The protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have set cities across America on fire. Friday began and ended with some surreal actions playing out while cable news channel cameras rolled.
All of the protests were not as they were billed, at least not the ones I was watching. It’s rare that CNN is on for an extended period of time in my house but it was last night during primetime hours and later. While the day began with watching a CNN reporter being arrested, along with his three-person crew in Minneapolis, for no apparent reason it ended with riots outside the CNN building in downtown Atlanta. Make no mistake about these protests, they may start out as marches and gatherings of angry people but they quickly escalate. Professional agitators and others are turning the protests into riots.
The death of George Floyd is not why the agitators are out there – it is their opportunity to create mayhem and destruction. Americans have the right to protest but not the right to riot and loot, to destroy the property of others. Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a black woman, is on Joe Biden’s shortlist of vice-presidential picks and Friday night was her time in national media. She told the residents of Atlanta to go home and stop destroying downtown Atlanta. She was refreshingly candid in her public lecture. Instead of coming off as over-accomodating and making excuses for violence and destruction, as some mayors are doing, she asked why rioters were destroying their own home. Instead of coming off as a mealy-mouthed soy boy like the Minneapolis mayor, or trying to deliver a message of kumbaya that fell on deaf ears like my own city’s mayor did, Bottoms chastised the rioters. She told them to go home. She also told them to register to vote, because if you don’t think these riots are meant to send a political message, you haven’t been paying attention.
“What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is chaos,” an impassioned Lance Bottoms said at a news conference.
“A protest has purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn’t do this to our city,” she said. “If you want change in America, go and register to vote. … That is the change we need in this country.”
Mayor Bottoms pointed to the random craziness of causing destruction to the CNN building. She has four children and referenced her role as a mother to black children. She spoke to the rioters as a mother speaks to children, frankly.
“There was a black reporter who was arrested on camera this morning, who works for CNN. They are telling our stories, and you are disgracing their building,” she said. “We are no longer talking about the murder of an innocent man. We’re talking about how you’re burning police cars on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia.”
“I am a mother to four black children in America, one of who is 18 years old,” Lance Bottoms said. “Yesterday, when I heard there were rumors about violent protests in Atlanta, I did what a mother would do, I called my son and I said, ‘Where are you?’ I said, ‘I cannot protect you, and black boys shouldn’t be out today.’ ”
“So you’re not going to out-concern me and out-care about where we are in America,” she added.
Chief of Police Erika Shields, a white woman, released a video statement to the city residents.
Shields was present during Mayor Bottoms’ press conference. Also present was an Atlanta rapper, Killer Mike. He delivered an emotional response to what was happening in the city. He was honest enough to point a finger at CNN and state that “Karma’s a mother. Stop feeding fear and anger every day. I love CNN, I love Cartoon Network. But I’d like to say to CNN right now, stop making people feel so fearful, start giving them hope.” Exactly. After nothing but hate-fueled diatribes against the current administration and conservatives in general disguised as journalism, it is pretty disingenuous for CNN personnel now to be surprised that the network was dragged into Atlanta’s protests. Hate breeds hate. He told the rioters to stop burning down the city, their home.
This is Killer Mike’s speech at the press conference. Warning: language.
Drop everything and watch Killer Mike's speech in Atlanta tonight. I don't agree with him on all of his politics, but that doesn't matter tonight. He's 100% right about how to handle protesting and how to change the system… and it isn't burning your city to the ground. pic.twitter.com/VzDNMTM0wH
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) May 30, 2020
Yes, Killer Mike included the mandatory slam to President Trump during the get out the vote message part of his speech. He misrepresented Trump’s tweet about looting and shooting because everything Trump says is viewed as racist by his opponents. Otherwise, his message was pretty solid.
It’s a bit ironic that many of Joe Biden’s potential vice-presidential picks are finding themselves in the spotlight lately. It’s been reported that the list has been whittled down to ten women ( he promised to chose a woman). Michigan Governor Whitmer found herself mired in a kerfuffle of her husband’s making, New Mexico’s governor seems to have an exaggerated sense of entitlement, and Rep. Val Demings is lecturing law enforcement officers on professional behavior. Now Mayor Bottoms is making headlines for her approach to handling Atlanta’s riots. Stacey Abrams must be really feeling how insignificant she is right about now, amirite?