I hardly recognize my city . . . because this isn’t my city. We have a lot of guests and I think we’ll all be very happy to see them leave. Many are well-meaning, supplying aid and food donations. Some are here to protest and mourn. While others came here to destroy or to agitate. I’ve seen a few individuals who looked like white nationalists. What’s with the red crosses? You just can’t tell. I’ve spotted several white guys with tattoo tears–a pretty big giveaway you’ve been inside prison. Another dude I saw idling his car by a donation site had a spiderweb tat covering his entire face. I know what I see every day. What belongs, what doesn’t. These people don’t. Everyone looks like a criminal in a mask and sunglasses and there’s good reason to wear both right now. Many citizens are photographing the out of state plates in case something dreadful happens. It’s the beginning of June. A lot of college students are departing for home and their parents or friends are just here to get them. Biking home from work along the river, I saw this Occupy-looking dude with a sixteen-inch knife in a scabbard hanging from his belt. I would have liked to get his picture, but I just kept on pedaling.
What I’ve decided is that if somebody looks suspicious, they’re probably harmless. They’re trying to draw attention to themselves, provoke a reaction from someone–a confrontation they can capture in a video.
Two days ago, I saw the words FUCK TARGET added to the anti-cop graffiti on the plywood covering their windows. Fuck Target? Was someone upset they have cash registers? How dare they! Perhaps someone would prefer a Walmart. I always liked K-Mart. They sold useful shit like vice-grips. I agree though, Target sucks. They rearrange their stores literally every two weeks so can you never find anything.
Masked, I went inside to pickup medicines from the CVS inside. When the pharmacist asked me how I was doing, I took a deep breath.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Were people always this big of assholes and we just didn’t know it?”
“I know what you mean,” she said.
I’ll be glad when the plywood is off the storefronts and the uniformed soldiers with machine guns gone from our streets. Up until the outrage sparked by George Floyd’s murder, I had been really amazed at the civility displayed by Minnesotans in accepting the quarantines and restrictions. So much for that. I really hope the riots and protests don’t trigger another corona wave. I don’t think Americans can handle having their liberties taken away again.
It seems a movement is underway to transform policing and minimize these senseless and unnecessary deaths, at least in Minneapolis. I have cautious faith in our leaders—Tim Waltz, Keith Ellison, and our city council. As for Mayor Jacob Frey, Betsy Hodges has bigger balls than him. I don’t know anything about being a cop, but I recognize them as a necessary evil. “Power,” as Mao famously stated, “grows out of the barrel of a gun.” That will always be true. Tragically, so does violence.
I think some Americans are privately wondering if we are under foreign attack. Is there a plot to destroy America? Many forces seem to be at work to encourage us to destroy ourselves. With an election on the horizon, our polarized nation has never been weaker or more vulnerable. Here in Minneapolis, our public institutions are being disabled one by one. We don’t have schools. We don’t have libraries. For a while, we didn’t have stores. And, in my neighborhood, we don’t have a post office. (By that I mean the building. Service has been restored.) I finally saw the video of the white kids in black hoodies who smashed up the vehicles and possibly burned the place down. It’s a healthy reminder of why we will always need police. The ironic thing about anarchy is that it takes away all our freedom. And, if given the choice between anarchy and fascism, people will always choose fascism. I could be wrong, but I think that is what all this is about. If you watch the video, you’ll know it isn’t about George Floyd.