Social protests on behalf of George Floyd have escalated way past the point of peaceful, and now, instead of solemn reflection on the need to weed out policemen-gone-rogue and hold them accountable — quickly — we have mask-wearing thugs with bricks taking to the streets, setting fires and smashing storefront windows, looting luxury goods and flouting the law.
This is what happens when an 8-minute video surfaces showing cavalier police with hands in pockets choking out the life of a pleading suspect whose head is trapped between an officer’s knee and pavement.
But this is also what happens when you shut down schools, shut down sports, shut down restaurants, shut down malls and stores and places of entertainment and gathering, and lock an entire nation of youth in their homes for weeks and months on end. Video games only entertain for so long.
Floyd is proving a powder keg for COVID-19 angst.
If Democrats drunk with executive power hadn’t gone so far over the top with their lockdown, stay-at-home, stay-off-the-streets COVID-19 securing of neighborhoods — handing out fines for church-goers, sending police to chase runners at the beach, standing by as officers dragged away subway riders who didn’t wear their face masks and more — well then, maybe some of the thuggery of recent days wouldn’t have occurred.
Maybe some of the thuggery could have been contained faster.
Maybe some of the Floyd protesters-slash-rioters wouldn’t have used Floyd’s death as cause for protesting-slash-rioting.
Maybe some of them would’ve been otherwise occupied — at a movie theater, perhaps, or a shopping mall. Or on a basketball court or baseball field. At the beach, even.
Maybe some of them wouldn’t have been able to hide their identities behind the recommended-slash-mandated face masks — and so maybe wouldn’t have been so emboldened to even commit acts of violence in the first place. Yes?
That’s not to downplay the horrific killing of Floyd and the worthiness of protesting, peaceably, on his behalf, in honor of his life, as a community stand against police brutality, in common recognition of the need to do a better law enforcement job.
But it is to say: You can’t keep an entire nation shut down, inside, away from normal life and on edge, mindful of daily and ever-changing virus-related panicky news, and then expect behavior to be at its best. You can’t keep youthful angst caged and expect the release to be smooth and steady.
And with Floyd, Antifa never had it so good.
So many minutes of horrible police acts, caught on video for all to see; so many pent-up youth, bored and on edge from the coronavirus. It was easy pickings for the thug-life types.
Still, there’s a tiny sliver of sunlight at the end of this dark tunnel.
Democrats, seeing streets burn and Molotov cocktails fly, are learning — should be learning — an important COVID-19 lesson, and it’s one that goes like this: Citizens have a breaking point.
And FYI, powder kegs can come in many forms.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.