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Trump’s “Shockingly Dangerous” Fed Squads Expand Their Reach

Kelly Hayes and Shane Burley discuss how anti-protest agents are broadening their reach and expanding their mission.

Federal officers deploy huge quantities of tear gas during the Mom's March in Portland, Oregon, on July 21, 2020.

Part of the Series

Trump’s anti-protest squads are broadening their reach and expanding their mission. Kelly Hayes and author Shane Burley assess the threat and put these events in their fascist context.

Note: This is a rush transcript and has been lightly edited for clarity. Copy may not be in its final form.

Kelly Hayes: Welcome to Movement Memos, a Truthout podcast about things you should know if you want to change the world. I’m your host, Kelly Hayes. Last week, after days of appeals from activists on the ground, the actions of federal agents attacking protesters in Portland finally drew national attention, with senators, celebrities and pundits joining organizers in raising the alarm. Videos of federal agents in combat gear making snatch and grab arrests on the streets of Portland and throwing protesters into unmarked vans went viral and the Department of Homeland Security confirmed the practice to the media. This week, 150 federal agents are being deployed in Chicago in an expansion of Trump’s efforts to federally police protests in major, “liberally governed” cities. In Chicago’s case, Trump’s chief of staff has suggested that the Trump’s anti-protest squads will broaden their mission beyond policing protests and intercede in matters of “community safety.”

On Sunday, the president of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police issued a public letter to Trump requesting federal assistance for Chicago police. In Portland, we have seen police work in concert with Trump’s anti-protest squads, even as the mayor of Portland and the governor of Oregon, publicly called on the agents to leave. The same dynamics should be expected elsewhere, and even more so in Chicago, where Trump’s invasion is happening at the request of the president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Today’s interview is a conversation with my friend Shane Burley, whose insights on fascism are simply invaluable in this moment. Shane lives in Portland and has been covering the protests, and I am eager to share his insights about what these events mean with you all. But before we get to that, I want to address a tendency I’ve been witnessing on social media and in conversations around what’s happening in Portland.

As people discuss recent events in Portland, some folks have felt the need to couch every comment in some acknowledgement that what we are seeing is not new. While there’s truth in that statement, we need to proceed carefully, because what I’m seeing here is not educational. In many cases, it’s just snide dismissal. Many people are simply downplaying what’s happening by pointing to past and existing horrors. That is normalization and it is incredibly dangerous. It is important to understand that Trump did not invent these oppressions or tactics, and it is important to acknowledge that societal fascism has existed in the U.S. since its inception — meaning that there have always been people who have been excluded, either explicitly or implicitly, from social contracts guaranteeing the rights of the people. Such people, including my own people, have suffered horribly and experience repression, torture, and fascistic policing and imprisonment to this day. There are lessons in those histories and practices that are crucial in this moment, because there are freedom fighters who have opposed fascistic conditions and policies in the U.S. for as long as this country has existed. There are many lessons to be learned, particularly from people who have organized inside prisons. But instead of sharing those histories and lessons, many people are simply pointing to one or two of them as evidence that what’s happening is not new, effectively flattening the threats we face into some larger terrain of history in which nothing is distinct or exceptional, because the significance of each horror is somehow diminished by the existence of other horrors. When we treat history as a jumble of comparisons, rather than a progression of events, it is difficult to make use of its lessons.

Trump’s anti-protest squads are a deputized mishmash of federal agents. In Portland, they have operated unaccountably while working in concert with police, at times attacking protesters alongside local police. I see no reason to expect these dynamics to be any different in other cities. In Chicago, where I live, tensions are still high following a protest last Friday that included an attempt to topple a statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park.

These are frightening times, and when people say, “this is not new,” as federal agents descend upon my city, I do understand where they’re coming from. For many people, things have long been terrible, but I also need us to acknowledge that what’s unfolding right now is not happening in some fixed state of comparison to everything else. It is being transposed upon existing nightmares and creating new layers of terror and suffering. All of this is happening while the president seizes all of the federal government’s COVID-19 data and insists it’s safe for children to go back to school during a pandemic, setting the stage for more genocidal outcomes with a denial network and data suppression mechanism already in place.

With everything we are up against, it’s time to take the question of novelty off the table and offer useful lessons in place of that dismissal. It’s time to talk about the arc of escalation that brought us here and how we can organize against those who would destroy us. It’s time to learn from prison organizers and the history of that radical work. It’s time to examine global histories of rebellion that have not been shared with most of us for a reason.

For abolitionists like myself, who organize in opposition to the prison industrial complex, the work of author and freedom fighter George Jackson is a source of great inspiration and discipline. Decades ago, Jackson issued a call to action that I believe must be echoed today, for the sake of justice and for the sake of everything that is worth fighting for. Jackson said: “Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love of Revolution.”

[Musical interlude]

Kelly Hayes: Shane Burley, welcome back to the show.

Shane Burley: Thanks for having me on.

KH: How are you doing, friend?

SB: I’m tired. It’s been a long few days at the end of a long few weeks at the end of the long few months at the end of a long year. So, I feel like it’s been setting in lately.

KH: Well, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk today, with everything y’all have been up against. What’s happening in Portland has huge implications for us all, and while Trump’s anti-protest squad has gotten mainstream attention in recent days, with senators weighing in and whatnot, most people don’t have a clear picture of what’s been going on. Can you give us a sense of what’s happening right now in Portland and how the situation has escalated in recent weeks?

SB: Sure. So protests are continuing nightly in Portland. And so, sometimes, like on the weekends, for example, it’s happening all across the city at different points and then they’re converging, but generally it’s been centered around the Justice Center in downtown Portland. So Portland is kind of in four corners, downtown Portland is in the Southwest. And so the Justice Center kind of there, it’s right across from a number of parks where a lot of demonstrations often happen, which [are] themselves across the street from City Hall. So it’s kind of a little corridor where there’s a lot of activity, usually.

The first night of the protests, at the end of May, there was a really large demonstration coming from north Portland. There was rioting and looting, at Louis Vuitton and the Apple Store and people stormed the Justice Center and set it on fire. And since then, people have returned to the Justice Center to have demonstrations, which are generally a lot more low key than the protest was that first time. But now the Justice Center is boarded up and it’s multiple buildings.

It’s a big kind of area — it’s boarded up completely with little slits in it where basically police can watch people and shoot tear gas from — and so it’s been kind of like a siege back and forth right there for weeks and weeks, weeks, and it has not stopped. Today is day 52, I believe. And so, and there’s no real sign at this point that it’s stopping. So the Portland police have been really aggressive, incredibly aggressive of protesters and with press and basically putting out orders that were deemed unconstitutional, that they, that press had to follow the same rules as everybody else that they had disappeared during dispersal orders and things like that, which is just not how standard practice works for press.

Lots of lawsuits were filed by the ACLU, and some other organizations, the National Lawyers Guild, against that, and basically, to end their blanket use of tear gas, which was starting to be really aggressive and injured lots of people. And so they had to pull back, but at that point, Trump ordered in federal officers. The Department of Homeland Security, Border Patrol, and other people, have a confederation of basically federal officers that don’t play by those rules, and those orders don’t seem to apply. And they’ve come in, dressed in fatigues with weapons and aggressively attacking protesters with munitions, with tear gas. There was a really kind of horrifying video of them hitting a protester in the head with one of these munitions, cracking his skull open. He’s going to be in many years of therapy to fix that. Other people are going into seizures from the tear gas. And when I say to tear gas, I think people are thinking of little canisters that kind of dissipate. I’m talking about dozens of canisters into your cast happening almost simultaneously, that take out entire city blocks, and sometimes multiple blocks simultaneously, in ways that you literally can’t be in the space, it’s like, it would clear out any living thing. So we’re talking about this at a scale that’s much, much, much higher for a city that already clamps down on protests really aggressively. But that, in a lot of ways, has proven the point of protesters who have continued to come out and, for example, every day, or most days, the city puts up these — the police put up these fences to blockade off the parks. Protesters show up, they take down the fences, they use them as barricades up against the building and it’s, it’s gonna be kind of a constant back and forth. On Friday night, again we were at the Justice Center, I was covering it. And without any warning, in the middle of a hip hop concert that came at the end of like, you know, public speakers that included a bunch of elected officials and stuff, the federal authorities show up, get in a line, and just start nailing people with tear gas, no warning. And then compound it back and forth all night. Last night, protests actually went up north, which is quite a bit a ways away from the Justice Center to the Portland Police Association, the union’s office. They set it on fire and created flaming barricades on each side. Obviously the police cleared that out and then people went back to the Justice Center, but this has basically been the pattern that’s been going on for weeks.

KH: Well, thank you for that breakdown. I think that will be incredibly helpful to folks who are not getting the full picture from politicians or the mainstream news. I think a lot of folks are detached from the realities that protesters face on the ground, particularly in moments of rebellion. I haven’t been able to cover any protests in-person during the pandemic, due to health concerns, but I have seen a lot of police violence over the years at protests, both as a journalist and an organizer, and most people just really have no idea. But, I digress, because I want to ask about the constancy of the protests. We have seen a lot of protests play out in cities around the country. Portland is one of those places where the protests have occurred daily, without fail, throughout this movement moment. So what’s sustaining that momentum? And why have the concessions the city of Portland has offered to make, in terms of reducing the police budget, fallen short in the eyes of the protesters?

SB: Yeah. I mean, the police department or, you know, the mayor’s office, which is sort of like the police commissioner, you know, disbanded some units that are particularly unpopular, one that was the modern equivalent of the gang task force, which in the 90’s and early 2000’s was a really aggressive way to dismantle all kind of youth groups. And so that’s gone, cutting the police budget some, but it’s not nearly what organizations are calling for. So I was on the phone today with organizers from Rose City Justice, which is a very new organization, just in the last few weeks, young Black organizers getting together and organizing this stuff. And they’re very clear what they’re demanding. They’re demanding $50 million cut from the police budget each year until there is no police budget. And it is forwarded into alternative programs, everything from EMT to mental health services, to after school programs, stuff like that. So, like, what the city is coming and answering for is much, much less than what’s being asked for, which I think is also part of why the protests are continuing. But people are responsive, I mean, they are hearing this. These are incredibly popular protests here. And it’s not just like one group leading it. And oftentimes, you know, I think yesterday there were eight actions in one day. So people are very, very supportive of it. If you go around the streets of Portland, it’s generally blanketed with Black Lives Matter signs. So yeah, I think, you know, part of the tamping down on this, I think, comes in the wake of actual, real success.

KH: It’s so good to hear that Portland residents have remained supportive of the protesters, and not gotten caught up in respectability or treating property as more sacred than the bodies police brutalize. Because the standard expectation around protest in this country is that folks remain “peaceful,” and to be honest, when we are talking about state violence at protests, I think the whole notion of peacefulness is kind of a sham,

SB: Yeah.

KH: …because there’s nothing peaceful about getting your ass kicked. And, I mean, sometimes people notice and care. Like on Friday, in Chicago, we saw a young Black organizer named Miracle sucker punched by a Chicago police officer, who knocked her front teeth out because she was filming a violent arrest. A photo of Miracle, injured and crying, seems to have resonated with a lot of people and generated a lot of support for her, and thank god for that. But that kind of public sympathy is really unusual. Most of the time, people simply endure state violence without striking back or trying to preempt it. And in the aftermath, the brutality they experience is more or less shrugged off by the public. It’s just expected of people, like they cannot be viewed as valid as protesters or agents of change unless they hold themselves to a standard of nonviolence that will never be expected of those attacking them. Like on Friday night, at a Black and Indigenous Solidarity Rally in Chicago that turned into a march that wound up in Grant Park, where some folks attempted to bring down the Columbus statue, there were some cans and plastic bottles, and also some firecrackers, thrown at police by some folks in the crowd. A short time later, the police fell down on the entire crowd like an army, brutalizing people indiscriminately. One of my friends said it was the bloodiest protest she had ever attended, and that people were bleeding from open head wounds, and the police just kept attacking and gassing everyone. And yet, it took no time at all for people to post videos online of soda cans and plastic bottles being thrown through the air, posting words like, “DO YOU SEE THIS? THEY WERE NOT PEACEFUL!” As though those cans and plastic bottles justified the police literally mobilizing every tactical unit, every suppression team and every gang unit in the entire city of Chicago, and sending them to Grant Park to gas, pepper spray and beat a massive crowd of protesters with fists and batons. One thing that really strikes me about those, “critiques,” I guess you would call them, is that they emphasize rules that have always only applied to one side, for the sake of maintaining order. Some people, some liberal folks in particular, have said that their complaints aren’t about rules or respectability, that the issue is effectiveness, but that flies in the face of everything we have witnessed recently. I certainly don’t think protesters should become hammers who see everything as a nail, but I also think people need to be honest about what’s been going on and why, and also, about what the police really are and what they do. I feel like we have opened up a lot of important discussions about abolition recently, and about just how little time police spend attending to violence. The percentage is so tiny. It’s like, if we are going to talk about people protesting an oppressive force, we need to examine what that force actually does, which in the case of police includes their day to day violent practices, the sexual assaults and murders they commit routinely, with impunity. So, let’s be realistic about the context we are discussing. Because “peacefulness” is a fetishized term that is used to sanctify some protesters so that others can be condemned by comparison, and ultimately, disposed of without any backlash from the public. That’s why mayors love to say that movements are great, like the movement itself is always great, while the people who cause the most trouble are always portrayed as co-opting that beautiful, important cause. Because the state has to discredit the idea that people might be within their rights to rebel — even though the idea that we have the right to revolt against a government that gives us no means of redress is supposedly foundational to this country. This is why we are seeing fake direct actions with mayors who shelter violent police painting, “Black Lives Matter” on city streets. They are trying to buy their way out of being seen as part of the problem. They are trying to make the movement their own, even though it was the momentum of a rebellion where a police precinct burned, that finally led to the system making concessions. I believe in a diversity of tactics. I’m not saying every protest should involve confrontations with the police. In fact, I think it’s crucial that activists use a wide spread of tactics that welcome all manner of folks to the struggle. But folks need to save their snctimony for another day. I know you all have seen a lot of terrifying violence in Portland in recent weeks. Historically speaking, repression often drives people away from protests. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. Can you tell us why you think that is? And what it’s like to be out there, on the streets of Portland, right now?

SB: Yeah, it’s really dangerous. I mean, it’s shockingly dangerous and, you know, I’ve been to hundreds of these over my life and, you know, I’m no stranger to tear gas and flash bangs around here, but this was incredibly violent. You know, I’ve been talking with a lot of journalists, there’s a lot of independent journalists, young people, sometimes even teenagers that are reporting on Twitter, and they’re basically getting the footage that’s been used by mainstream press. And, you know, they’re saying that like, what’s dangerous about this is they don’t actually have any read on these officers. They don’t know what, like, the rules of engagement basically are. They don’t know when they’re about to fire on people, they don’t know why, and it’s incredibly scary. And, also, they don’t seem to respect the line of press. And then obviously, obviously [they] don’t respect the protesters, and the protesters right to do things. So it’s incredibly dangerous, there.

I think in a lot of ways, and I’ve been talking about a lot of protesters about this, is that one of the reasons that the protests have continued in Portland is that the police are making the case for them. It’s one of the most obvious things that there’s a problem with policing, that the police are violent institutions, when they are just brutalizing people night after night. And then escalating after, like you said, after a certain amount of kind of mild reform comes in, then federal officers basically come in and just override it. So, like, it’s made the case very clearly that this is who the police are to them, and so I think people already have that impetus to keep going. I think that the aggressive strategies are meant to have a chilling effect. They’re meant to, you know, send the message that you shouldn’t come to these, it’s dangerous, and you should stay home. It is having the opposite effect in a lot of ways, though, because it’s making people really hardened and they’re digging in their heels on this.

So, it’s a strategy that, I think, has a coherence from their perspective. You know, they want to show law and order kind of supporters that they’re taking action, but it really is actually hardening the anti-police opposition.

KH: So, it looks like protesters in Chicago could soon be squaring off with a similar force, or a similarly hybridized force of local police, who are well known for their brutality, and Trump’s mishmash of feds, sort of attacking people in concert, and doing their own thing unaccountably, within parameters that are unknown to us and with a chain of command that is not being explained to anyone. Our mayor says these federal agents are not welcome, but she’s also never been one to protect protesters from state violence. So it gets complicated when we talk about the relationship between local and state governments, and Trump’s federal henchmen, because while these people hate Trump, they also aren’t fond of the protesters and would no doubt like the protests to end. What can you tell us about how this dynamic is playing out in Portland?

SB: So local officials are demanding that the feds leave, right? So, there’s left wing or left leaning, kind of elected officials and city council stuff, they’re open, they’re coming to the rallies and saying these feds have to go. The Portland mayor, Ted Wheeler, who’s basically unpopular with Portlanders, unpopular with the left, unpopular with the far right — no one seems to like Ted Wheeler. He is very tepidly asking them to go. The Senate, just all of the state senators, you know, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, have demanded that they leave. Kate Brown, the governor, is demanding that they leave, and saying that this was a cynical ploy by Trump to use as an election tactic, which is probably true.

But yeah, the Portland police, though, seem to work with them. There seems to be coordination. They’re using police facilities, they’re going back and forth. And so, no, this was a coordinated effort. And, I mean, I think it says a really clear thing that police have solidarity with each other, and so they’re standing in alignment there.

KH: You mentioned this being a cynical election ploy, which I completely agree with. And I also want to make sure people don’t get confused about what we are saying here, because even though it’s a ploy, the impacts are incredibly real. And what’s being foreshadowed here is potentially, incredibly bleak, in terms of where this federal practice is headed and what it means for the future of protest and policing. I mean, we are talking about squads of federal agents from different agencies, deputized as needed, to be let loose on protesters. So whether the objective is material or symbolic, we are talking about violent efforts to maintain a fascist project.

SB: Yeah, I think it’s important to kind of like unpack exactly what Trump is doing here. I mean, there is no real, legal framework that would justify for sending, what essentially are armed troops. It’s a real, kind of, nominal difference between what the officers are doing and what, like, a military force would be [doing]. They’re coming in with military grade weapons, they’re in fatigues, they’re storming the streets, they’re treating the protesters like a, kind of, like a home army, basically. And so what he’s doing is basically sending in officers to an area that he’s talked about wanting to intervene on. A liberal city, Portland in particular, which for example, which is a sanctuary city, does things Trump doesn’t like. And basically he’s coming in, taking over, and using, basically, his military force as a secret police to do a political performance, as he has been faltering poll numbers. So what’s happening here is a very cynical ploy by Trump to basically present the image of himself as a law and order president, so he can appeal to the base. Obviously, very unpopular with everybody else, but it’s a singular kind of force that’s coming in and doing this. It’s him, kind of against the rest of it. And it’s really unclear — except for the police, obviously, are in alignment — so it’s really unclear how this is going to play out for him. And I don’t see any reason right now, why he’s going to back down at this point, and not just continue to escalate. And, for example, maybe go into Chicago, and maybe going into other cities, as he stands in alignment with the local police unions and the police themselves.

KH: You mentioned Portland being important to Trump because it’s a liberal city, and I wanted to touch on another reason why Portland might be important to Trump. In addition to his overall contempt for places where people aren’t likely to vote for him, the Pacific Northwest holds a particular importance to the far right. Could you say a bit about how Trump’s engagement with white supremacist groups figures into this?

SB: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this has been a center of the far right, of white nationalist organizing, for decades and decades and decades. Obviously, through the 70’s and 80’s, this was an area that was a target as a white homeland for people who were working with the Northwest Imperative to try and move out here and build kind of white enclaves, particularly in Idaho. And then also, it was the center of skinhead organizing in the 80’s and 90’s, and more recently Patriot Prayer, the Proud Boys, Identity Evropa, all have a large presence here, which has led to basically dueling protests for years. I think one thing we ended up not, I think we haven’t mentioned yet, was the way that some of these [federal agents] are actually handling protesters. So I think that while they were incredibly aggressive in town, it wasn’t actually very clear how profound what was happening was until video footage of them doing snatch and grab operations on protesters. So basically, they’re running out of cars, going after protesters, remember that they appear as soldiers, they don’t appear as police. So they’re coming up, they’re grabbing protesters and shoving them into unmarked cars — these vans, they rented from Enterprise Rent-A-Car — and then driving them away. Not exactly telling them what they’re charged with, putting them into cells without making things particularly clear. And so, these sort of, like, civil liberty violations are happening, kind of en masse, as you have an occupying army in here, basically sent in by the far right with far right talking points and protocols.

KH: I am really glad you are naming so clearly how this alignment with law enforcement is working for Trump. Because he’s really blurring the lines between these agencies. His administration is pulling agents from the DEA, Border Control, the Bureau of Prisons, and even the TSA, basically any federal law enforcement agency that he wants, and treating those agents as interchangeable storm troopers. And by deploying them, he is hardening the loyalty of local police departments by sending scary cousins to beat up the protesters who are making them look bad. And I really, really want people to pay attention to this dynamic and how it works. I want people to understand that Trump is violently policing cities with these goon squads that he Frankensteined together out of various agencies, on the basis of a vague and dodgy executive order about protecting monuments, and that people really can’t afford to shrug this off. Like I have seen some people acting very dismissively about it, like it’s just a stunt and it will pass, and that’s incredibly dangerous because, for one thing, people are being hurt right now, and that matters, but also, we should expect the reach of these goon squads to continue to extend, because it’s exciting Trump’s supporters and it makes him feel strong, so why would he stop? These federal agents are allowing him to flex and show off his impunity.

SB: They’re coming in with a certain kind of federal authority, but they’re stepping way, way, far beyond that. And I think, if that’s allowed to stand, then that becomes the new standard for what Trump’s doing. So he’s always, he has the standard now of sending troops into the cities he basically doesn’t like. And that’s basically what’s happening. He’s sending in troops to a city that he doesn’t like, or is handling things the way he doesn’t like, but then setting the standard that they’re going to behave in extra legal ways. And they’re going to, kind of go in, and treat it like a war zone.

And then that’s justified by the rhetoric of Trump acolytes in the far right media. They’re basically, you know, going on and on about a BLM/antifa war, and presenting everything as some kind of terror threat, when it’s not. And so, I think, what I think should be really concerning here, it’s not just that Trump has the ability to do this, but that the way that he does this is being conditioned to have these far reaching implications, that he’s going to have a much longer leash on how he’s able to interpret the resources given to those officers.

KH: So we know all of these events are grounded in previous iterations of the horrors we are seeing now. We also know that the United States has always been a genocidal project. But we are seeing escalations right now on multiple fronts. The president has rerouted COVID-19 data away from the CDC, and into loyal hands. He is trying to force schools to reopen, and seems poised to conceal data that could contradict his back to school, back to work narrative. So we have fascist gains being made here, in terms of the destruction of our collective understanding of facts, in terms of violence being inflicted on incarcerated people, including many Black and Indigenous people, in terms of the biological warfare that Trump is waging by deporting planes full of immigrants who contracted COVID-19 in detention. So can you say a bit about the fascistic escalations we are experiencing in this political moment?

SB: Yeah. I mean, I think there’s a complete disregard for human life that’s taking place. So on the one hand, you treat protesters as if they are, sort of almost like a demonic force, that needs to be put down by force, including cruelty and really incredible violence on them, and just treat people as though their rights don’t matter.

So there’s that, on the one hand. On the other hand, we’re talking about, kind of a war on people vulnerable to illness. So like, a kind of quote unquote, war on the weak, a war of cruelty, and a complete disregard. So what you’re creating is these huge barriers of violence that are going to affect communities in a variety of ways. But at the same time, it comes along with a social conditioning that changes our values. So there’s a real normalization for that kind of cruelty that’s happening, not just from Trump himself, but the kind of entire sphere that’s around him. So, you know, Tucker Carlson’s a part of this, you know, Sean Hannity is a part of this. There’s a normalization of this rhetoric that gives him the ability to do that, and to escalate it even further, and for those steps to be kind of be pushed along the way. I mean, if we normalize the sending in of, essentially, troops into cities to disrupt things, what’s to stop that happening in other situations? What’s that to stop that happening if Trump contests the election results? There’s a lot of things that could actually happen here, and the depth of it, when you condition people to have their values change, that has the ability of taking things much, much, much further.

KH: That’s all very daunting, but I am so glad you are saying it, because these possibilities need to be acknowledged so that we can assess where we are at, and what we want to do about it. I personally believe Trump is more dangerous than ever right now, because he’s in the homestretch of potentially losing this election. His back is against the wall and he has many weapons at his disposal. He doesn’t like the FBI, so he commissioned his own goon squads to investigate protesters, and now, to police cities. So what happens next?

SB: There’s no reason to believe that these protests are going to stop anytime soon, so basically, right now we’re having a standoff. There’s a lot of things that could happen, theoretically. I think Trump is going to pull out all the stops, though. There’s no reason to believe he’s not. I mean, he’s literally sending troops into cities. So, in advance of the election that looks like he might lose, he’s going to double down, cause that seems to be his choice. And he’s going to do it by trying to prove that he’s an authoritarian president. And he’s gonna do that, particularly in liberal cities, where he thinks it might help. So it’s hard to say — I don’t want to be conspiratorial at all — but it’s hard to say exactly what restraint will be shown, or if Trump’s actually going to try and use his new favorite authoritarian force, these federal officers, to do things that are disruptive to an election happening. That’s quite possible.

And at this point, I think that the normal rules of the game should be considered obsolete. We were educated to survive in a world that no longer exists. Things are much more dramatic and can shift much more dramatically than they did in years past, even just since 2016. So I think we should be, people should be prepared for the fact that this may be a political battle that’s not just done with pundits on TV or by casting a ballot, but one that involves large organizations and confederations of people in the streets.

KH: Yes, and on that note, we are going to make an exit. Shane, thank you so much for making time to talk today. This has been a great conversation and I really hope it has helped some of our listeners form a clearer picture of what’s happening, and what they want to do about it.

SB: Thanks for having me on and I’m always happy to.

KH: I also want to thank our listeners for joining us today. I am back from medical leave, and I will be with you all again every Wednesday, bad back permitting. So please take care of yourselves and remember, our best defense against cynicism is to do good and to remember that the good we do matters. Until next time, I’ll see you in the streets.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, July 21, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot stated the city of Chicago would cooperate with Trump’s federal agents, but that the city would not embrace “dictatorship.”

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