bookmark_borderRand Paul and the ignorant mob

In yet another example of the intolerance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Senator Rand Paul was attacked by an angry mob of over 100 people while leaving the White House after the Republican National Convention. As he and his wife were trying to make their way back to their hotel, the mob swarmed around them, screamed insults, profanities, and death threats, and physically prevented them from moving.

The Daily Caller tweeted a video of the incident.

Senator Paul also described his ordeal on Fox & Friends:

They’re attempting to push the police over to get to me, so at one point they push a policeman backwards, he stumbles and he’s trying to catch his balance and I catch the back of his flak jacket to stabilize him to make sure he’s OK because he’s our defense. If he’s down, the mob’s loose on us. I truly believe this with every fiber of my being, had they gotten at us they would have gotten us to the ground, we might not have been killed, might just have been injured by being kicked in the head, or kicked in the stomach until we were senseless… They were shouting threats to us, to kill us, to hurt us, but also threats shouting “say her name,” Breonna Taylor, and it’s like you couldn’t reason with this mob, but I’m actually the author of the Breonna Taylor law to end no-knock raids, so the irony is lost on these idiots that they’re trying to kill the person who’s actually trying to get rid of no-knock raids.

That’s right, a mob of Black Lives Matter supporters threatened and harassed the very person who has authored 22 criminal justice reforms, including abolishing no-knock raids, which led to Breonna Taylor’s death. Apparently completely ignorant of this, the mob told the libertarian-leaning Republican senator, “We’re not going to let you go alive unless you’ll say you’re for criminal justice reform.” Paul’s actions over the years demonstrate quite clearly that he is. As Paul wrote in an opinion piece for Fox News, “almost no one has said Breonna Taylor’s name as often or sincerely as I have.”

Continue reading “Rand Paul and the ignorant mob”

bookmark_borderHypocrisy and overreaction to Portland arrests

In response to aggressive and destructive protests in Portland, Oregon the federal government sent law enforcement officers from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection to restore order. “Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14,” explained Oregon Public Broadcasting. “Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off.” These federal officers have come and gone, but their actions and the response to them still merit discussion.

Those on the left-hand side of the political spectrum have predictably erupted in outrage, describing these arrests as authoritarian and unconstitutional. “It sounds more like abduction,” said Juan Chavez, director of the civil rights project at the Oregon Justice Resource Center. “It sounds like they’re kidnapping people off the streets.” Oregon Governor Kate Brown called the deployment of federal officers “a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.” Senator Jeff Merkley tweeted, “authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters.” An opinion piece by Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post proclaims, “This is not America… There is a more important symbol of justice than a brick-and-mortar building. It is called the Constitution. To ignore it is to attack America.”

If Marcus cares so much about the Constitution, where was she when governors around the country implemented executive orders requiring businesses to close and people to stay in their homes? When has she stood up for people’s Second Amendment rights, or the First Amendment rights of those who have protested against lockdown orders?

It is hypocritical that so many people who have not only failed to object to but actively cheered on blatantly authoritarian and unconstitutional policies are up in arms about the arrests of protesters associated with Antfa and the Black Lives Matter movement. The Portland arrests are not an attack on America. The protesters’ actions are an attack on America, and criticism of the federal officers who were deployed to defend people and property is off-base.

First of all, as even the Washington Post opinion piece admits, the law enforcement officers are wearing patches that say “police.” As an article by Law Enforcement Today accurately points out, “The irony is that the ‘unmarked authorities’ that Senator Merkley is complaining about… clearly have the words ‘police’ on their chest plate. That usually means they’re marked.”

More importantly, the actions of the protesters more than justify a forceful response. What has been happening in Portland is nothing short of atrocious. For weeks and months on end, mobs have been barbarically destroying both private and public property and assaulting innocent people. Night after night they have repeatedly firebombed, graffiti’d, smashed the windows of, and thrown fireworks, pipes, and rocks at a variety of courthouses and federal buildings. The damages have totaled over $23 million. Rioters have thrown ball bearings, glass bottles, cans, rocks, feces, and animal seed at police officers, deliberately shined laser pointers in officers’ eyes, and attacked them with hammers. They threw fireworks at construction workers who were attempting to repair the damage to a courthouse. Additionally, they have destroyed priceless statues and monuments. The city was forced to remove the iconic elk statue after rioters climbed on top of it, graffiti’d the phrase “oink oink” on it, set it on fire, and damaged its foundation. Previously, rioters tore down a statue of George Washington after covering it in graffiti and setting it on fire, and used ropes and an ax to tear down a statue of Thomas Jefferson. Journalist Andy Ngo has been diligently chronicling the Portland chaos minute by minute on Twitter since the beginning, documenting new acts of destruction every day.

These actions – particularly the attacks on statues and innocent construction workers – are repugnant and despicable. Anyone who has participated in these acts of vandalism and aggression needs to be severely punished. It is true that in situations involving large groups of people protesting, not every protester is involved in or even aware of the immoral actions committed by fellow protesters. For example, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting, two individuals arrested by “unmarked” officers, Conner O’Shea and Mark Pettibone, claim not to have been engaged in criminal activity. However, they did admit that they regularly attend protests. There is nothing wrong with attending protests, per se. It is protected by the First Amendment. But given the atrocious acts committed by protesters aligned with Antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement, both in Portland and around the world, anyone who chooses to participate in demonstrations supporting these causes is implicitly expressing support for the atrocious acts. In other words, even those individual protesters who have not personally destroyed statues or assaulted construction crews are standing in solidarity with those who have. Anyone who expresses support for these atrocities, whether implicitly or explicitly, is a bad person and deserves anything that he or she gets.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf had it right when he said: “Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city. Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.” As part of his statement, Wolf provided a disturbing litany of the acts of destruction carried out by protesters. In her Washington Post opinion piece, however, Ruth Marcus describes this list as “less than convincing” and disingenuously quotes the entries from one particular day as evidence for this claim. But reading the list in its entirety provides a completely different picture. How anyone could read this list of despicable actions and not find it a convincing justification for a federal crackdown is beyond me.

As Law Enforcement Today puts it, “So long as protests turn into riots, these ‘activists’ can count on getting arrested or detained.” By punishing those who have either carried out or expressed support for attacks on innocent people and property, law enforcement officers are standing up for the rights of the people of Portland. There is nothing authoritarian or unconstitutional about that.

bookmark_borderBoston restaurant owner: “What did I do to deserve this?”

Last night, as has been happening all over the country, protests against the death of George Floyd turned into rioting in my home city of Boston.

A mob of people surrounded a police car, ripped the doors off, and set it on fire. People vandalized historic churches, set trash cans on fire, tipped over large potted plants, threw bottles at journalists, smashed the windows of countless stores and restaurants, and engaged in looting and destruction all over the city.

In Downtown Crossing and the Theater District, people ransacked a Men’s Warehouse, the jewelry stores Bromfield Jewelers and Skylight Jewelers, the liquor store Wild Duck Wine and Spirits, a convenience store called Downtown Convenience, shoe stores, nail salons, a bank, a cell phone store, and a Walgreens, to give just a few examples. News coverage on NECN last night showed food from the Walgreens strewn all over the sidewalk.

Tany Gad, the owner of Lambert’s Marketplace near Boston Common, which was also vandalized and looted, described the scene: “I never saw anything like this at all in my life. Two of the glass windows were 100% broken and people went inside stealing beer, wine, and cigarettes.”

In the Back Bay, people ransacked stores such as H&M, Cartier, Ugg, Alex and Ani, Canada Goose, Allen Edmonds, Valentino, Burberry, and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as the liquor store Clarendon Wine.

In the South End, people broke into and looted Giorgiana’s Market, the restaurant Frenchie, and sneaker store Laced.

In Dorchester, people destroyed clothing stores Dareales and EbLens.

The Boston Globe summed things up:

Chris Parsons, owner of the Oyster Club restaurant at 79 Park Plaza, went to bed Sunday night hopeful his restaurant had been spared from the violence wracking downtown Boston. He woke up Monday to learn looters had thrown rocks through his windows, pilfered the bar, and destroyed the place.

Kayla Levine was watching the news when she saw the liquor store near Copley Square that her family has owned since 1940 being looted. The damage in the neighborhood, she said, reminded her of the Boston Marathon bombings.

And Driss El Mokri raced downtown Sunday night to his Cafe Bonjour on Temple Street, arriving just as looters smashed the big front window. He stayed until 3:30 a.m., to make sure that was the only damage they did.

Jason Santos, owner of restaurants Abby Lane in the Theater District and Buttermilk & Bourbon in the Back Bay, said: “They stole most of our booze behind the bar, they ripped out the cash registers, and they trashed the place. They even stole my cookbooks.”

Possibly the most poignant comments came from El Mokri of Café Bonjour, who was interviewed live on last night’s news by a NECN reporter. Asked how he felt when, at home watching footage from the restaurant’s security cameras, he saw someone throw a brick through the window, he replied, “Loss of words. Sad. Heartbroken. You feel like, what did I do to deserve this? You talk about justice. This is injustice… What did I do to deserve this? What purpose does this serve? What good does this give to anyone? Nothing… You break my property for nothing and then you feel happy about it.”

Exactly. Café Bonjour did not kill George Floyd. Trash cans and plants do not oppress anyone. None of these businesses deserve any of the harm that was perpetrated against them.

The Boston Police Department tweeted at 9:59 last night: “Those now protesting in the streets of Boston have surrendered the moral high ground.”

I could not agree more. It is incomprehensible why people would choose to deliberately inflict such destruction, particularly given that these businesses have already suffered so much as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting shutdown order.

Additional protests have been happening today and tonight, so let’s hope that no more businesses are added to the list of those vandalized.

bookmark_borderProtests, riots, and double standards

Reports of the atrocities committed by protesters turned rioters in the wake of George Floyd’s death continue to pile up:

  • In Minneapolis, where the protests began, rioters destroyed a bar that a firefighter spent his life’s savings to build. They burned down an 189-unit affordable housing development and a high-tech manufacturing company. They torched a police station and vandalized, burned, or looted nearly every single building in the surrounding shopping district. They attacked a tanker truck and beat the driver. And they  attacked a woman in a wheelchair while looting a Target.
  • Rioters in Atlanta damaged the College Football Hall of Fame and smashed windows at CNN’s headquarters.
  • In Chicago, they smashed the windows of stores, including a Macy’s and a 7-11.
  • In Denver, someone deliberately crashed their car into a police car, severely injuring 4 people.
  • In Rochester, New York, rioters beat up a shop owner who was attempting to defend her store.
  • Rioters apparently shot a man in a car in Richmond, Virginia.
  • In Philadelphia and Los Angeles, people set police cars on fire.
  • In Columbus, Ohio, they destroyed and looted the Milestone 229 restaurant.
  • People vandalized Confederate monuments at the University of Mississippi and at North Carolina’s state capitol building. They vandalized statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Jeb Stuart in Richmond, Virginia, and burned down the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They spray-painted the word “traitor” on the Confederate Defenders statue in Charleston, South Carolina. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, they vandalized a statue of General Alexander P. Stewart.
  • In Nashville, people tore down a statue of lawmaker and newspaper publisher Edward Carmack, smashed the windows of the courthouse and set it on fire, and spray-painted obscenities on sidewalks.
  • In Philadelphia, they set a statue of Mayor Frank Rizzo on fire.
  • In Dallas, they beat up a store owner and stomped on his head after he attempted to defend his business.
  • In San Antonio, Texas, they destroyed a mall and attempted to damage the Alamo, but were stopped by brave, armed citizens.
  • In Washington, D.C., rioters vandalized historic sites around the National Mall, including the World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and statue of General Casimir Pulaski. They punched and kicked Secret Service agents and threw bricks, bottles, and rocks at them, injuring 60. They also vandalized 6 Secret Service vehicles. And they attacked Fox News reporter Leland Vittert and his cameraman.
  • In Boston, people are currently setting police cars on fire, throwing bottles at journalists, and smashing the windows of various businesses including a bank, a clothing store, a shoe store, a cell phone store, a restaurant, and a Walgreens.

I could continue to add to the list, but then this blog post would be as long as a novel, and I would stay up all night working on it. Suffice it to say that the number of examples of protesters harming innocent people and their property is nearly infinite.

The only thing more infuriating than these senseless acts of destruction is the discrepancy between how the media and the general public have treated them versus how they have treated protests against authoritarian measures to stop the coronavirus.

The majority of comments that I’ve heard and read about the George Floyd protests from people in the media and on the internet have expressed praise, sympathy, and understanding. Even when it is acknowledged that harming innocent people and their property is wrong, emphasis is placed on how understandable the protesters’ anger is, how legitimate their grievances are, and how frustrated, hurt, and traumatized they are feeling. Those who criticize the acts of destruction are treated as the real problem. Additionally, not once I have I witnessed any media members comment on the lack of social distancing during these protests.

On the other hand, those who participate in protests against lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are routinely called “idiots” and “morons.” They have been suspended from their jobs and threatened with violence. Their cause – the right to privacy and freedom of movement – is mocked as petty and unimportant. People online have argued that these protesters have forfeited their right to medical services and that they should not be allowed to ride on public transportation. All of this despite the fact that, as far as I have heard and read, not a single anti-lockdown protester has harmed any people or property. And also despite the fact that the anti-lockdown protesters have the more legitimate and important cause. (This is not because George Floyd’s death wasn’t tragic and unjust – it absolutely was – but because the person who killed him has been fired, arrested, and charged, and nearly everyone agrees that his death was tragic and unjust. Stay-at-home orders, on the other hand, constitute a large-scale trampling on the rights of every single person, yet have gone not only unchallenged but actively supported by the majority of the media and the public, making it particularly important and courageous to protest against them.)

The protesters in Michigan who went to the state capitol while exercising their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms have been criticized more harshly for being “intimidating” than Black Lives Matter supporters have been for destroying buildings, vandalizing monuments, ransacking businesses, and beating and severely injuring people.

The attitude of society generally seems to be: Protesting peacefully against authoritarian government policies is selfish and irresponsible. Smashing, burning, and destroying everything in sight, however, is perfectly fine.

Did I miss a scientific discovery that being a supporter of Antifa or the Black Lives Matter movement confers immunity from the coronavirus?

bookmark_borderAdditional thoughts on Straight Pride Parade, protests, and District Attorney

The Straight Pride Parade that took place two weeks ago inspired a wide variety of reactions from politicians, judges, law enforcement officials, and others. Here is a summary of these developments and my opinions on them:

Battle between Suffolk D.A. and judge

36 people who protested against the parade were arrested for crimes such as disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and assault and battery on police officers. For 20 arrestees charged only with the first two crimes, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office attempted to drop the charges, but Boston Municipal Court Judge Richard Sinnott ordered them to be arraigned anyways. This did not please Suffolk D.A. Rachael Rollins, who successfully petitioned the Supreme Judicial Court to overturn the judge’s decision. “By compelling arraignment in every case, the judge punished the exercise of individuals’ First Amendment right to protest,” Rollins said in a statement. “At my request, prosecutors used the discretion constitutionally allocated to the executive branch to triage cases and use our resources most effectively to protect public safety… For those people now tangled in the criminal justice system for exercising their right to free speech—many of whom had no prior criminal record—I will use the legal process to remedy the judge’s overstepping of his role.”

But from what I observed at the parade, the protesters were not merely exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech. They were attempting to prevent the parade marchers, whom they vastly outnumbered, from exercising theirs. Screaming at, swearing at, taunting, and insulting people for expressing a minority viewpoint is not free speech; it is bullying. Some protesters against the parade went so far as to openly advocate violence. According to the Boston Herald, an Antifa member named Jon Crowley said that violence was the only appropriate response to the parade. “We’re covered in black so when we attack these guys we can’t be prosecuted,” Crowley said. “They are fascists, 100%. How else are you going to get them to shut up?”

News flash: you do not have a right to get people to “shut up” when you disagree with their views. That’s the whole point of the First Amendment. People who attempt to silence and bully those with unpopular views should, when their actions rise to the level of breaking the law, be prosecuted as zealously and punished as severely as the law allows. Situations like what happened at the parade are the least appropriate situation for prosecutors to consider dropping charges. Also, contrary to what D.A. Rollins implied in her statement, public safety should not be the most important priority of the D.A.’s office; justice should be. And the most important part of justice is standing up for the rights of individuals (such as the parade marchers) against those who would trample on them (such as the jeering mobs of protesters).

John Ciccone, editor of South Boston Today, expressed his thoughts in an emailed statement with which I wholeheartedly agree: “It is the opinion of this newspaper and the overwhelming majority of readers heard from on this matter that the position and action Suffolk County DA Rollins has taken is absolutely wrong. In regard to the members of the so called ANTIFA organization, DA Rollins’ actions encourages the thug like violence of that group, who routinely have denied the rights of free speech and legal and peaceful protest of those they disagree with, not only in Boston during last weekend’s incidents, but in cities all across the nation. Those members of ANTIFA should be made an example of and be prosecuted to the full extend of what the law allows and if found guilty, given the maximum penalty. The message sent out should be loud and clear that they will not be allowed to come into Suffolk County and attack civilians and members of law enforcement without paying a heavy price for those actions.”

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