The “Non-Violent Protest” Lie


The leaders and participants in the protests related to incidents of excessive police force and violence—real, imagined, manufactured or equivocal—are creating an environment of racial distrust, fear and hate that cannot avoid  resulting in violence. Yet astoundingly, they not only deny the natural consequences of their words and rhetoric but feign indignation (and racism, of course) when the effort, long underway with the assistance of such accomplices as Eric Holder, Barack Obama and Bill De Blasio, is properly condemned as the dangerous and reckless attack on society that it is.

I am not sure which amazes me more: that demagogues like Al Sharpton would have the audacity to proclaim that his organized campaign of hate against police, accusing them of being both racist executioners and the embodiment of a racist justice system, or the caliber of pundits who have rushed to Sharpton’s defense. How can this be? African-Americans are told, for years now, that whites with guns are hunting them; that police are determined to kill them, that the justice system is rigged to let the carnage continue. The carriers of this message includes members of Congress, celebrities, civil rights activists, the Attorney General and the President of the United States. False accounts that support this gross characterization of  disparate incidents, each with unique circumstances, are turned into rallying cries, such as “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!”  The left-biased media openly endorses the narrative, which says that black Americans are being hunted coast-to-coastby an armed force, determined to kill their children.

But the protest is “non-violent.”

This is massive deceit. OK, the protests aren’t directly killing anyone. The message of the protests, however, if it is believed and trusted, tells a large portion of American society that their lives are in danger from whites, especially those wearing blue uniforms. This is a call to violent resistance and aggressive self-defense. If I am called by someone I trust and told that a group is planning on killing my children, and that the system is rigged so that the murderers know they will not be held to account, I’m not going to just sit and wait for the worst to happen.  I don’t expect any black fathers to react any differently.

Here is an example of the dishonestly of the self-proclaimed “non-violent” protesters. Ijeoma Oluo is a feminist activist and Twitter addict who gives lip service to the “non-violent protest” sham. Then she tweets out messages like these, gathered approvingly by Alas!, the leftist blog:

Don’t play in the park with toy guns and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t ask for help after a car accident and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t wear a hoodie and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t cosplay with a toy sword and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t shop at Walmart and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t take the BART and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t ride your bike and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t reach for your cell phone and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t go to your friend’s birthday party and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t sit on your front stoop and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t “startle” them and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t “look around suspiciously” and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t walk on a bridge with your family and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t play “cops and robbers” with your buddiesand maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t work in a warehouse repairing instruments and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t stand in your grandma’s bathroom and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t pray with your daughters in public and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t go to your bachelor party and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t have an ex boyfriend who might be a suspect and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t call for medical help for your sister and maybe they won’t kill her.
Don’t hang out in the park with your friends and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t get a flat tire and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t park in a fire lane and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t reach for your wallet and maybe they won’t kill you.
Don’t let your medical alert device go off and maybe they won’t kill you.

“This is the context,” continues blogger “Myca.”  “And every fucking time it happens, white people pop up to explain why it’s fine, it’s okay, none of that is important and black people have nothing to complain about. Don’t comment if you can’t handle not being a jerk about this. You’re discussing people’s lives and deaths. Show some respect.”

That’s the context, all right: factually complex incidents, all gathered, presented and characterized to make the case that cops are hunting unarmed blacks. The links are actually valuable, though Myca and Oluo must assume that few will check them as they show how dishonest her descriptions are. I checked the stories, many of which I hadn’t heard about. All are tragedies. Many involve facts legitimately in doubt. Many involve attempted police cover-ups or lies to investigators; many of these also involve incidents where the police may not have been at fault, but were trying to build a record that didn’t place them in range of the Sharptons and the Oluos. In some cases there were indictments, prosecutions and convictions; in some where there weren’t, there were million dollar settlements paid by the police. Some of the incidents involved bad cops, some inexperienced cops, and some involved dutiful and competent cops trying to cope the best they could with difficult and stressful law enforcement situations. In many of the cases, the victims made stupid, terrible, provocative choices that unnecessarily placed them in harm’s way—like Michael Brown. Some were undoubtedly accidents. Few of the incidents appear to have had any racial element other than the colors of the officers and the victims.

Nonetheless, Ijeoma Oluo describes them all as if objectively innocent conduct is likely to get any black American shot by “them”—that monolithic group of killer racists  called “police officers.” That’s also the “context”:  It’s “them” versus “us,” black America! They shoot you for all these harmless things, because they are just lying in wait for an excuse to kill you or your kids. What are you going to do about it?

Tell me that’s not an incitement to violence.

Oluo’s descriptions are almost entirely misleading, and designed to create fear, even panic

John Crawford, for example, was not just “shopping at Walmart” when he was shot and killed by police. He was walking down the aisles holding an air rifle, which prompted a police call, and may have been unable to hear an order to drop the gun because he may have been listening to music. He should not have been shot, but “walking around holding what looks like a gun while being oblivious to what’s going on around you” is a long way from “shopping at Walmart.” Why does Oluo characterize the incident like that, and why does Alas! endorse the false description? They want people to think, “Hey! I shop at Walmart! That could have been me!”

Oscar Grant was the victim of a homicide, and the police officer responsible was tried, sentenced, and jailed, though he may have been guilty of far worse than involuntary manslaughter. Grant’s death did not come as the result of his merely “taking the Bart.”  He was duly arrested while engaging in a fight in the subway station, and resisted arrest. The officer still should not have shot him, but he was not just a random transit user, either.

What about the outrage of a black man shot for “praying with his daughters in public”? Here’s the somewhat more complicated facts of that incident:

[The shooting of 31-year-old Manuel Loggins Jr., a married father of three] occurred before dawn on Feb. 7, 2012, in the parking lot of San Clemente High School.Loggins was at the wheel of his GMC Yukon with two of his daughters inside when he crashed through a school gate about 4:40 a.m., authorities said. Deputy Darren Sandberg, a 15-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department and a former Marine, heard the crash and drove up to investigate, according to records. Loggins left his daughters, aged 14 and 9, in the SUV and walked to the athletic field carrying a Bible. When Loggins returned to the SUV, Sandberg ordered him to stop and show his hands, but he ignored the deputy…”Give me my kids back,” Loggins said, according to authorities. After Loggins climbed back into the SUV, Sandberg shot him three times through the window. Authorities said Loggins’ family was on a religious fast, that he was off his medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and that he had been on the field the day before yelling, “Get away, Satan!”

He shouldn’t have died. However, describing Loggins as being shot while harmlessly “praying with his daughters” is intentionally misleading and inflammatory.

Falsely sowing hate and fear in a community that is already distrustful is not non-violent protest. It is a clever, effective, cynical and constitutionally protected way to falsely shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, but the theater is the African American community, and “Fire!” is “The police are out to kill your kids, and whites don’t care!!!”

Real non-violent protest doesn’t encourage violence. Let the protesters honestly deal with the complexities of community relationships, institutional racism, the realities and dangers of police work, and the need to balance public safety with civil right, and participate in developing policies and measure that acknowledge the difficult balancing required. Using lies and deceit  to convince African Americans that police are looking for excuses to murder them is heinous, however, and those using this strategy are accountable for the deaths that result.

Related: An excellent overview of the issues here by Heather McDonald


Source: Alas!



23 thoughts on “The “Non-Violent Protest” Lie

  1. Could we give “media bias” a rest? When I was a reporter I worked hard to get as much information as I could to give readers what I considered to be the fullest, most accurate account possible under time constraints. If new facts came up, I would try to correct the record. I think most reporters work the same way. Broadcast news people have to work within very narrow time windows to investigate and report; sometimes they compress their reports by using words or phrases their listeners will interpret in different ways. The working stiff does NOT insert intentional bias into a report because he or she is working from a specific point of view. A reporter can justly be criticized for omitting facts–I was, but I did not leave out what I thought would was relevant to a reader’s understanding, no matter how I felt about it.
    Please remember that the first foggy accounts of many events are often corrected by members of the same media doing additional investigating. The media probably would be appreciated more by saying something like “Folks, we don’t have all the facts but this is what we have learned/been told so far; we will give you a more complete report as soon as we have it.”
    You can tell you are going to get a sloppy report when you learn that the media are interviewing each other. It means somebody is not doing enough digging.
    It’s also foolish to attribute to bias or venality what is most likely the product of ignorance or plain incompetence. And I agree, Al Sharpton should be corked. So should Rush Limbaugh.

    • Since a complete breakdown in journalism objectivity and competence is a substantial threat to an informed citizenry and thus democracy itself, no, we can’t give it a rest. I’ve documented a fraction of the blatant bias, and that small portion is shocking and inexcusable. You’ve outlined the way the profession should work: it doesn’t. Too many narrow, entitled, not all that bright partisan ideologues trying to abuse their role and manipulate public opinion and policy. Go ahead, tell me that the decision of four major news sources to ignore the developing Jonathan Gruber revelations was fair and objective journalism. Tell me how the NYT effort to make excuses for Obama’s fraudulent and calculated lie about Obamacare was unbiased journalism, rather than pro-government cover. That’s two random examples out of thousands.

      And making the false equivalency between Limbaugh and Sharpton means you are either biased yourself or seriously confused. Limbaugh is a radio pundit/entertainer, and that’s all he is. He does not organize protests, or accuse lawyers of rape, or run for President, or advise the administration while posing as a broadcast journalist at the same time. Sharpton works for racial division, and should be nowhere near the levers of power. He is conflicted, reporting on events that he uses to raise funds. None of this applies to Limbaugh. Neither should be “corked.”

  2. Reuters interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.

    The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them.

    Being fair, none had been shot. Of course, those who had couldn’t be intervewed.

    An off-duty rookie cop chasing a suspected car thief in East Harlem with his gun drawn was shot and killed Thursday night when an officer mistook him for a criminal.

    “Police! Stop! Drop it!” cops from the 25th Precinct shouted at Omar Edwards, 25.

    As he started to turn toward him – the gun still in his hand – an officer opened fire, sources said


    • Without testimony from the cops who stopped these men, nothing can be presumed from their accounts. Is race a legitimate factor in assessing whether a black man is reasonably involved in a potential crime? When a group perpetrates a statistically higher percentage of crimes, yes—but the policy issue (harm to community relations and trust, over-reach, harassment of innocent citizens, creation of situations and confrontations that may lead to accidents and mistakes with deadly results) may mandate avoiding the tactic. Since the crimes prevented by profiling overwhelmingly protect black citizens, let the black community clearly state that they are willing to endure the crimes and predations of black criminals rather than endure abuses relating to profiling. They cannot have it both ways.

      • I think their view on racial profiling is similar to that of yours on torture: not worth the cost. And it’s worth noting that the effects of strong profiling are overstated: (the article’s title’s misleading though; it’s more “racial profiling only works if your initial assumptions are numerically accurate, and you use very precise square-root sampling (if group A is 100 times more likely to commit crimes than group B, you should check them out only 10 times more often).” And I suspect your average beat cop is not carrying a database in their head to check and calculate all that.

          • When it comes to racial profiling, one must consider the action taken in conjunction to the profiling. for example, racial profiling should not be used as a basis for issuing a warrant to search one’s home, or to deny an application for a concealed carry permit. But what about a mere stop and frisk?

            • Of course, it depends on what you mean by a stop-and-frisk; for the person being frisked, it can often feel nearly as invasive as a warrantless search, particularly if the cop doing the frisking is overly aggressive from the get-go, and doesn’t even bother to explain himself beforehand. It also doesn’t help that 80-90% of stop-and-frisks end with the friskee being found innocent (and that the “hit” rates for blacks being frisked in New York is actually lower than that for whites, though there are probably some more understandable reasons for that particular statistic as well, since it’s not divided by neighborhood).

              If a moderated version of such a policy is still worth pursuing though, I suspect there are ways of pulling it off that don’t involve slamming people against walls and immediately sorting to yelling at them (in exchange, people being searched should not deliberately escalate the situation, but simply be ready to potentially file a complaint later, assuming that an effective auditing system is in place). Untampered body cameras, if nothing else, will help in compiling useful statistics on the issue and catching outright abuses of power.

          • I know you hate consequentialism, but by the results; if a cop is continually getting false positives, well beyond even what his/her peers are getting, there’s probably an issue of judgement there, if nothing else.

  3. A good article on the issue – but one-sided and with at least one factual error.

    We have heard a lot lately about tensions between the police and the communities that they serve, and the urgent need to reduce them. Here’s an easy first step: Stop lying about the cops.

    The “national conversation” about race and policing we’ve been having ever since Michael Brown was shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., last summer has been based on lies.

    The lie that Officer Wilson shot Brown while he had his hands up and was pleading “Don’t shoot.”

    The lie that New York City policemen targeted Eric Garner for a violent arrest because he was black.

    The lie, peddled especially by the progressive prince of New York City, Mayor de Blasio, that the police are racist.

    These are the lies that fuel hatred for the police, because if the police routinely execute black men in cold blood and serve a thoroughly racist system, they deserve to be hated.

    No-one of goodwill could come to the conclusion that NYPD cops go around deliberately looking for Blacks to execute. But that’s a bit of a strawman.

    What apparently is the case are two separate issues.

    1) NYPD police are trigger-happy. They have the perception that they’re at war, and no measure is forbidden if they are in fear of their lives – which they are, all the time. Afraid? Shoot first. Better a hundred innocents die by police bullets than that they themselves be killed. Race has nothing to do with it.

    2) The perception is that if police confront a suspect who may be armed, then if the suspect is white, they say “drop the weapon” then after a short interval, shoot. If the suspect is black. they say “drop the weapon” milliseconds before or after shooting.

    I don’t think this is due to racism. I think it’s due to the perception – one apparently grounded in fact – that blacks are over-represented in the categories “thug”, “gangster”, “dangerous lowlife” etc.

    • 1) I don’t see a factual error.
      2) There is no evidence that police shoot at blacks under any different circumstances than whites. It’s just that the critics don’t cite the white shootings, because it muddles the lie.
      3) If the “other side” is that fear-mongering and representing cop shootings as if there are cop executions of innocent bystanders going on routinely, then that other side isn’t worth presenting. What is it that you feel “the other side” is in this matter? Eric Garner wasn’t shot. Wilson wasn’t firing prematurely, as far as we know (and he wasn’t NYPD). I don’t think a cop who fires when a suspect reached into his pocket has to wait to see if it’s a gun or a lighter, either. Where’s the proof of chronic trigger-happiness? What I see is a lot of people who battle keyboards all day presuming what its like having to deal with people who might kill you, and now, a sub-culture that is being taught to think the police are trying to kill THEM.

      • I understand that there are a lot of potential risks to being a cop, but it’s like being president; the very powers and responsibilities of the job means that we should apply a high standard of evaluation to cops who do screw up (not by lowering the standards of evidence needed in a courtroom, but by making sure that incompetence, etc., even if legally permissible, is not professionally tolerated), and continually scrutinize police policies. Granted, a lot of the protesting is diverting discussion towards less productive ends, but I’m still holding out on the (vain) hope that legitimate concerns can still be aired and addressed without being lumped (by any side of the debate) into the same category as the “George Zimmerman hates black kids” claims. True, there will probably always be accidents and understandably wrong judgement calls, but the key question remains; what exactly should be the ideal boundaries that local law enforcement officers should operate within (and how should they be audited)? Besides, I’d prefer giving the Chinese and Russian state-run media fewer incidents to hypocritically crow over.

        • I think we have to live with a wide margin of leeway to police, and that anything short of clear brutality, bias and intentional harm should be called in the cop’s favor. Otherwise nobody sane will want the job, and police will be more worried about liability and anti-cop campaigns than protecting the public. Now we’re getting criticism of police shooting perps who point guns on them, because of Johnson-style witnesses (“Gun? What gun?”) and the fever pitch of anti-cop distrust.

            • Maybe a buddy system; human cop makes the judgement calls, robo-cop records and reports the incidents as they really happened, and reminds human cop of his legal and ethical boundaries.

          • I suppose what would help is if people feel that the leeway is consistent and primarily applies to genuinely unclear situations that don’t even have the benefit of video, post-facto investigations are independent of and not being successfully obstructed by the actual police departments in question, and that internal whistleblowers have at least some protection from their colleagues (and some mechanism by which they can get their complaints addressed). Of course, this is harder to do than said in a country of 300+ million people, with a bunch of relatively independent police departments and courts. But with it in place, I think it’ll be easier for people to get their minds to treat each case with the individual care it needs, as opposed to slotting it into a pre-ordained narrative.

            P.S. I suppose some of my suspicion comes from the fact that “safety/prosperity over freedom/rights” is a pretty Soviet message to give, and so I’m wary about giving law enforcement too much leeway, especially in a First World country which already has relatively low crime rates by international standards.

      • Factual Error

        This is the line of reasoning that leads to protesters chanting: “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now.”

        A Fox affiliate admitted to editing the tape on this one.

        I don’t think a cop who fires when a suspect reached into his pocket has to wait to see if it’s a gun or a lighter, either.

        That may be the crux of the problem. That if a police officer sees what might be a gun – or a phone, or a Wii controller, or a shadow, or a trick of the light – is he justified in firing immediately and without notice, even in an open-carry state?

        I say emphatically not. I suspect you differ.

        There have been many complainants, armed and unarmed, who have not cleared the area after calling 911, and so ending up shot by police. It’s a risky business, calling the cops. If you appear that you might be a perp, by wearing similar clothes, being of similar height, or behaving in a suspicious manner, say by being black – then you’re at risk.,

        A San Diego County Sheriff’s deputy wounded an East County homeowner Sunday night while searching for a prowler, homicide detectives said. The shooting happened in the back yard of a home in the 200 block of Via Tapia in the unincorporated La Presa area between Spring Valley and Lemon Grove.Deputies began searching the area. At some point, one of them shot the woman living on Via Tapia in the arm as he was looking for the prowler in her back yard. The woman did not have a weapon.

        You also leave yourself open to suit.

        • The problem is that both sides have good arguments.
          A lot off bad faith has been shown on both sides too.

          We need to be very, very careful not to ,misrepresent the arguments of those of good faith with different views, not to strawman them. I’ve tried hard not to do this, but would appreciate correction if/when I got things wrong.

          While I’ve felt compelled to justify my opinions with examples, the point is that such examples can always be found. The question is, are they outliers,or is there a systemic problem? Is my attempt at rigour giving a misleading impression, am I being dishonest, lying by telling only a partial truth?

          My impression is that they are of signature significance: that when you look at the numbers, say, of NYPD police killed by violence in the line of duty (803 total IIRC over more than a century), compared to the number of innocents injured by them, that there is genuinely an issue here.

          I’ll be darned if I can prove it though. Both sides seem to be doing considerable handwaving, fighting anecdote with anecdote, when we really should be looking at objective numbers. Getting those numbers is hard though.

        • Not a factual error. That chant turned up in New York. The Fox tape of a different protest was misinterpreted: that’s been used to claim that there were no dead cop chants. There were. Are you confirmation biasing here, Zoe? Charlie Rangel made the same mistake.

          You’re referring to the Baltimore Fox affiliate taking “killer cops” in a DC demonstration for “kill-a-cop.” That was retracted, but the “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now” happened, and in New York.

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