The Afghan War Comes Home to Minneapolis
'We're gonna find some more people ... we're hunting people now.'
This is one hell of a story, and for more than one reason. First, there's the story itself. Second, there's the story it most resembles.
First, the story itself.
“Let ’em Have It boys!”
The following video opens by showing Minneapolis police officers taking random shots at random citizens — from unmarked, unidentified vans no less — during the George Floyd protests. All for fun — the fun they're having is obvious. (Click link in caption to play video.)
But the video shows more than that. It's also a composite film showing, on that same night, police beating the crap out of Jaleel K. Stallings, 29, who thought white racists were roaming the streets shooting at blacks (he was right, just wrong about which racists). He returned fire with a handgun he was legally allowed to carry and use, until he figured out they were police and immediately surrendered.
That's when they beat him. Watch to the end.
Here's the headline from the Minnesota Star Tribune:
Body camera video shows Minneapolis police discuss 'hunting' suspects, celebrate shooting protesters during George Floyd unrest
Just like shooting fish in a barrel.
And this is the write-up of the event from the Minnesota Reformer:
Before the white, unmarked cargo van of the Minneapolis Police Department drove down Lake Street, an officer gave Sgt. Andrew Bittell his orders: “Drive down Lake Street. You see a group, call it out. OK great! F*** ’em up, gas ’em, f*** ’em up.”
Bittell turned to his SWAT unit in the van and said, “Alright, we’re rolling down Lake Street. The first f***ers we see, we’re just hammering ’em with 40s,” according to body camera footage described in court documents. He was referring to “less lethal” plastic projectiles sometimes called rubber bullets or 40mm launchers or rounds.
It was nighttime, just five days after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. Protests and riots had raged for days and laid waste to businesses along Lake Street and the Third Precinct police station. By May 30, protests had ebbed but a curfew was in effect.
At 17th Avenue and Lake Street, around 10 p.m., the SWAT team saw a group of people outside the Stop-N-Shop gas station. Bittell told the driver to head toward the station and said, “Let ’em have it boys!”
“Right there, get ’em, get ’em, get ’em, hit ’em, hit ’em!” he ordered as the officers fired their plastic bullet launchers without warning. They later learned they were shooting at the gas station owner, neighbors and relatives guarding the station from more looting, as well as bystanders, including a Vice News reporter who had his hands up and was yelling, “Press!”
A SWAT team member pushed the reporter to the ground, and as he lay there, with his press card up, another officer pepper sprayed him in the face.
About an hour later, three blocks to the west, they opened the sliding door of the van and began firing plastic rounds at people in a parking lot.
They hit Jaleel K. Stallings, 29, a St. Paul truck driver, who says he didn’t know they were cops because they were inside an unmarked white cargo van with the police lights off. He thought they were real bullets. And, he says he was mindful of warnings earlier that day from no less than Gov. Tim Walz that white supremacists were roaming the city looking for trouble.
Stallings, an Army veteran, returned fire with his mini Draco pistol, for which he had a permit. He aimed low, toward the front of the van, and didn’t hit anyone. When the SWAT team jumped out of the van yelling, “Shots fired!” Stallings realized they were police. So he dropped his weapon and lay face down on the pavement, according to court documents.
His eye socket was fractured in the beating that followed, with officers later claiming he resisted arrest.
They beat him senseless. If you can stomach it, go back to the video to see that, blow by blow. Like beating fish in a barrel.
He was charged with eight counts, including second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and second-degree riot. From the Star Trib: "Stallings rejected a plea deal from prosecutors that included a nearly 13-year prison term before he took the case to trial and was acquitted."
Read the court order here.
'We're Gonna Find Some More People ... We're Hunting People Now'
Second, what the story links itself to.
This could have been really bad for Stallings and wasn't. But it's still very bad, because of the pattern it represents and the pattern it repeats. The Reformer later unearth many more body cam videos from that evening and incident. Here's another. (Click link in caption to play video.)
Note the language: "We're gonna find some more people ... we're hunting people now." Shooting fish in a barrel.
By the way, if you consider “rubber bullets” to be harmless, this is what they actually look like relative to the size of a hand.
Know where else they went hunting people, easy targets “our people” could shoot like fish in a barrel? Afghanistan and Iraq.
Watch the following film, called Collateral Murder. It's not too long. It's not different in kind from what happened in Minneapolis. The differences are mainly the lead instead of rubber bullets, and the helicopters instead of vans.
In all other respects, what happened here is identical to what happened in Minneapolis. Certainly the energy, the enthusiasm, the righteousness and, yes, the entitlement are the same.
Not only that: What commonly occurred in Afghanistan when soldiers go hunting also commonly occurs when cops go hunting. Indiscriminate attacks from cover on the unprotected and defenseless. Nationally sanctioned cruelty.
The release of the footage in this film is the reason the U.S. government tried to kill Chelsea Manning in prison, and is still trying to kill Julian Assange.
As I wrote earlier about the film:
It's brutal to watch, but I challenge you to do it anyway. It shows not just murder, but a special kind of murder — murder from the safety of the air, murder by men with heavy machine guns slowly circling their targets in helicopters like hunters with shotguns who walk the edges of a trout pond, shooting at will, waiting, walking, then shooting again, till all the fish are dead.
The film also shows war crimes that implicate the entire structure of the U.S. military, as everyone involved was acting under orders, seeking permission to fire, waiting, then getting it before once more blasting away. The publication of this video, plus all the Wikileaks publications that followed, comprise the whole reason everyone in the U.S. who matters, everyone with power, wants Julian Assange dead.
True then and true now. If you accept that the police and the Oligarchic Establishment they represent and defend are at war with the left in this country (I do), then what happened in Minneapolis was a war crime, in the same way the events shown in Collateral Murder are crimes.
This is a horrible convergence. Needless to say, our wars are coming home, and it's the troops — their persons and their culture — that are bringing it. Watch out, America. It's you that's being hunted, and by your own.