Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for August 21st, 2021

Standing winecup revisited

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Here are two more portraits of standing winecups, Callirhoe digitata, from the dedicated
little wildflower area at the Floral Park entrance to Great Hills Park on July 23rd.


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Continuing from yesterday with more pictures of this kind of wildflower, standing winecups, symbolizes my wanting to continue with the theme of yesterday’s commentary: the justice system should deal similarly with similar criminal offenses. Alas, that has not at all been the case with the chaotic events of 2020–21 in the United States.

Throughout the second half of 2020, rioters attacked various institutions of our democracy. Among the earliest targets was the Third Precinct police station in Minneapolis. A mob burned it, along with nearby buildings, on May 28th.

Portland, Oregon, was especially hard hit in 2020. On May 29 at the Multnomah County Justice Center, “some crowd members made it inside the building, setting fires while corrections records staff were working inside. Others fanned out across downtown, vandalizing and looting as they went… While many Independence Day celebrations had to be canceled or altered due to the coronavirus pandemic, downtown Portland had plenty of fireworks. After a couple weeks of dwindling crowd sizes, another riot was declared when people launched mortars and other fireworks near the Justice Center and Federal Courthouse, prompting a clash with police and federal officers.” By Labor Day last year, Portland had already had a hundred nights of rioting. Many more followed.

On May 31st in Washington, D.C., rioters tried to storm the White House: “Uniformed Secret Service officers made six arrests Friday night after ‘Justice for George Floyd’ protests. A total of 11 Secret Service officers were taken to hospitals in the D.C. area, according to officials. With 60 uniformed officers protecting the area around the White House, the Secret Service said its officers were kicked, punched and exposed to bodily fluids. Bricks, rocks, bottles, fireworks and other items were also reportedly thrown at the Secret Service, who with U.S. Park Police, held the area by using riot gear, pepper spray and rubber bullets to deter violent riots that ensued after peaceful protests. ‘Demonstrators repeatedly attempted to knock over security barriers on Pennsylvania Avenue,’ a Secret Service statement said. ‘Some of the demonstrators were violent, assaulting Secret Service Officer and Special Agents with bricks, rocks, bottles, fireworks and other items. Multiple Secret Service Uniformed Division Officers and Special Agents suffered injuries from this violence.'” The Secret Service was worried enough about the mob breaking through their lines that it moved the President into a bunker.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. There were hundreds of riots last year. Insurance claims just from the initial period of May 26–June 8, 2020, are estimated at between one and two billion dollars, making the 2020 riots by far the costliest in U.S. history. By the end of August, in Minneapolis–St. Paul alone “nearly 1,500 businesses were heavily damaged in the riots, and many were completely destroyed.” Thousands of people there, many of them minorities, got put out of work as a result.

And rioters murdered people. “A retired police captain fatally shot during looting in St. Louis was passionate about helping young people and would have forgiven those behind the violence on the city’s streets, his son says. David Dorn, 77, was killed while responding to an alarm at a pawnshop overnight Monday, St. Louis Police Department announced in a news conference Tuesday.

And yet relatively few of 2020’s rioters, looters, arsonists, and murderers have been prosecuted.

Now compare those seven months of frequent, violent, destructive rioting in 2020 with what took place in Washington, D.C., over several hours on a single day, January 6, 2021. A mob broke into the Capitol. Some of the rioters damaged the building and assaulted police.

Justice requires, and I wholeheartedly agree, that all of those January 6th rioters should be prosecuted to the full extent the law allows. Our government has indeed put enormous resources into identifying the perpetrators and arresting some 570 of them in places all around the country.

In the last few years, activists on the left have been pushing for and increasingly succeeding in institutionalizing “bail reform,” which means that many people indicted for crimes are allowed bail without having to post any bond money at all. On June 1st, 2020, Kamala Harris urged people to help out rioters who had been arrested: “If you’re able to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota.” Contrast that with the fact that a few of the people indicted in connection with the January 6th riot at the Capitol have been denied bail. One rationale the judicial system put forth for denying bail is that the people in question organized the riot. However, after more than half a year of extensive investigation, yesterday the news broke that “the FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result, according to four current and former law enforcement officials.”

And yet the riots throughout 2020 did have organizers and provocateurs, most noticeably members of the group that calls itself antifa, who have never even been charged, let alone held without bail.

Some of those indicted for the January 6th riot have been held in solitary confinement, despite the fact that many on the political left have long been making the case against that practice.

In some cases the government has refused to give defendants and their lawyers relevant video footage recorded in and around the Capitol on January 6th. In other cases the government has placed onerous restrictions on defendants and their attorneys who need access to relevant video.

One of the rioters inside the Capitol, Ashli Babbitt, was shot and killed by a police officer, apparently with no warning. That killing may have been justified, but to this day, more than seven months later, the authorities still refuse to identify the police officer or give an account of the event, even to the slain woman’s family. Contrast that with the clamor in recent years to have authorities release within days or even hours the name of every policeman involved in a fatal shooting.

I’m not aware of a single person in 2020 who used the word insurrection to characterize seven months of sustained attacks on the institutions of American democracy: thousands of police officers committed to keeping the peace while allowing people to protest; various police stations and courthouses; and even the White House. Yet when it came to the January 6th riot, activists, politicians, and the media on the left acted as if a commandment had come down from on high: “Thou shalt not fail to call this an insurrection,” and they faithfully obeyed.

Even-handed justice requires that prosecution of rioters with leftist ideologies be carried out as thoroughly and vigorously as prosecution of rioters with rightist ideologies. That’s not what has happened. Our legal system has treated the two groups very differently, and in so doing has blatantly denied equal justice under the law.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 21, 2021 at 4:32 AM

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