Things we’ve learned since Sunday: That yesterday’s lesson in Hit-and-Run tactics and looting was at least loosely organized, with criminal gangs taking advantage of the chaos in order to strike; that there is an unusual amount of “gaslighting” – deliberate spreading of false and confusing messaging in order to further a specific agenda – in play; that there’s still no “pretty” or “acceptable” way to arrest someone, and that doing so often has serious consequences.
Taking that last point first we think you all know that an arrest is the seizure – often with force – of a person by law enforcement. Pushed by circumstance and by law enforcement only too happy to have someone else do the lifting – we’ve actually been called on to do it a time or two ourselves and it often doesn’t go as it does on CSI Whatever.
Arrests made in Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill and elsewhere in the 24/680 Sunday put a dent in subsequent criminal activity and the institution of curfews in local cities – as unusual as that may be for normally sleepy suburban locales – gave police the time they needed to regain control overnight.
Whether that remains true in light of possible future protests (another is planned for Walnut Creek today, Monday) remains to be seen. It can be argued that the criminal element taking advantage of the smokescreen created by civic unrest are criminally sophisticated enough to know when a targeted area has been sufficiently “hardened” and when it is time to strike softer targets elsewhere.
Another sad truth we’ve always kind of known but had driven home in Walnut Creek yesterday is that rioters/looters are often armed these days – with shots loosed by two prospective thieves hitting a woman in the arm.
A word of caution: We live in a Social Media world and, obviously, use the interface ourselves – but we have also seen attempts to manipulate opinion, sow suspicion, and mis-direct the general public with blatant lies and disinformation.
This used to be accomplished by clandestine leafleting and posters hurriedly pasted onto a wall in the dead of night – now, it’s done on Facebook or Twitter. We’ll say these mediums are great tools, ones we believe in and use, but the posts they carry should be vetted and scrutinized – if not by Facebook and Twitter themselves then by the end-user.
Investigations into incidents in Walnut Creek Sunday continue, police say, with the city deploying “additional resources to maintain order and ensure the safety and security of not only individuals exercising their first amendment rights, but also the residents and businesses in our community.”
We’ll also note, with thanks, that the problems experienced by journalists attempting to cover this current paroxysm in other parts of the country have not (that we are currently aware of) occurred here. For that, we are grateful.