Original story published May 31, 2020 by Jimmy Alvarez
WARNING: Some images or videos may be disturbing
OC Music News dedicates itself to music news, culture and other events that make Orange County and Southern California our home and the tourist destination it is. We also pride ourselves in our slogan that there’s “No Politics, Just Food for the Soul” at this publication. However, the events over the past few days has caused us to make an exception to that rule. We will go forward and publish this opinion piece and updates in a fair, unbiased and factual manner.
I’d like to think we’ve come a long way since April 26, 1992. Sadly, I had a front row seat for the L.A. Riots that erupted over the Rodney King beating and eventual acquittal of the LAPD Officers involved. Honestly, I never thought I’d see this day again. What’s happened over the past few days is a sobering reminder that inequality remains a plague on humanity. All this while we’re dealing with a global pandemic and the economic fallout it brought down on us all.
The past few days have also shown us taking to the streets to protest inequality and a broken justice system. I support protesting and speaking your mind, especially as a result of the events of the past week. However, when violence and looting erupt, it says more about the people rioting and looting than the cause they claim to represent.
The past often repeats itself; we need to learn from it to make our lives better for the next generation. Not sure where we got so lost our way, but this has not happened overnight. The flashing point did happen almost over night. On May 25,2020 the fire was lit that opened the Pandora’s Box that has been simmering over our nation for the past few years, if not longer.
We did better for a while, but under our current political leadership there has been event-after-event where senseless deaths have occurred at the hands of law enforcement (predominantly people of color or lower income) that have not seen appropriate prosecution.
Over the last few years some Americans have been in denial that this is happening, while others take a different route suggesting these responses to these high-profile law-enforcement related deaths are nothing more than a political ploy and Fake News. That, or it’s a means to establish a aligned campaign agenda and strategy. Those are only some of the arguments that have countered the anger that has erupted over the years.
Truth is, Los Angeles and the nation as a whole have law enforcement personnel that are good and decent people. They are like you and me and care about the same things. They are members of our communities and have families that go to the same schools, churches and bottom line… they share in our suffering and grief.
That all being said, like in any society we have seen individual law enforcement officials do things that have been less than honest, less than humane and engaged in behavior that has been nothing short of felonies. The actions of the few has put an unfortunate stigma on all the good Cops out there, and there are a lot of good Cops.
This has been supplemented by a justice system that doesn’t apply the law equally on those corrupt individuals as it would if you or I were to do what some of these things these rogue individuals have done. That is the rub and a reason there is so much anger in our cities today.
ERIC GARCETTI | Mayor of Los Angeles
“So many people don’t start equally at the starting line because they and their grandparents and their great grandparents didn’t start equally.”
On Monday, May 25, 2020 the tipping point came to a head in Minneapolis, Minnesota. An African-American man by the name of George Floyd was arrested. It evolved into a situation where he was handcuffed and subdued by Minneapolis Police Officers. While on the ground, and face down, Police Officers held him down. Officer Derek Chauvin held his knee to the back of Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds; 2 minutes and 53 seconds of which occurred after Floyd became unresponsive, according to the criminal complaint filed against Chauvin.
Officers Thomas K. Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng participated in Floyd’s arrest, with Kueng holding Floyd’s back, Lane holding his legs, and Thao looking on as he stood nearby. The manner in which Floyd was treated in custody was the cause of his death.
The Police initially issued a statement that was proven to be untruthful as to the circumstances the led to Floyd’s death. Since then, Officer Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin was also accused of ignoring another officer who expressed concerns about Floyd as he lay handcuffed on the ground, pleading that he could not breathe while Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes. Charges on the other Officers at the scene are most likely forthcoming.
That event is the epicenter of the national discussion of inequality and police brutality yet again. Unlike in years past, the reaction was not a isolated or regional. As in the past it is not likely to fade away over the next new cycle or anticipated Tweet storm that is likely on the horizon. This time, there were protests just about everywhere in the country. Those protest for most started off as it should, loud, respectful and peaceful.
This is where history repeats itself. The protests in most areas throughout the country escalated to violent encounters with law enforcement, the burning of personal property and buildings. Then the looting of businesses took root. Businesses of all kind were sacked: computer stores, jewelry stores, shoe stores, clothing stores, general supply stores and restaurants.
Here in Los Angeles, the protests went from peaceful events, to more elevated encounters blocking freeways. It went from that to throwing bottles and burning police vehicles. As the days went on, the events got worse and worse.
The protests all began with inspiring moments. There were people of all nationalities, faiths and cultures united in one message; standing side-by-side letting us all know the death of George Floyd is not OK, and it will not be tolerated any longer. That was the best of humanity on display.
What has happened is the best of humanity gave way to the worst. The violence and looting have usurp the message and lost its credibility. It became another point of anguish for Angelino’s, and OC Residents who saw similar events happen here last night.
The rioting has caused curfews to be set nationwide. Riots have broken out the streets of Minneapolis, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Des Moines, Denver, Detroit, DC, Dallas, Memphis, Miami, New York, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Sacramento, Seattle, San Diego, Santa Monica, Santa Ana and so on and so on. In Los Angeles, Governor Newsom had no choice but to declare a state of emergency. The National Guard has since been deployed.
It was amazing to me to see the brazen nature of these rioters / looters and opportunists. Not only were they tripping over each other to get into stores during a pandemic robbery-fest, but some were not wearing protective masks. Some were, but they had fallen down to their chins during there heists exposing there faces. Others used the drive-up tactic where they would drive-up their vehicles in front of the stores they intended to loot and used it to stuff their cars with merchandise.
That aspect of the looting was very different from the Rodney King L.A. Riots where you saw residents looting every day supplies like food and pampers. Not today’s criminals, they targeted high-end stores and took photos of themselves while committing these crimes. Then again, there were police and television news helicopters capturing their thievery and faces and cars on camera. Then there’s the cctv footage throughout the city that’s out there that also captured their faces and license plate numbers. It’s likely they’ll get a visit from law enforcement once they are identified. Hopefully there’s a statute they can be charged with for plain stupidity.
Again, I never thought I’d live to see this day again. The violence and devastation under the flag of a cause is sickening. The rioters not just here in Los Angeles have caused a major setback to the movement. They have literally set back businesses that just re-opened and gave jobs to our fellow Americans. They also destroyed businesses that provided critical supplies to our nation in the process.
SO WHAT TO DO?
I think we need to do three things:
(1) Our politicians need to be held accountable and get their act together. They need to act like the people we voted to represent us. They need to stop the bickering or partisan positions and properly address our broken justice. We MUST demand they stand up to those who want to protect the status quo.
(2) Aside our elected officials, our civic and faith leaders need step it up as well and call out the rioters and demand they face the consequences for their actions. They need to press for our communities to continue to protest, but to do it peacefully.
(3) As a people we need to demand reform and not allow this event to go unchecked and just fade away when the next news cycle takes over. Covid is a real thing, but so is this. We need to have our voices heard; not with violence or in a way we hurt our own communities.
The takeaway is that lawlessness is lawlessness, burning and looting are illegal no matter what the circumstances are. In the end these looters personify the excuse for the symptom of the inequality plague. Bottom line, violence, no matter who brings it on has no place in a civilized society. We need to do collectively do something about this once and for all.
Lastly, for those who think their Vote doesn’t matter, look back at this week and ask yourself is this all OK with you? Remember George Floyd and all the others that suffered the same fate come November.
If we want to change things, we need to make change happen. This is our opportunity to do something positive, I hope we rise to the occasion.
Sunday brought more of the same to communities nationwide. Locally, Long Beach and Santa Monica were hit hard.
NOTE: Going forward we need to clarify two groups. There are the peaceful protesters, and there are the Rioters. This group is comprised of agitators, anarchist, opportunist, arsonists, and straight out criminals. These elements are involved in property destruction, looting and violence. There is a distinction between the two groups which will be highlighted through updates. Rioters and others described herein will hereinafter collectively be referred to as “Agitators”
Monday June 1, 2020
The findings of an independent autopsy report commissioned by Mr. Floyd’s family were released. The finding contradict those released by the Hennepin Medical Examnier. The release of the report sparked another round of protests nationwide.
It was also reported that White Supremacist groups have taken to social media posing as ANTIFA posting as this organization. Other White Supremacist media channels encourage followers to incite violence.
As protests went on, a new confrontation was being witnessed. Captured were scenes where Protesters were confronting Agitators and admonishing them for their behavior. Additionally, law enforcement Officers throughout the day were captured kneeling with Protesters and having constructive dialog. Sadly, also caught on camera in other areas, violence between both law enforcement and Agitators continued and it was escalating in some areas.
It has also been reported elements and assets of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and the Boogaloo Boys have descended throughout the country, and specifically in Minneapolis. NOTE: KKK is identified as a hate group and the Boogaloo Boys are cited as a far-right extremist movement and proponent of a Modern Day American Civil War.
Later in the day, peaceful protesters in Washington DC were sprayed with tear gas and rubber bullets in order to clear a path for President Trump to later take a walk for a photo-op in front of St. John’s Church.
Later in the day President Donald Trump addressed the nation. In his speech, Trump hit a few notes that we can all agree with. However, he went on to make other controversial statements. He went on to declare himself as the “Law and Order” President and ally of peaceful protesters.
Trump went on to suggest that if local and state officials can’t handle the protesters, he would use the United States Military to handle it. He went on to cite an 1807 federal statute (10 U.S.C. §§ 251–255; prior to 2016, 10 U.S.C. §§ 331–335) specific to insurrection.
Shortly thereafter, Trump went on to walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a very odd photo-op.
Once Trump arrived the next few minutes appeared unscripted and unorganized. He stood in front of the church and raised a Bible. That photo, in addition to his speech has gained worldwide criticism. Critics from both sides have openly stated their concerns and disagreement over the use of the military on American soil to quell protests.
The Bishop of the Episcopal Dioceses of Washington DC (Rev Mariann Budde) said she is “outraged” after officers used teargas to clear a crowd of peaceful protesters from near the White House to make way for The President for no other reason than to get a photo in front of the church.
As the evening went on, Trump’s comments did not quell the matter nationwide. Depending on state, it was cited as a reason for increased tensions and adverse interactions. The nationwide protests and rioting continues.
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
More protests are scheduled … hopefully calmer heads will prevail and we don’t see a repeat of the past few days, but not likely.
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Minneapolis, Minnesota – The much anticipated announcement regarding the fate of the Police Officers surrounding the death of George Floyd happened. Officer Chauvin had his charges upgraded to second-degree murder. The other three Officers were charged with aiding in the death of Mr. Floyd.
The charges came in a week of protests and rioting throughout the week. The announcement helped quell the overall violence nationwide. The protests continued and have since evolved. They have become a call for immediate reform of the justice system and Police operational and arrest practices.
Inasmuch as the protests have been peaceful overall, some violent incidents have occurred by protesters and some by law enforcement personnel. More protests are scheduled for next week.
As of June 10, 2020 the protests continue. The violence has subsided, but the anger and call for reform remains high.
Sunday, June 14, 2020
Well, the week looked a lot like the past week. More and more protests from just about every part of the country, and the protests even took on an international dynamic. That said, the new wrinkle to the conversation this week saw a protest turn very political as protesters in Seattle took over a 6-blocks area in the city and deemed it an autonomous zone. It’s become a hot topic area, where protesters have set up camp in the area and even occupy an abandoned police station.
As local authorities are working with the protesters to address the situation, President Trump has taken to Twitter to express his viewpoint and is threatening to send in troops to take back the city. Local leaders have pushed back on that threat, but so far no such action has taken place. It remains an evolving situation.
This past Friday brought another tragedy to the forefront of the national conversation. Atlanta, Georgia was the scene of the event that has gripped our souls yet again. On Friday an African-American man by the name of Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed while being arrested in a Wendy’s parking lot.
As details emerged, it’s reported that Mr, Brooks was sleeping in the Wendy’s parking lot; the Police were called. Mr. Brooks was questioned by Officer Garrett Rolfe and given a sobriety test, which is reported that he failed. Rolfe was later joined by Officer Devin Brosnan. While being arrested, an altercation took place and Mr, Brooks pulled a stun gun off Rolfe and made a run for it. The Officers chased and drew their weapons, Mr. Brooks was shot… he was transported to the hospital where he died of his injuries.
As a result of the shooting, it’s caused louder and more animated protests in Atlanta and cities from coast-to-coast. The story went viral as it drew parallels to what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis; another black man dead at the hands of police.
As the days went on, protests are now happening everywhere. The Wendy ‘s restaurant became another victim to violence as it was burned down by protesters.
Immediately, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned as a result of this incident. Then, the Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Wolfe , who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks was terminated. Atlanta Police Spokesman Carlos Campos announced Saturday. The second Officer, Devin Brosnan was placed on administrative duty, Campos said.
Earlier today, The Fulton County medical examiner’s office confirmed on Sunday that Mr. Brooks’s death was a homicide and that the cause of death was “gunshot wounds of the back.” The office’s statement said he had been hit by two shots, causing “organ injuries and blood loss.
The announcement lit the fire of protesters, their voices are louder than ever. A bystander said “I don’t agree with the methods these young protesters are employing. The issues at hand are not new, we’ve been living with this type of violence as long as I can remember. These events are forcing a conversation and hopefully people can now understand why there is so much anger out there.”
It’s unclear at this moment how this will turn out. The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office announced they will make a decision this week if they charge the Officer.
For now, expect more protests, most likely loud ones. That, and very colorful and unique artwork is popping up everywhere.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe who is accused of shooting and fatally wounding Rayshard Brooks last week in a Wendy’s parking lot will face a charge of felony murder and 10 other charges. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said Garrett Rolfe, who fired the fatal shots at Brooks, could face a possible sentence of life without parole or the death penalty. Rolfe, who has since been fired from the police department, was also charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and violations of office.
The other officer, Devin Brosnan, who remains with the Atlanta Police Department and has been placed on administrative desk duty, is also facing charges. Among them is aggravated assault, which carries a possible sentence of one to 20 years in prison.
Arrest warrants have been issued for both men and must turn themselves in by 6pm on June 18, 2020.
As you can imagine, this is another lightning rod case. Protests continue to take place from coast-to-coast and around the world.