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.

Podcast episode 40: Interview with Marc MacYoung

I am traveling and have limited time on the computer, which is why the episodes are late. But here is the promised podcast interview with Marc MacYoung. We talked about all sorts of topics and  I think you’ll enjoy this episode a lot. You can listen to the bonus episode on Patreon here. Enjoy!

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You’re surrounded by killers while pretending you are not

Just this weekend, I taught a self-defense course for teenage girls ages 17-18. It was set up after the recent murder of Julie Van Espen here in Belgium, which sparked outrage and shock throughout the population. A concerned parent went beyond just that and did what most people don’t do: he took action. Through a mutual friend, he got in touch with me and we discussed the course before setting it up. I talked about how prevention and avoidance is at the heart of it and how the girls shouldn’t expect to be bad-ass Wonder Woman warriors at the end of it. He understood and communicated this clearly to the parents of all the participants.

During the course, I had to burst some bubbles about self-defense and what it means to keep yourself safe. This happens every time I teach a new group, as most people have a very distorted view of the realities of violence. To be clear, this is through no fault of their own.  We simply live in historically unprecedented low levels of violence for a large portion of the population: it’s been 75 years since the last war over here, which hasn’t happened in at least a millennium.  In daily life, most people are also not confronted with violence. It just isn’t a part of their lives. So it’s no wonder they have erroneous information and opinions on it.

It’s my job to punch a hole in those myths and try to recalibrate their world view.

There are many aspects to doing that in a way one that actually gets results instead of resistance. That is also difficult, at best, as it encompasses lots of information. For example:

Most (unfortunately, not all) teenage girls have not yet experienced what it is like to have an adult male use his full strength against them.

Even if they have fought with boys before, those kinds of conflicts rarely escalate to that point. What’s more, an adult male is at a different strength level than a teenage boy, and it is a completely different experience when facing the one instead of the other.  For instance, an adult man has on average 70% more upper body strength and 50% lower body strength. Those numbers should give you pause as a woman/girl, but experiencing it is a whole other dimension of understanding.

To get them startedon that path, I show them the video of a man viciously attacking two young women, striking them like he would another man. Then I take the most athletic girl in the group in a (gentle) bear hug and lock my arms so there is no more give in them. Then she can do whatever she wants to break free.

She never does.

I am above average strong and have experience handling people who don’t want to be handled. In this case, the girl increasingly realized she was stuck and at my mercy and began to feel uncomfortable. Which is when I immediately let her go. I obviously made sure I didn’t hurt her, nor let her hurt herself trying to get out.

Then I repeated my point that as a woman, fighting head-on against a man is generally a losing proposition. The odds are against you as there are factors beyond your control that put you at a distinct disadvantage. Once the girls finished expressing their “that’s not fair!” outrage, I explained that this is why the prevention and avoidance techniques I spent most of the course teaching and roleplaying with them are so important: If you can avoid a fight in which you have terrible odds, then that’s a win. You only fight when you have no other choice. But when you do, you do so with all you’ve got because you know just how much trouble you’re in.

As an aside, the smallest girl of the group understood that just fine. She hit the pads with ferocity and had no problem simulating deep eye gouges while wrenching the attacker’s neck. Though her stature makes her more of a target, she has the right mindset when it comes to defending herself…

As another aside, if you have teenage girls or young women you want to keep safe, give them my podcast episode on Self-defense tips for young women

Click the image for the video

Another example, and the point of this post:

The murder of Julie Van Espen is at the extreme end of the violence scale and is not the norm. Teenage girls are more likely to face other acts of violence, but a stone-cold killer is more horrifying than those. So it is natural to focus on that specific danger and ignore the other kinds that are more of a direct threat. I explained the statistics of violence and how unlikely they are to become the victim of such an extreme crime. Obviously, they should not ignore the possibility, but there are more common threats and prevention is the best approach in all cases.

What I didn’t talk about is the part I’ll mention here, as that’s a message for adults: [Read more…]