Suddenly a new type of violence – street violence – seems to be competing for our attention. Since the May 25 assassination of George Floyd in police custody, our nation has been shackled by a Black Lives Matter movement that has rebelled against police brutality against blacks. It was like a dam had been broken when millions took to the streets to rail against racism and police violence. “Defund the Police”, which meant different things to different people, became a popular rallying cry among demonstrators.
The movement was such a juggernaut – encompassed by every pillar of our culture – that no one could have suspected that it could be disrupted by any other form of violence – one that, ironically, would require a greater police presence.
But this is the most strange moment we’ve reached in this strangest year. A Moloch movement against police violence suddenly feels a bit out of date. The violence that has rocked our cities for months has thrown the protest movement for a loop. Instead of worrying about police violence, millions now worry about police protection.
“A majority of Americans say they are concerned about increasing crime in US cities,” The Hill reported on July 27, citing a Harvard CAPS / Harris poll.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden, who ignored street violence in his acceptance speech two weeks ago, now condemns every chance he gets and blames President Donald Trump for it.
The media is crawling too. As Mark Hemingway wrote on RealClearPolitics on Aug. 28, CNN “was finally starting to fret about the months of unrest in the country”.
What happened? How did it take so long for such a big story to finally break out and catch the headlines?
The first answer is obvious: we are in an election year. The mainstream progressive media will emphasize what is most helpful to them. Riots and violence that might indicate the need More Law enforcement contradicts left anti-police narrative, so it has been downplayed.
Movements cannot pivot well either. A movement that combats police violence cannot simply turn around and counteract street violence. When protesters took over a police station in Seattle in early June, it only reinforced the anti-police aspect of the BLM movement.
What happens to the 2020 epic anti-police violence movement if street violence continues and people demand a stronger police presence?
But perhaps the biggest factor in the rise of this story is the growing concern among voters. According to the Harvard CAPS / Harris poll, 77 percent of respondents are concerned about the rise in crime, “concerned that prosecutors are not prosecuting the crimes” and “single out social media because it is used to coordinate violence and they don’t think much help curb “it.”
By election day, we can expect a battle between two narratives: Camp Biden will argue that the violence is instigated by Trump, while Camp Trump will blame the Democrats who rule the cities for the violence. For many voters, a key question might be: Who will make me feel safer?
Apart from the duel tales and the partisan hint, I am humiliated by this turn of events. What happens to the 2020 epic anti-police violence movement if street violence continues and people demand a stronger police presence?
We live in confusing and confusing times. Crises overlap and take each other away. We are already numb to a global virus and economic stalemate. And with the huge presidential election coming up, we are forced to see everything through a partisan lens.
As if all of this weren’t messy and confusing enough, we now wonder about the police: are they the good guys or the bad guys?
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