I have a question for my friends on the left: Do you think this is helping?
By “this,” I mean a display I scarcely even need to define anymore. Riots, looting, intimidation — all seemingly born out of a sense of not only righteousness but also control. They’re the ones in charge of the narrative now, thank you, and they’ll be the ones doing what it is they want to do.
Pittsburgh is the latest city to bear witness to this phenomenon. Anti-police demonstrators, newly energized over retroactive outrage stemming from the March death of Daniel Prude in police custody in Rochester, New York, marched downtown to the house of Mayor Bill Peduto over the weekend. Before it was over, two clips began circulating on social media featuring protesters engaging in random acts of violence on the way there.
In one clip, demonstrators harassed diners at a restaurant while screaming racist obscenities at them over a megaphone.
“F— the white people that built the system,” the megaphonist yelled.
There was also “F— the police” and “F— 12,” which is a reference to the police narcotics unit. (Going macro and micro, I see.) The individual called the diners an “embarrassment.”
A female demonstrator with a shirt reading “Nazi Lives Don’t Matter” then walked over to a table and gulped down a patron’s drink. Another protester gave other diners the finger, just to bring the point home.
A glass could be heard smashing in the background, as could a drum-led chant of “No justice, no peace, f— the police!”
WARNING: The following videos contain graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.
BLM harasses an elderly couple at a restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA
— Courtney Holland – Text COURTNEY to 88022 (@hollandcourtney) September 7, 2020
Activist Lorenzo Rulli told WTAE-TV that there was more behind this clip, because of course there was.
“People eating at the restaurant, sat there, some of them cheered us on because they saw what happened in its entirety,” Rulli said Monday.
“Some of them asked what was going on. Some of them made really negative statements, so I stopped and I addressed that statement and I also addressed a woman who wanted to hear what was going on,” he said. “To hear why we had to march right through there. Why we were talking to them.
“A lot of people are saying we’re targeting the businesses, but that’s not the case. We eat at these restaurants. We know most of these owners downtown. They invite us into their spaces. They bring water out for us when we march. We sat there and watched the employees cheer us on because it was not an attack on the restaurant.
“People were starting to get aggressive towards us because they didn’t see what happened. But the other people actually didn’t care. They got up out of their seats and moved to the side so that we could address the people who actually were making remarks.”
There isn’t video corroboration of this, nor could much cheering be heard on the video among patrons of the restaurant. There also didn’t seem to be any dialogue with the patrons where protesters stopped and addressed statements, as Rulli seemed to claim.
Also, while there may have been an explanation of why they had “to march right through there,” there isn’t any explanation of why they smashed glasses, drank someone’s drink or were screaming “F— the white people that built the system,” “F— police” and “F— 12,” or how this behavior was beneficial to their cause.
And then there was this explanation that Nique Craft, the protester who said she gulped down the drink, had for the incident. She said the woman had told her she would buy her a beer.
“I said, ‘I don’t have time to wait for the beer you’re going to order me,’” Craft told TribLive on Monday. “I walked in, I picked up her beer, I drank it, I sat the glass down. What other people did after that I did not know until today.”
“I thought it was a rapport between me and this lady,” she added.
Another video from the same restaurant showed the crowd following a bicyclist with the leader of the protests having positioned the megaphone mere inches from the head of the cyclist.
When the man used the megaphone to push the head of the cyclist, he hit the megaphone back. Someone else, in turn, hit him in the back of the head harder:
Yet again, there was a reason for this.
“There was an agitator in the crowd who was being aggressive and physical with peaceful protesters,” Rulli said. “We do what we do to keep us safe in any capacity when the police do not engage when it is their time. It’s your time to engage when someone is throwing blows at peaceful protesters.”
The cyclist, according to Rulli, had ridden through the crowd and had groped one of the protesters.
“The biker drove through the protest and instead of taking heed to the fact that there was an issue with the noise amongst his group, he actually got off of his bike and engaged violently. He put his hand on someone’s breast,” Rulli claimed.
“So when we got to the point when he was being engaged I no longer even cared because I saw him put his hands on someone’s breast. My job now is to engage the people who are watching and educate them on what’s happening and that’s what we began to do.”
First, it’s worth noting the best education would be a video of these allegations; despite the fact most of these demonstrations are covered from more camera angles than your average Super Bowl, there hasn’t been a single video to emerge that proves his claim.
Furthermore, once that video has been taken against an accused offender, it should be noted these protests are hardly bereft of police. If someone has committed sexual assault against a demonstrator, there’s an easy way to rectify this: Find the police and accuse that person. I understand there’s a trust issue here, but this clip is demonstrative of why we give police officers the power of law enforcement to begin with and don’t just turn it over to mobs.
Another clip, which showed the same group harassing a manager inside a McDonald’s, went unaddressed by Rulli. However, in a tweet, photojournalist Ed Thompson said that the restaurant manager “was upset that the protest was in front of the store. The crowd agreed to go in and give them a few hundred dollars worth of food orders. As they were giving the food to the protestors, the manager; started to get nasty with them.”
The manager(Ed) @ this McD’s was upset that the protest was in front of the store. The crowd agreed to go in and give them a few hundred dollars worth of food orders. As they were giving the food to the protestors, the manager; started to get nasty with them @PghCurrent @WPXI pic.twitter.com/K3lwfF3ATc
— Ed Thompson (@ThompsonFoto12) September 6, 2020
Without definitively saying there’s no additional context here — there likely is — it’s worth noting that in every situation the activists involved cite some additional circumstances that they feel completely exculpate them. That’s combined with a total lack of physical evidence that’s how it happened.
In every situation, there’s still no justification for their actions. At no point does someone else’s lawless behavior excuse the lawless and intimidatory behavior caught on camera.
Police are now investigating the protests, and my assumption is that — except in the possible case of the bicyclists — no one who wasn’t among the demonstrators will, or should, receive attention from law enforcement.
And that brings us back to the most critical point: How is this helping?
When protesters squared off against diners in Washington, D.C., last month in a similar fashion, there wasn’t any additional context that made it look good to outsiders:
— RawsMedia (@rawsmedia) August 25, 2020
BLM scumbags demand that diners at restaurant raise their fists for black power. Brave young couple retains dignity, refuses. Be that couple. Don’t be the embarrassing mustachioed coward to the right who has forfeited his dignity for all time.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) August 25, 2020
Surely Lorenzo Rulli, Nique Craft, Ed Thompson and other demonstrators and apologists saw this and realized the effect it had. Did it register with them?
If it didn’t, that’s an unpleasant augury.
If it did — and they thought the payoff was worth it — that’s even worse.
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