Wow, I dreamed of making exactly this very thing a few years ago! I even went and built one in the Phun 2d physics simulator (that is now Algodoo) What a blast that was! I highly recommend playing with that toy as well!
I wanted to make mine out of bike chain and cut steel but… well, there’s never enough time! It really gives me a smile that such a thing exists in the world!
A friend, call her “Dee”, recommended I watch the 2019 documentary Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock n Roll. Dee wanted me to see the film to see how the riots and looting affected that city. Race riots largely destroyed Asbury Park in the summer of 1970 and the effects are still vividly seen in the city today. Dee stressed to me that those rioters, and by corollary, the people being held for protesting, rioting and looting during the George Floyd riots in Minneapolis needed to be locked away immediately and for a long time.
if your entire life savings was burned, destroyed, looted by rioters, would you want them bailed out and back on the streets??? I would want them to rot. Generous of heart has its place, for sure. But not for these common criminals destroying people’s lives. Watch Asbury Park- riot, redemption, rock and roll. In that documentary you will see after the riots in Asbury Park, it was NEVER built up,again. Ruined forever.
So I watched the documentary. It was powerful, scary, beautiful, ugly, real. Here are a few essential quotes I heard about the riots:
Mabin Womble, described as an Asbury Park Community Activist had been interviewed through the whole movie. At 44:40, when the interview turned to the start of the riot, he got quiet and nervous, wringing his hands and said, “We were angry, we were angry. I’ll try to rationalize it. I can’t rationalize it… once it started… we did what we had to do.”
51:30 [showing footage of destroyed businesses on the main street, narration] “Whatever happens now, Asbury Park will never again be the same. For this small but tragically typical ghetto, the rioting has meant a venting of long simmering anger, a desperate expression of frustration. The people of Asbury Park’s west side don’t feel much like talking now. They too are shocked and worried about the chances for a really better tomorrow. – Jeff Camen, NBC News.”
52:15 “Southside” Johnny Lyon, Vocalist for the Asbury Jukes said, “They were living in terrible conditions so they burnt it down. And it was really mind boggling that it happened in our little corner of the world. We had seen it in Detroit and Newark and like that but in Asbury Park it seemed so strange but it was understandable.”
52:39 Billy Ryan, guitarist said, “It was just a phenomenon. It was sort of a tired of being sick and tired kind of thing. And they exhibited their anger and their frustration in a violent way.”
53:15 Bruce Springsteen said, “It was a sad moment in the city’s history but it probably needed to happen. It needed to happen.”
Here are those snippets. Sorry for the potato quality. There is much much more but I include these snippets to show the sincerity of the words spoken on this topic. I highly recommend you watch the film!
50 years later, the west side of Asbury Park remains in a poor state of affairs. Asbury Park Choice shows stark statistics like on the west side, the median household income is below the poverty line for a family of 4.
With all the groundwork laid in the above, it seems essential to our continued existence as a country that we figure out, as individuals and as a country to keep this from happening again. How do we learn from the 1970 race riots in Asbury Park and keep it from becoming the 2020 race riots of Minneapolis? Well, as the last 3 weeks have already shown, we failed at that. Why?
It seems clear to me as to why the problems repeat. The situation hasn’t changed. The political attitudes remain the same. The poverty remains the same. The culture remains the same. The police enforcement remains the same.
But oh, it is so complicated… and so simple.
Asbury Park started literally as a buffer city in the 1880’s, protecting the city of Ocean Grove to the south from, as the movie narrates “… from the sins and excesses…” of the city just to the north. Over time, the west side became a city where blacks and Italians lived to service the east side’s resorts, then the resorts faded, leading to a low-income neighborhood. That’s just part of the starting point for the riots. The Asbury Park riots happened in 1970. For more context, the city of Newark NJ, not too far away destroyed itself in 1967. I lived near Newark as a child and I knew that the city was still mostly broken in the late 1980’s. Do you see the parallels?
OMG, call me a terrible writer but I simply don’t have time in my life to rewrite this article with what I just discovered. In researching the 1967 riots in Newark NJ, I came across this Wikipedia article, Long, hot summer of 1967:
Please read this segment and consider the parallels to today. Yes, it’s a Wikipedia article, and one shouldn’t rely on it. Then ask yourself, how is it incorrect? How is history not repeating itself?
A history of institutionalized unemployment, abusive policing, and poor housing was already present in certain areas of the United States. Riots began to flare up across the country but especially during the summer months. While rioting happened across the country the Summer of Love was occurring in hippie communities, and Americans witnessed troop movements in the Vietnam War and in American riots on the nightly news. At the end of July, President Lyndon B. Johnson set up the Kerner Commission to investigate the riots, in 1968 they would release a report blaming pervasive societal inequalities in American ghettos for the riots. By September 1967, 83 were dead, thousands injured, tens of millions of dollars in property had been destroyed and entire neighborhoods were burned.
A poll of Minnesotans asked respondents to gauge the perceived relationship between the riots and the Civil Rights Movement. When asked if there were a connection between the movement and riots, 49% said there was, 38% disagreed. A full 65% thought the riots were planned, rather than just uncontrolled skirmishes. In another poll of Minnesotans, respondents were asked if the cause of the riots was racial discrimination or lawless hoodlums, 32% said racial discrimination while 49% said hoodlums. In a March 1968 Harris poll reported in the Washington Post, 37% of Americans agreed with the Kerner Commission’s report that the 1967 race riots were brought on mainly by inequalities; 49% disagreed. A majority of whites (53%) rejected the idea, with just 35% agreeing. In contrast, 58% of blacks supported it, and only 17% disagreed.
Felt sick Monday, maybe it was being tired from Saturday beach trip but quarantined in the bedroom in case it was COVID-19. Got tested Tuesday, felt better Tuesday evening, test came back negative Wednesday. I was very glad to be feeling silly that I was self-quarantining! I got to tell Megan I was in the “Best jail ever!” Megan felt the same a little under the weather Wednesday: how are viruses so strong?! We have been quarantining for 3 months!! I was never closer than 10′ from anyone outside my bubble in the last 2 weeks! My google timeline is soooo boring!
My CRVO eye problem came back starting Saturday. By my scheduled doctor’s appointment on Thursday, vision in my right eye wasn’t so great. Turns out, getting a needle in the eye is exhausting. I was out Thursday and much of Friday.
On June 12th Trump was interviewed on Fox News by Harris Faulkner. He was asked to explain why he Tweeted on May 29th “when the looting starts the shooting starts”.
Faulkner, “Why those words?”
Trump, “So, that’s an expression I’ve heard over the years.”
Faulkner, “Do you know where it comes from?”
Trump, “I think Philadelphia, the mayor of Philadelphia.”
Faulker, “No, it comes from 1967, I was about 18 month old… it was from the chief of police in Miami, he was cracking down and he meant what he said. And he said, ‘I don’t even care if it makes it look like brutality, I’m going to crack down. When the looting starts, the shooting starts.’ That frightened a lot of people when you tweeted that.”
Trump, “It also comes from a very tough mayor who might have been police commissioner at the time, but I think mayor of Philadelphia named Frank Rizzo and he had an expression like that. But I’ve heard it many times. I think it’s been used many times. It means two things – very different things. One is, if there’s looting, there’s probably going to be shooting, and that’s not as a threat, that’s really just a fact, because that’s what happens. And the other is, if there’s looting, there’s going to be shooting. They’re very different meanings.”
Summing It Up
In the 2 weeks between writing “when the looting starts…” and that interview, Trump had plenty of time to google the phrase or find out what public perception was. Hell, the moment I read that phrase, I knew in my gut, before looking it up, that it was charged, dangerous language. But Trump didn’t acknowledge any of that. He didn’t acknowledge the not-so-hidden meaning behind those words. By not distancing himself from the original context, he was choosing to support it and the full weight of its racist, police-brutality promoting context. Please understand this: it doesn’t matter if he said the phrase initially without understanding it’s historical context. What matters is that, after learning about the historical context, he did not correct the record, and that was intentional.
In case you’re missing my point, here’s another example. What if Trump had repeated a famous, inspiring quote like, “Do not compare yourself to others. If you do so, you are insulting yourself”. That may be fine advice. If, however 10 million people pointed out that it was a famous quote by Hitler (it is), the president might do well to distance himself from it. Maybe if he got asked about it in an interview, he’d say something conciliatory but face-saving. Maybe something like, “I didn’t remember where I heard it before. I thought it was an inspiring thing to say but realizing it’s origin, I wouldn’t use that quote again.”
Now instead, consider if an interviewer asked him about the phrase, saying, “You know, you saying that quote made a lot of people uneasy. I’m a Jew and that is a famous quote by Hitler,” What if Trump responded with, “Well, I also heard Frank Rizzo say it once and it worked for him.”? You’d think… well, what would you think?
A friend recommended I watch PBS’s Frontline, The Virus: What Went Wrong. It’s worth watching! Using interviews from many experts from virologists, epidemiologists, government officials, and others, and actual footage from news around the world, it shows how the world is responding to COVID-19 and how America got the very dubious distinction of being at the very top of this this chart:
And near the top of this one:
To be sure, there have been many missteps from leaders and people all over the world. Let’s hope we beat this sooner rather than later.
Followup: C. C. a friend pointed out that these charts don’t take into account “excess deaths”
I suspect that deaths in Russia and Brazil are seriously understated in that chart, since those two countries have been particularly bad about accurate reporting. But the US is also understated, though probably to a lesser degree. Several states are reporting many times more deaths due to unknown causes than they usually do, because they don’t have adequate testing and don’t allow COVID-19 to be listed as a cause of death unless the person was tested.