I’ve been struggling mightily to decide where my sympathies/objections reside over those protests/riots in Portland, Seattle, and to a lesser degree in other American cities.

I do know they give the state-controlled media in Moscow and Beijing plenty of fodder for a case that the U.S. style liberal democracy is coming apart. “America’s Dying”: Russian Media Is Giddy at Chaos in the USA, says a Daily Beast headline.

Is that true, or are we just expressing the citizen voices the Founding Fathers thought to be an important element of non-authoritarian governance?

(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

I think I support any protest short of violence or closing off others’ access to stores and streets. Alas, so much American protest gives birth to some kind of violence — a notable exception being, for some reason, in Hawaii. The most violent I can remember was the burning of the UH ROTC building during the Vietnam War.

I’m trying to figure out where I fit in the latest polling statistics on Americans’ attitudes.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds a majority of Americans saying law enforcement officers have generally responded appropriately to the protests.

Exact figure: 55% support law enforcement response. 44% say police used excessive force. And 54% say President Trump’s response to the recent unrest made things worse. Just 12% say Trump made things better, while 33% say his response had no impact.

One thing is clear. More Americans today than five years ago call violence by police generally a very serious problem and that it unequally targets black Americans.

The AP-NORC poll finds 54% of Americans say they approve of the protests, while 32% disapprove. Another 14% say they hold neither opinion.

Seven percent of Americans say they’ve participated in a protest in the past few weeks. While black Americans were significantly more likely to say so than white Americans, the poll found about half of all those who said they protested were white.

Overall, Americans are somewhat more likely to say the protests have been peaceful than violent, 27% vs. 22%, but another 51% think there has been a mix of both. White Americans are more likely than black Americans to call protests violent, 20% to 7%, though 54% of white Americans say there has been a mix.

I was listening to an NPR interview with the woman who started the Wall of Moms between police and protesters in Portland. A good idea in my book. But she claims the police (and federal agents) just flash-banged and tear-gassed them, too. Being a mom-against-violence brought on police violence.

That bothers me and moves me off center and toward the protestors. But then that Seattle crowd started setting fire to federal buildings. That’s way beyond the pale to me.

[Wondered where that phrase came from? In the 14th Century, four obedient shires were the only part of Ireland still under the control of the English crown. The king’s perimeter was marked with wooden fence posts pounded into the Irish turf. These were called “pales,” from the Latin palus, meaning “stake.”]

Okay, English History lesson over. Who’s on my righteousness side?

Peaceful protesters are. You might say “peaceful sometimes doesn’t get results.” Yes, but I can’t express my idea of my rights by treading on those of others. I think the house a-building behind me is a violation that our city planning intended, but I can’t remedy that by burning it down!

Your thoughts are welcome. Maybe I’ll learn something.


Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Vietnam War, Iraq #1 in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. Married to Denby Fawcett, one daughter. Brett Jones.

8 replies on “Cops And Rebels”

  1. Two days ago the BBC said mercenaries were going into Minsk. The goal is to destabilize the country. Poor 145 million Ruskies

    1. Burning the ROTC building at Kent State led to the National Guard murdering four students and injuring more.

  2. People are free to protest here, and they protest in accordance with their beliefs. Their beliefs are largely determined by the media they favor and do not often reflect reality. The rioters we see in Portland believe they are valiant warriors for the truth, and THAT is the problem.

  3. The retrospectives that followed the passing of John Lewis were a reminder of how dignified, moral, committed, and effective that generation of civil rights warriors really was.
    Trump is an absolute disgrace to this nation, but the ongoing woke mob fiasco is a grotesque orgy of delusional self-righteous entitlement, group think, projection, destruction, and egotistical social media trophy-gathering in the midst of a crippling pandemic. The best that can be said is that Russia and Beijing no doubt giggle in “support” of those they surely regard as useful idiots.

  4. I felt a similar, though not exactly the same, dilemma about protests in the Sixties at Columbia University After I had graduated. This protest involved taking over administrative offices and students getting roughed up by the New York City police.

    The pretext for the protests was that Columbia was going to build a gymnasium in Harlem which, incidentally, black residents could also use. Say what? Where is the injury? Mark Rudd much later, after he emerged from years of hiding out as a Weatherman fugitive, admitted this was a scam pretext.

    So this particular protest seemed spurious, but the anti-protestors, dubbed the jocks, expressed Neanderthal, reactionary views which I didn’t like either. After all, it was the Sixties, and the anti-Vietnam War protests and Civil Rights Movement were both in full swing.

    I was a bull fighter caught on the horns of a dilemma (trying to breathe some life into a cliché🙄👍🏽😇). I strongly believed, and still do, in the right to protest.

  5. Bob, you said that you think you support any protest short of violence or closing off others’ access to stores and streets. I agree with you. Protest should be peaceful no matter how egregious the injustices, no matter how tempting to turn anger to violence. Peaceful protest does bring results as shown by the U.S. civil rights movement and India’s independence from British rule. The recent protests show the work against injustice is not over. I think Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis believed as I do that peaceful protest is more empowering than violent protest. I came across these words which are attributed to Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

  6. I suspect a Venn diagram of those actually at the protests to protest, and those committing acts of violence, would have a fairly small overlap.

    Unfortunately, it does not appear the federal forces care about that.

    I’m generally with you.

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