A Journal of the Plague Year Day 71

Friday 29th May 2020

 

Okay after the uproarious events of the last few days I promised a day off. I mean, how much news can one get? Like a UV drip through every media, either ongoing outside distantly, or swept in full force through a screen.

Two stories have appeared just too delicious. One is the mass protests now occupying America, with over 20 cities seeing in reports of violence, looting and burning of buildings following the killing of George Floyd. CNN is currently holed up in its Atlanta offices with live coverage of a crowd attacking it’s very building, that it shares with a police precinct.

Some of the pictures emerging from ground zero in Minneapolis are horrifying, where two police precincts and several blocks have been burned out.

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APTOPIX Minneapolis Police Death

All the largest cities, from NYC, to Chicago have seen ‘dozens’ of protests each, including freeway intersections in LA and Oakland, near San Francisco and 200 arrested in Houston alone. The White House at one point was put under lockdown as protests took outside it. By day the protesters appear peaceful albeit disruptive, by night it worsens.

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US-POLITICS-POLICE-JUSTICE-RACE-DEMONSTRATION-RACISM

200 have been arrested in Houston alone

Minneapolis, now approaching its fourth night of riots, has called in the National Guard and imposed a curfew and state of emergency (as has Portland), a man has been shot dead in Detroit, though it’s still under investigation if this had to do with the protesting. In Lousiville ongoing protests merged with those for Breonna Taylor, an unarmed emergency medic shot 8x just days before, killed in her bed after it was mistakenly stormed in a drugs/money raid (the police were plain-clothed, burst in with a “no-knock warrant” and didn’t announce themselves -her boyfriend put out a warning shot, and the 911 transcript showed he still didn’t know they were police when he called for help). No drugs or drugs money was ever found at her flat, and the suspect they were looking for was found in an entirely different address.

The city also saw a night of violence, with 7 people shot and injured.

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The 33 cities so far affected by mass protests (both peaceful and violent) are Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Sacramento, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Louisville, Bowling Green,  New Orleans, Lincoln, New York City, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Portland, Dallas, Houston, Columbus, Cincinnati, Canton, Richmond, Seattle, Milwaukee and Washington DC.

Early harrowing footage of a disabled woman in a wheelchair being assaulted (punched in the head and a fire extinguisher let off in her face) in a Target Store and doing the rounds across social media appears more than the snapshots used. On closer inspection the full videos show her trying to stab Black looters (and allowing White ones to pass, perhaps randomly perhaps because of race) beforehand, and a later one of her walking about. Mental illness surely?

 

The other storm appears to be Trump’s handling of the unfolding crisis. His Tweet to match ‘when the looting starts the shooting starts’ has been widely condemned that the President of the US is condoning the shooting of its citizens, not to mention the quote was taken from notorious Miami Police Chief Walter Headley who uttered it in a 1967 speech outlining his department’s efforts to “combat young hoodlums who have taken advantage of the civil rights campaign.”

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Twitter, hot on the heels of its earlier fact-check warning slapped on his latest falsehood, now hid the text due to inciting violence, another of its rules. As reminder, shooting looters is unconstitutional, even if they are dangerously dark-skinned and TV-holding, or even walking down the street, and despite the long tradition to do so following any disaster.

You literally couldn’t make it up. The Great Orange Dolphin has gone apoplectic; his lifeline to insults, power and obnoxiousness appears to be fighting him. He’s subsequently started the day with all barrels blazing, drawing a gunfight with China with a long list of accusations, from C-19 cover up to stealing tech, while attempting to align the ‘left wing forces’ as supporting them. His announcement of unprecedented action, including the suspension of special treatment for Hong Kong, will ratchet up the trade wars when the world needs it least, with China now waiting to take retaliation. It’s noted this very much looks like his reelection platform, piqueing a hatred of China, of C-19 and lockdown on top of the culmination of White American demographic embattlement. It marries with his announcement alongside that the US is fully leaving the World Health Organisation for claiming it in league with China to “mislead the world”, and withdrawing all funds at a time it needs it most.

Donald Trump

It appears he’s having a bad day. And some people just want to see the world burn.

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A Journal of the Plague Year Day 70

Thursday 28th May 2020

Following the death of George Floyd protests in Minneapolis last night have gotten increasingly destructive. A block of housing under construction has burned down along with an apartment building, several garages and stores in the part of town near the 3rd Precinct police station, where the police officers involved in his death were based.

The turn of the crowd appears to have started with the looting of an AutoZone store, as protesters urge the man to stop.

Online people identified the man as possibly Jacob Pederson of the St. Paul PD, including a screenshot of his alleged ex-girlfriend claiming she also recognises the gloves and mask as hers.

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All this still needs to be verified rather than just speculation and politicking, but one imagines the looting and fires would have started at some stage. The fact the protests have spread to well beyond Minneapolis, to 20 other cities is a sign. Watch the vid of George Floyd’s last moments and you can see why.

It is not just another injustice, just another cop killing of an unarmed Black man, but one where you see it happening in real time and -in a world gone mad -a crowd pleading for it to stop, to no avail. The fact a cold-blooded killing can occur in broad daylight with full back up of the law says there’s something very wrong with this world.

I must admit, as cities burn a part rages with the violence: that society needs to change. That the difference in the arrest of say, Dylann Roof, armed after the massacre of 9 Black churchgoers, and the arrest of an unarmed, already handcuffed Black man suspected of having just given in a fake $20 bill is a difference that willfully kills. A statistic we will no longer tolerate, where being Black means you’re 3x more likely to be killed after the police show up. That the use of tear gas and foam bullets early in the peaceful demonstration, as opposed to the hundreds of heavily armed far righters allowed to storm State Capitol buildings last month, speaks volumes.

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In a show of how impossibly cack-handed a single organisation can be, the Minneapolis police arrested a Black CNN reporter, Omar Jimenez, on an empty street unaware the cameras were still rolling and being beamed live into the newsroom. They handcuffed him and led him away, with no charge given even after he asked for one. A fellow crew on the same street were also approached (the reporter was White), but not arrested and told they could stay. The MPD later apologised, and said they were investigating.

The city of Minneapolis, long the belle of liveability and progression for the US, will forever be tainted.

Another scandal briefly kicked off at home, with uproar over the replacement of presenter Emily Maitliss for her emotive coverage of the Dominic Cummings scandal. The BBC apologised for her lack of impartiality in her opening words (including the line “a deep national disquiet”), and the subsequent pressing of interviewees.

Twitter was strangely alive with reprimands against her rather than support, and her leftist agenda (she was actually a former writer for the central right Spectator). Numerous accusations then flew that many of these were bots, as was seen days earlier when Cummings’ story broke, with hundreds of copy-pasted messages of support for him identified. Also many reminded that the infamously feared and pushy presenter before -Jeremy Paxman -had been allowed year in year out to be so direct, and even celebrated for it -the difference being that when a woman doesn’t hold the punches it results in furore. A BBC insider followed up to say the Beebs response had been “weak and embarrassing” for caving into the government.

Within the day Maitliss had been reinstated, claiming she had asked for a night off, and her last-minute replacement, Katie Razzall, stating she would never have agreed to cover if it had been anything other.

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In a third scandal Trump has been at it again, starting a fight with Twitter that he is so obnoxiously reliant on to spread his word. To date, The Great Orange Dolphin has publicly declared over 18,000 outright lies and misleading information while campaigning for or in office, thanks to the Washington Post counter which must be going metronomically these days. His claim over the voting by post changes being rolled out, that “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent” was slapped with a warning label of ‘unsubstantiated’, the first for him, despite the fact he would long have been banned had he been anyone other than POTUS.

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Trump subsequently went on a hissy fit. He threatened to “strongly regulate” or even “close down” social media platforms, tweeted to his 80 million followers that Republicans felt the platforms “totally silence conservatives” and that he would not allow this to happen, also claiming Twitter was “completely stifling free speech”. By evening he said that Twitter “has now shown everything we have been saying about them… is correct” and vowed “big action to follow”. People immediately pointed out he was stifling free speech in the name of free speech, and/or claiming free speech to stifle it. What would have been hilarious is if Twitter had subsequently slapped fact-check warnings on those statements, but hey, we can but dream.

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Today has been in short, a confusion for many, many editors as to what on earth to put on the headlines. CNN has chosen to continue with the ongoing repression of Hong Kong, (which is a bigger story than appears -as if all the protests of the past few years have culminated in Beijing’s most direct attack at its democracy). However it has dropped the killing of George Floyd to the very last story listed on its front page (and within hours has disappeared it altogether), while all other US news networks and papers have it as their main headline, from Fox News to MSNBC. The BBC have steadfastly buried the Emily Maitliss scandal alongside, in the same bottom-right position, while it trends as the main story online and in rival news.

It is a bonanza for journalism right now.

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A Journal of the Plague Year Day 69

Wednesday 27th May 2020

I have just witnessed one of the most disturbing things caught on camera. The slow death of a person, pleading for help, occasionally screaming. At some stage he calls out for his dead mother.

He is being kneeled on the neck by a sociopath till suffocated and wets himself, while people all around plead for the man to get off. After the victim passes out the perpetrator continues, in broad daylight, in full eyes of the law as they tell him he’s unconscious, not moving, not breathing, with blood from his nose. Another assailant keeps watch, standing ground against the gathering, both being armed.

The onlookers ask him to just check for a pulse, which the men ignore, along with the fact they are being filmed the entire time, and their badge numbers recorded and still they do not budge. It is the arrogance of killing, of complete power.

How dangerous can an unarmed man be, handcuffed behind, another man on his back, another on his neck for 8 minutes and passed out, no longer moving?

After the killing, with the lifeless body hauled onto an ambulance, the police officer gets off, head held high as the crowd yell he just killed a man. He briefly talks to the ambulance workers, another police officer, then calmly gets into the squad car and drives off without another glance.

George Floyd wasn’t even formally charged. Reports of a fake banknote had sent the police down, who then claim he got belligerent, that when they arrested him they then noticed he was in need of medical aid. From the video that does appear to be true – because two police officers are sitting on him and slowly suffocating him.

He called out that he couldn’t breathe, an echo of the 2014 case of Eric Garner, another unarmed Black man arrested for illegally selling single cigarettes in NYC, and choked to death in an arm hold, who said the same words eleven times as he was suddenly slammed to the ground by several police officers. In that instance no one was ever prosecuted, not even for manslaughter, and the one officer using the illegal hold only sacked four years later.

George Floyd also asked them: ‘Please don’t kill me’. What were his thoughts as he could hear the people pleading, and it being ignored? No longer able to move, just lying there. This is what being buried alive is like, as people watch helplessly. The police and news have subsequently reported he died shortly after arrival in hospital, the video shows him dying in front of our eyes, or at the very least inculcating everything that led to his death.

*edit*^ the emergency crew transcript has since shown that when they turned up his body was pulseless and not breathing. He was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. In short George Floyd is killed on screen, in real time.

************WARNING ******* DISTURBING VIEWING **************

Jacob Frey, the Mayor of Minneapolis where the killing took place, was visibly moved. He mentioned: “Being Black in America should not be a death sentence.” It comes fast on the heels of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, shotgunned three times as he was jogging, and condemned to death for peeking into a house under construction -cameras record several visits that day by passersby, though all were White and thus did not incur the tresspass of the local Neighbourhood Lynchmob, armed with guns and pickups.

Protests have taken over Minneapolis, one of America’s most progressive and livable cities on par with the Nordic qualities and equalities of life. Outside the house of the officer in question, now sacked, a small crowd gathered, peaceful, with the local head of police joining them. They blocked all food deliveries being sent to the property.

A larger gathering (expanded by social distancing) met at the crossroads where George Floyd died then marched to the 3rd Precinct where the officers are stationed. Police confronted the so-far peaceful march with tear gas and foaming bullets (used to identify people after), which was replied with a barrage of plastic water bottles anyone was carrying. As dusk came harder missiles began to be thrown, police vehicles spray painted and in the streets running battles with vigilantes.

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Four Minneapolis police officers fired after man dies in police custody

'I Can't Breathe' Protest Held After Man Dies In Police Custody In Minneapolis

There is something very wrong with our world when an innocent man can be murdered in public, for a horror-stricken world to watch. How many times has this happened before? Before the advent of cameras and filming on our phones? That still happens when crowds are not around to see it? The fact that when police had to adopt body cameras themselves, police complaints fell by 93%, showing they not only protected the police but the public from them.

George Floyd, remember his name.

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