Unintended consequences of the George Floyd protests and riots, part two

Read this first: Unintended consequences of the George Floyd protests and riots.

Then watch this:

  • A few things:
    She lies about not having a firearm on her. Breaking News! People lie to the police, in particular when they have done something wrong.
  • She is compliant, right up to the point where she isn’t. In the blink of an eye, the script is switched.
  • When she attacks, she immediately scales up all the way to lethal force. No slow ramp up, just skip straight to the killing part.
  • Notice how many times the officer has to tell the men to stay away. Why? Because they in no way help the situation and more likely than not make it more difficult to handle. E.g.: she immediately becomes verbally aggressive when they are close to her.
  • Despite being asked to hang back, the man stays close. When she runs, she runs in his direction. Notice how he then has to run for cover because suddenly, every bullet is coming in his direction too…

If you can accept the above in this case, apply the same logic to other incidents where you instinctively want to yell at the cops for not trusting the suspect, stopping them “without reason”, etc.

Why?

Because:

  • You don’t have all the facts. Unless you made the call, you don’t know why the police were called. In this case, the caller said the woman fired a gun. Unless you saw it yourself, you don’t know that. All you see is the police arresting a woman “for no reason”. You’d be wrong in thinking that. You’d be even more wrong in interfering because of it…
  • Even if she hadn’t fired the gun, she had an outstanding warrant for her arrest: you don’t know that. That “for no reason” narrative is only true in your own head.
  • There is no way to predict which incidents will explode into lethal force like this one and which ones will not. Rewatch the video. She is compliant all the way except for the end. Had she not pulled the gun, she most likely would not have been shot. Point is, what *looks* like compliance can *always* escalate in this way.
  • Re. the previous point: when an officer gives you a *lawful* order, follow it. There are reasons for this, including both their and your safety (remember the guy not hanging back when told and then bullets whizzing at him?) and not escalating a situation. There are procedures, no matter how imperfect, they have to follow for many reasons they don’t have to explain to you.

The folks at police activity do good work IMO. No drama, no outrage clickbait headlines, just (relatively) neutral presenting the video evidence, including the cases of bad use of force.

I wish PDs around the world would spend more time explaining what I just did here above, give examples of what they face every day, and why they do things a certain way. There is too much misinformation and delusional thinking about violence, as well as what it takes to handle it.

This is not without horrible consequences…

Which ones?

Let’s start here: [Read more…]

Unintended consequences of the George Floyd protests and riots

UPDATE: Here is part two on unintended consequences.

Loads of stuff going on in the world since George Floyd was killed. Some of it is positive, some is neutral. But a lot of it is also very, very bad. I’ve written about that in the past here on my blog, but the last few years mostly for my Patrons here. This week I wrote 3500+ words on the current state of affairs. The main reason I pulled back from doing so publicly is that too often it was like talking to a wall. The people who understood already knew. Those who didn’t all too often didn’t want to see. There were exceptions, of course, but dealing with folks who only want to shout at you for having a different opinion is a waste of my time.

Fast forward to today.

The US is burning and so are many countries across the world. It doesn’t look like it’s going to stop soon. It seemed to fizzle out a bit, but I expect this to continue for a while. At best, it slows down enough for life to resume more or less. At worst it escalates. Either way, when the US elections happen in November, my money is on more violence.

I’m not going to argue over the validity of the protests. If you live in a country where you have a right to do so, then by all means go ahead. Personally, I don’t believe protests are effective and have many negative side effects too. I live 10min. from a city where every three out of four days, there are protests, year-round and this for years on end. From what I’ve seen, it never changed anything on a fundamental level except once. And even with this one is debatable if things turned out for the better. But if you feel different, that is your right.

The destruction, rioting, and looting? No. Just flat out no. Any justification you can come up with can be refuted by this question:

Is it OK if other people do it to you for reasons you don’t care about but they do?

If you answer “yes”, then I applaud you for being consistent. I also wish you luck when the mob comes for you. Remember to not stand in their way or defend what is yours. Because if the riots today are justified, then those are too. If you condone it in principle, the principle applies also when you have skin in the game.

If you answer “no” then you are a hypocrite. Shame on you. All you want is power and you don’t care who gets hurt. Shame. On. You.

Regardless of what you think or feel, the situation is what it is. And the actions of protestors, rioters, and looters along with those of the media, politicians, and celebrities have consequences. Some are good, others neutral and some downright frightening. I won’t go into all of them, but I will talk about unintended consequences.

Unintended consequences

Wikipedia mentions three categories:

  • Unexpected benefit: A positive unexpected benefit (also referred to as luck, serendipity or a windfall).
  • Unexpected drawback: An unexpected detriment occurring in addition to the desired effect of the policy.
  • Perverse result: A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended (when an intended solution makes a problem worse).

This is a workable definition for the concept. Let’s go over these three categories with some examples as they relate to the current situation.

 

Unexpected benefit

At the very least, you can say that the issues of police brutality and racism are front and center. Everybody is talking about it. The news is full of it, politicians talk about it non-stop, it’s all over the place and this for weeks on end. I think that’s a good thing.  Police officers abusing their badge or being overly violent is wrong, period. If they are guilty of that, then they should be punished to the full extent of the law. In modern society, we place the monopoly of violence in their hands. The corollary to that is that they can’t abuse it and that they need to use it for our benefit, according to the law.

There are bad cops, just like there are bad doctors, firemen, nurses, lawyers, secretaries, painters, clerks, etc. until the end of time. All of my LEO friends agree with me on that. I believe it is in everybody’s interest that all LEOs police their own and weed out the bad apples. If not, then we can talk about being complicit in their crimes or at the very least, looking away. We saw with George Floyd’s death what that looks like for civilians. We’re also living with the consequences of it now…

So to all LEOs out there, don’t protect those who don’t deserve it. You know who the bad apples are if you’ve worked with them. Don’t look away because now more than ever, and for most of you undeservedly so, you are under the microscope. If there is anything good that can come out of this on your end, then this might be a part of it.

 

Unexpected drawback

There are a bunch of these,  I won’t cover them all but here goes:

  • People leave the cities. Apparently, 25% of Minneapolis homes and 43% of apartments hit the market after the riots there. I’m going to oversimplify things for brevity’s sake, but here is the snowball effect this creates: people leave – they take their income with them – the taxable base diminishes – the city has less tax revenue – taxes have to go up to keep the city running. Here’s another train of thought to follow: all businesses these people frequented lose revenue – if they aren’t fully insured, some of these will have trouble surviving as they try to rebuild their looted and vandalized establishments – losing revenue can mean they go bankrupt.
  • It’s not just Minneapolis. In San Francisco, people are also leaving and the same is happening in other cities. There are additional factors in play, but the riots seem to have accelerated this dynamic. See the previous for some of the consequences this creates for those who remain.
  • Companies leave. This is one example, but there are more. In short, businesses got burned to the ground or vandalized and looted. Many business owners feel the city let them down. Given the choice, they prefer relocating elsewhere. Which means a loss of jobs. During what might become the worst economic depression in a century…
  • Existing companies were already in trouble. Like I wrote above, there is a potential economic catastrophe brewing due to Covid19. E.g.: Starbucks is permanently closing 400 locations. A quick Google Maps search showed me about 20 locations in Minneapolis. When the company decides which locations to close, do you think they’ll take into account the situation I described in the previous bullets? It seems likely they would…
  • The police and policing are changing. I mentioned the potentially positive consequences before; here are some negative ones. Officers are resigning across the country, for a variety of reasons but many have to do with the protests and riots. Many people want to defund the police and allocate those resources elsewhere. Minneapolis will actually abolish its police force.  This will radically change how PDs work right now and in the near future. At a minimum, this will create chaos and uncertainty in the short term. Chaos in law enforcement tends to favor only one group: those who want to break the law. Case in point: in Los Angeles, the first week of the protests and riots saw murders increase 250%. Other cities also saw increases in crime.

I could go on but I’ll stop here. Let’s look at the perverse effects now.

Perverse result

Now we get to the really bad stuff.

  • Can cities survive? With over 400 businesses damaged or destroyed, the cost to Minneapolis is estimated at 500 million dollars. Even if the business is fully insured, it can take over a year to rebuild it. In the meantime: zero income and no jobs for the locals. Multiply this by 400 and then understand how the economy of the city is in ruins. This is a critical factor in making cities not recover for fifty years and eventually go bankrupt…
  • Who gets hurt? The perverse consequence of all the above is that minorities are likely to be hurt the most. The mom and pop stores of their local communities are either gone or will suffer in the near future and likely not survive. The often low-income jobs in all the restaurants, shops, stores, and other businesses: gone.
  • Minority-owned businesses are destroyed too. In the name of justice for black people, black businesses are destroyed. I fail to see how that helps black people… Here’s an example from (as far as I could find out) the Rodney King riots:

  • Generational setback. Look at the above video again and listen to what he says: he worked his way out of the ghetto and managed to start his business. I’ve no doubt he worked hard for it. Then the rioters and looters take it away. Here’s something you should know: poverty and marginalization are often generational. Breaking out of those is difficult, to put it mildly. One of the best ways to do improve your financial situation in your lifetime is to start a business, make it successful and then sell it. A second-best way is to pass it on to your children who then have their own lifetime to make it grow and prosper, lifting up the rest of the family along the way.  Do this right, and you have a chance to create generational wealth that is passed on into the future. So what the rioters did to this man was not only destroy what took him a tremendous amount of time and effort to build, they also destroyed his chance to pass it on to his children. His entire family is set back multiple generations. I again fail to see how this all helps black people.
  • Potential for violence. All the above, combined with an ongoing pandemic, means society at large will see a vastly increased potential for violence. The kind which affects everybody, likely black people and other minorities the most.

 

Conclusion

This isn’t meant to be a final analysis of anything. This is just me giving my opinion on what I see happening and what I don’t see the media talking about. It’s only a part of my opinion: I’m angry like I have rarely been before. Because history teaches us what comes next.  The things I have feared for years would happen are increasingly a reality. I predict it will all get a lot worse before it can get better.  Nothing I can do about it now, alea jacta est a long time ago. I’ll just keep on doing what I have done for the past few decades: write, teach and hope some people find it useful.

Stay safe.

Quarantine reading and help note

A few days ago, I released my podcast episode on the Coronavirus and Personal Safety. You can listen to it here:

The situation is rapidly escalating here in Europe and chances are that where you live it already is or will get to that point soon. Governments are increasingly recommending people to stay at home or enforcing quarantines.

Two things:

First, individuals survive best when they work together and some people need help. Here is a form you can print out and use to stand together in your community. Some instructions for it and safety tips are here:

Feel free to share this with anybody who might find this useful:In my podcast about the Coronavirus and personal…

Posted by Wim Demeere's Page on Saturday, March 14, 2020

 

Second,

I discounted all my self-published books to $2.99 and will keep them at this price for a week. If you are forced to stay home and want something to read and keep you busy, these books might be a good choice for you:

Fingers crossed this is all behind us soon, but in the meantime: stay safe.

Training to take a life

This article was originally published in my Patreon Newsletter a long time ago. The topic of training to take a life came up recently in my Facebook group and it made me think of what I learned from one of my informal teachers. One of the most important lessons he ever taught me was this:

“One needs embrace neither hatred nor anger to identify and kill an enemy.”

Slugg

Adhering to this concept has many implications. It changes how you train and act, but also how you view the world. I won’t cover everything, but some things stand out right away. In the Facebook group, we talked about the importance of including mercy in your training as well. Not every fight is to the death and training as if it is has a cost attached to it should you ever use your training to take a life. That’s what I will talk about below.

Here goes:

 

Training to take a life? You serve them.

I posted this quote on my Patreon page about a year ago.  A friend of mine wrote it in an email to me. He passed away last year, and I still miss him dearly.

In that post, I wrote “Hatred and anger do not serve you, you serve them” and I stand by those words. It dawned on me that I never really explained them, so here goes.

First, some more about his background. He was one of the smartest people I have ever known, a true Renaissance man. He led an incredible and varied life, some of it you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I am not gullible and obviously verified some of what he told me; it checks out. I have no reason to believe he ever lied to me, on the contrary. My point is that his knowledge and wisdom came from surviving extremely violent situations not once, but on a routine basis. That kind of thing gives you a very different perspective on life than most people have.

He spent several decades in the military and fought in three wars. He was involved in black ops and was on the ground during certain conflicts you learn about in the history books. Though you couldn’t see it in his demeanor, he was a fierce man. To give you an idea: when he came out of his SERE training, the first thing he said was “This was great. Let’s do it again.” and went back for a second time.

He saw combat and knew what it was to take a life. He also knew the consequences of doing so. That was one of the things he taught me; what it truly means to take somebody’s life by force. I don’t often write about this because too many keyboard warriors talk tough about this subject already. I don’t want to get dragged into discussions with those guys if I can help it so usually, I reserve certain topics for in-person conversations.

Training to take a life

I stayed at his house over ten years ago and wanted a picture of us and the dogs altogether, just for me. He agreed and said the picture needed something more. So he went away and when he came back, he handed me the two guns with a smile on his face. This picture was taken right after. I have blurred his face out of respect for his wife and family so they can remain anonymous too.

 

Death is final, living with taking a life too.

As to the quote, it is one of the key lessons Slugg taught me and this for a variety of reasons:

First, because it is the hallmark of the professional, which is what my friend was most of all. For the professional, killing is a tool in the toolbox. It is not to be celebrated or enjoyed, nor avoided at all cost. Sometimes, it is what needs to be done and then you do so with efficiency. Hate and anger have no place in that mindset. They only get in the way.

Dehumanization training is often a part of the preparation for military (and other violent) conflicts. More insights about that here. Though stripping the enemy of his humanity works, it is not the end-stage in the development of the professional. There is a mindset beyond it, which I described above: taking the enemy’s life is a “mechanical” act, for lack of a better term. It doesn’t require emotional investment. We could argue whether cultivating this ability is a good or a bad thing for the individual soldier, but that’s beyond the scope of this article. The point stands: there is more than one way to train somebody to take a life.

Second, though hate and anger can certainly drive a person to take another’s life, they also cloud your judgment. This impairs the decision-making process and limits tactical thinking. Neither is a good thing when it comes to surviving violent situations where lethal force is on the table. If you need to use emotions to whip yourself into a state where you can kill, the person dying might just be you. Because you can be sure that your opponent will do all he can to exploit any mistake you make as you get carried away by them…

Finally, all the reasons why you decide to take a life need to make sense when you are no longer in danger. Because from that point on, you have a lifetime to relive your actions and second-guess your motivations and decisions.

Was it really the only option to kill that man? Really? Was there nothing else you could have done?

What about the events that led up to it? Did you drop the ball there? Was there something you messed up or neglected to do that put you on the path of leaving you no other option but to kill?

The questions you’ll have to face are endless and they can haunt you to the point of breaking your spirit.

Granted, not everybody suffers these doubts to the same degree and some don’t suffer them at all. But a whole lot of people do. The problem is that you’ll only know in which category you fall once it’s too late to change a thing about it. You better be damned sure of how justified you are before you pull that trigger. Because that justification needs to stand the test of time and anger or hate very often don’t cut it in the long run. Also bear in mind: I haven’t even touched on the legal consequences of your actions…

 

Training to take a life? Think it through before you need your training.

All this is one of the many reasons why I advocate avoidance and de-escalation when it comes to conflict in general and in particular to situations leading to lethal use of force.

Training to take life changes you.

Doing it changes you even more.

Either way, you might not like what you become.