Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Specter Of "Agents Provocateurs" At Protests (UPDATED)

The nightly, violent conflict in Portland around their Federal building raises some issues as to who is benefitting. Sociopath and neo-fascist Donald "Dominate The Streets" Trump and his campaign have already used edited scenes of mostly peaceful demonstrators being tear gassed and bludgeoned by heavily armed stormtrumpers as part of his desperate "law and order" ruse. So far, it's failing as a clear majority believe that former VP Joe Biden would handle racial inequality issues and civil unrest far better than Trump. But the far-right has an incentive to assist Trump in changing that dynamic.

In Richmond, VA over the weekend, demonstrations for social justice turned violent and the city's mayor, Levar Stoney, has reason to believe that white supremacists had infiltrated the marchers under the banner of Black Lives Matter and provoked vandalism, citing a white supremacist carrying a plywood "Black Lives Matter" sign. The matter is under investigation.

"Agent provocateur" is the French term for someone provoking actions that are counter to the group they falsely claim to belong to. Given the number of aggressive far-right militia and white nationalist groups in the Pacific northwest, it wouldn't be unreasonable to believe that such agents provocateurs are instigating some of the violent activities aimed at creating a negative view of BLM protests, something that supports Trump's bogus "law and order" strategy. Portland's NAACP President Pastor E. D. Mondaine wrote recently in a Washington Post op-ed, cautioning about the made-for-TV spectacle unfolding there:
"As the demonstrations continue every night in Portland, many people with their own agendas are co-opting, and distracting attention from, what should be our central concern: the Black Lives Matter movement.

The protests that have gone on for weeks in Portland and around the country had a very specific origin. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis prompted a nationwide reckoning with the original and savage crime of slavery our country committed against African Americans. This crime has been reverberating through every generation in this country, black and white, for 401 years. That monstrous crime has finally caught up with us as a nation. I do not believe it is a time for spectacle." (our emphasis)
He's not suggesting right-wing militia specifically have infiltrated the protests, but he raises the valid argument that the demonstrations are in danger of breaking away from the Black Lives Matter agenda, and providing grist for Trump's racist message. Former Federal prosecutor and former Stanford law professor Elizabeth De La Vega suggests a different venue that would frustrate the stormtrumpers and Trump:
It's time to look at strategy and tactics, especially as we move closer to the November elections. Feeding Trump's racist and authoritarian message shouldn't be one of them.

UPDATE:  A major instigator of violence in Minneapolis was "umbrella man." Now we know what, if not who, he is (spoiler alert:  not BLM):
Police have identified the so-called “umbrella man” who set off a chain reaction that led to days of rioting and looting during Minneapolis protests against George Floyd’s killing.
The man was identified as a 32-year-old white supremacist associated with the biker gangs Aryan Cowboys and Hell’s Angels, but his name was not released because he has not yet been charged, reported the Star Tribune.
More examples here. As we were saying...

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