bookmark_borderHate crime charges for painting over Black Lives Matter mural

A California couple have been charged with a hate crime after painting over a Black Lives Matter mural that had been painted on the street. Nicole Anderson and David Nelson could face up to a year in jail.

The police department in Martinez, CA, said in a statement: “The community spent a considerable amount of time putting the mural together only to have it painted over in a hateful and senseless manner.”

When one considers the brutal series of assaults against statues that have taken place over the past weeks and months, which have largely gone unpunished, it is ridiculous that Anderson and Nelson are being punished this severely.

First of all, the motivation for painting over the mural does not rise to the level of a hate crime. In a video of the incident, Nelson allegedly said, “There is no racism. It’s a leftist lie… We’re sick of this narrative, that’s what’s wrong. The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism. It’s a lie.” Neither he nor Anderson ever voiced any racist sentiments. Neither of them made any negative generalizations about anyone based on their race. They simply think that racism does not exist to the extent that the Black Lives Matter movement claims it does, which is a very reasonable opinion that I happen to agree with. Disagreeing with the message of the Black Lives Matter movement should not be considered a hate crime.

Additionally, I would not describe painting over the mural as either hateful or senseless, as the police department does. Disagreeing with a message is not hateful; it is simply disagreement. Nor was painting over the mural senseless; Nelson clearly explains the reasoning behind this action in the video.

You know what is both hateful and senseless? The wave of violence against statues that has swept over the country. It was hateful and senseless when someone beheaded the beautiful statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston. It was hateful and senseless when someone tore down the statue of St. Junipero Serra in San Francisco, California, set it on fire, and struck it with a sledgehammer. It was hateful and senseless when someone tore down and hanged a statue of a Confederate soldier in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was hateful and senseless when a mob tore down, urinated on, and sprayed graffiti on a statue of Confederate General Williams Carter Wickham in Richmond, Virginia. It is hateful and senseless that the magnificent Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond continues to be graffiti’d with Black Lives Matter slogans every day. I could go on and on; the list of statues that have recently been dismembered, set on fire, destroyed, and/or defaced is nearly endless.

Think of the immense amounts of time, effort, dedication, and talent that sculptors put into these statues. Yet none of the people responsible for any of these acts of vandalism have been arrested, charged, fined, or punished in any way. These barbarians all need to be held accountable for their disgraceful actions before anyone even thinks about punishing someone for painting over a Black Lives Matter mural on the street.

bookmark_borderFour people charged with attack on Andrew Jackson statue

On Saturday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced that four people were charged with attempting to destroy the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square.

Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia allegedly attempted to pry the statue off its base with a wooden board and to pull it down with a yellow strap.

Connor Matthew Judd, 20, of Washington, D.C allegedly attempted to pull down the statue.

Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland, allegedly attached a rope to the statue and attempted to pull it down.

Graham, Lloyd, 37, of Maine allegedly attempted to pull the statue down with ropes and broke off and destroyed the wheels of cannons at the base of the statue.

Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin said: “The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will not stand idly by and allow our national monuments to be vandalized and destroyed. This Office remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the sacred First Amendment right of individuals to peacefully protest, but these charges should serve as a warning to those who choose to desecrate the statues and monuments that adorn our nation’s capital: your violent behavior and criminal conduct will not be tolerated.”

And Acting Chief of the U.S. Park Police Gregory T. Monahan said: “Members of the United States Park Police are working tirelessly to provide quality law enforcement, safeguard lives, protect our national treasures and symbols of democracy, and preserve the natural and cultural resources entrusted to its service. We are committed to ensuring that citizens are able to freely exercise their constitutional rights in a safe and peaceful manner. The deplorable acts of violence and destruction of property are unacceptable and will continue to be pursued through ongoing collaborative investigations and enforcement efforts.”

Right on! I am heartened that something is being done to punish these disgusting attacks on statues that have been occurring with disturbing frequency. Looking at pictures of mobs trying to destroy the Andrew Jackson statue – such as the one accompanying this article or this article – makes me sick. The statue is magnificent and beautiful. How could someone look at it and want to tear it down? How could someone prefer a world without this statue and other patriotic works of art? The destructive actions of these four individuals, as well as those of countless others over the past few weeks, are morally wrong and incomprehensible. Anyone who intentionally damages a statue in any way, or attempts to damage a statue, or cheers, supports, or encourages the damaging of a statue, deserves to be severely punished.

Now that President Trump has signed an executive order calling for vandalism against statues to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, I hope that more people will be arrested on similar charges for the barbaric acts that have taken place over the past few weeks. Trump’s executive order, issued on Friday, instructs the Department of Justice to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of acts of destruction against statues, memorials, monuments, government property, and religious artwork. The Veterans’ Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003 authorizes sentences of 10 years in prison for these types of vandalism.

In the order, Trump also announced his intent “to withhold Federal support from State and local law enforcement agencies that have failed to protect public monuments, memorials, and statues from destruction or vandalism. Unwillingness to enforce State and local laws in the face of attacks on our history, whether because of sympathy for the extremists behind this violence or some other improper reason, casts doubt on the management of these law enforcement agencies. These law enforcement agencies are not appropriate candidates for limited Federal funds that support State and local police.”

This is a great idea that will hopefully result in more police departments doing their jobs instead of allowing statues to be destroyed.

bookmark_borderStatue of Confederate soldier hanged in North Carolina

In an absolutely disgusting act of bigotry and hatred, a mob of excuses for human beings in Raleigh, North Carolina tore down statues of Confederate soldiers from atop an obelisk and hanged one of the soldiers from a light post.

According to the Associated Press:

Protesters in North Carolina’s capital pulled down parts of a Confederate monument Friday night and hanged one of the toppled statues from a light post.

Demonstrators used a strap to pull down two statues of Confederate soldiers that were part of a larger obelisk near the state capitol in downtown Raleigh, news outlets reported.

Police officers earlier in the evening had foiled the protesters’ previous attempt to use ropes to topple the statues. But after the officers cleared the area, protesters mounted the obelisk and were able to take down the statues.

They then dragged the statues down a street and used a rope to hang one of the figures by its neck from a light post. The other statue was dragged to the Wake County courthouse, according to the News & Observer.

Out of all of the despicable acts of destruction that have taken place over the last few weeks, hanging a statue is the worst yet. Every person (and I hesitate to even use that term) who participated in or applauded this horrific act should be hunted down, caught, and jailed for the rest of his or her life. Then, he or she should burn in hell for all eternity.

There are no words to fully convey the moral wrongness of what was done to this statue. There is no justifiable reason for someone to have such anger, rage, and hatred towards a statue. The statue did not hurt anyone. The statue did not do anything wrong to deserve this. The artist(s) who designed and built this statue did not deserve to have their work destroyed in this manner.

Apparently, someone decided that in order to make a statement against acts of violence that have been perpetrated against African-Americans, it would be a good idea to “lynch” a statue representing the Confederacy. No idea could possibly be worse. The statue that was so cruelly destroyed represents the soldiers who fought bravely for the South’s independence, despite being outnumbered and outgunned. It represents the Confederate States of America, a country that existed from 1861-1865 before being crushed by the more populous and industrialized North. I would go so far as to say that the statue represents resistance to government authority; in other words, freedom.

By pulling down and hanging statues of Confederate soldiers, these excuses for human beings are stomping on the underdog. They are trampling on the idea of freedom, the idea of rebellion, and the idea of resistance to authority. It is bad enough that the authoritarian federal government brutally and barbarically crushed the South’s attempt to secede and form their own country. But apparently that was not enough because now, in the year 2020, mobs feel a need to brutally and barbarically destroy statues representing that rebellion as well. The fact that the brave, honorable, losing side of a war is not even allowed to be honored with a statue or monument is beyond absurd. The fact that those who sympathize with the winning side of a war would have such rage towards the side that they unjustly defeated is incomprehensible. What was done to this statue is the ultimate act of bullying and intolerance.

Every living thing (“person” is too kind a term) who participated in or contributed to this destruction is a bigot and a bully who should not be allowed to exist on Earth. I condemn this act in the harshest possible terms.  

bookmark_borderChristopher Columbus statue destroyed in despicable act of bigotry

P6300014a.jpg

In a despicable and disgraceful act of bigotry, someone beheaded the statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston.

Every time I hear about a statue of a historical figure being vandalized, torn down, or otherwise damaged, my blood boils and my soul aches. I love history and I love statues. I believe that a historical figure does not need to be perfect to deserve having a statue in his or her honor. I believe that it is important for a nation to have a wide variety of statues representing a range of different ideologies and viewpoints. I believe that destroying a statue is one of the most morally repugnant actions a person could do. But this one really hits home. To me, this statue is not just any statue. It is a statue that I know well and have a particular affinity for.

This statue stood in Christopher Columbus Park, on the edge of the North End, the Italian neighborhood of Boston. My office is near the statue, and before the Covid-19 apocalypse hit, I walked by it nearly every day during my lunch-time walk. Christopher Columbus Park is beautiful. It has an elegant trellis, colorful flowers of various kinds, and a view of Boston Harbor. The statue has always been the focal point, overlooking the grass, flowers, and water from his pedestal in the center of the park. The fact that someone could see this statue and decide that it would be a good idea to rip his head off is completely incomprehensible and disgusting.

Additionally, I find this act of destruction to be particularly reprehensible because I am half Italian-American. Christopher Columbus was not perfect. But he is a symbol of Italian-American pride. It is no coincidence that his statue stands at the entrance to the North End, welcoming Bostonians and visitors to the Italian part of Boston. The destruction of the Christopher Columbus statue is an act of hate against Italian-Americans. I consider it to be an attack on me personally, as well as all who share my ethnicity.

In his comments today, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh failed to take a strong enough stance against this act of destruction and bigotry. “We don’t condone any vandalism here in the city of Boston, and that needs to stop,” he said. Walsh mentioned that the Columbus statue has been vandalized twice before in 2006 and 2015. He also added, “Given the conversations that we’re certainly having right now in our city of Boston and throughout the country, we’re also going to take time to assess the historic meaning of the statue.”

In other words, because the statue has been repeatedly targeted by vandals, he is considering getting rid of it permanently. This somewhat contradicts his statement that he does not condone vandalism. Removing the statue permanently is exactly what the vandals want and are attempting to accomplish through their acts of vandalism. Giving in to the demands of the vandals would essentially be condoning what they are doing. It would also be an act of cowardice. I hope that Walsh stands up for the Italian-American community and all people who value true diversity, as opposed to caving to the bullies who believe that only politically-correct views deserve to be expressed and that some lives matter more than others.

The excuse for a human being who did this should be found, arrested, and punished to the fullest extent of the law. This is a hate crime and should be prosecuted as such. The Christopher Columbus statue needs to be repaired and restored to his rightful place, with a round-the-clock armed security guard protecting him at all times. The excuse for a human being who did this reprehensible deed should be made to pay for the repairs, as well as for the security detail. This excuse for a human being should be sentenced to as many years in prison as possible, and when he or she is released (hopefully never), statues of Christopher Columbus should be erected all over his or her neighborhood so that he or she is forced to look at Christopher Columbus at all times for the rest of his or her miserable life.

Continue reading “Christopher Columbus statue destroyed in despicable act of bigotry”

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_borderDismissal of inauguration protest charges is a defeat for justice

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia recently dismissed charges against all remaining people arrested for the destructive protests against President Trump on his inauguration day. Originally, 234 people were arrested for allegedly participating in acts of vandalism that included setting fires and smashing storefronts with bricks and crowbars, resulting in injuries to 6 police officers. Some of those defendants pleaded guilty, some went to trial and were either acquitted or had hung juries, and the rest had their charges dismissed.

The reason why so many of these people were allowed to go free makes sense: the government was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the people arrested were actually the people who committed the acts of vandalism. Videos from body cameras, cell phones, and security cameras were not clear enough for jurors to definitively identify the vandals, and the defendants successfully argued that they were just protesting peacefully and shouldn’t be blamed for other people’s actions.

However, it still remains true that someone set the fires and smashed the storefronts in Washington, D.C. on inauguration day. And it’s a defeat for justice and fairness that the people who did that – aside from one defendant who was sentenced to 4 months in prison – will escape punishment.

The wrongfulness of the vandals’ conduct has been largely ignored by anti-Trump folks in their celebration of the dismissal of the charges. For example, Natasha Lennard at The Intercept praises the protesters’ “united front” which “meant the government could not weaponize co-defendants to bolster their weak case.” She mentions that the innocent defendants must have been tempted to “assert that they were in fact the law-abiding ‘good protesters,’ while actively condemning and drawing attention to the actions of a few window-breakers” and praises their decision not to do this.

But condemning the actions of the window-breakers is exactly what the other protesters should be doing. To destroy the property of innocent people is morally wrong. By failing to condemn the property damage, the anti-Trump movement is essentially saying that the property damage is okay. No one should be okay with, or want to be associated with, people who decided that their hatred of Trump and his policies was more important than the rights of innocent people.

The arrested protesters complain about the “trauma” that they have “suffered,” but did any of them think for a second about the suffering of the innocent people whose property was destroyed?

Countless people have been arrested and imprisoned for “victimless crimes” that should not be crimes at all, such as drug use, driving without a license, gun possession without a license, and failure to pay taxes. Destroying innocent people’s property, on the other hand, is precisely the type of action that the legal system was created to punish. It’s unfortunate that in this case, there wasn’t enough evidence to determine with certainty who perpetrated the barbaric actions of inauguration day. But that doesn’t make those actions any less wrong. As D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said, “In the American criminal justice system, sometimes the bad guys win. That’s what happened in this case.”