As I wrote about earlier, I was part of an extremely powerful action last night that shut down parts of Manhattan from Penn Station to Times Square.
The most dramatic shutdown was that of the Lincoln Tunnel, where we stopped all NYC-bound traffic for 11 minutes – one minute for each time Eric Garner cried I Can’t Breathe as Officer Panteleo strangled him to death and several other officer stood by and watched.
Of course, the police reaction to this shut down was also the most dramatic. Port Authority police literally ran at us with guns drawn – large, paramilitary guns:
— Keegan Stephan (@KeeganNYC) February 28, 2015
People immediately jumped all over my tweet to defend the actions of the police.
The first and most shocking line of defense was people arguing that the police had reason to draw shotguns on us because blocking traffic is not peaceful, and thus our protest was not a peaceful protest:
Blocking traffic is literally an example of non-violent protest in the internets crowd-sourced encyclopedia. Blocking traffic and commerce is also exactly what Gandhi did to protest the British Empire.
So, people are willing to go so far to defend the actions of the police that they will argue that Mahatma Gandhi was a practitioner of violence.
Some will go a bit further to assert that this blocking of traffic is an act of violence because it may be stopping ambulances or something:
Just like the people who shout that blocking the bridges in NYC may prevent an ambulance from aiding someone, these people did absolutely no research about what they are talking about.
Ambulances in NYC do not need to cross bridges to transport people to the nearest hospital, let alone travel under the Hudson River from New Jersey to NYC. I promise you, through the Lincoln Tunnel is not the quickest route to any hospital.
And the thought of a fire truck going through the Lincoln Tunnel on a random Friday night is laughable. Fire trucks did not even do so to aid us during 9/11.
Some people argued that drawing and cocking the gun was justified because our peaceful protest might turn violent, and they threw in a little bit of racism, just for good measure:
— Common Tater (@uncommon_tater) February 28, 2015
Keep in mind, none of these trolls were there, they did not witness this, they have only seen my one, still photo.
Trust me, the officer was not in that pose when we arrived, he drew it on us after we got there. He also swung it around, cocked it (as I said), and asked us, “Aren’t you scared?”
Bafflingly, some people disputed whether or not you “cock” a shotgun at all:
What these people may have been trying to say is that “cock” only refers to the act of loading a bullet into the chamber of single action guns, technically you “rack” a shotgun, but only gun nuts know that, so I used the more common term. I think we all know what I meant – it is what he did – and the sound is unmistakable:
— Keegan Stephan (@KeeganNYC) March 2, 2015
Of course, most people just completely denied that this was a shotgun (as if any other type of gun would be justified):
Not a single person asked me how I knew it was a shotgun. If they would have, I would have told them: because the officer told me it was.
When I asked the officer why he had pulled a gun on a peaceful protest, he said, “This shotgun is in case of terrorism,” which is why I tweeted what I did.
But some people – quite an amazing amount of people, in fact – could see past this clever “shotgun” disguise, and use their clairvoyance to see straight into the chamber of the gun, to identify non-lethal rounds:
— Terry (@ter2459) February 28, 2015
— The Knome (@KnomeForgot) February 28, 2015
@KeeganNYC it’s most likely rubber bullets
— Brandon Lee (@flashfire007) February 28, 2015
Pretty impressive, right? Wrong, because it was a shotgun: based on what he told me, based on the sound it made, based on the extra shotgun shells attached to its barrel, and on and on.
Here’s what another participant in the march had to say:
Pretty distinctive shape: tube for shells, pump, wide barrel, extra shotgun shells strapped on. Cops frequently carry them as “trunk guns,” a long gun stored in the trunk in case they need more firepower than their pistol. IIUC, the NYPD has mostly transitioned to M4s, the carbines/machine guns you see National Guard carrying around, but shotguns are traditional for cops.
I also talked with a friend who knows a lot more about guns than I do and he’s pretty confident it’s from the Mossberg 500 Tactical series.
What is impressive is that so many people all asserted the gun contained non-lethal rounds despite the evidence and without asking any questions.
So what does all of this say about the lengths people will go to justify the actions of the police? Pretty simple: despite multiple witness accounts and photo & video evidence, and without asking any follow-up questions, people will question the behavior and motivations of people who are encroached upon by the police, even when those people are using the tactics of Gandhi, and justify potentially lethal tactics by police even if it means completely making up alternative realities that have no basis in facts.
It is no wonder Grand Juries found the cops who murdered Eric Garner and Michael Brown innocent, because people will go great lengths to justify unjustifiable actions by police.