National unrest makes COVID seem like a fairytale

No matter the antecedent(s) percolating matters to where American cities were pushed against the ropes this weekend, a viable question still remains: What COVID?

Image Credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Saturday resulted in the busiest hive of unrest across the United States as many “protestors” morphed into premeditated rioters and looters in the very communities from whence they came.

Some may call it the perfect storm: Governmental protocols instituted to keep citizens safe from COVID contagion and off the streets so as to prevent spread equated to a phalanx of folks roaming under the pretense of exercising free speech rights about injustice while hungry eagle eyes focused on products to be looted and carried back to the nest.

Law enforcement officers honored protest rights, hearing voices spewing insults and invective…as if each one maliciously knelt on George Floyd’s neck. Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan recounted last night’s mayhem during this morning’s live press conference: cops are used to being called derogatory names, but having deadly missiles (rocks, bottles, ignited fireworks) thrown at them is never part of any covenant allowing such morose behavior. Still, police officers and sheriff’s deputies stood in relative crowd-controlling formation encased in many extra pounds of riot gear, and watched the early momentum of “protestors” smelling blood in the water.

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Traffic snarled as protestors walked anywhere they wanted, effectively blocking law-abiding motorists from carrying on with their own constitutional liberties. This writer watched live feeds provided by police department helicopter aviators, their cameras catching the metastasis spreading across the landscape. Lines and/or groupings of second-wave cops stood statue-like and readied while their ears consumed condemnation and their eyes envisioned early sparks of a certain conflagration. Curfews? Frankly, they are stated desires meant to forewarn violators of potential arrest if found by police after a certain hour. Realistically, that may nab a few but is nothing more than a nick in the skin. The smell of chum is just too potent, rendering anemic any lawful requests designed to influence peace.

Do you agree that protesting is acceptable, but rioting is not?

Indeed their is a sensitivity when it comes to these dynamics and law enforcement having enough resources on the frontlines to grab every single individual violating a mass range of criminal laws. Inherent in such a thing is the perception of disallowing people to speak freely. Yes, speaking freely is quite contrary to breaking glass and hauling off a flat screen TV from a big-box retailer or mom-and-pop shops trying to feed a COVID-constrained family. You get the point: It would seem an argument which will pervade infinitely.

So cops patiently stand by for a while…until such time it is deemed way too perilous to allow the fester of folks hell-bent on creating havoc. This was the case in Atlanta on Friday night: Atlanta police officers, county sheriff’s deputies and state troopers gathered outside the CNN building, overseeing the right to protest. Until an Atlanta police cruiser blocking the street was set ablaze. That is when law enforcers moved in but only to push people back and allow firefighters to extinguish the blaze, After all, they’re in the business of public safety, fulfilling the obligatory oath to preserve life and property. For example, I know of no cop who cares for CNN, but they tried to protect its Atlanta headquarters once rioters decided the window panes needed to be a pile of nasty shards.

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As some government leaders in other cities did, Tampa, Florida Mayor Jane Castor (Tampa’s former police chief) walked among the protestors right before many in the crowd discounted her call for calm and instead decided that COVID was not a concern, grouped together as if the perils of the pandemic were some fairytale from elementary school or the latest animated sci-fi generated by Disney or Pixar.

Many people are commenting this is no longer about George Floyd, deciphering that it is now about a free-for-all climate during which looters get to storm businesses barely ebbing back after the pandemic shuttered us indoors. TVs, other electronics, cartons of cigarettes, you name it…were all targeted commodities meant to be marketed by law-abiding folks who are desperate to get back to work and earn an honest living.

Among myriad live Facebook feeds yesterday, each depicting the break-out of large crowds slowly fueling their own frenzy, were collectively and increasingly chaotic uprisings as dusk encroached upon daylight. Whether you get the picture or not, this conclusively means mass gatherings took place all over…and little to zero concern about COVID was evident as protestors’ chants about justice, peace, and police brutality bellowed the air.

It seemed as though self-preservation was not on the minds and anti-COVID principles were outweighed by martyrdom and looting.

Throughout what we have been witnessing the last few days the term “social experiment” has come up several times, and how what we our enduring across our beloved nation is a predestined mixture of objectives engineered by government to have us all clash and unwittingly wind up as a collage of collateral damage. Whether that is accurate or not varies. Were protestors with marching orders to riot paid for and bussed in by the likes of George Soros?

According to Tampa Mayor Castor, the arrested parties were confirmed to be from the local community, and I guess some rebel rousers thought it incumbent upon them to have fun with whatever toys they felt like riding:

Despite the “perfect storm” theory being bandied about, police executives are diplomatically stating/vowing to up the law-and-order ante. Tampa police Chief Dugan, whose city was overrun last night, generally publicized that any antagonists and pursuant unlawful behavior will be dealt with more promptly: cop-speak for We gave you a lawful opportunity to protest peacefully and be heard—and you blew it.

Incidentally, that last statement (forewarning) by Chief Dugan preceded the fact that among the 41 arrests made during last night’s violent behavior and looting of businesses was a group of teenagers who each had “an ankle bracelet”—that means youngsters charged and convicted of crimes who had ankle-monitoring devices attached to legs in the looting fray. Parental oversight?

No matter the antecedent(s) percolating matters to where American cities were pushed against the ropes this weekend, a viable question still remains: What about COVID contagion? Social distancing suddenly a foreign concept?

meet the author

Stephen Owsinski is a LifeZette contributing editor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is also a columnist for the National Police Association.

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