Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


When Social Disobedience Becomes a Habit

By Rob Tenery, MD on February 6, 2017

On March 9, 1965, the Reverend Martin Luther King led the second of three marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama that was the symbol of the modern civil rights movement of the ‘60s. The marchers first attempt, two days earlier had met resistance with billy clubs and tear gas that drove them back into Selma. Seeking protection by the court, Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. ruled in the demonstrators favor. Less than five months after the last of the three marches, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Watts Riots of 1965, were a series of violent confrontations between Los Angeles police and residents of Watts and other predominantly African American neighborhoods of South-Central Los Angeles that began August 11, and lasted for six days. The cause of the disturbances was the arrest of an African American man, Marquette Frye, by a white California Highway Patrol officer on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Although most accounts now agree that Frye resisted arrest, it was unclear whether excessive force was used to subdue him. The riots resulted in the deaths of 34 people, while more than 1,000 were injured and causing more than $40 million worth of property damage.

Move ahead 27 years to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, also known as the Rodney King riots. They were a series of riots, when thousands of people looted businesses, set countless fires, and created civil disturbance that started in South Central Los Angeles and then spread out into other areas over a six-day period. The riots started after a jury acquitted four police officers in the Los Angeles Police Department of the use of excessive force in the videotaped arrest and beating of Rodney King, following a high-speed police chase.

As Michael Jordan and the newly crowned professional basketball champion Bulls partied with 18,000 delirious fans inside Chicago Stadium June 15, 1993, violence and looting broke out in neighborhoods scattered around Chicago. Police reported more than 1,000 arrests on charges of burglary, theft, mob action, disorderly conduct and damage to property; all in the hours following the Bulls' dramatic, come-from-behind victory against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 6 of the National Basketball Association Finals for their second consecutive championship.

The Ferguson, Missouri protests and riots began the day after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014. The unrest sparked a vigorous debate across the United States about the relationship between law enforcement officers and African Americans.

Move on to the Baltimore riots and the civil unrest in Baton Rouge. Not to be forgotten were the staged disruptions at numerous Donald Trump events.

Reported by USA Today Network on December 28, 2016: A flurry of reports of mall melees and disturbances rippled across social media Monday on a day Americans swarmed shopping hubs for post-holiday bargains. The disturbances led to some malls being evacuated included reports from Elizabeth, N.J.; Fayetteville, N.C.; East Garden City, N.Y.; Aurora, Colo.; Tempe, Ariz.; Beachwood Place, a suburb of Cleveland; and Memphis.

Violent protests, at UC Berkeley on February 1, 2017, caused cancellation of a talk by far-right provocateur and Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.

Starting with the peaceful protests led by Reverend Martin Luther King in 1965 fueled by racial discrimination to disruptions in shopping malls over 50 years later by out-of-control teenagers just after this Christmas, the unrest in this country is rapidly approaching a boiling point. The King led marches were to right the wrongs that were not yet corrected even when President Lincoln freed the slaves at the end of the Civil War. The riots in California, Ferguson, Baltimore took the principle of police brutality to the extreme, damaging their own communities instead. Even though remnants of police discrimination appear to exist, some of these riots were, at least partially, financed by George Soros’ sponsored organizations.

 Taken collectively, the Watts riots, the riots following the win by the Chicago Bulls and the disruptions in the malls across the country are symptomatic of much deeper problems--- creating civil unrest though racial divide. What better way to cause destabilization than to pit the downtrodden black population against their local police departments?

These civil disruptions are somewhat akin to alcohol consumption. First, having an occasional drink on a special occasion to celebrate. Then, one to relax.  After that, it’s got to be after 5 o’clock somewhere as an excuse.  At that level, addiction frequently sets in.

Just substitute civil unrest for consuming alcohol in the above paragraph and it’s pretty obvious where we are in this country.

It seems that certain population segments are on the verge of addiction to social instability anytime events go their way or don’t go their way. The problem is they usually end up, most often, hurting themselves! 





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