Anyone who says that the protests of the past week have been “mostly peaceful” does not know what they are talking about. That or they are participants.
The problem is not that they’re wrong per se: if you broke down the numbers, most of the protesters almost certainly were peaceful and law-abiding. But one can still say that the violent elements are not merely a component of these “peaceful protests,” but are in fact an integral element and in some cases, perhaps even their primary purpose.
This is an entirely intuitive perspective, but one which conservatives have a blind-spot for because their default defensive position for the last twenty years or so has been one of radical individualism: “I am not responsible for what so-and-so did; that’s on them.” When they evaluate something like a riot, they instinctively see hundreds of individuals, and not the riot as an entity unto itself, composed of multiple, mutually-dependent parts.
The concept that is critical to understand here is a tactic known as “black bloc.” This is something I have written about since 2013. Black bloc is a strategy wherein large numbers of “peaceful protesters” will gather together dressed in a similar fashion — usually (though not always) in black and wearing masks and sunglasses. From this mass of anonymity, an individual strikes out and then merges back into the crowd, like a zebra retreating into the confusing uniformity of the herd.
This might take the form of an ethics professor hitting a “peaceful protester” with a bike lock.
It might mean throwing milkshakes full of concrete at reporters.
But the critical point is the tactic: one or several individuals step over the legal line, while the rest — who are not themselves committing any illegal acts as individuals — provide cover for the illegal actors. In Olympia, I have personally witnessed Antifa members aggressively surrounding cops, yelling “what did he do? I didn’t see anything!” as the officer is attempting to apprehend one from among the black bloc.
This kind of attempted gas-lighting is the heart and soul of the strategy.
This has always been the purpose of black bloc. It is, in essence, a decentralized conspiracy to commit illegal acts (usually assault, vandalism, or arson). And while people may debate what Antifa’s political nature really is — are they anarchists? communists? progressives? none of the above? — what they really are is not ideological, but tactical. Antifa is really just any left-wing form of black-bloc.
Several conclusions follow from this. First, when people try to dismiss today’s rioters and looters as an unrepresentative minority and a “distraction” from the real issue, they are providing cover in the same way. In fact, among their own left-wing circles, looting is often explicitly encouraged as a political tool. Very often, the purpose is the rioting and looting; the peaceful aspect is added on simply to provide cover for the more violent actions, and to act as if that was the purpose all along.
Second, when understood at a broad level, the black-bloc tactic includes all kinds of people who are not themselves masked up. Many of the people on the ground at these events are themselves not masked up, but quick to provide excuses, alibis, or physical protection for those who are. Similar to these participants are those who do so from a distance, including the media who incessantly repeat the phrase “mostly peaceful,” as if that is the most descriptive phrase for riots that are causing arson, theft, death, and general destruction on a massive scale.
What we are seeing here is not an organic movement against police brutality. Whites are actually killed at a proportionally higher rate (54%) than blacks (34%); blacks are killed by law enforcement at higher rates proportionate to their overall population, but much lower rates when measured by the number of police encounters. The fact is, despite blacks only making up 14% of the American population, they are responsible for more than 50% of violent crime in America. This kind of data is becoming harder to find by the day, and journalists who cover this information like Colin Flaherty are being systematically deplatformed and hidden from the public. But if what’s going on in Europe is any hint, it is likely that police are in fact underreporting black crime, for fear of being called “racist.”
The riots going on today are not a social movement for justice. They are a Fourth-Generation Warfare strategy, being deployed in the context of an ongoing low-intensity conflict, to gain political leverage and power in an election year. The “innocent-majority” cover utilized on the streets by black-bloc activists is also used by pundits and commentators to gaslight onlookers and provide an alternative interpretive frame to give rioters space to destroy.
Ultimately, I doubt any of the rioters will feel satisfied by whatever resolution comes down the road. But in the meantime, their actions will have been very useful to those higher up; those who selectively permit these riots to happen.