There’s one thing I’ve noticed about the George Floyd protests and riots that has not been mentioned. Why is the reaction to this incident so much worse than other racial injustices this country has had since the Rodney King riots in 1992? Even the events around Eric Garner, whose fate was similar to Floyd’s, did not bring such severe reactions. My theory? COVID-19. Here’s why: Few have anything to do outside the home. It appears to me that most, if not all protesters and rioters, are relatively young, mostly in their twenties. I didn’t notice many in their forties or fifties, if any. Young people like to go to bars and restaurants. Hardly any are open. These people have few or no jobs and have been cooped up for three months. If the economy was reopened, even two weeks ago, I don’t believe we would be seeing such violent riots and looting on TV day after day.
How to separate protesters from the looters
Monday night’s protester dispersal near the White House has created a growing sense of dread and apprehension for me. If President Donald Trump loses in November, he will no doubt claim election fraud due to absentee ballots used because of COVID-19. In this potential nightmare scenario, he would refuse to accept the results and not leave office until another “fairer election” can be held.
Outraged Americans would take to the streets in violent protest. Trump would use all possible means to maintain “law and order.” Yet it is he who has repeatedly violated our most basic and cherished principles of representative government.
The overwhelming majority of Americans could never imagine an attempted quasi-military seizure of the presidency. Trump, however, has shown no respect for our republic’s traditions and institutions. He has to win at any and all costs, including what it does to our nation.
Americans, don’t think it can’t happen here because his truths have already been stranger than fiction.
Stephen M. Wisnoski,
Editor’s note: The writer is a retired history teacher.
The state grants the police the exceptional power of life and death for the purpose of providing a community’s safety and security. With this exceptional power, the police are responsible to the community for its exercise. They cannot claim immunity from responsible community oversight in the exercise of this power. But it has long been clear that the community’s elected political representatives are incapable of the effective oversight needed to guarantee the fair and impartial use of police power. That is in large part due to the power of police unions creating unjustified fear that such accountability would render society less safe.
It has thus become patently clear that the only way a community can adequately and systematically address police accountability is if it creates an independent civilian complaint review board with effective subpoena power. That is the one necessary and inescapable requirement for the rehabilitation of the relationship between the police and the communities they have the responsibility to serve with equity and justice. Short of that, there will be no fundamental solution to the inequities in policing that have been tearing, and are continuing to tear, our communities apart, thus rendering us all less safe.
Each day, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan should address peaceful protesters in various areas where they are demonstrating before the 8 p.m. curfew. They should say the protesters have full support from the governor and American public to distinguish them from the lawbreakers and looters. They’d also say that vacating the area by the curfew would benefit protesters. Legitimate protesters would likely comply. After dispersing, anyone remaining would possibly be dealt with as criminals by the police. De Blasio and Monahan should emphasize that the protesters are welcome to return the next day after the curfew ends. Hopefully, that would end the looting and attacks on police.
While the riots in the cities are terrible, they will be giving us a real-time look at how much the coronavirus will have spread because of them. If what our governor says is true about staying home to stay safe, then by June 15, the hospitals should be full of patients who have contracted the disease and spread it while out protesting. If that doesn’t happen, we will know we have been sold the proverbial “bill of goods.”
Well, we are now told that we should not judge all the protesters by just a few bad ones [“Cuomo: Protest, but be cautious,” News, June 3]. But then why are the protesters judging all police officers by just a few bad ones?
John van Acken,