Last Friday, as Donald Trump was preparing to become the 45th president of the United States, I was in McPherson Square and I saw you marshaling for a day of protests. I get it. Your candidate lost. You’re upset. Sure.
It’s your right to protest—a right I fought to protect. Although I don’t share your worldview, I completely support your right to express your opinion peacefully.
As the crowd gathered, it was a motley crew, to say the least. Your causes ranged from Socialism to the Dakota Pipeline, to equality for sex workers (whatever that means) and outrage at the boorish things Trump said about women a decade ago. Apparently, some ladies were extremely proud of their, um, lady parts. There were dreadlocked hippies, tattooed lesbians and a whole blizzard of what are commonly being called “snowflakes.” There were llamas. One guy even dressed like Elvis. Fine. Whatever flips your pancake, man.
Then another group arrived. You were dressed all in black, with faces covered, goggles and even gas masks. In contrast to the chants of, “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go” in other areas of the square, the mood where you gathered was dark, sinister and quiet. It was crystal clear that you were not there to pose for selfies with the llama. You were up to no good.The ninja-clad kids up front started knocking over trash cans, throwing bricks and rocks.
At 10 the crowd had grown to nearly 1,000, formed up with large signs and began marching north, chanting creative and original slogans like, “F*** Trump!” and, “Whose streets? Our streets!” A few police officers watched from the sidewalk and let you pass.
Before long things got sporting. The ninja-clad kids up front started knocking over trash cans, throwing bricks and rocks. Then they began defacing buildings with spray paint, at least once misspelling “revolution” in their haste.
As the mob mentality possessed more and more of them, it got increasingly violent. They started breaking windows with hammers they’d conveniently brought along, pounding on parking meters with bricks, and throwing firebombs. I watched as they pounced on a parked limo and smashed its windows. Later, they set it on fire.
Further on, they descended on a Starbucks with hammers and crowbars, destroying the storefront windows while terrified patrons cowered inside. Perhaps they were unaware the coffee company supports your sacred erotic liberty and had given about $100,000 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. No matter. They smashed its windows anyway. Then they moved on to Bank of America, which gave more than $400,000 last year to Democratic causes. Oh well. That storefront was also destroyed.
My camera rolled as they then turned on the police, watching from the sidelines. They threw eggs, rocks and bottles at them and screamed obscenities that make Donald Trump’s “locker room talk” sound like a Sunday school lesson.
Then someone tried to push me down from behind. I recovered in time to see a black-clad figure coming at me with a metal pipe. Armed only with my camera, I employed verbal judo: “I’m one of you, man! I’m on your side!” That apparently kept him from bashing my skull in, but only for a moment. Thirty seconds later another ninja punk grabbed my phone. I was able to wrestle it back from him, acutely aware that in his other hand was a large hammer. I pushed him away and ran across the street. I watched as the crowd stampeded over some of its own, and some of you cried out in fear as you were nearly trampled.
Moments later the riot police arrived and started driving the entire group from behind, spraying tear gas and throwing stun grenades. You ran like scared cattle. I watched as the crowd stampeded over some of its own, and some of you cried out in fear as you were nearly trampled.
Many of you got a fair dose of pepper spray, and I watched as a few black-clad shock troops melted into blubbering puddles on the sidewalk. One female, her hood off and goggles askew, screamed “I can’t see! I can’t see!” and reached out for her ostensibly male companions. Rather than help, they left her in the fetal position and ran—every snowflake for himself. Out of a sense of humanity, I pulled her to her feet and led her out of the path of the stampeding horde.
By the time I got back to the fray, the police had corralled about 100 of the group, mostly the straggling hippies who had brought up the rear, but not many of those who had been collecting felonies along the protest route. Those face-hiding cowards had melted away, leaving behind their hammers, rocks and black clothing, emerging on the other end of an alleyway looking like scruffy lumbersexuals.
Some of those left behind whispered rumors that the ninjas had been paid operatives, sent there to incite violence, and were the same ones who burned cars in Baltimore, Milwaukee, Charlotte and Ferguson.
As riot police lined the intersection and finally restored some sense of civility to the moment, I listened to you chant, “This is what a police state looks like!” I shook my head. No, this is what it looks like when some of your number act like petulant children and commit felonies en masse. This is what civilization looks like. I realize that might be hard for you to comprehend.
So what did you accomplish? Donald Trump is still president. Perhaps Starbucks and Bank of America will think twice about supporting the Democrat party in the future. Most of America, including many of your own group of protesters, are sickened by the senseless destruction. Congratulations.
I asked many of you to define fascism and was told, “Don’t ask stupid questions.” It was abundantly clear you do not know.
So let me illuminate you. Fascism is a worldview that does not allow any opinions but its own. Fascism is marked by intolerance and persecution of a free press.
Well, I’m the press. And that day at the protest, the only ones persecuting me … were the protesters. The only ones I saw spitting on those who didn’t share their worldview were some of you. The only intolerance I saw on display came from your camp.
If you are one of those punks who took the opportunity to destroy someone else’s property on Jan. 20, or to block traffic, spit on Trump supporters in evening wear, scream the vilest profanities at those who disagree with your methods, throw bottles at the police, eggs and rocks at the unarmed American soldiers who were directing traffic, I have a message for you from America: Most of America, including many of your own group of protesters, are sickened by the senseless destruction.
You are despicable cowards. You hid your faces and came only to destroy. Americans don’t do that. We build. We improve. My brothers in military and law enforcement stand in the gap day after day, their faces uncovered, to deliver you a free and peaceful society where you have the astounding liberty even to scream “F*** You!” to the most powerful man in the land. Try that in Venezuela.
But you weren’t content with that liberty. You defile civil society, take pride in terrorizing your fellow man. You feign offense when Trump uses vulgarity, but make banners filled with the worst profanity imaginable. You talk about your “fear” for your gay and lesbian friends, but have no problem striking fear into innocent bystanders. You want the rich to pay more, but actively destroy their ability to do so. Your hypocrisy knows no limits.
I hope your childish tantrum last week only encourages more good Americans to vote against your cause.
You are the very thing you are protesting—and you are so depraved you can’t even see it. So while you plan your next criminal rampage, the rest of us will get to work to scrub the fecal stain of your “protest” from the streets and make America great again.