What if there wasn’t a curfew? I wonder if there would more or less peaceful protesters late into the night. I think that we are seeing evidence that rioters/looters are, for the most part, different groups than the protesters engaging in peaceful protest and civil disobedience.
In efforts to break up a peaceful protests and enforce a curfew, it appears from the images I’ve seen, that police use violent, militarized tactics as their first tool (weapon) and all hell breaks loose. Maybe then, feeling a need to continue to communicate outrage and frustration, protestors reassemble as soon as possible and have even more resolve to protest the police actions (including the enforcement of a curfew). Have none of these people raised a determined, spirited child? Escalation never works. You cannot defeat that “spirit” unless you absolutely crush it.
What if peaceful protesters were allowed to do their thing and still prominent presence of police as actual “peace” officers to react when and if individuals take action to burn and loot? Might the peaceful protesters welcome them as possibly even fellow citizens and allies to protect their neighborhoods and their civil liberties? To keep the peace? What if the police didn’t treat them as enemy combatants?
This requires peaceful protesters to engage in civil disobedience and not in rioting. Evidence indicates that is in large part the reality. If the police changed their tactics right now and if politicians sincerely begin the arduous process of changing police tactics, legislation, policies, and procedures, then peaceful protesting would be enough. The desired change to the system would actually be happening.
If those things do not happen, and historically they have not, then peaceful protesting isn’t effective and the next step will naturally be violent acts bubbling up out of well-deserved anger and frustration. And if violent protests continue despite actual change happening, then those violent “protesters” must have a different objective than to change the system. Maybe, instead, an objective of tearing down and destroying the system. That isn’t peaceful civil disobedience. That’s revolution (or maybe civil war).
Short of abandoning curfews, it would seem the first tactic of the police is to “peacefully” zip-tie cuff and arrest those individuals they feel need to be removed from an area. Maybe that is happening and we just aren’t seeing those images, but it appears the strategy is to beat some individuals into submission in order to intimidate others into dispersing as if they are enemy combatants and not citizens. If they are truly peacefully demonstrating, then they should be willing to be taken into custody peacefully. That’s how civil disobedience works. The system is overwhelmed with processing civil disobedient citizens and changes as a result until there is no more need for civil disobedience.
This does require the protesters have confidence they will be peacefully arrested and humanly treated throughout the legal consequence of acts of civil disobedience. A significant portion of our population has seen no evidence to believe this is will occur.
So, here we are stuck in a classic positive feedback loop. Positive feedback loops always escalate and “snowball” as the system responds to the disturbance in the same way–in the same direction. This causes the disturbance to continue as force meets force.
I see three possibilities to such system dynamics:
- The inputs and reactions continue in the same “direction,” and the systemic response escalates until the system collapses. Maybe some want that, but I hope the majority want to remain in our current capitalist, democratic society under the current constitution and bill of rights;
- the system completely eliminates the disturbance by dominating and crushing it–which has been the tactic for a very long time, and appears to be gleefully pursued by the current president; or,
- the system uses the feedback of the disturbance to adjust the norms of the system until that “feedback” is no longer driving the system to change. That’s when a new normal is reached and our imperfect union gets gets “more perfect” at living up to and enacting equal rights for all.
I’d like to think that option 3 is the desired goal of our government officials who take an oath to uphold the constitution, but it doesn’t appear that is always the case, as the populations of color have never been given those equal rights by their own government.
I dunno. I’ve got more questions than answers. I don’t have the requisite experience to speak to the pain and frustration of such systemic oppression.
I can speak to how systems operate. And I know this. What we’ve been doing for a long time is not working, so something is going to change. It’ll be positive (if even still difficult and painful), or it is going to be ugly, violent, and bloody.
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