All of it building off of a Far Right, conservative-backed Culture War that had been raging years before trump showed up on the political stage to make it worse.
As Adam Serwer noted, for all historians to document forever: The Cruelty Is the Point.
And this week, after months of outrage after outrage, it all exploded across the United States.
The buildup started earlier this year in February, when a black man Ahmaud Arbrey jogging through a mostly-white neighborhood in Georgia was shot and killed by two (further investigation upped the number to three) white men who claimed Arbrey was a suspected burglar. When their story fell apart (there were no burglary reports filed to back up their claim), the local law enforcement still refused to pursue the matter even as the outrage went national. In early May, a video made by the third suspected killer - released by him hoping to prove his buddies' argument - was shown demonstrating Arbrey was unarmed, tried to run around his attackers, got "boxed in" and was still shot to death. Within days, the state of Georgia took over the investigation and arrested the shooters. There is still anger and outrage at how slowly the justice system even responded to the matter, with serious allegations of how at least one of the shooters having ties to that justice system implying privilege and protection for them.
And while all of that was going down, earlier this month in Minneapolis things got worse, when George Floyd got arrested over a possible counterfeit $20 (I originally heard it was a bad check bouncing) and it led to his death-by-cop (via Catherine Kim at Vox):
The death of George Floyd, 46, was captured on video and was later widely shared on social media. In the footage, an officer pins Floyd’s neck to the ground as Floyd is begging, “Please, I can’t breathe” — a moment that closely resembles the pleas of Eric Garner, a black man who died from an officer’s chokehold in 2014. Another police officer watches the scene unfold as bystanders voice their concerns for Floyd. One person comments that Floyd has a bloody nose while another yells, “Bro, you’ve got him down, let him breathe at least, man...”
Although the video doesn’t capture the moments leading to the arrest, the Minneapolis Police Department said they were responding to a call that a man was trying to use a $20 counterfeit bill, according to the Star Tribune. In a statement, the police department said officers arrived at the scene to find Floyd — who matched the description of the suspect — sitting on a car and appearing to be intoxicated. They added that Floyd physically resisted the police and seemed to be “suffering medical distress,” which is why they had called for an ambulance.
The police’s excessive use of force seemingly has no excuse: The department does not permit the technique that was used to pin Floyd’s head to the ground, according to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. Four officers involved in the case were fired by Tuesday afternoon, and the FBI has now opened a civil rights investigation on the incident...
Just to point out: The knee-to-neck method is specifically prohibited by the police department as policy, and the cop violated that policy. The cop kept his knee on Floyd's neck for eight minutes (from the probable cause filing), and Floyd was clearly dead five minutes in. He kept his weight on Floyd's neck for three extra minutes to make sure.
And from there, our nation went into the cycle of protest, and police crackdown, and shockwave of more protests to where stores have been smashed, building set on fire, and thousands hurt with rubber bullets, batons, and worse.
Right now nearly every major city has seen its marches, and several of them reporting serious destruction and harm.
Making things worse: Reports of "outside agitators," of people - a good number of them white folk - are intentionally causing the arson and damage as a means of escalating the rage and hate. At a moment our nation needs to calm down and avoid bloodshed, we're instead racing towards street war.
This feels different than the last big wave of protests against police brutality, back when Ferguson ripped apart communities and forced an ongoing debate between "Black Lives Matter" and "Blue Lives Matter." But when you watch that video clip of Floyd's murder, of his gasping "I can't breathe" in a dark echo of Eric Garner, how can you accept the argument that there's not a campaign of intimidation and force by law enforcement upon the minorities of our cities?
We had different political leadership back in 2014, when Obama was there to speak to our better angels and prevent the spread of violence. But this is the Darkest Timeline now, with trump in the Oval Office, and trump has been busy sending out more tweets to threaten "thugs" with lines like "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."
Christ help us. trump's not working to mend the wounds, he's looking to rend us further into violence against each other, so he can steal a little more, cheat a little more, ruin this nation's future a lot more.
This does feel like a civil war this weekend, the divisions not by state line but by cultural obsessions and willingness to spill the blood of men and women who are marching for the sheer simple call of "No More Police Brutality."
This year 2020 just gets worse all the time.