acoustics are just louder.
      Third: I don’t know what Trump’s court picks have to do with any of this, but thank god he picked ’em

    2. The Democrats will propose reforms and the Republicans will oppose them.

      LOL. The places that need police reform the most have uniformly Democrat governments.

  30. After all the browbeating and hand wringing, the usual suspects will be condemned, Trump being the poster child. Then we’ll pair off in our chattering groups, none who were satisfied and all of us waiting for “the next time”. When the ‘next time’ occurs these steps will be repeated, but better armed to prevent ‘police brutality institutional racism this time. But it’ll happen again, and again, and again!

    Why? Not because of the boogeymen we see as the culprits but because that’s the nature of man. When the volumes turned up and the lights go out and everybody’s anonymous – and you’ve got a ‘bone to pick’, glass gets broken and fires get set. Which will be proof to the chatterers they were right the first time, it was . . .

    It’s human nature, this is who we are, really. Contrary to this party’s line, it was not “police brutality”; it was a police officer who was being brutal. That’s happened before and that will happen again, a combination of events went into the making of this movie. You can’t fault the “Germans” for what the Nazi Government did, nor do I fault the “Japanese” for the brutal interment of my father, nor can you fault “African Americans” for the rioting.

    When the credits start rolling the movie is finished, you should leave. Why? Because it doesn’t matter who the sound recording engineer was, Keanua Reeves is just a bad actor!

  31. Nick’s take is what we might expect in 2017. Right now, to say “this will affect the election and policing” misses the bigger, even deadlier picture.

    There are two outcomes to his protest – really bad, and catastrophically bad. The really bad is prolonging the economic depression by another decade and continuing erosion of the foundation of the economy. Discontent will be unabated from the same protesters as they run out of money for the nice comforts of life they turned to after a hard day of rioting.

    The catastrophically bad is all that plus another 100,000 dead from a second wave. At that point, people will be scared out of their minds to anything. A complete paralysis, and a potential “end of America” scenario.

    There’s not going to be any “peace” or “reform” from this movement. Name me one broken society with a crumbling economy where peace and reform rules the day. The LA riots did not eradicate racism or police abuse.

    The nation’s media and local government are ran by “too stupid until they’re finally dead” people you see on movies. There are no words to describe their brazen incompetence and duplicity. Georgia was literally conducting human sacrifice last month, but if covid decimates America in round two, we can’t blame the protests. No, it’s racism.

  32. “but if covid decimates America in round two, we can’t blame the protests. No, it’s racism.”

    This is excellent progress. Just this time last week comments were fulminating against China and how it was the source of America’s troubles. A few broken windows and vandalized statues and all that talk has disappeared. The end of the American empire could well be a violent time, but it’s hardly catastrophic and could force Americans to address issues closer to home.

  33. The police are tools of politicians. They are used to enforce social norms defined by the ruling party. Whether its drugs, relationships, education, or epidemics. The lesson here is that the police should protect people and property and otherwise leave us the hell alone.

  34. Here’s what’s going to happen – riots will backfire and result in MORE conservatives getting elected and MORE police militarization.

    Why? Because people have now been treated to a week of videos and pictures of thugs and liberal bugmen setting fire to private property and beating people half to death. Once folks are done changing their Facebook profile picture to a black box and tweeting #blm, they’ll forget about the cause du jour and remember how scary it was wondering if said thugs and bugmen would make it to their part of the suburbs.

    Congratulations, assholes. You’ve played yourselves.


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