Stop Tolerating the Intolerable

by Kerry Dougherty

Have we gotten to the point where mobs of anarchists can rampage through Richmond as they did last weekend, setting fires and assaulting police officers and firefighters while the governor, the attorney general and others basically shrug?

I can answer that: Yes. That’s exactly where we are.

Last weekend’s riots in Richmond drew national news attention. But little interest from state officials.

In a blistering editorial,“Where Is The Leadership?”The Richmond Times-Dispatch demanded to know how much longer these insurrections would be tolerated.

“Let us be clear: Saturday night’s violence was a planned riot,” they began.

The editors are correct. Have a look at the flier on social media asking people to meet at 9:30 p.m. Saturday to “eff” things up:

As planned, by 11 p.m. Saturday these criminals were laying siege to the Richmond police department. Fires were set, windows smashed, a city truck was torched and police officers were pelted with fireworks, chunks of pavement, water bottles and other projectiles.

In all, at least 17 people were arrested.

The Times-Dispatch voiced exasperation with the silence from state officials after the melee.

Here’s what we do know: The absence of leadership at all levels of government has compounded these circumstances. We’ve normalized too many behaviors that make Richmond — and the United States — a less safe and prosperous place to live, wrote the RTD editors.

Individuals are desecrating property and being absolved of any wrongdoing. Banks and businesses are boarded up and, locally, a critical public economic engine — VCU — incurred $100,000 in damage to its Monroe Park campus in a matter of hours…

The public still is looking to (the mayor) the Richmond City Council, Gov. Ralph Northam, the Virginia General Assembly and the White House for a way forward. And the solution won’t be found in a press conference, a tweet or staying silent. We all have eyes and see what’s going on in our city’s — and nation’s — backyard.

When does this stop? What is the end game to these protests? The violence seems to escalate daily, not just in Virginia’s capital city but across the country.

The demonstrations that sprang up in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder were spontaneous protests over an egregious act.

But the violence that’s rocking America’s urban centers now bears all the earmarks of well-coordinated riots aimed at disrupting commerce, destruction of property and crippling law enforcement.

It’s imperative that investigators use all the tools available to find out who or what is behind these planned insurrections. Shoot, use the federal RICO statutes if necessary.

And what does the General Assembly plan to do when it meets next month in Richmond to curb the lawlessness? As a part of a package of police reform measures, the Democrats propose reducing the charge of assaulting a police officer from a felony to a misdemeanor.

That’ll teach ‘em.

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49 responses to “Stop Tolerating the Intolerable

  1. I feel ridiculous for having failed to make the connection Kerry makes here: With all the street violence and assaults on police officers around the country, the timing could not be worse for Virginia legislation reducing penalties for assaults on police officers. If that law is enacted, the General Assembly is sending a loud-and-clear signal that it favors rioters over police.

    As Scott Surovell has pointed out, there have been absurd applications of the penalty. Send someone to jail for throwing cake at a cop? Crazy. But such anecdotes are rare. What’s not rare right now are politically motivated attacks on police. Fix the law by limiting its application to real assaults — don’t reduce the penalty.

    • As signaled by RTD page placement, the most important story in Richmond yesterday is counting and frowning on the use of force by the police officers trying to save what’s left of the city. Their reporters are fully engaged with the movement, and editors allowing them to continue to lead the paper down this path is a huge mistake.

    • friendly neighborhood leftist here:
      I fully agree that changing all assaults on cops to misdemeanors is crazy. Walking up to a cop and hitting them with a baseball bat should be a felony. Being charged with a felony for throwing tear gas away from yourself and back in the general direction of officers is absolutely ridiculous.

    • What we are witnessing in an effort to overthrown the American form of government by riot, intimidation, and force in utter violation of the law, all done with the tacit consent of the Democratic party, as it is being facilitated by that party’s activist left wing.

      These tactics gained huge momentum with the success politically for the Democrats of the Charlottesville riots of 2017. Now those riots and tactics have metastasized into open rebellion in major Democratic controlled cities across the nation, again with the tacit consent of many Democratic leaders, local and national, and the active cooperation of some of those leaders.

      Hence, Democratic leader Jerry Nadler argues that Antifa is a “myth”, while the Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives claims these riots are peaceful except when whipped into violence by federal “storm-troopers”, protecting federal courthouses from being burned to the ground by left wing rioters.

    • Why would anybody throw a cake at a cop?

  2. I find it interesting that our state government is very aggressive in protecting itself but not all that interested in protecting anybody else. In Charlottesville our government’s law enforcement officers stood idly by in armored vehicles while rioters fought and killed each other. On Lobby Day in Richmond a preemptive state of emergency was declared, barricades erected, police were everywhere. But that was at Capitol Square while the worthies were in session. Now in Richmond violent riots are scheduled in advance as the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond does nothing.

    I am confident that there will be a large and effective law enforcement presence around Capitol Square the day the General Assembly shows up in August. The day after they leave? Not so much.

    The first two years of the Democrats’ control of Virginia have been pretty much of a disaster. Two blackface / racist controversies. A lieutenant governor twice accused of forcible rape by credible women. A bungled COVID-19 testing protocol. Inept and largely useless regulation of nursing homes. A laissez faire attitude toward scheduled and advertised rioting in Richmond. Hidden taxation through regulation of electricity prices and a below average effort at distance learning last Spring.

    We haven’t even gotten to the pending economic calamity but I am confident that Northam, et al will bungle that too.

    • Shows up? Who do you expect to show up? I’m not hearing they are meeting in the building, I’m not seeing committee rooms designated on the calendar, but I guess we’ll see…..

      • Oh interesting. I guess they aren’t essential workers. Well, that means Wise King Ralph and Alfred E Stoney (“What? Me worry?) won’t have to concern themselves with defending Richmond from rioters at all. Business as usual.

        • Yes, no security problem for the Democrat delegates as the rioters are their praetorian guards. And political base. Or so they foolishly hope.

    • “I find it interesting that our state government is very aggressive in protecting itself but not all that interested in protecting anybody else.”

      Isn’t that about typical of most 3rd world banana republics?

      Except in this case it’s a 3rd world tobacco republic.

  3. “When does this stop? What is the end game to these protests? The violence seems to escalate daily, not just in Virginia’s capital city but across the country.”

    Okay, what’s the line about forgetting history and then being doomed to repeat it? Anybody else seeing the parallel between the Portland Courthouse and a certain federal customs fort in Charleston Harbor? Did Lincoln seek and accept assurances from the governor and mayor there that all was well, and they’d keep the federal building safe and operational? Granted, that happened after the election, not before, but if (when?) Trump wins the Portland model will explode in every blue state. It will also explode if the mob is dissatisfied with what an elected Biden moves to do, but it may not be.

    A theme I’ve been thinking of exploring, but Bacon says no federal issues. To me, the parallels with 1860-61 are amazing. No repeat, but a definite rhyme. Neither side is willing for a peaceful transition.

    • In response to both your comment and Bacon’s quote —

      If you think the set of social arrangements and policy objectives being promulgated are unstable over even the shortest time horizon, and the vast majority of political actors are not responding to reason, the wisest course of action is not to demand your local elected officials body-check the zeitgeist.

      Step aside, check up on family and friends, and wait for clearer skies. Maybe go fishing.

    • re: ” Anybody else seeing the parallel between the Portland Courthouse and a certain federal customs fort in Charleston Harbor? ”

      that seems a stretch.

      re: The Portland Model

      I dunno – do we really want Federal troops in Richmond? Sounds pretty extreme… but .. I DO agree that Richmond and Virginia need to be doing more than they are and they open themselves up to outside intervention when they do not – to say nothing about how some voters feel about this… “law and order” is a potent issue.

      • If you don’t think somebody out there — on either side — is planning a version of Harper’s Ferry, let me open your eyes. This is a scary time. The next steps need to be thought out and coordinated by adults in the room. Which is why I’m scared.

        • Oh I agree but we have seen it before, no? The Weathermen, Black Panthers, the 1960’s race riots…Kent State , Chicago convention, etc…

          https://www.history.com/news/1968-political-violence

          • The difference between then and now is the degree of institutional sanction (or outright support) the radicals currently obtain from folks at every level of government.

            In the 70s, radicals had some wealthy lawyers, much of academia, and sympathetic elements of the press and federal bureaucracies. That was an effective-enough backstop, but add in city officials, congresspeople, winks and nods from Biden’s campaign officials…you start seeing a very different picture.

          • Real change came about during the 60’s as a result of the protests. Kent State changed a lot. Depending on your age – you may remember the thing about Women’s rights…

            And today – yes.. support – wide and deep from Corporations also – the list of private sector organizations that have come out in favor of BLM is long.

          • My first truly political memory is a Bush v. Kerry debate at the lunch table in elementary 🙂

            But I guess my point is — in terms of political stability, we’re in a different place than we were in the 1970s. The degree of institutional backing the radicals have is enormous, at least going by lip service. Escalation may show institutions’ true colors, but I’m honestly agnostic as to what they will be. I know too many respectable and well-meaning people who sincerely back BLM to think the institutions will run as soon as real blood is in the streets. Regardless of who spills it.

          • Oh the institutions are not going to support violence and some may back out if the movement evolves and is perceived that way.

            But those institutions are saying that they agree there is systemic racism – and I don’t think they’ll come off of that although there are some suspicions with respect to sincerity and PR.

            The other thing that is different is that in the 1960s and 70s there was no real overt expressions that the race riots were about systemic racism in the way it is now and the proof is in the pudding in terms of what was actually done in response to it in the 1960s/1970’s – to the point now – where a solid majority of people do believe there STILL IS systemic racism and it has not been accepted as fact.

          • Larry, there has been outright violence. CHOP security killed a 16 year-old; that was a pretty clear-cut example of what happens when radicals run the streets. Wiki lists 30 deaths related to the protests (from shooters of all persuasions); you can check the citations and make your own determination.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_and_controversies_during_the_George_Floyd_protests#May_27

            The collective reaction from institutions and the media has been one big “ehhh…” I’d say that when “real violence” comes, we’ll all know, but given the state of things, maybe we really won’t.

            And the problem with targeting systemic racism is that the struggle for equity turns activists into the Caligula of Suetonius, warring with Neptune. You don’t have a discrete goal, so everything is always up for grabs; few activists are also data scientists, so people take the righteousness of the movement’s policy prescriptions on faith; and if it’s faith that’s motivating the movement, then legitimate criticisms are going to be cast as, at best, tacit support for an evil system.

          • I’m not discounting the violence. I’m just pointing out that it’s not a rare thing over time and yes… with other movements like the long-standing militia groups – that had a role in taking down a building in Oklahoma.

            They are “out there” – also.

            We have a long history in our country. Read about the Red Summer or Juneteenth, etc… or the hundreds of blacks who were lynched… and the collective response was “ehhh…” at that time also.

            Not discounting. It’s serious but we’ve seen this movie before.

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          We are one mass casualty event away from Harper’s Ferry. Antifa is much stronger in tactics than John Brown ever was.

    • “When does this stop? What is the end game to these protests?
      It seems to be the late night protests that are taken over by those looking to cause trouble via confrontation with authority. Curfews did appear to be fairly effective in keeping the peaceful protestors away and thus isolating the trouble makers. This approach worked better when federal agents and / or local police were not issuing a de-facto challenge to these groups. So far the DOJ does not seem to have found evidence of a national group coordinating actions across the various states.

      • just to add perspective:

        Vietnam War protests Timeline
        The Vietnam War in Washington Timeline
        August 7, 1964. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. …
        April 17, 1965. First Major Vietnam War Protest in D.C. …
        October 21, 1967. “Levitate the Pentagon” Protest. …
        January 15, 1968. Jeannette Rankin Brigade. …
        November 15, 1969. The Moratorium March. …
        April 4, 1970. March for Victory. …
        May 1970. College Park Explodes.

  4. “When does this stop? What is the end game to these protests? ”

    The end game to these protests is protesting.

  5. Well, Kerry, when you pen a thoughtful piece on acceptance and equity instead of your usual egocentric “but what about me” screeds then it will be one step closer to an end. Or, in other words, when Hell freezes over.

    • Acceptance and equity are dope; it’s hard to fault a platform like that. Problems always arise when you translate platforms to policy, though.

      Last week in PDX, BLM backpacked a projector up to the Justice Center and displayed three simple demands on the facility’s exterior: Free All Protesters, Feds Out Of Portland, and [Mayor] Wheeler Resign.

      These are not demands that will be met. PDX is an extreme example as always, but check out BLM’s “What We Believe” page, extrapolate whatever specific policy package you want from their platform, and tell me with a straight face that we can implement this in the spirit it was penned.

      There are three reasons why a group might make consistently unreasonable demands, and none of them speak well of the demander. From best-case to worst, these are:
      1) They don’t get How To Get Things Done
      2) They want to signal ingroup membership/engage in moral self-soothing
      3) They want endless strife, because the second-to-second struggle for purity of action in the Fight Against Evil is their single overriding concern.

      Folks of every persuasion do this; look at the demands of the Greater Idaho movement in eastern Oregon. The difference between them and BLM, though, is Greater Idahoans will go protest or canvas, head home, put on “Forged in Fire,” and fall asleep on the couch, because nobody with actual authority cares about their cause. This is how movements with unreasonable demands fall apart.

      BLM and groups leftward have a fair amount of institutional support. What happens next?

      • re: ” Folks of every persuasion do this, look at the demands of the Greater Idaho movement in eastern Oregon. The difference between them and BLM, though, is Greater Idahoans will go protest or canvas, head home, put on “Forged in Fire,” and fall asleep on the couch, because nobody with actual authority cares about their cause. This is how movements with unreasonable demands fall apart.”

        well they got some other groups in eastern Oregon also:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_the_Malheur_National_Wildlife_Refuge

      • re: ” BLM and groups leftward have a fair amount of institutional support. What happens next?

        interesting poll:

        • It’s politically popular because it’s socially unacceptable to openly criticize, and because agreeing in principle with “acceptance and equity” is just abstract self-soothing that is obviously appealing at face value to just about everyone.

          If poll respondents were required to do what I suggested to Nancy (read the below link and draw up a bundle of policies that match BLM in spirit, but can be reasonably implemented), these numbers would fall considerably. How many people do you think even get Critical Theory and what it entails, let alone agree with it?

          https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/

          • It’s more basic – they do believe there is systemic racism and it’s wrong and needs to be dealt with,

            They’re not going to buy into really radical ideology – left or right and yes, some might bail but they also believe that some of the violence is the result of decades of racism and if we don’t deal with it – it will actually get worse.

      • “BLM and groups leftward have a fair amount of institutional support. What happens next?”

        Hopefully justice.

        • that would be the hope…. yes…

          we’ve stood by for decades and basically denied this was happening.

          we’d talk about “post-racial” as we continued the denial.

          This is how change comes about when we live in denial – it’s ugly and scary and full of wrong things… as it occurs…

          I don’t defend the violence – I condemn it… but there’s stuff going on here that we’re not going to easily stop.

        • The mob doesn’t advocate for justice and never has.

          It only advocates for what it perceives as Justice.

      • “Problems always arise when you translate platforms to policy, though.”
        … in order to form a more perfect Union… uh yep, problems do arise.

        That you find them to be unreasonable demands says as much of you as them.

        • “… in order to form a more perfect Union… uh yep, problems do arise.”

          No doubt, and if there’s anything I appreciate about BLM, it’s that they approach cultural problems with a cultural response first and foremost, not a policy one. Capital, liberalism, whiteness, modernity, whatever — the cultural battery acid we bathe in daily, that’s something BLM rejects, and I think that’s a good first step.

          But this battery acid has eaten away a great deal of our social technology and institutions in the last half-century — every institution left is one whose only possible response to the problem of inequity is a public policy response. When all you have is a policy hammer, everything looks like a policy nail, etc.

          And with that said, BLM and the wider movement doesn’t have much interest in building institutions — cultural/informal or otherwise — that might affect a change to the material conditions of our own communities. Action continues to be mediated through the ballot box, and energized through 501(c)(3)s backed by Noblesse Oblige Capital Partners LLC. Or it’s energized through street action, but that’s more polarizing than it is compelling.

          To remix Andreessen, “policy is eating the world,” but I doubt that’s a good thing. If we can extrapolate forward from the Obama Administration, the co-governance of suburban professionals and progressive activists under Biden is going to be (at best) the promotion of upper middle-class interests through nods and winks to progressive aesthetics. At worst — just drawing on the past few months — we’ll get a meltdown of the few half-functional institutions remaining.

          I wish I could be less of a cynic, but at this point, a successful march through the institutions feels like it’s just asking for a prolonging of the national fever dream. Let the fever break, change the sheets, and dream new dreams.

  6. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Will BLM leaders in Virginia ever take up this issue?
    Virginia
    6,828 (41.8%) White Abortions
    7,516 (46.0%) Black Abortions
    1,999 (12.2%) Other Abortions
    16,343 (95.8%) Total in Virginia

    https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/ss/ss6811a1.htm#T23_down

  7. We can feel confident in a peaceful transition of power occurring in January, 2021. The Supreme Court, Department of Justice, and ultimately the Department of Defense will see to it. The overwhelming majority of Americans want a return to whatever degree of normalcy that Covid will allow for. The small groups on the extreme right and left will be swept aside.

  8. Seems a bunch of angsty 20 somethings are upset they haven’t gotten a participation award since high school

  9. As the Honorable John Lewis has said sometimes we need to get into “good trouble”.

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