The Trump Regime Has Announced Its Intent to Crush Peaceful Protests With Military Force

Jack Holmes
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Photo credit: Shutterstock

From Esquire

For the past 72 hours, and probably more, the sound of a helicopter's whirr has been inescapable in New York. There is one hovering overhead at all times. It is nothing like the sounds of city life. There is no rhythm or variation. It just drones on, stifling and unnerving, occasionally matched by the scream of sirens. You won't notice it for a while, and then the buildup of all those hours and hours stirs something in your chest, twisting and tightening. The blood simmers. It is a siege on the senses and the soul.

Maybe it's that it sounds like what you might've heard back when the news still routinely carried footage out of Baghdad. How many people a world away have felt this maddening thing for years, courtesy of an American intervention in their national affairs? A helicopter flying so low over a city sounds like chaos, like the bonds of civic life have broken down, like power and force are set to act on you in a way you cannot prevent or prepare for. That force comes from above, from a great height you cannot hope to reach. I suppose these are the same sounds that have been heard above some neighborhoods for decades, from the days when the LAPD might send a tank crashing into your living room.

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The choppers have been relentless, but on Monday night, in the nation's capital city, they flew lower than they ever have. Video emerged of helicopters bearing the markings of the United States military hovering just a few stories above street level in Washington, D.C., menacing the protesters below. This was considered a "show of force," a tactic normally reserved for cities in other countries when the people who live there lose patience with all the American-sponsored "liberation" going on. But for all the hypocrisies and chauvinism down the years, it's worth marking this moment. The president of this republic has deployed active-duty military on American soil in an attempt to crush American protesters exercising their rights under the First Amendment.

He has not tried to obscure this. In the Rose Garden on Monday, the commander of this nation's military echoed his addled rantings to a group of governors earlier in the day, announcing his intent to "dominate the streets" to a backing soundtrack of sirens and the occasional bang as something detonated nearby. It was the sound of what he'd already wrought, as police ordered to clear the area around Lafayette Park of the people assembled peacefully there went to work with flashbangs and tear gas and rubber bullets.

The rights of Americans under the Constitution of this nation had to be sacrificed so our president could drag his walrus form to a church and hold up a Bible exactly how you'd expect: like a man who has never opened one, but who nevertheless knows its power. We've now learned they gassed priests and other clergy on the church property so he could pronounce his religiosity. He was reportedly mad that people found out he'd cowered in a bunker this weekend, so he restored his manly aura by having other men clear a path through his nasty and ungrateful subjects. To think a purportedly free people may mortgage their Bill of Rights, and all the great promise of this troubled nation, for this vicious clown.

Photo credit: JOSE LUIS MAGANA - Getty Images
Photo credit: JOSE LUIS MAGANA - Getty Images

It did not start with him. None of it did. Like the coronavirus pandemic he has mostly ignored, he seems to be an accelerant on existing conditions. But we are on dangerous ground now. Reports have it that the cops who teargassed demonstrators to clear a sordid path for the president to a church he'd never attend otherwise were military police, and that is alarming. But did they look much different from the other police forces now roaming the streets of cities across this country, dressed for Fallujah with the tanks to match? Our police, a civilian force tasked with keeping the peace and safeguarding the rights of their fellow citizens, have taken on the trappings of an occupying army. No wonder everyone looks like an insurgent to them. They can't see anything else through the riot gear.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was seen stalking the night streets of the capital in uniform as military helicopters menaced people from overhead. What was General Mark Milley doing there? He certainly was fulfilling no legitimate function of his role as a senior leader of the United States armed forces. He also served as a prop in The Leader's propaganda video about the St. John's atrocity, in which the gassing of American citizens and priests was edited out to show a president triumphantly walking across the street. Earlier in the day, the president told governors on a conference call that he'd put Milley "in charge." Of what? Responding to a group of American citizens petitioning the civilian government for a redress of grievances? On the same call, the Secretary of Defense said, "We need to dominate the battlespace." What, dude?

This has the full support of the president's allies in Congress, who are moving steadily from pathetic apparatchiks to accessories in crimes against the American republic. Matt Gaetz, the loud dunce from Florida, made the situation clear when he asked, "Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?" Twitter flagged the tweet, suggesting a United States congressman was glorifying violence. But Gaetz was referring to earlier posturing from the administration, which has sought to characterize Antifa as a terrorist group despite the fact that Antifa is not one organized group of people at all. What the administration and its collaborators actually want is for the people with guns to decide who is in Antifa and treat them as "terrorists." It is a category which may soon enough grow to include anyone who does not worship President Bible Man. Senator Tom Cotton, who's jockeying for a place in the line of succession, is saber-rattling about sending the 101st Airborne into American cities to crush protests. He also talked up "Antifa terrorists."

And wouldn't you know it, but the 82nd Airborne was reportedly staged in the D.C. area last night. Because the president had two choices—to acknowledge the grievances of his constituents and work to address them, or crush the protests—and he chose the latter. Because he is a tyrant. Because he will not stop so long as he has the power to go on. We've long had, in the estimation of historians I spoke with, a system of concentration camps at the southern border—one which Trump inherited, then seized on as an instrument of his authoritarian aggression. In her book on the history of camp systems, Andrea Pitzer describes them as "a deliberate choice to inject the framework of war into society itself." Once you start treating civilians as you would enemy combatants in war, anything is on the table. They are now trying to cast the suppression of American protesters as part of the war on terror. They've even brought up our militarized border forces to the "National Capital Region" and shot a quick advertisement for American fascism.

Maybe we got what we wanted after all the outlandish odes to the military, including at professional football games. That's where players would peacefully protest to bring attention to racial injustice in policing and half the country would yell that they were disrespecting the troops. To question the country's commitment to its professed core values somehow became an attack on soldiers. Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States, had nothing better to do back in 2017 than travel across the country just to walk out of an NFL stadium in manufactured outrage. And now he and all the rest of them cry out for peaceful protest. They don't want peaceful protest, because they don't want protest of any kind. They want you to shut up and take it. And if you won't, they'll order that same military to shut you up—at least as of last night. For all their tough talk about the Communist China, these people are careening towards their very own Tiananmen Square.

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