The protests over the murder of George Floyd, a black man that died in the custody of a white police officer, are now fomenting a “cultural civil war” to topple not just statues, but President Donald Trump as well.
In several cities Democratic leaders have allowed protesters to create mayhem, buoyed by polls indicating they are benefiting politically from the unrest.
Mercifully it appears that the coronavirus pandemic may curtail the spawning of widespread civil disobedience. Some health officials have concluded that the weeks of massive protests drawing many young people across the country have contributed to a spike in new cases among 20-30 year olds.
South Carolina protest organizer Lawrence Dishawn Nathaniel, who runs I Can’t Breathe SC, announced the postponement of upcoming protests “until coronavirus cases drop” on Facebook Sunday. At least 13 people who took part in recent rallies tested positive for the virus. They include four organizers, three photographers, and six protesters who attended marches from May 30 to June 17 in Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville.
“We’re canceling all protests,” he said. “We must do our part, so if you’re gonna go out, make sure you have your mask, make sure you have your hand sanitizer.”
Nathaniel noted that recent data has shown younger people are testing positive at a higher rate than ever in South Carolina. He also said African Americans are testing positive at rates that are disproportionately high compared to their share of the state’s population.
He wrote that 12 of the artists scheduled to work on specific portions of a project backed out Sunday morning, including two who contacted him at 2 a.m. to inform him they tested positive for COVID-19. He is urging community leaders to move their advocacy into the virtual sphere while urging protesters to get tested.
Business owners in cities hard hit by coronavirus are now struggling to deal with another setback, riots and demonstrations which are keeping customers away.
In downtown Indianapolis a weekend of riots in late May left windows broken, businesses boarded up and looted, driving away many of the customers that were venturing out. Chris Karnavas, owner of Jack’s Donuts, told local ABC news station RTV6, “We’ve lost a lot of business downtown. I think when this shakes down we’re gonna end up with a lot of empty real estate.”
“I mean we haven’t heard from the mayor. The mayor has been in hiding since this all happened,” Karnavas said. “His job is to make sure that the city is a safe, secure place. He should be out meeting with the business owners of the community and he’s failed to do that. We’ve heard nothing from him since this has happened,” he noted.
Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office released a statement: “The Mayor’s Office has been in continued contact with downtown establishments and associations throughout the past several months. We are working to maintain lines of communication with businesses on reopening from both the pandemic and the protests while also supporting advocacy organizations, including Downtown Indy, to support businesses during this difficult time.“
A Seattle Airbnb host told Washington Radar that her business was making a comeback after getting hit by coronavirus, but bookings plummeted again after the violent protests kept vacationers away. She is now contemplating the sale of her property to recoup her investment.
Slow-moving Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Monday that city officials are finally moving to dismantle the “police-free” zone called CHOP – “Capitol Hill Organized Protest” after two shootings over the weekend, including one which took the life of a protester. The King County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that 19-year-old Horace Lorenzo Anderson died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Washington, DC protesters weren’t so lucky on Monday night when they attempted to tear down the statue of Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president, and build a so-called “Black House Autonomous Zone” near the White House. Police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd and at least two people have been arrested for attempting to assault a police officer.
For the sake of their health, protesters may finally end their misguided crusade against statues and police and channel their rage into constructive dialogue and reconciliation.