by Coast Watcher
Armed protest against the American government is nothing new. America’s Founding Fathers made the right to free speech the First Amendment for a reason. They held that it’s more important than the right to bear arms, which is only mentioned in the second in regards to a “well-regulated militia.” So why is it that a number of right-wing groups feel they have the right to threaten the use of weapons to overturn any law they don’t agree with? Probably because they know their political viewpoint is so repugnant to the general public legitimate, democratic processes won’t work for them.
So it is with the recent protests outside—and inside—the State House in Lansing, Michigan. In April right-wing groups numbering around 3,000 coalesced in the city, causing a deliberate gridlock which prevented emergency vehicles from gaining access to a hospital. Some heavily-armed members of this protest forced their way into the building and were only prevented from surging into the chamber itself by a police cordon. The aim of the protest was to force Michigan Governor Whitmer to rescind her stay-at-home order, issued to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“This arbitrary blanket spread of shutting down businesses, about putting all of these workers out of business, is just a disaster. It’s an economic disaster for Michigan,” coalition member Meshawn Maddock said in a statement reported by The Associated Press. “And people are sick and tired of it.”
This statement flies in the face of the polls which show 75% of the Michigan public support the measures imposed by Governor Whitmer.
The protests became an ongoing campaign under the banner “Michigan United for Liberty.” Fascist paraphernalia was clearly displayed. Death threats were made against the governor on social media. A Facebook event titled “Operation Gridlock” created by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and Freedom Fund called for people to drive around the Capitol building.
“Come prepared for a traffic jam in Lansing! We want gridlock. Do not park and walk—stay in your vehicles!”
Some commentators on social media compared Whitmer to Hitler. One protester showed up with a fishing rod, with the line tied in a noose around the neck of a Barbie doll. The governor issued a warning:
“I don't want to see people congregate period,” said the governor. "We know that contributes the spread. But, if people are going to come down and congregate, do it in a responsible way.”
She further warned that any weaponry brandished outside the State House would result in arrests being made. In the event the Michigan Legislature canceled its session scheduled for Friday to avoid the possibility of an armed confrontation.
Most of these “champions of freedom” did show some awareness of the need for social distancing, but more than a few failed to be considerate of their fellow citizens by wearing masks.
So-called President Trump has praised the protesters, calling them “very fine people.” He’s throwing his weight behind those (mainly Republican) governors who are pushing to reopen their states. But the American public isn’t buying it. A recent survey showed 63% of over 2,000 respondents were concerned that the economy would reopen too quickly and cause a lethal second wave of COVID-19.
A little history lesson
It’s not the first time the government has caved in under pressure from a noisy and well-armed minority. The 1990s saw a number of incidents—including the tragic Waco, Texas fire at the Branch Davidian complex which killed 83 people. The notorious Cliven Bundy incidents of 2014 saw federal law enforcement back away from direct confrontation with armed groups who blocked highways in Texas. Bundy had clashed with the Federal Bureau of Land Management over $1 million in unpaid grazing fees. After two weeks the government backed down. Any luster Bundy gained in the eyes of the public faded rapidly when he publicly made a number of derogatory and racist comments about African-Americans and then President Obama.
A similar situation arose in 2016 when self-styled militia, the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, staged a takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon. The siege lasted two months, one person was killed and twelve arrests made. The place was trashed, and no restitution made.
So, what makes these apparently spontaneous protests so different from those which erupted in the 1990s? The answer is—they’re fake.
The notorious Tea Party protests of the first decade of this century inspired a method by which right-wing groups could wield a great deal of influence over a susceptible public and possibly swing public opinion their way. The so-called Freedom Works, the instrumental force behind the Tea Party, is said to be holding virtual town halls with GOP members of Congress and using these and social media events and hook-up facilities to activate thousands of supporters across the nation. Anyone who’s aware of the deviousness of Trump's Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, shouldn’t be surprised to learn the DeVos family foundation helped fund Facebook ads for the Michigan protests. Freedom Works is organized by right-wing pundit Stephen Moore—who just happens to manage the huge financial investments of Dick and Betsy DeVos.
Other right-wing groups vocally opposing COVID-19 shutdown measures include Americans for Prosperity, an organization funded by Charles Koch, and the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Of course, what these various attempts to reopen America for the benefit of the super-rich really want is for ordinary citizens to join the protests. It makes the events seem more legitimate. In other words, ordinary folks being suckered into fake protests make them appear more organic.
The so-called Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-19 saw just how lethal a virus can be when introduced into our crowded modern world. The advent of rapid air-transport has increased that danger by an order of magnitude. People are aware of how dangerous COVID-19 is. They are aware that an infection can be contracted in the most innocent of circumstances. Right-wingers scoff at sensible people for being paranoid or over-sensitive. Darwin’s theory states that the most adaptable creatures are the ones which survive. It seems the right-wingers are not going to be among them. Only sense and self-isolation until the number of new cases of COVID-19 has fallen to zero for more than two weeks will see us through the worse.
Please resist the rush to reopen America at gunpoint. Only the rich will benefit from it. There's no need to sacrifice your life or the lives of your loved ones to make a capitalist richer.
BIO: Coast Watcher continues to self-isolate and watch the situation unfold. His motto? Better safe than sorry! He invites you to join him in his quest to keep you alive. No thanks are necessary, but if you feel motivated, support progressive causes to make the world a more just and healthy place.
Eye Opening Articles:
Koch Brother Funding Attacks Against Shelter-in-Place Orders
theintellectualist/news/ surviving-koch-brother- funding-attacks-against- shelter-in-place-orders- QhlRdnbuKk2naCZnGeA-6g
Michigan Protest Operation Gridlock
Protestors Heading to Lansing Again
coronavirus/protestors- heading-to-lansing-again- today-for-judgment-day-rally- against-stay-home-order
Six Other Times Armed Militia Groups Took On the Government
Astroturf Protests An Ugly, Cynical New Strategy to Divide People
20/trump-and-the-astroturf- protests-an-ugly-cynical-new- strategy-to-divide-america/
Who's Behind the Reopen Protests
US Lockdown Protests May Have Spread Coronavirus Widely, Cellphone Data Suggests
How the Woodrow Wilson Influenza of 1918 and the TrumpVirus Pandemic of 2020 Brought Fascism to America
Sleeping in your home -- yet another privilege Black people are not afforded.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was in her home in Louisville, KY on March 13th when officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department barged in her home, exploded her door, fired off more than 20 bullets, and ultimately took Breonna’s life.1 What should have been an average morning was turned into a tragedy by murderous cops.
Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, thought someone was burglarizing their home and fired his gun to defend himself. But in turn, the officers responded with a hail of bullets. And to make matters worse, Kenneth Walker is now being charged with attempted murder for firing his gun. The officers did not announce themselves when they entered their home -- Kenneth was simply defending his family to intruders who didn’t belong there.
The police were at the wrong house and they had no reason to be there in the first place. Breonna was not charged with a crime, there was no warrant, no warning, and no announcement that police were at her door that morning. And the person they actually were searching for had already been arrested more than 10 miles away.2 Breonna was simply existing in her home and that was enough reason for cops to take her young Black life.
Her murderers, officers Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove, still have their jobs and are on the force even more than two months after their illegal misconduct and murdering an unsuspecting person in their home.
We’re joining Breonna’s mother in calling on Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and the Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas Wine to immediately fire the three officers and drop the charges against Kenneth Walker.
#JusticeforBre: Demand the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor are fired and charges against Kenneth Walker are dropped.
Eight times. Breonna Taylor was shot eight times and her killers have faced no consequences.
Time and again, Black women face police harassment and violence at the hands of bloodthirsty racist cops who see no value in Black lives. Even after they took her life, they continued to criminalize her by referring to her as a “suspect” in the press. We know that Breonna was not a suspect and neither was Kenneth Walker. And even if they were “suspected” of a crime, this does not give officers permission to grossly enter someone’s home and murder them in cold blood. It is clear that they are charging Kenneth with attempted murder in an attempt to coverup the egregious misconduct at the hands of their officers.
We will fight until we see justice and we need you to join us. Last year, Color Of Change members joined us to demand that the officers who brutalized Dyma Loving, a young Black woman in Miami, were fired from the force.3 After we brought attention to her case and the constant abuse of state-sponsored violence on Black women, the officers were ultimately charged for the assault and fired from the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Just like Dyma’s family, Breonna’s family deserves some semblance of justice. Breonna was an EMT that lived her life on the frontlines as an essential worker, and when we need people like her the most during this pandemic, cops ended her life. We need to hold these officers accountable. Black people are not safe as long as these cops have jobs.
These officers have got to go. Demand they be fired immediately and charges against Kenneth are dropped.
Until justice is real,
--Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Clarise, Erika, Malachi, Marybeth, Madison, Leonard, and the rest of the Color Of Change team
1. "Who was Breonna Taylor? What to know about the Louisville EMT shot and killed by police" Courier Journal.
2. "Breonna Taylor died but she wasn't target of investigation. Police had 'no-knock' warrant, records show" USA Today.
3. "Police Officer Responsible For Assaulting Dyma Loving Formally Charge" Essence.
ICE detention centers are on the verge of becoming coronavirus superspreaders. Hundreds of people have tested positive. There are reports of soap shortages. Social distancing is a pipe dream.
Last week, two ICE guards died from COVID-19. In overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, it's only a matter of days before detention centers become graveyards. Detention centers aren't designed to keep people healthy -- they are designed to keep families apart.
These people have loved ones waiting for them. They are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles.
There's no way ICE can stop COVID-19 from spreading like wildfire in their jails -- which also puts surrounding communities at risk. It's urgent that the government release and reunite families immediately -- the alternative is potentially thousands of deaths inside detention centers and beyond.
Add your name right now, and DEMAND that ICE release and reunite families, before more people lose their loved ones.
It's not who we should be as a nation. We must double down on our values of compassion, care, and empathy. We should come together and stand shoulder-to-shoulder to confront this virus that threatens us all.
But of the roughly 34,000 people in ICE custody, ICE is refusing to consider releasing the vast majority of families in detention. ICE has the life-or-death power to release detainees, and they're barely budging.
Now is not the time for ideology -- it's time for humanity. For compassion. For care.
We need to raise insurmountable pressure, and force their hand. Please add your name today, and tell ICE to release and reunite families from detention -- before it's too late.
Paola Luisi, Co-Director
Families Belong Together
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