The popular saying is “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” It is often used to explain the reasons for a rumor, or to describe another firearm metaphor “the smoking gun” (the hidden truth that will blow the story wide open). The fires we all saw in Minneapolis on Thursday night (May 28th) illuminated a lot more than the television screen. They did not merely provide a dramatic backdrop for the journalists, many of whom barely changed their usual pitch. Rather, the flames shone a light on a fact that most of America cannot ignore. People, especially young people, are angry. They are pissed off with the police and their murderous abuses; they are fed up with the politicians who advocate patience with the system, and sick of dead-end jobs and lousy living conditions. Covid-19 has made their plight worse.
If the protesters in Minneapolis (and other US urban areas) proved anything this week, it’s that where there is fire, there is also smoke. The smoke camouflages the real issues. This will be found in the excuses and the pleas from liberals, who beg for normalcy or peaceful protest, without the realization that normalcy, when such conditions are the norm, is exactly what created the misery and rage. Unfortunately, it also created Trump, another outcome they refuse to acknowledge.
Minneapolis this week was a glimpse at real urban insurrection. It might be the first time that we have ever seen a major US Police Department abandon one of its fortress-like structures and flee the scene of their crimes. For a few short hours, those streets were not theirs. We don’t know what this means in the long run, but we do know that it is significant. It proves a couple of points… the authorities are not always in control or know what they are doing, and our side has the ability to expose that. We do not have their firepower, but we have a passion for a better world, one where their guns, teargas, batons, courts and jails no longer rule. That is something that they cannot take away from us. And it is also what makes them morally bankrupt and corrupt. The irony that the police, an outlaw institution in Minneapolis, is now being rolled out in full battle gear to defend law and order should not be lost on us.
This is a time to mourn the needless and gruesome death of George Floyd. But it is also an opportunity to reflect on our own power and what we really can do when we show resolve. We hope that Hard Crackers can make a small contribution to that process.
As we post this, events are unfolding at a furious pace. On Friday night, despite a curfew and the full mobilization of the Minneapolis National Guard, the protests could not be contained by the authorities. (There are some credible accounts that a good deal of the fires in Minneapolis, mostly in neighborhoods far away from the protests, were set by far-right, white supremacist, groups. That demands serious investigation from our side. If those accounts prove true, we will have once again learned a painful lesson. Some far-right, white supremacist groups are also fighting the system and toward a very different end.)
Meanwhile, the resistance has spread to other cities, notably Atlanta, Brooklyn, NY, Los Angeles, Chicago, Oakland and many more. Even Trump’s palatial den in Washington DC (the White House) seems vulnerable.
“The impossible is the least that one can demand.” James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time