If you submit to your enemies, you win!
They are images that surprised and moved Americans: police officers taking a knee alongside protesters in the most widespread civil unrest to rock the nation in decades — and in doing so embracing an anti-racism gesture denounced by President Donald Trump.
As Trump pushes for a crackdown on often violent protests over the death of George Floyd, police officers from New York to Los Angeles to Houston are making gestures of solidarity with demonstrators incensed at the latest case of an unarmed black man dying while in police custody.
“I took off the helmet and laid the batons down. Where do you want to walk? We’ll walk all night,” Chris Swanson, the white sheriff in Flint, Michigan, shouted to a group of protesters on Saturday.
Then Swanson did just that, setting off walking with them, to cheers. He even posed for a selfie with a young black protester, and gave the thumbs up sign.
In Des Moines, Iowa, police chief Dana Wingert took a knee before a crowd of demonstrators along with other officers and explained it this way: “Us joining them in a symbolic way, that’s the least we can do.”
In an intense scene captured on camera Monday in New York, the city’s white police chief Terence Monahan knelt and clenched hands with protest leaders, arms raised high, as a way to show support and shared outrage at Floyd’s death.
“Moments like that are how I know we will find a way through,” tweeted the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, in response.
Similar scenes have played out in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Georgia — as well as in the capital Washington.
(Part 2 of 2) pic.twitter.com/X8vGndptLZ
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) June 1, 2020
Leading politicians have adopted the gesture, from Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden to the mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, who dropped to a knee along with a line of officers as they mingled with demonstrators near city hall on Tuesday.
In some cases, the police outreach appears wholly genuine — a case of individuals pledging their solidarity with the anti-racism cause, and seeking an absolution of sorts for police abuses past.
At other times, the kneeling has served to defuse soaring tensions — raising the question of whether it is more of a de-escalation tactic.
This is positive reinforcement for a negative behavior.
They are learning that if they riot, the police will just submit to them in the day and let them loot all night.
At this point, it’s not even a racial issue. You could probably train Swedes to loot and riot, if you just showed them Swedes getting free stuff and being knelt to by the police on Sven TV.
A few of them would try it very carefully, and then when they saw that it worked, pretty soon even the timid and law-abiding among them would be out there, making off with the plasma TVs. If you tell people that they rule over you, they will usually say, “okay.”
If you want people to not do a thing, you need to give them a response they don’t like.
Here’s an example.