As the media escort us through the days of riots and pillaging in America’s major cities, it’s essential to keep in mind that the mainstream media are trying to shift the focus toward partisan themes, and away from what truly helps us see and assess what’s going on.
If you went solely by mainstream media themes over the last 24 hours, you’d think that what mattered was a media-fostered sense of outrage about President Trump’s “photo op” at the church on Lafayette Square.
But if you want to focus on what makes a difference to the outcome of the current crisis, and whether it can be gotten under control, it is imperative to look at other things.
One is a hopeful sign that we can reasonably expect to see develop further. The sign is simply this: there was less apparent looting and mayhem on Tuesday night in major cities east of the Great Plains.
This was something remarked on (with differing degrees of explicitness) at the major 24-hour news channels: CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. It’s hard to find a single, filed story with a headline showcasing that trend. But it was evident in general commentary on the news shows; and on Fox, the anchors for their extended live coverage addressed it directly and framed it as a point.
This somewhat encouraging trend was in large part because of increased security force deployments, both military and law enforcement, in the affected cities. Roads have been closed off, security perimeters hardened around certain targets (government buildings, large retail stores), and barriers put up. Many of the barriers have armed police – in some places soldiers – deployed in ranks behind them, preventing passage by crowds.
The work of restoring order is by no means done, but it’s a beginning.
We shouldn’t dismiss the positive nature of this. The media spent Tuesday reporting as if all the news were uniformly bad. And it’s true, few would suggest that it’s been affirmatively good. But for the moment, the trend of destructive mayhem has ticked down a bit. That, coupled with the next three points, is what I would focus on from the last couple of days.
The first point of the three doesn’t sound like good news at all. But it’s in some ways better than good news, because it’s operationally useful news. It tells us something very important. You probably haven’t heard about it at all from the MSM.
The target set in this early phase
Daniel Greenfield did an extraordinary job putting it together for FrontPage on Tuesday. It’s a tally of injuries caused to law enforcement officers by the rioting mobs since the protests began.
The tally on 2 June was 431. A huge number of these injuries have come from deliberate attacks on the officers. Many readers will be aware that law enforcement officers have been slain in targeted killings as well, such as David Patrick Underwood in Oakland, a Federal Protective Service officer who was shot while guarding the federal building there, and retired St. Louis police Captain David Dorn, shot outside a pawn shop by looters.
Others, like Officer Shay Mikalonis in Las Vegas, who was shot in the head from behind by someone in a rioting crowd, have sustained life-threatening injuries. Mikalonis is reportedly on life support.
Most of the injuries have come from mob thuggery: throwing bricks and bottles, attacking squad cars with officers in them, assaulting cops who wade into situations trying to break up attacks on non-rioting protesters. Some of them are from more exotic causes like wielding Molotov cocktails, and coordinated mob assaults on precinct buildings.
But it’s the focus of the professional thugs lurking in the crowds – their focus on attacking the police – that counts. Greenfield’s article is meant to highlight that for us, and it does.
This protests-turning-to-riots phase is about attacking the police. It’s about targeting them, outmanning them, giving them too much to handle, reducing the force structure, making them skittish, draining their confidence, causing them to fall back, hesitate, lose their focus.
We could spend 5,000 words on the awfulness of this for the police and the community as a whole. There are all kinds of comments begging – aching – to be made. But we need to stay focused for now, and just add this first point to our survey.
A well-organized prior plan
The next point is the clue we’re looking for, and it belongs after we’ve taken in Daniel Greenfield’s summary. It comes from a brief to the media on Sunday by NYPD official John Miller, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism.
In his brief, Miller conveyed the most significant information we’ve been afforded so far about this entire operation. It’s been reported by a number of news outlets, but it’s not getting the attention it merits. According to Miller, police intelligence sources picked up on planning for the organized attacks on police, as well as commercial businesses and wealthy neighborhoods, before the first protests started.
The planning was by what Miller termed “anarchists,” and although he didn’t name particular groups, his description fits the patterns of Antifa.
Let’s take a minute to review the timeline here. George Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day, 25 May. The first protests in the nation were the following day in Minneapolis, 26 May.
By the 27th, there were some protests being seen elsewhere. Then, on 28 May, New York City saw its first protests. That day – Thursday – was the day the looting began in earnest across the country.
Assuming John Miller means that the planning by anarchists was detected before the protests began in New York, that would put the planning period before 28 May. We could spend hours speculating on when it started; America didn’t know about George Floyd’s death until the 26th (Floyd was detained in the evening hours of 25 May), so it’s simplest to assume – and certainly possible – that the planning was detected ramping up between 26 and 28 May.
That’s pretty short notice, however, for all that went into the planning. For one thing, about one in seven of the nearly 700 people arrested in NYC as of Sunday night came from out of state. Miller mentioned them in conjunction with the comments about anarchists and their planning; he apparently meant the out-of-staters were part of that group.
And the out-of-state operatives came from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Iowa, Nevada, Virginia, Maryland, Texas, and Minnesota.
Maybe they were already in New York on 26 May. If so, they were more likely to be pre-staged for, er, professional purposes, than merely in New York as tourists or for their health, especially during a pandemic virus lockdown. If they traveled to New York after 25 or 26 May, that argues another level of prior organization and logistics capability. From some of those states, you don’t just hop a Greyhound and get to NYC that quickly. (Some of them may be college students, of course, who have been out of classes since the campus closures began weeks ago.)
But it’s more than factoring in the movements of out-of-state operatives. Here’s Miller on the kinds of arrangements they were making:
Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said there is a high level of confidence within the NYPD that these unnamed groups had organized scouts, medics, and supply routes of rocks, bottles and accelerants for breakaway groups to commit vandalism and violence. There are strong indicators they planned for violence in advance using at times encrypted communications, he said.
“Before the protests began, organizers of certain anarchists groups set out to raise bail money and people who would be responsible to be raising bail money, they set out to recruit medics and medical teams with gear to deploy in anticipation of violent interactions with police,” Miller said.
He added, “They prepared to commit property damage and directed people who were following them that this should be done selectively and only in wealthier areas or at high-end stores run by corporate entities.”
Without specifying who “they” are, Miller said the agitators “developed a complex network of bicycle scouts to move ahead of demonstrators in different directions of where police were and where police were not for purposes of being able to direct groups from the larger group to places where they could commit acts of vandalism including the torching of police vehicles and Molotov cocktails where they thought officers would not be.”
That’s elaborate stuff. It entails knowing the terrain inside and out, and implementing a plan based on that detailed knowledge. It’s worth noting as well that this planning appears to have been for the initial stage of the campaign: the outline fits the pattern of the first 2-3 days when most police vehicles were indeed torched and smashed once cops had left them, and the brick- and bottle-throwing hadn’t gotten as out of hand.
Early on, there was obviously an emphasis on overwhelming the police with too much vandalism and street violence to cope with – to spread them out, overstretch them, increase their vulnerability. On Sunday, when Miller spoke, the direct attacks on police were then accelerating rapidly.
The point here is not the tactics, although they’re useful to ponder in themselves. It’s the fact that plans were being made at this level. This was combat planning, in all but name.
John Miller mentioned also that the anarchist planners have become proficient at shifting to encrypted communications, another sign of complexity and sophistication in their operations.
Greenfield has it right. These people were literally planning a coordinated attack on America. They’ve been working on it long enough (months, at the very least; more likely years) that they had battlefield intelligence to pull off the shelf and use for rapid operational set-up and deployment.
Their initial target set is the police force; i.e., law enforcement in general.
The Trump administration has done the right thing
So what matters out of the last several days is point number three: that Trump has turned the Justice Department loose on the anarchist groups. It’s that simple. They are the “military” planners for the attack on America. They need to be rolled up, quickly and ruthlessly.
We can reasonably hope they will be. Of course, it will be imperative also to identify their backers, which are likely to include foreign states as well as Soros non-profits (the Tides Foundation and Open Society organizations) and similar money providers. But interdicting the current campaign, the one that’s underway right now, is a matter of separating the Antifa-type groups from the battle zones they have created and getting them handcuffed and investigated.
That’s underway. The fact that it’s underway may also have something to do with why there’s a bit less mayhem in the streets of the Eastern U.S. tonight.
But the latter is also because organization and force level are shifting just a bit in favor of public order. This isn’t mere luck or an unplanned lessening of the problem. It’s the result of more armed, uniformed security in the streets. Nothing but that can get the job of pacifying the big-city streets done. And getting it done is as good for those who want to protest without being hijacked by thugs as it is for people who live and work on those streets.
We could spend yet another 5,000 words on the topic of what it will take to prevent this from happening again. But for now, the greatest utility is in recognizing that these three points are what matters. If we genuinely and truly want to have the time to seek justice for George Floyd, we have to administer a rapid, decisive defeat to a force that wants to make sure we Americans never have the power of due process working in our favor again.
The media and the Democrats in Congress will keep trying to distract us with political theme bomblets that literally change direction and character by the hour, plucking our emotional strings and sending us all into orbit. But the spearhead of the “anarchist” attack force against America is now being pursued by Bill Barr and his 56 Joint Terrorism Task Forces, and that matters more than anything else.