All Weekend, All Over the Country, We Saw a Police Riot

Everything is in midair and could go in any direction.

minneapolis, minnesota   may 30 police advance on demonstrators who are protesting the killing of george floyd on may 30, 2020 in minneapolis, minnesota former minneapolis police officer derek chauvin was arrested for floyds death and is accused of kneeling on floyds neck as he pleaded with him about not being able to breathe floyd was pronounced dead a short while later chauvin and three other officers, who were involved in the arrest, were fired from the police department after a video of the arrest was circulated  photo by scott olsongetty images
Scott OlsonGetty Images

Now they came beside the shelters and ships of the Myrmidons and they found him delighting his heart in a lyre, clear-sounding, splendid and carefully wrought, with a bridge of silver upon it, which he won out of the spoils when he ruined Eetion's city.

—Homer, The Iliad, Book IX

im电竞官网-I have to admit. Videos of people being hit by cars have a certain resonance with me these days that they did not have prior to the beginning of December. I can feel the impact on the left side of my body. I find myself back deep in that curious sensation of simultaneously being in midair long enough to process how much landing on the asphalt will hurt. Over the weekend, I felt as though I never had actually come down. Watching an NYPD vehicle deliberately clip a citizen in the middle of the street just (apparently) to make him bounce, it all came back again. I was suspended between impacts, airborne on an arc of dread. At least what happened to me was accidental.

im电竞官网-Over the weekend, so many chickens came home to so many roosts that, by and large, it was hard to differentiate one from the others. But one stood out among the rest. For decades, we have heard the warnings about turning civilian police departments into quasi-military shock troops. For decades, courtesy of a misguided Pentagon policy, we have watched cops in even the smallest towns outfit themselves as though just beyond the Piggly Wiggly lay Normandy or Fallujah. Police training, where it existed at all, lagged hopelessly behind the armaments. Some $4.3 billion in military equipment was handed over, gratis, to local police departments. You can’t have this equipment and not use it, and you have to have a certain mentality to use that equipment the way it was meant to be used—to wit: to protect yourself and to kill enemies, somewhere out there beyond the gunports. The vehicles are armored, and the vision of the people driving them narrows. They live in frightening psychological isolation with the crosshairs in their eyes.

Everything is in midair and could go in any direction.

im电竞官网-In the wake of the Ferguson uprising in 2014, Barack Obama issued an executive order that attempted to restrain the transfer of military weapons and equipment to civilian police departments. This policy was reversed by the current administration* because the president*’s underthings have been in a knot since Obama helped him look stupid once in a banquet hall. But the crisis that rode into town in a surplus MRAP reached beyond the paranoid frontiers of the landfill that is the president*’s mind. The military mind follows the military weaponry but, in this case, it’s unaccompanied by military training and military discipline. In this, we end up with myrmidons—modern myrmidons of a dangerous hive mind.

In mythology, the myrmidons were a warrior race that, eventually, came to fight at Troy under the command of Achilles, who sulked in his tent but did not huddle in his bunker. Down through the millennia, the concept of the myrmidon has come to mean a mindless tool of authoritarian terror and destruction. From the start of this awful time, from the moment Derek Chauvin’s knee found George Floyd’s neck, we have seen this evolved concept of the myrmidon rise to angry life, clothed in the color of law and shielded by the badge.

new york, ny   may 28 protesters clash with police during a rally against the death of minneapolis, minnesota man george floyd at the hands of police on may 28, 2020 in union square in new york city floyds death was captured in video that went viral of the incident minnesota gov tim walz called in the national guard today as looting broke out in st paul  photo by stephanie keithgetty images
Police clash with protesters during a rally against the death of Minneapolis, Minnesota man George Floyd at the hands of police in Union Square in New York City on May 28.
Stephanie KeithGetty Images

All weekend, all over the country, we saw what the Kerner Commission called a police riot. Reporters and other citizens targeted and shot with “non-lethal” weapons. Ih 1972, an 11-year old boy in Belfast named Francis Rowntree was killed by a rubber bullet, one of those proudly “non-lethal” weapons, but one wielded by an actual soldier, and not an untrained hooligan with a badge. From the :

The incident occurred in the Divis Flats area of the city on April 20th. The child, who was a pupil at St Finian’s , was shot in the head and died two days later of his wounds, which included skull fractures and lacerations of the brain.

It took 45 years for a coroner to determine officially that Francis Rowntree had been the victim of “excessive force.” All over the country, there are Francis Rowntrees waiting to happen, and hundreds of cops are apparently willing and certainly able to perform as modern myrmidons willing to provide them. And the rest of us float there, somewhere between two impacts, just starting to feel the first one while dreading the second. Everything is in midair and could go in any direction, and there is nobody playing the silver lyre. Instead, there is frightened, impotent rage. From :

"You have to dominate or you'll look like a bunch of jerks, you have to arrest and try people," the President told governors in a call from the basement White House Situation Room. In the conversation, which also included law enforcement and national security officials, Trump also emphasized it was his belief the violence is being brought on by forces from the "radical left.”

"It's a movement, if you don't put it down it will get worse and worse," Trump said. "The only time its successful is when you're weak and most of you are weak.” Trump said the "whole world was laughing at Minneapolis over the police station getting burned," referring to the city where protests began last week after the death of an unarmed black man who was being taken into police custody.

God help us all.

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