How do you transform a protest into a riot?

The New York Police Department gave us a vivid demonstration during the peaceful protests over the murder of George Floyd.

Here’s how you do it:

An Unprepared N.Y.P.D. Badly Mishandled Floyd Protests, Watchdog Says

“I look back with remorse,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said after a city oversight agency found the department’s tactics “produced excessive enforcement.”

A peaceful, impassioned protest is treated by cops as if the passion is violence. And any of us New Yorkers knew it as it was happening. If we weren’t on the streets ourselves we watched the TV reports, saw with our own eyes how the police were dressed in heavy riot gear with weaponry. The protesters were not. Most of them were wearing masks, although the police were not.

What happened was blown up by Trump and his cronies into “Violent Protests In Anarchistic Cities!” and the right-wing propaganda networks spread that punchy, fact-free line.

I don’t watch or listen to propaganda but I do read readers’ comments in both the New York Times and the Daily News. When I read a person parroting the “violent protests in anarchistic cities” line, I understand where they got their “opinion.” Are these people not aware that, like babies, they’ve been fed mislabeled crap instead of apple sauce?

Propaganda-created fear of violence and riots is not in actuality violence and riots.

When stores covered their windows with plywood sheets, it did not mean that the windows were about to be broken. It meant only that the store owners were buying into police warnings about potential riots.

Here, on the Upper West Side, Bloomingdale’s discount store covered its windows in anticipation of the presidential election on November 3. I should not have to report there were no riots during the elections, unless you want to consider voting an act of insurrection. And if it were, it certainly was not against Bloomingdale’s or West Elm.

In 1992, after the California police brutality trial over the Rodney King beating acquitted the four cops, riots broke out in Los Angeles. Civil unrest and protests spread throughout the country.

In New York, businesses shut down early and barricaded their windows. People — a majority of whom were of color — marched in protest. From my front stoop, I personally witnessed a march down Seventh Avenue. Two guys picked up a garbage can and threw it through my cleaners’ window. The two guys were white. Aside from such minimal damage, there were no riots in New York. A protest, no matter how angry, is not a riot.

There were a couple of civil unrest incidents in that year, 1992. Here’s what Wikipedia lists for New York City in that year (my bolding):

  • 1992 – Washington Heights riots, occurred July 4 through 7 following the fatal police shooting of Jose Garcia, a 23-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic. One man was killed after falling five stories off a building, 15 were injured and 11 were arrested.[25]
  • 1992 – Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Rally, occurred September 16. Carried out by thousands of off-duty police officers protesting mayor David N. Dinkin’s proposal to create a civilian agency to investigate police misconduct. The 300 uniformed officers did little to stop the protesters from jumping barricades and causing extensive property damage. [26]

Please take careful note of those who produced and/or provoked the violence.

One last thing. Trump got me and millions of people like me out onto our streets in protest again and again and again. I don’t remember seeing many cops the two times I went to DC to protest except for a couple of them standing near a row of broken porto-potties.

When I joined mass protests in New York City, NYPD put up barriers, as they do for the various parades we have in New York, to mark the march routes. The cops themselves stood along the streets. They did not wear riot gear.

What changed since then?

The majority of us protesters were white and a mass of us were women.




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