A response to the “Why don’t you protest for [Insert name here]” attempt to derail civil rights progress


I’ve seen some variation of the image shown below posted by some friends. Please allow me to explain why this is utter garbage.

The reason why we protest police brutality and racism is because the police (who are sworn to serve and protect, and who are paid with our tax dollars) get away with murder and lesser forms of brutality on a daily basis. The law as written prevents the police from being held accountable, and leaves us vulnerable to abuse by the government. The goal of the protests is so seek a change in that legal and political situation such that the police stop engaging in that brutality and racism.

As a simple example, the police who killed Breonna Taylor as she slept in her own bed have not been charged as I write this article months later. Similarly, the cop who invaded Botham Jean’s home and murdered him was initially free to walk away from the scene of the murder without charges. Those situations and many more warrant protests.

There is absolutely no reason to protest in regard to the murder of Cannon Hinnant, as the person responsible was swiftly apprehended and charged with murder. The full weight of the police force and the legal system was brought to bear against that man, and he will surely spend the rest of his life in prison. Since there is no miscarriage of justice, there is nothing to protest.  Since the person who committed the crime is not protected by a law that only the government can change, there is no need to assemble and demand a change in the law.

Finally, the attempt to somehow conflate a black person randomly killing a white child with the racism that is systematic in policing is disingenuous and intentionally race-baiting in many cases. Although I don’t think that was the specific intent of everyone who shared such a meme, I know it was for some of them. Note: I commented on the posts of two friends who shared a meme like this, saying substantially what I said above. One of them deleted the entire post. The other deleted just my comment.

Respondeat superior liability for protesters but not police?

The idea that protesters should be collectively responsible for the small number of people who engage in violence or property damage lacks merit. On the other hand, the same logic does factually work when it comes to police officers engaging in brutality, racism, and other misconduct.

Respondeat Superior

Starting with some legal history, Respondeat Superior is a longstanding legal doctrine whose Latin words roughly translate as “let the master answer.” It is a doctrine that uses vicarious liability to make an employer responsible for the actions of a subordinate who is acting at the direction of the employer. In essences, the idea is that a person who is harmed by an employee doing the biding of the employer should be able to hold the employer responsible for that harm.

The crux of Respondeat Superior is that the employer is benefiting from the employee doing their bidding, that the employer has the ability to control the employee through their power to hire/fire/discipline, and that the employee’s bad act was something within the general duties of their employment.

Applying this sort of reasoning to protesters and rioters

It is plainly apparent that the Respondeat Superior reasoning doesn’t fit the scenario when a rioter engages in violence or property damage and then some people try to blame protesters as a whole (or the organizers of the protest who have not committed any crimes). Protests are events that take place in public where anyone can walk up and protest (or commit a crime). The protest organizers and attendees do not employ rioters and cannot control the conduct of random people who show up in a public place at the same time as the protest. Nor are rioters doing the biding of the protest organizers who desperately want peaceful demonstrations. Indeed, the private actions of a looter who is stealing shoes for themselves does not advance the interests of the protest organizer one bit. Protest organizers and attendees cannot fire the rioters the way that an employer can fire an employee, and again cannot exclude them from the public space in which the protest is taking place.

Every aspect of the Respondeat Superior test fails, and so imposing vicarious liability (legally or morally) upon peaceful protesters and protest organizers for the actions of rioters makes no sense. Instead, it is just a means of trying to ignore the much-needed police reform and injustice that led to the protests by smearing the protesters.

Applying this sort of reasoning to police

A place where Respondeat Superior does fit is the police. Police officers are employees of the police department. The police chief and others within the government have the authority to hire, fire, and discipline police officers. Police use department-issued badges, uniforms, guns, cars, handcuffs, etc. When a police officer uses force they are doing so in the scope of their employment, using training that they were given at work. When they exceed the scope of what is proper by engaging in brutality or racism, they are still acting within the time and space of the agency relationship between themselves and the department. Respondeat Superior fits like a glove.

That is all the more true when police chiefs and other governmental actors choose not to fire bad cops who have engaged in misconduct, only to have them commit further abuses. Similarly, police officers who have sworn an oath to uphold the law yet choose to ignore misconduct on the part of other police officers, and themselves culpable.


For all the reasons expressed above, it makes no sense to blame protest organizers and attendees for the criminal actions of a few rioters. However, it does make sense to hold police departments, police chiefs, and other police officers accountable for the actions of police officers who commit misconduct.

Finally, please note that a lot of the so-called “protesters” committing acts of violence and property destruction are either made-up stories or acts of violence/destruction that were later found to be committed by white supremacists who are trying to smear the protesters. More information on that issue can be seen here: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/06/22/white-supremacists-falsely-accuse-black-lives-matters-protesters-of-violence/

Civil rights activists need to be armed for self defense

There is an urgent need for those who support civil rights to arm themselves for self defense. Supporting gun control and choosing to be defenseless in the face of armed and violent racists is folly.

Starting with some history, the inescapable fact is that gun control in the United States began as a means of ensuring the newly-freed slaves would be unarmed. That trend began in the South but spread to the North, beginning with laws that outright banned Black people from owning firearms. Later that goal of banning Black people from gun ownership morphed into laws that were color-neutral on their face, but which allowed the police to use their discretion in granting or denying gun permits to ensure that Black people (and other “undesirables” such as Italian and Irish immigrants) were unarmed. I discussed this and provided citation to other articles back in 2008: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2008/07/02/junk-guns-and-the-racist-history-of-gun-control-laws/. For those who prefer a video, the “No Guns for Negros” video series provides a recitation of the history and can be seen here: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2010/04/17/no-guns-for-negroes-video-clip-part-1-of-2/.

Jumping forward to today, there is a rise of white supremacists and violent racists in this country. They are emboldened by Trump’s hateful rhetoric and the actions that Trump has taken to prevent racists from being held accountable. That too is something I have covered in another article that can be seen here: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/06/05/trump-race-and-police-brutality/. Many of these violent racists are armed. Indeed, the one thing that those deplorable people get right is their understanding of the power of firearms. They know that a gun in the hand of a person (whether that person is good or bad) allows that person to effectively fighting multiple unarmed people and very likely prevail.

Sadly, many people in the civil rights movement erroneously conclude that a desire for a peaceful resolution to police brutality and racism somehow means they should be unarmed and defenseless when seeking that peaceful resolution. They falsely conflate gun ownership with wrongful violence, and fail to see that being armed for self defense is morally right and desperately needed these days. While I appreciate the place of caring for one’s fellow human that such pacifist beliefs come from, that is a naive and dangerous approach to life that should be abandoned. I set forth my arguments on that issue more fully in this article that is also from 2008: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2008/10/03/pacifism-a-naive-and-dangerous-approach-to-life/.

To those who are still not convinced that they should be armed for self defense, please let me lay out a more concrete scenario: You just finished attending a peaceful protest when a group of racists follow you home and attack you. At home are your children and other loved ones. At that point in time, would you rather be unarmed or armed? For any sane person who is not engaging in mental gymnastics to avoid the clear answer, it is obvious that being armed is the right answer in that scenario. Since you can’t make a gun magically appear in your hand when you need it, and since you can’t make the training to effectively use that gun magically appear in your head either, the time to get the gun and training is now. The time when you desperately need the gun to avoid being murdered is too late to buy that gun and learn how to use it.

For Iowa residents, I offer an online Iowa Permit to Carry Weapons class that provides all the training that is required by law to obtain the Iowa permit. It can be accessed at https://www.qcgunclass.com/. For those in other states, please contact your local gun stores and gun ranges to learn more, or ask a friend who is already a gun owner for advice on getting started. I’ve also put together a lot of free information on this website, to include the Guns 101 section that has basic information for beginners: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/category/guns-101/.

In terms of what firearms to buy, anything is better than nothing but I would generally recommend a concealable handgun for everyday self defense while outside of the home, a 12 ga shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot for home defense, and a rifle such as an AR-15 for self defense during civil unrest. The following articles provide more information on selecting defensive firearms:



Bullet-resistant armor is also a good thing to own. Here is a good option:
BulletSafe bullet-proof vest: https://bulletsafe.com/products/bullet-proof-vest

Finally, a few more articles that I’ve written to expand on some of the points above:




Protest Against Police Brutality and Racism in Davenport, IA on August 22, 2020


Some friends and I organized a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism in Davenport, Iowa. The protest took place at the Davenport, Iowa police station on August 22, 2020 at 4:00pm.  Video and news coverage follows:

QC Times article: https://qctimes.com/news/photos-protest-against-police-brutality-at-the-davenport-police-department/collection_78b22457-1c3e-557e-bc54-896e398405d0.html#1

Video interview from our 10:00am counter-protest of the rally organized by the deplorable person discussed here: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/08/19/the-neonazi-counter-protest-to-our-peaceful-protest-against-police-brutality-and-racism-in-davenport-iowa-on-august-22-2020/

More information can be seen on the Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/623795348260566/

When Protesting, the Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

A gentleman who opposes police brutality and racism publicly stated that he would not attend a protest against police brutality and racism because that protest didn’t also address the problems of inner-city violence and the related social woes. I respectfully disagree and am sharing my response to him here:

Read moreWhen Protesting, the Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

Protest Against Police Brutality and Racism in Davenport, Iowa on July 11, 2020 at 4:00pm


Some friends and I have organized a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism in Davenport, Iowa. The protest will take place at the Davenport, Iowa police station on July 11, 2020 at 4:00pm. The address is 416 Harrison Street, Davenport, IA 52801.

More information can be seen on the Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/565306157705631/

White Supremacists and related people falsely Accuse Black Lives Matters protesters and other minorities of violence

People who are opposed to civil rights progress have a long history of trying to smear civil rights groups and their organizers. That was true for Dr. Martin Luther King and it remains true today with Black Lives Matter. The following examples illustrate that point, and show how BLM and minorities are being falsely blamed, and how many attacks on people and police are simply made up stories. The same is true for cases where white people have been found committing a crime themselves, while trying to pin the blame on some random black person. So, when you see a news article or facebook post blaming protesters for violence or property damage, please be skeptical and realize there is a very good chance that you’ll later learn that it was an attempt to falsely blame protesters or black people in general.

Fox Lake, Illinois Police Officer Committed Suicide After Years of ‘Extensive Criminal Acts’: The investigation found the lieutenant had been committing “extensive criminal acts,” including stealing and laundering money from the Fox Lake Police Explorer Post over the past seven years, officials said. Thousands of dollars were used for personal purchases, including adult websites, officials said. Authorities determined Gliniewicz intentionally left a staged trail at the crime scene to try to mislead first responders that this was a homicide scene. Gliniewicz had significant experience staging mock crime scenes as a part of his job, officials said. When staging his suicide, he falsely claimed that a black man was among those attacking him. https://abcnews.go.com/US/authorities-reveal-conclusive-results-shooting-death-fox-lake/story?id=34961028

A cop’s wife faked home robbery, blamed Black Lives Matter, police say: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/massachusetts-cops-wife-faked-robbery-indicated-black-lives-matter-police-say/

A Firefighter charged with setting fire to own home — and blaming it on Black Lives Matter: https://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/new-york-firefighter-charged-with-setting-fire-to-own-home-and-blaming-it-on-black-lives-matter/

Two White people get gaught tagging “BLM” on a store: https://thinkamericana.com/two-white-protesters-get-caught-tagging-blm-on-store-get-call/

White supremacists pose as Antifa online, call for violence: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/02/tech/antifa-fake-twitter-account/index.html

A piece of racist propaganda was circulated in an attempt to smear the Black Lives Matter movement: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/blm-flyer-enemy-of-people/

Fake ‘Kill A White’ flyers in Edinburgh have nothing to do with Black Lives Matter, say activists. The inflammatory flyers call for white people, police and white MPs to be killed, Black Lives Matter campaigners in the capital believe they were created by “right-wing groups” to smear the anti-racism campaign: https://www.edinburghlive.co.uk/news/edinburgh-news/fake-kill-white-flyers-edinburgh-18423128.amp

A man welcomed dozens of protesters into his home as police ‘pinned’ them on street. This had been falsely reported and spread online as a home invasion, but rather it was the home owner actively inviting the protesters (who he supported) into his own home to help save the protesters from the violence police officers: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/02/dc-protesters-welcomed-into-rahul-dubey-home-police/5317028002/

Fact Check: Vietnam Memorial NOT Defaced By Rioters During Protests Following George Floyd’s Death: https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/06/fact-check-vietnam-memorial-not-defaced-during-protests-and-rioting-following-george-floyds-death.html

When 27-year-old Samantha Shader was first arrested for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at police, she told detectives that the supplies—including glass bottles—were given to her by a group of Black men and women, according to federal court records. But weeks later, on Friday, police arrested a white man who admitted to providing the materials. Prosecutors said that Shader, who was allegedly caught on camera hurling the bottle toward the police vehicle, has been previously arrested 11 times in 11 states: https://www.thedailybeast.com/protester-samantha-schader-tried-to-blame-black-man-for-molotov-cocktail-supplied-then-nypd-found-a-note?ref=home

Two drunk white college students, who witnesses alleged were using racial slurs according to news reports, tore down the statue of Frederick Douglass. 20-year-old John Boedicker of Endicott and 21-year-old Charles Milks of Kenmore were arrested and charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. Many initial reports and articles falsely blamed Black Lives Matters protesters for this crime, insinuating that the BLM protesters were so stupid as to not understand that Frederick Douglass was actually a former slave who had escaped slavery to become a powerful voice against slavery. https://13wham.com/news/local/police-two-males-damage-frederick-douglass-statue

Following a review of hundreds of photos and over 50 videos from the scene, Oaklandside reports that tear gas canisters shot by police during the demonstration against the slaying of George Floyd — not protesters with (per police) “Molotov cocktails” — that caused a fire that damaged Buffet Fortuna, one of Oakland Chinatown’s largest restaurants. https://sf.eater.com/2020/7/7/21315944/oakland-police-protest-boby-guys-nyum-bai-belcampo-daily-driver-hella-bagels

Citizens of Virginia and the rest of the country were shocked as headlines across the internet reported that a Fauquier County Sheriff’s Deputy was found unconscious on the roadside after being attacked by people driving a black SUV. The blue line supporters came out in full force driving home the narrative that there is a war on cops. However, after police began investigating the incident, they quickly found out that no attack ever happened and the cop who made up the false claim that he had been attacked was arrested: https://thefreethoughtproject.com/cop-arrested-after-manhunt-launched-for-an-attack-he-faked-on-himself/

Riots in downtown Richmond over the weekend were instigated by white supremacists under the guise of Black Lives Matter, according to law enforcement officials. https://www.wsls.com/news/virginia/2020/07/27/police-richmond-riots-instigated-by-white-supremacists-disguised-as-black-lives-matter/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=snd&utm_content=wsls10

Police say ‘Umbrella Man’ was a white supremacist trying to incite George Floyd rioting: https://www.startribune.com/police-umbrella-man-was-a-white-supremacist-trying-to-incite-george-floyd-rioting/571932272/

New York State Cop Allowed to Retire After Making Phony 911 Alleging He Was Shot By Black Youths, Mayor Claimed Retirement Is ‘Least Expensive Way’ To Get Rid of Him: https://atlantablackstar.com/2020/08/17/new-york-state-cop-allowed-to-retire-after-making-phony-911-alleging-he-was-shot-by-black-youths-mayor-claimed-retirement-is-least-expensive-way-to-get-rid-of-him/

Texas hunters who blamed immigrants actually shot each other, cops say: The hunters told police they suspected the shooters were undocumented immigrants they had seen on the ranch earlier in their trip. Their story soon jumped into online right-wing circles, thanks in part to Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and Donald Trump ally Sid Miller. But it was a lie, according to police and, now, a grand jury. Investigators determined that guides Walker Daughetry and Michael Bryant in fact shot at one another by accident, striking Daughetry and hunter Edwin Roberts in the process. Daughetry and Bryant were indicted for third-degree felonies last Wednesday. https://thinkprogress.org/texas-hunters-who-blamed-immigrants-actually-shot-each-other-cops-say-5607b0145119/

The Associated Press checks out some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. This one is bogus, even though it was shared widely on social media. Here are the facts:
CLAIM: Photos show four police officers who were injured by Democrats and Black Lives Matter rioters over the weekend in Portland, Seattle and nearby cities.
THE FACTS: The officers in the photos weren’t injured at U.S. protests — in fact, they were on the other side of the world. . . Research into the origin of the photos reveals they were all taken in Australia — and not over the weekend. https://www.oregonlive.com/trending/2020/08/did-you-see-photos-of-officers-supposedly-injured-last-weekend-in-nw-cities-the-facts-dont-check-out.html

Fact check: Trump shares White nationalist’s video in retweet falsely blaming Black Lives Matter for 2019 subway assault. https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/31/politics/fact-check-trump-subway-assault-black-lives-matter-antifa/index.html

Officials confirm that the social media rumors of Black Lives Matters and Antifa setting the devastating wildfires are untrue and ask people to stop sharing those untrue rumors. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/10/us/antifa-wildfires.html

Officer Goulart’s “ambush” story began to fall apart. Investigators realized there was no ambush and officer Goulart shot himself in the leg. Just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Goulart was arrested for faking his own ambush. He was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on one count of criminal mischief and one count of malfeasance in office: https://thefreethoughtproject.com/cop-shot-during-ambush-arrested-because-he-actually-shot-himself-and-made-it-all-up/

A white Texas man accused of killing the mother of his daughter disguised himself in blackface to commit the act, police say. https://atlantablackstar.com/2020/10/09/cops-say-murder-suspect-wore-blackface-and-fake-beard-to-kill-his-daughters-mother-witnesses-initially-identified-suspect-as-a-black-man/