The Government Was Right To Withdraw Police From Today's Protests
OPINION 10/06/2039 9:00 AM ET
The Government Was Right To Withdraw Police From Today's Protests
by Edward Jake Smith

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The outpouring of grief was sometimes destructive today.
At about 11:50 this morning, DC Police Chief Cam Hollison issued a statement to the effect that police were being withdrawn from interrupting grieving protesters as they flooded the streets of Washington DC west of the Capitol.

Riot police were initially deployed around 11:30am at Union Station, 7th St NW near the Smithsonian Complex, and the Supreme Court, but were quickly pulled back as FuriUS protesters let loose their emotions.

It was the right call.

Any attempt at crowd control would have been a futile gesture. Collectively Capitol estimated approximately 45,000 of its members were on hand, with more than 200,000 supporters also gathered for the FuriUS rally.

Before the march, Deyandra Cash addressed the assembly, which was so large it spilled over from the West Front Lawn, flanking Cash to the north and south and blocking traffic on 1st St and reaching into the National Mall.

That's not a "mob", that's an army. DC Police can call upon 4,100 officers.

Cash collapsed at about 10:35am. Paramedics rushed to her aid, but after about ten minutes she was pronounced dead. At which point Collectively Capitol Deputy Leader Krinsley Jamaal, apparently having been aware or made aware that Cash had been shot, informed the mass of confused onlookers that their leader had been murdered.

To hear it from eyewitnesses, it was like the death of a god had occurred. Jamaal could not help but weep and people wept with him as his voice echoed through the speakers which had been set up around the lawn.

When his weeping turned to righteous anger, a quarter million righteously angry people gestated out of that grief, and Krinsley urged them to use their anger.

No police force in the world can stop that many grieving, angry people.

It wouldn't have mattered had they brought in tanks and armored cars like they did in '34, when city governments tried to smash the Sovereign Black Neighborhood movement with police who looked more like an invading force than a protecting one.

There's another, perhaps more poignant reason why the authorities were right to step to one side: people have a right to grieve. No, people don't generally have the right to commit acts of violence, but this was no ordinary death and this was no ordinary person.

Deyandra Cash gave hope to millions through her advocacy of the Sovereign Black Neighborhood movement. She watched as Alex Wright was murdered by Philadelphia police during the Germantown massacre; she was arrested; she gave a passionate and stirring rebuttal of the charges against her during her trial; she spent two years of her life in prison (ministering to and advocating for the rights of other black women prisoners); and she then devoted the rest of her brief life to helping black people attain the justice they are supposed to be born deserving.

Cash was a friend to LaTawnee Easton, Queen Shon'ae, Linda Igwe, Lynette Seymour, Tichatonga Baldwin and just about every other major player in the Fight Against Hate. She didn't just connect with African-American concerns: Cash could be seen with her arms around Peter van Schenkenburg, Lima Trigworth, Brazil Jones or Cetanwakuwa at any given moment. She gave time to all who were downtrodden by this sometimes vicious nation.

People have a right to mourn in their own way. They have a right to express emotion. They have a right to lash out at the world, especially when the world is this unfair, this much, this often.

And in this case, a colossal loss justified a colossal response, especially when it was a likely conservative zealot who took away hope this day. You see for conservatives, it's not enough to enjoy hundreds of years of supremacy at the expense of others - when those others rise, they have to be murdered.

This justifies a violent response.

There was something poetic, something historically symmetrical about the destruction which has occurred today (and which according to onlookers is still occurring in parts of DC). The history of racial, sexual and cultural minorities has been p***ed on for centuries, and today protesters attacked centuries of architectural history in the nation's capital.

The Supreme Court was one of the first buildings sacked. The Smithsonian. The National Gallery of Art. The National Archives. The Library of Congress. The House and Senate Office Buildings. The US Navy Memorial Plaza. And on, and on, and on they went.

This was justice in action, and a people freeing themselves of pain.

I truly believe we've all known for some time that our nation was due this kind of reckoning. The kind where we all are forced to look in the mirror at what we have wrought or had wrought upon us. This day was due, where despised and persecuted people, suffering one injustice too many, take a city into their own hands and fashion it with the same force and effect they have experienced for lifetimes.

I am aware that lives were lost today. Protesters took lives. I do not blame the protesters.

When a father loses his children, do you blame the father for breaking a few windows? Of course not.

In this case I blame the authorities, for not recognizing the scale of emotion sweeping through the audience on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol Building. I blame them for not evacuating the city faster. They thought - again - that the minority's experience could be swept under the rug. Blood is on their hands. Not Collectively's hands, or Flu.id's hands, or Gen.eration's hands, or Designate's hands.

The people were clearly out for blood today. The police were right to stand aside.

Next time, it may be their turn.
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