Donald Trump proved one thing in the Rose Garden Monday night. He doesn’t want to bring people together. He doesn’t want peace. He wants to divide and incite. He wants to roil and anger. And we can’t keep letting him put America through this turmoil.
We’re inching toward civil war land. Trump is trying to divide us between liberal and conservative, between rural and urban, between white and black, and between those who want to end police abuse and those who want to end rioting and lawlessness.
As Pride Month begins, my fiancé and I can’t even begin to think about celebrating it right now.
We are both black gay millennials watching our country burn before our very eyes. Another black man, black woman, and black transgender person was killed by the police. Our rage and heart breaks as we see protesters be further terrorized and tear-gassed by cops.
Last week, George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, was killed on the ground on tape in broad daylight. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old unarmed black woman, was shot to death after police allegedly executed a search warrant of the wrong house. Tony McDade, a 37-year old black trans-masculine person, was killed during a suspicious police encounter.
The murder of George Floyd, the ensuing protests, and resultant violence should provide little comfort to Donald Trump, much as he relishes the chaos. Four years ago, Trump positioned himself as the “law and order” candidate against Hillary Clinton. Now that gambit may come to haunt him.
The world makes for a poor scapegoat for a sitting president’s own failures, and the veterans of George H.W. Bush’s re-election campaign can tell you, because we actually have seen this movie before: Los Angeles’ April 1992 riots happened on our boss’ watch, and the 41st president’s candidacy never recovered.
On Election Day 1992, the public gave Bush the pink slip after a single term in office. Indeed, Bush suffered an even worse drubbing at the polls than a beleaguered Jimmy Carter 12 years earlier. Back then, Carter still managed to muster more than two in five voters against Ronald Reagan in a three-way race, even as he got the boot after only four years on the job and 52 Americans hostages languished in Iran.
Seeing police across America escalate violence against protesters made me think of my service in Iraq. In retrospect, I both did and didn’t expect that we’d be treating Americans, and especially black Americans, like they were under occupation. The difference is that in the military, we had rules of engagement and training, even if they didn’t always succeed, to stop us from making an awful situation worse. The cops don’t seem to have that.
I joined the military in 1999. I was deployed to Balad, north of Baghdad, as the occupation of Iraq started to unravel in 2003 and 2004, the end of my Army tenure. I was scared every time I did a cordon-and search. But I received training—from basic training up through field exercises. To the small degree we did cordon-and-search in training, we were trained to exercise fire discipline, response discipline, and to observe the rules of engagement. There’s an Army value system that rewards restraint, that says, “This is the way we behave and we’ll punish transgressions.” It’s why so many veterans had such a negative reaction to Eddie Gallagher’s clemency.
A formative memory of mine is the Los Angeles uprising in 1992. As a person of color, I have had equivocal relations with the police. Whenever I have to deal with law enforcement, it’s drilled in me to be deferential and not give them any excuse. We all know that’s not always going to do the trick, and that goes to an unhealthy rot at the heart of policing. It’s a multifaceted problem, but cops are walking around like storm troopers, with an assumption that getting more weaponry will allow them to take on gang violence. Meanwhile, you’re looking at white civilians walking around with AR-15s, cosplaying as Call of Duty characters, and cops don’t stop them when they try to occupy statehouses.
After the murder of George Floyd prompted nationwide anti-racist protests, Instagram again filled with messages from brands. These posts and stories featured somber but stylish graphic design, with platitudes about peace and justice written in millennial-friendly serif fonts.
That kind of post is so ubiquitous that it has been parodied in a spot-on meme circulating Twitter on Monday that skewers such corporate-speak. “We at [Brand] are committed to fighting injustice by posting images to Twitter that express our commitment to injustice,” it reads. “To that end, we offer this solemn white-on-black .jpeg that expresses vague solidarity with the Black community, but will quietly elide the specifics of what is wrong, what needs to change, or in what ways we will do anything about it.”
Nobody was protesting when the police and the Kentucky National Guard rolled up to 26th Street and Broadway in Louisville at 12:10 am. Monday.
The world had been upended by a pandemic and the whole nation was being rocked by protests against police brutality, but people had gathered at this corner because 53-year-old David “YaYa” McAtee was cooking his world-class barbecue at an outdoor stand. He had been doing so every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night for two years.
“I have always been blessed with the skills to cook,” McAtee told a local blog in February. “I didn’t need anything else. People have to eat every single day, and all I need is my skills.”
Ukraine’s recently appointed prosecutor general, 41-year-old Iryna Venediktova, is a woman to watch. The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, expects her to investigate and prosecute his predecessor. She seems more than enthusiastic about that, and it’s a process that’s been set up from the start to (once again) try to smear Donald Trump’s leading challenger for the presidency of the United States, Joe Biden.
On the night of May 19, Venediktova personally approved the beginning of criminal proceedings against former President Petro Poroshenko for high treason and abuse of office. The move was triggered by leaked recordings of confidential conversations that allegedly took place in 2015-2016 between Poroshenko and then Vice President Biden, as well as John Kerry, who was the U.S. secretary of state at the time.
Before her appointment as prosecutor general in March, Venediktova—a graduate of Ukraine’s police academy who holds the rank of captain—had served Zelensky as acting chief of the State Bureau of Investigations (DBR). She reportedly launched investigations into Poroshenko while in that position, and is said to have clashed with the well-respected prosecutor general at the time, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, because of the way she conducted them. Ryaboshapka was dismissed in March, clearing the way for her to take his position.
OMAHA—Protesters came out by the hundreds on Monday evening after prosecutors in this Nebraska city decided not to charge a white bar owner who shot a young black man to death during unrest two nights earlier.
“We will not let others antagonize us or scare us. We’re also not going to accept people who degrade us as a people,” Tyreese Johnson, 20, told The Daily Beast.
Kimana Barnett, 18, came out with her friends after seeing news about the shooting on social media. “You never hear about something like this in Omaha. It’s supposed to only happen in big cities,” she said. “This was, like, a what-the-fuck moment.”
Hundreds of people were arrested in protests from Brooklyn to Manhattan over the weekend, after the release of a shocking video showing a Minneapolis police officer pinning Floyd, an unarmed black man, to the ground by his neck.
On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an 11 p.m. curfew and increased the number of police on the ground from 4,000 to 8,000. But thousands of protesters still turned out for a peaceful demonstration at Times Square that became more raucous as it moved uptown.