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Police Behaving Badly

Louisville police officer firing rubber bullets at TV news crew peaceably reporting on civil unrest

I’ve been posting all weekend images of rioters and looters. Here’s a piece that collects video from all over the country of police brutalizing protesters. Excerpt:

Here is just a short list of scenes from the past few days:

  • A New York City police officer tore a protective mask off of a young black man and assaulted him with pepper spray while the victim peacefully stood with his hands up

  • New York City police officers, in two separate vehicles, rammed a crowd in a street. Separately, an officer in a moving police vehicle slammed someone with a car door and drove away

  • Security forces in Minneapolis marched down a quiet residential street and shot paint canisters at residents who were watching from their private porch

  • Police in Louisville raided a public square, confiscating and destroying water and milk, which is used to counter irritants like pepper spray

  • Atlanta police stopped two black people, inexplicably shooting them with tasers and tearing them out of their car

  • A New York City officer used two hands to throw a woman to the ground, reportedly calling her a “stupid fucking bitch”

  • San Antonio Police used tear gas against people. So did Dallas police. So did Los Angeles police. So did DC police. The list goes on.

  • Many people reported being shot by rubber bullets. MSNBC host Ali Velshi says he was shot after state police fired unprovoked into a peaceful rally. A freelance photographer in Minneapolis says she went permanently blind in her left eye after being shot by police.

  • Police have brutalized lawmakers participating in demonstrations, including New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie.

In the original piece, there are lots of links and embeds, which don’t transfer over here. Follow the link and read them, and see them. This is an important part of the story. Either we live under the rule of law — all of us — or we don’t. Brutal police officers undermine the rule of law. There’s a reason why a cop who abuses his power is especially bad. It’s the same reason why, when a priest is found to have molested a child, we don’t say, “Good news! Nearly all priests would never molest a child.” It may be true, but we must never cease to be shocked when someone in whom we invest so much social authority (and, in the policeman’s case, actual power) misuses that authority and power to harm others.

UPDATE: Reader Dukeboy1, a retired police officer, comments:

This ain’t beanbag, folks. You sit comfortable behind your keyboards and phone screens and harumph and stroke your chins over the violence. You apply sober, white, middle and upper- class values along with a expectation of reasonable, logical behavior to people who are none of those things.

You don’t believe that it’s really that bad. And because you’re weak, mentally and physically. You know that you don’t have it in you to face violence and in your weakness you fear all who can. And so you feel justified passing judgement against people who are capable of doing something you hope you never face.

Antifa is in Lexington, KY tonight. The entire department was called in to be there. The festivities were supposed to kick off at eight. Roll call was at five.

Last night was just supposed to be local yokels and malcontents. Everything was mostly okay until after 11 PM. Then they decided to try to take over police headquarters. That was a fun 30 minutes until order was restored.

Sometime in the night a load of bricks mysteriously turned up on the sidewalk down the street from headquarters. They were removed, but the theory is that was the obvious cache and another one or two are yet to be found. This has been the pattern in other cities.

In Louisville, Antifa soaked toilet paper rolls in gasoline and secreted nails inside the roll. When lit and thrown towards the police lines, the hope is that nails will injure officers trying to stomp the rolls out. They’re expecting that tonight.

This is real. It’s not theoretical. And it’s not a game. We’re four nights into this and it’s not going to let up until there are consequences.

I’m happy to be out and I’m encouraging everybody I know who has their time in to follow me.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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