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7 Days in June: War and Peace

Jamie Stiehm on

WASHINGTON -- In June light, the American president waged war against the people. In a mass mobilization, the people won a peaceful victory, wresting the nation's meaning from the maw. Two female leaders made all the difference.

I heard it first from a fighter pilot named Smash. Active duty military must never be deployed at home. That's un-American. Who needs the army or marines, I might add, when police forces are militarized anyway?

Yet President Donald Trump called heavily armed soldiers out on our city streets, concentrated in the capital. They rained on protests against police violence -- with helicopters, pepper spray and rubber bullets. The 82nd Airborne Division stood ready. Trump even amassed military might on the sacred shrine of freedom, the marble Lincoln Memorial.

That was the cruelest cut, the most profane act against democracy ever by a president.

Civil War President Abraham Lincoln, the eloquent giant, freed 4 million enslaved people. It's beyond irony that "law and order" was sent to that site to squelch peaceful protests against racial violence. Lincoln was tragically slain before he put the broken pieces together for a more just union.

Over seven days in June, never forget, peaceful resisters against police brutality were called "mobs." One evening, Trump cleared street marchers with a violent attack as he spoke in the Rose Garden so he could walk to a church and scowl. He coerced his top military commander and Secretary of Defense to trail him, to their everlasting shame.

 

I asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., if she knew the Lincoln Memorial would be seized as "battlespace." She replied: "No, no. And I would like to know who they are." She challenged Trump on the rows of unidentified law enforcement and Bureau of Prisons officers and said police reform is coming. She added: "What they did on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was so stunning. ... It was scary."

Call it blasphemy against the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s memory. A preacher of nonviolent change for civil rights, King gave the lofty "I Have a Dream" speech on those steps.

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington defied Trump in an inspired way. A woman of color, Bowser had "BLACK LIVES MATTER" painted in huge block letters on the road leading to the White House. What a spirited street protest, King's nonviolent power in action.

Like a coward, Trump retreated to a bunker and built a fortress around the White House as anger rose to high tide across American towns and cities. The world witnessed a collective outcry and revolt against racial abuse from police. Case in point: George Floyd's dehumanizing arrest and murder. Perhaps a civilian dam broke, too, over the stream of insults Trump dishes out daily.

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