What "moderates" don't get

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A friend posted this fantastic image on Facebook just now. It’s from early this afternoon in Chicago, with the following text: “Over two and a half hours later much of Michigan Ave, Water Tower & many surrounded stores are still SHUTDOWN for Laquan McDonald.” (Photo credit to @MinkuAzad from Chicago.)

Now let me get out in front of something here.

The point of this kind of tactic, I believe, is to take a problem that pretty much only black people care about and make it a problem that corporations have to care about.

It’s a way of creating leverage.

If powerful people in government think this is just about black people who live in the “ghetto” and don’t have much economic power, they will keep doing what they’re doing–which is essentially nothing.

If the same powerful people in government are getting pissed off phone calls from CEOs about losing their supposedly biggest shopping days, and if they’re getting threats from those same CEOs about moving to the suburbs, well… the idea is that they’ll see fit to dole out just enough justice to get the protesters to get out of the street.

I’m not saying it will necessarily work, but it’s logical. If you don’t have direct power over someone, you find a way to get the focused attention of someone who does have direct power over them.

(Yes, I’m implying a few other things here: that the protesters don’t have an effective grip on the electoral process, that the politicians have never really answered to them, and that the corporations that sell things on Michigan Avenue are the real bosses of Chicago.)

What this means for white people

Many people who fancy themselves Black Lives Matter “supporters” continually object to tactics that inconvenience third parties because they fail to understand the concept of leverage.

Either that, or they have a moral objection to causing any harm, no matter how slight, to these “innocent” third parties. But then those people are actually saying “Black Lives Matter, Just Not As Much As Marshall Fields Does.”

If you don’t believe me:

Check out these comments on the original Facebook post.

  • “No justice. No profits.”
  • “Cops tried to cover up a murder…..stores should sue them.”

Stores should sue them. Yes. Well no, not really, the law doesn’t work like that, but people get the power dynamic here.  You don’t go after the most isolated, reinforced, protected part of the power structure; you go after the levers that are unprotected, like downtown traffic. If that makes the store owners angry enough to turn on the political leadership, then it worked.

 

Barge & PARC: I'm cautiously optimistic. Here's why the haters are wrong.

I’m not particularly sold on Matthew Barge and his company as the Monitor for the Cleveland consent decree on police use of force but here are a few things about the process.

This selection is being done in the first place because it’s a requirement of the consent decree. It’s not like Cleveland went ahead and outsourced compliance because they thought it would be fun. While this isn’t specifically stated in the Cleveland Scene article, but it’s important: the City doesn’t get to pick any Monitor it wants. It’s a joint decision with the US Department of Justice. DoJ won’t let the City pick a softball Monitor. Furthermore, if the City and DoJ couldn’t agree on a Monitor selection, the choice would have fallen to Judge Oliver.

Elementary negotiation: this strengthens the DoJ’s hand.

Don’t complain about the cost. If it takes five million dollars to solve the problem of cop violence, then it does. It requires lawyers, investigators, statisticians, writers, analysts, security experts… people whose skills cost money.

In a similar vein, of course this has to be outsourced. Everyone knows the City of Cleveland administration is corrupt and otherwise very poorly managed. And we don’t want this oversight done by people who work directly or indirectly for Mayor Jackson; that’s ridiculous. We do want it done by people who are responsible to Judge Oliver.

Finally, yes we do want an out-of-town company to do this work. The farther removed they are from personalities and politics, the less likely they are to have friends and family members and even enemies with a personal stake in this, the better their chances of doing a solid job instead of avoiding offending anyone.

Look, either Judge Oliver and the DoJ are being real about this or they’re not. If they’re not real, then never mind the details and never mind who the Monitor is–this is just a farce all the way through. So we logically have to presume they are real. The alternative is literally to give up.

If the judge and the DoJ are real, then DoJ tried to pick a responsible Monitor and Judge Oliver will fire them if they suck.