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General News    H4'ed 6/7/20

Midway to Normal? Musings on Covid, Protests & Primaries so far

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Interestingly, we just had the largest, yet least violent, protests ever in NYC last night. There were 10s of thousands here - I passed some of the early attendees on their way to one of the many coalescing points when I was riding my bike around lower Manhattan Saturday (everyone's riding or jogging now. The streets are more empty of cars than I've ever seen in my life, even on early Sunday mornings). A lot of stores are boarded up, but the protestors seem to have gotten the message and are attempting to self-police; they must succeed if they are to prove to the world that smaller police budgets are workable.

Defund the police has become the rallying cry. I was skeptical at first, during the worst of the looting and mayhem, but now that I've read the plans for that local and state money more closely, it begins to make sense. The police have taken on way too many jobs they never used to do, sometimes to avoid liability, from being "safety officers" in elementary schools to being mental health first responders (it's estimated that 1/3 of 911 calls they are asked to respond to involve mental health crisis'). This morning New York City's Mayor de Blasio tweeted his intention to move funds from the police budget to youth and social service programs. Others are skeptical. He has only about 1.5 years left in office to do so. These protests are going on worldwide. It's fair to say there haven't been worldwide protests like this in decades. 200,000 people alone have marched on Washington D.C.

If the elites are trying to orchestrate this so that there will be a longer shutdown, they are presently failing. The protests are in defiance of the shutdown, not in support of it. Curfews are now being broken with impunity here in NYC. The NY Times has much more on this:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/06/nyregion/nyc-protests-george-floyd.html

And just this morning, after a night when the curfew was ignored by both the police and the protesters, our Mayor threw in the towel and cancelled the curfews a day early. He made the argument that the protests have become more peaceful, but that is at least in large part because the police are not forceably breaking them up and assaulting and arresting people.

Assume Trump is the conservative, status quo, candidate. If the Deep State wants him - which is an uncomfortable fit anyway, because he's as likely to purge the leaders of the Deep State as secure them - then they need to instigate riots in order to get people scared enough to accept a counter-reaction of the military shooting and dispersing the crowds. Then we get Nixon v. 2 with the riots of 1968, and Trump's ambition to be the Law & Order candidate while Biden becomes the hapless Democrat who's weak on crime, like Hubert Humphrey in '68. The Republicans keep the Senate and maybe make more inroads into the House and state and city levels too. The police get more money and social programs are abandoned as failures (more like stillborn, but that's another story). It may yet happen, but it's not clear that it will.


But what I saw yesterday were thousands of ordinary people - mostly white, middle class, not necessarily young. Perhaps that mix changes during the night when the (ex)curfew is challenged, but the pictures on TV and the papers say otherwise. This seems to be a spontaneous but organized series of protests against police violence and racism in general, partly fueled by months of enforced lockdown and no alternatives for gathering in crowds but to come out by so many thousands that not everyone can be arrested - three of our local county D.A.s - Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan - have sworn not to prosecute those arrested for disturbing the peace or unlawful assembly (which, in New York Governor Cuomo's very dubiously "legal" executive order, means groups of 10 or more. Even Cuomo has said the Constitutional right to peaceably assemble cannot be denied, self-contradicting his own EO and also his own curfew). There's already talk at the highest levels of local government of reallocating police budgets to other things to help people. It's still early days, and with enormous pressure to close $10b and $9b New York City and State budget gaps (the numbers keep going up), it's not clear if cutbacks in police budgets will translate to increases elsewhere. Talk of cutting school budgets and youth programs is moving in exactly the wrong direction. But this is the problem with all mass protests - they focus on broad simple objectives, like defunding the police, and sometimes get lost when the hard work of reforming budgets and establishing new priorities gets hammered out in the legislative sessions over months and years.


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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:
http://www.americaisnotbroke.net/

Scott is a former President of Common Ground-NYC (http://commongroundnyc.org/), a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens of articles for (more...)
 

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