After a fourth consecutive night of protests–this time marred by destruction of city property, including a speed limit sign–organizers in Berkeley were enthusiastic. The crowds remain large; the media remain interested; and the Berkeley City Council has been forced to respond, albeit by canceling its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday evening. Yet the question persists: what is the goal of the protests, and how is it to be achieved?
Organizers seem to have two pithy answers to those questions: “justice for Michael Brown/Eric Garner,” and “by any means necessary,” respectively. Yet what does “justice” mean? Do the Berkeley authorities have any ability to order, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s rule against “double jeopardy,” new prosecutions of police officers whom grand juries in Missouri and New York declined to indict after seeing all of the evidence?
— Justin Berton (@justinberton) December 10, 2014
Furthermore, if “justice” is to be achieved “by any means necessary,” why start with violence and disruption? Why attack small businesses that may be struggling to make payroll? Why block highways and create traffic jams that strand people on the way to the hospital or heading home from work? Why use obscene language that alienates potential supporters–especially after the Garner decision, which was also criticized by conservatives?
— Sophie Ho (@sophanho) December 10, 2014
Increasingly, it seems that the Berkeley protests exist for their own sake alone. They persist largely to satisfy the narcissistic rage of the demonstrators, many of whom are delighted by their ability to cause chaos but think little of the political results of their actions.
When even those sympathetic to the cause, such as the left-wing mayor of Berkeley, say the protests have gone too far, it is clear the activists have wasted an opportunity.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak