Law Enforcement Must Be Too Busy Policing POC to Stop Swastikas and Alt-Right Gatherings

Belatina protestors un-policed
Protesters join in ‘Operation Gridlock’ in Lansing, Michigan, on Wednesday. Photograph: Jeffrey Sauger/EPA

Any essential work involving physical contact during the coronavirus pandemic is nothing short of commendable.

From drivers and cashiers, to law enforcement and healthcare workers, everyone who puts their lives at risk in one way or another to keep our relative “normalcy” going deserves much more than daily applause.

However, even during a public health crisis or perhaps precisely because of it–the disparities and injustices are only doubled.

It is impossible to overlook the fact that, while Dr. Armen Henderson was arrested in Miami outside his home as he prepared for his shift to volunteer and protect people on the streets from the spread of COVID-19, there are those who can walk the streets threatening those who dare to “attack” their supposed freedom with guns and swastikas.

During the past week, several states in the country were the scene of protests as dystopian as the crisis itself, where hundreds of people denounced the closure imposed by state governments to prevent the spread of the virus.

Residents of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and other states took to the streets at the instigation of a series of tweets from the president and thanks to the support of far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, small armed conservative militias, religious fundamentalists, anti-vaccinators and “other elements of the radical right,” according to The Guardian.

While some of the protests were organized by conservative coalitions and identified as “Trump Republicans,” their social networking collaterals, especially on Facebook, did the rest, prompting other states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York to join the demonstrations, variegatedly mixing the right to bear arms with the governors’ decision to impose a shelter in place.

Seeing nurses counter-demonstrate in Denver was a Dantesque image of the phenomenon that Donald Trump has fanned for years.

“For those who’ve chosen to put their trust in science during the pandemic it’s hard to fathom the decision to gather to protest while a deadly viral pathogen transmitted easily by close contact and spread by symptomatic and asymptomatic people alike ravages the country,” wrote Charlie Warzel in his opinion piece for the New York Times. “But it shouldn’t come as a surprise. This week’s public displays of defiance a march for the freedom to be infected are the logical conclusion of the modern far-right’s donor-funded, shock jock-led liberty movement. It was always headed here.”

Meanwhile, law enforcement continues to prioritize arrests based on race, as was the case with Dr. Henderson or underground parties in Canarsie. Immigrants continue to be confined to Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers with few health protocols, and undocumented citizens suffer from the government’s neglect of the economic package approved by Congress.

Worse yet, in the face of demands from activist groups to release prisoners during the pandemic, the president and his party have once again seen an opportunity to put their priorities above the needs of voters.

As James Hohmann and Mariana Alfaro wrote for the Washington Post, “The coronavirus spread threatens to unravel prison sentences for President Trump’s former associates that career prosecutors fought hard to secure,” including Rick Gates, former deputy Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, some of whom may favor a presidential pardon and release.

If there is any doubt left about the profound flaws in the American judicial system, it is because you simply have not been paying attention.