Days of Rage, Days of Reconciliation

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Still image from the cell phone stream of the incredibly brave Diamond Reynolds, whose phone was tossed onto the ground after she witnessed and recorded the killing of her boyfriend Philando Castile by a frightened cop at a "routine traffic stop."

Still image from the cell phone stream of the incredibly brave Diamond Reynolds, whose phone was tossed onto the ground after she witnessed and recorded the killing of her boyfriend Philando Castile by a frightened cop at a “routine traffic stop.”

I feel terrible for the victims of the coordinated sniper attacks in Dallas — as I do for Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, this year’s other victims of police violence, and their loved ones.
 
I see no contradiction between those positions. Plenty of cops have tried to distance themselves from both the vicious thuggery that killed Sterling and the panicked prejudice that killed Castile.
 
The police of Dallas and the victims of these shootings of (mostly young male) Blacks and Latinos are often construed (usually wrongly, in my opinion) as being on “opposite sides.” It’s inevitable to compare them, so I won’t even try to avoid it. The deaths of the police are especially tragic because they were enlisted — generally, I expect, in good faith — in trying to suppress this sort of violence (and ideally the injustices that abet it.) But — and this is not said to diminish their sacrifices — they chose to put themselves in the line of fire. That’s why we call it “valor.” Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — both apparently beloved members of their communities, like Sandra Bland and Eric Garner and so many others before them — did not. They were not martyred to the cause of saving lives; they were martyred to the cause of TRYING TO LIVE A NORMAL LIFE — and having had that robbed from them because of their race.
 
Which one is more tragic? BOTH, of course! And that should be the final judgment of any such comparisons.
 
I want to give my perspective as someone who has been involved in these anti-racist, anti-police-violence, anti-war, and economic justice movements off and on for four decades, and whose life changed almost five years ago when Occupy Wall Street laid bare the stakes demanded that people like me put more time and effort into activism than into career.
 
If I thought that activists in Black Lives Matters had anything to do with the massacre in Dallas — and I don’t, for even a moment — I would tell them that these actions have doomed countless more young persons of color to early graves, because this event will haunt even the best officers in their future interactions with innocent people whom they encounter.
 
I would tell them that, even if they thought that vengeance or deterrence was somehow appropriate, they had killed the wrong people — or AT BEST those who they had no way of knowing were part of the problem. That they had killed people protecting their right to protest. That they had hurt their own cause.
 
But, of course, there’s no need for me to do. This did not come from Black Lives Matter or, I’d think, anyone even sympathetic to their cause.
 
This highly organized paramilitary attack came from people who wanted to stir up hatred between such protesters and the police — as well as between the supporters of both. This is white supremacist Charles Manson trying to fuel the fire of a race war again.
 
What passes for violence on the part of anti-racist, anti-police-violence, anti-war, and economic justice protesters in the U.S. is nothing like this. It’s not even THE FANTASY of those groups. Rather, the so-called “violence” is usually passive resistance, violating noise ordinances, illegal (unpermitted) marches, or daring the police to arrest us with THE FANTASY that such injustice will awaken those around us and bring them to our cause. In some cases, over the objection of most of those in such movements (myself included), it will include (usually minor) property damage, or at most ineffectual rock throwing; when our non-police counterparts — Neo-Nazis, KKK — are present, some extreme (and usually fringe) people will try to prove their mettle with person-to-person fighting.
 
NOTHING like this. NOTHING so commando-level organized, so murderously violent, so … cowardly. No wonder protesters in Dallas have been reported to be both terrified and revulsed by these violent events.
 
This was the work of people who wanted to fan the flames of hatred between police and the dispossessed, who wanted to add a sour tinge at the margin of every future image of peaceful anti-racist protest by suggesting that a ticking time bomb might go off at any moment. This is an act of terrorism aimed at conciliators on all sides,
 
The only proper response to such terrorism, beyond the paying of respects, is to be moved emotionally — but not physically. Our hearts go out to the victims; our feet go out to the streets.
 
In my case, that will mean an anti-police-violence rally at Anaheim City Hall at 4:00 on Sunday. I do not, not by a long shot, have time to go. And yet my country — the good prevalent within it and the bad that would destroy that good — call me to be there. I hope that you’ll show your your rejection of both violence and counter-violence at whatever similar protest and commemoration. It will probably look a lot like what that rally in Dallas did, before vicious and violent forces upended it. But yours and mine will probably end far better. And not only justice, but also patriotism, demand that we come out this weekend and say no to violence of all kinds. NO!


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)