*Editor’s Note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.
Several African Americans have died at the hands of police officers this year. Although the country is shocked by these outrageous police killings, there is almost no protest or rioting this time.
Everyone can still vividly remember the events of the tumultuous summer of 2020. Most Americans would not want to return to that time and suffer the looting, arson and murder. However, it’s too early to discount the popularity and influence of Black Lives Matter. Before the next presidential election, BLM activists may once again start a street war in major U.S. cities.
In January 2023, Keenan Anderson, the cousin of a BLM co-founder, died at the hands of Los Angeles police officers. He caused a car accident and tried to flee the scene. Though Anderson didn’t resist the arrest at first, he then stopped cooperating and was tased six times. In addition, police officers restrained Anderson and placed him in a chokehold to subdue him.
Although Anderson received medical attention at the scene and was taken to a hospital, he went into cardiac arrest and died on Jan. 3. In police-edited body camera footage of the incident, Anderson can be heard saying that the police were trying to “George Floyd” him. Just like Floyd, there was evidence that Anderson had drugs in his system.
There were pro-BLM pickets in Los Angeles in Anderson’s memory, but there were no riots this time.
Another scandalous incident involving the death of an African American took place in Atlanta, Georgia.
In January 2023, Tyre Nichols was stopped for a traffic-related issue by five Black officers, who attempted to arrest him for reckless driving. Nichols refused to cooperate and was severely beaten by the officers. The police officers maced, used tasers on, kicked and punched Nichols him for 15 minutes. Consequently, Nichols died from internal bleeding before the paramedics arrived.
This incident is particularly outrageous given that all of the police officers involved in Nichols’ murder were Black and were tried for manslaughter.
Fearing new riots, Georgia prudently imposed a statewide curfew. Some African American groups staged protests, but they ended quickly.
Finally, a Black man was recently killed in New York City.
Jordan Neely was a 30-year-old African American man who often performed in the New York subway. He was known to local riders as a Michael Jackson impersonator and occasional panhandler. Neely also had a history of mental illness and a long history of arrests, 42 to be exact, including one for attempted kidnapping. Apparently, he would often panhandle on the subway, home to many homeless people, and would sometimes harass local riders. On the day in question, Neely was acting in a hostile and erratic manner, so he was tackled by fellow passengers and placed in a chokehold by ex-Marine Daniel Penny. Neely began to suffocate and stopped moving.
Initially, the police did not charge Penny because he claimed he was acting to protect others on the subway from an aggressive local crazy. It is also true that law enforcement practically ignores the problem of the homeless on the subway. There are simply not enough prisons to deal with all of them.
However, now BLM and human rights activists have become involved in the case. They have organized daily demonstrations at the subway station where Neely died. The protesters often bear banners containing Neely’s last words: “I have nothing to eat, I have nothing to drink.” Yet this street campaign has yielded no results. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office charged Penny with second-degree manslaughter.
Many Republicans support what Penny did. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is challenging Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential primaries, called the ex-Marine a good Samaritan. DeSantis also suggested that Penny move to Florida as soon as he is acquitted. Penny will obviously argue that he was only protecting people from a local lunatic who could have pushed someone under a train.
It is quite probable that Neely was also a drug addict. In any case, his autopsy report is still not available to the public.
All of these tragic incidents are very different from each other. Some are classic examples of police violence, which is not unusual in the U.S. Other cases are much more complicated. However, each time an African American is killed, BLM and other organizations try to stir citizens to protest, mostly to no avail..
The public is not really interested in protest because people have a lot on their plates these days. After all, for several years now, Americans have faced a severe inflation crisis marked by rising prices on a scale unseen in the past 40 years. It comes as no surprise that people don’t want to take to the street to protest because they need to work hard to support their families.
In addition, Americans suffered enough from the 2020 riots. First and foremost, the protests led to rising crime rates, which have gone through the roof in America’s most liberal cities. The 2020-2021 homicide rate skyrocketed by as much as 40% to all-time highs seen only in the mid-’90s.
Police reform in many major cities led by Democrats has played a major role destabilizing the crime situation. These cities began to downsize their police force and elect extremely progressive prosecutors who refuse to file charges. For example, the local prosecutor in Washington simply declined to file charges for 60% of all those arrested in 2022. No wonder Washington, New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles and many other major cities are dealing with an unprecedented surge of violent crime.
There are no large-scale street protests simply because people have lost faith in BLM over the past few years. BLM activists have been caught up in numerous corruption scandals. BLM co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors bought herself several expensive houses thanks to BLM donations, including a luxurious mansion in Malibu.*
Khan-Cullors also gave generous “grants” worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to members of her family to reward them for their invaluable contributions to the movement. She spent $37 million to help her family escape the ghetto.*
Once the scandal broke, Khan-Cullors was replaced by another activist, Shalomyah Bowers. However, he was also caught stealing. As a new BLM leader, he “siphoned” $10 million in fees from donors to pay his consulting firm.**
BLM activists counter all the accusations by claiming that they are trying to “decolonize” the concept of charity. However, everyone can clearly see that this organization has become corrupt. Not surprisingly, their 2022 donations have dropped by 88%, from $77 million to $9 million.
Still, it is too early to discount the influence of the BLM movement because its history is full of ups and downs.
BLM was founded in 2013 during Barack Obama’s presidency in response to the acquittal of the man who killed Trayvon Martin. Then BLM wasn’t particularly active for several years – until the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and the 2020 presidential race was already underway. Democrats supported BLM simply because they were trying to stir things up and prevent Trump from being reelected.
It is quite possible that BLM will become important once again as we approach the 2024 presidential election. BLM activists may also organize protests if Trump wins the election. After all, American society is becoming increasingly divided. Someone will definitely try to rock the boat to fulfill their political interests, and they’re highly likely to engage BLM’s help.
However, it will require special conditions. One cannot start a fire without a spark. Sooner or later there will be new street protests and riots. Perhaps they are only a year away.
*Editor’s note: Patrisse Cullors is alleged to have misused BLM funds but has not been charged with any crime as of the date this article was originally published.
**Editor’s note: Shalomyah Bowers has been named in civil lawsuit charging that he misappropriated funds, but he has not been held liable nor charged with any crime as of the date this article was originally published.