How the right smears BLM

This article is liberal commentary.

This story begins with a vicious ambush of two Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies assigned as transit police in Compton, California, who were shot and critically wounded by a gunman who sauntered up to their patrol car, opened fire, and then ran away on foot at around 7:00 p.m. Saturday night, September 12, 2020. The attack was caught on surveillance video, but who did this, and what his motives were, is unknown. No link has been made to anti-police protests. The county is offering a $100,000 reward for information about the assailant.

Trump and Biden both issued statements condemning the attack reflecting their different styles — Trump bombastic, Biden measured and appealing for calm. Trump tweeted, “Animals that must be hit hard!” and “If they die, fast trial death penalty for the killer. Only way to stop this.” Biden said in a statement, “These attacks are absolutely unconscionable – they bring only greater violence, injustice, and grief to a nation in desperate need of healing.”

Read the NBC News story here.

Shortly after the shooting, protesters “converged outside of the emergency room with some yelling, ‘We hope they die,'” and trying to push their way inside, according to media reports (see a local CBS TV affiliate’s report here.) Newsweek reported protesters were blocking the ER entrance and, “In one clip, a man who identifies himself as Kevin Wharton Price of the Africa Town Coalition refers to the injured deputies as ‘two of America’s most notorious gang members'” (story here). Who are these people?

In a blurb under a YouTube video, Africa Town Coalition is described as “a Union of Black Grassroots Organizations & other Black Individuals from South Los Angeles & the Surrounding Communities,” and in the video itself, a spokesperson describes its purposes (watch here), which sound benign. In the tweet at left, though, Price (whoever he is) calls the injured police officers “pigs,” but doesn’t say he hopes they die. That was a chant picked up by some, not all, of the protest crowd.

This deplorable protest did occur. If you do some research, you’ll find there are issues with policing in Compton, and tensions between the police and the minority community, as in many other communities across America, so it’s easy to believe the people in that crowd are frustrated with the police. But exactly who are they?

Rightwing media wasted no time in linking them to Black Lives Matter.

Daily Mail, a U.K.-based large-circulation tabloid, reported “The protesters have been connected to the Black Lives Matter movement on Twitter but that has not been officially confirmed.” (Story here.) C’mon. Seriously? Twitter? Anybody can tweet anything. An anonymous twit’s tweet shouldn’t “connect” with any serious reader. That isn’t professional-level journalism. And what does “connected” mean? That’s left to readers’ interpretation.

Meanwhile, a rightwing website called “BizPac Review,” which is nothing more than a private opinion blog (much like the one you’re reading, except this one has a liberal orientation, and is edited by someone with training and work experience in professional journalism), called the protesters “a group of Black Lives Matter-linked extremists.” (See it here.) You can find countless similar examples if you search for them, because stuff like this snowballs on the internet. So what if some anonymous rightwinger asserts this protest is “linked” to Black Lives Matter? What’s their source for that? And what does “linked” mean? Again, that’s left for open-ended interpretation.

It probably means nothing more than these badly-behaving protesters have participated in BLM protests and support BLM’s goals. That doesn’t make BLM what they are, or their behavior BLM’s behavior.

Remember, Black Lives Matter isn’t an organization, it’s a movement whose supporters and protesters have been overwhelmingly peaceful. (I previously commented on that here.) Their goals — equal treatment of black people, ending police brutality against blacks, and police reform — are eminently reasonable. The protest outside the hospital deserves condemnation, but BLM does not by reason of it. It’s also been pointed out that some peaceful BLM protests have been infiltrated by people with other agendas — anarchists, looters, and rightwing provocateurs — and sometimes attacked by violent rightwingers.

At this point, we don’t know who’s behind the Compton attack; it could be anybody. Antifa. Boogaloo. A criminal with an apolitical grudge against police. Who knows? Nobody. I won’t speculate, and you shouldn’t, either. Recently, another high-profile attack on police in California was perpetrated by a rightwing extremist. On May 29, 2020, a federal security officer was ambushed and killed by a member of the violent Boogaloo” movement, and that attack occurred during a George Floyd protest (see that story here). Where will these bleating rightwingers be, if this attacker turns out to be a rightwing extremist?

What’s not ambiguous is that rightwing media, commentators, and bloggers are pursuing an agenda to discredit BLM and undermine police reform, and if they are successful, indiscriminate killings of black people by rogue cops will continue unabated. That is not a noble cause either.

Photo: A BLM protest in Los Angeles on June 14, 2020.

In the ABC-affiliate TV news video below, reporters at the hospital said “a few” people chanted anti-police slogans and tried to push their way into the building. By contrast, hundreds of thousands of people have participated peacefully in BLM protests (as in the photo at right). It’s dishonest to equate the latter with the former. Exploiting the bad behavior of a few to discredit a legitimate cause is an old, tired, shopworn propaganda trick; don’t fall for it.

It is in society’s best interests that these four things happen: (1) Catch the person who did this, (2) stop those ugly anti-police demonstrations, I mean just stop it, (3) continue to protest peacefully against police brutality and for police reform, and (4) recognize, appreciate, and support the vast majority of police officers who are doing this difficult and sometimes dangerous job the way it should be done.

Meanwhile, America needs police reform, starting with purging the racists from our 18,000+ law enforcement agencies, and then proceeding from there to improving how police are recruited, trained, supervised, and disciplined, all of which are currently deficient to some degree, as the recurring incidents of police brutality painfully demonstrate.

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  1. Mark Adams #

    All I know is that I know who the most wanted man in all of California is by California law enforcement. He or she would do well to turn themselves in. They may end up saving some poor person from being mistaken as them and shot and killed by police. And if officials clamp down then you will have a mass number of police quit or retire, and tell the politicians to go do their jobs.

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