An atmosphere of oblique tension pervaded Los Angeles streets and neighborhoods as cadres of heavily armed desert- camo-clad National Guard troops closed out a week of violence-infused disruptions. The cultural mélange of residents blinked in confusion on sidewalks near Hollywood & Vine, watching in disbelief as National Guard troops rode camouflage-painted transport trucks into the urban maze of palpable discontent. Locals straggled by, disheveled and clearly toasted, acting as if they had awakened in the middle of someone else's horrifying nightmare. Even normal birdsong was muted. Nothing was usual. America was stretched tight as a guitar string, teetering on the verge of temporary insanity as far as the eye could see.
The troops first showed up in downtown L.A., landing to patrol in a totally deserted area; meanwhile, Santa Monica lay as exposed as a beached whale, drowning in swarms of gleeful looters who had no thought for peaceful protests nor noble intentions of racial unity & reconciliation. Like evil chess masters, the looters set out to plot a strategy that evaded the defenders. The Guard pulled back to Hollywood & Vine, patrolling the street between Chase Bank and Bank of America. Whenever the troops relocated the looters showed up elsewhere, fueling rising tensions among all the frustrated law enforcement entities whose numbers were insufficient to overcome their adversaries. Meanwhile, the peace-seeking protesters were caught in the middle - sometimes used by the looters as a means of safe cover until they arrived in areas where they could peel away and descend like vultures on the next meal.
In the end, many protesters were arrested in acts of peaceful civil disobedience - breaking curfew. Many fewer arrests were made among the looters' ranks. Perhaps the best that can be said is that an all-out race war has been averted as Gov. Gavin Newsom and Mayor Eric Garcetti chose not to send armed military to try and apprehend armed gangs in ill-conceived urban warfare. And for several days the thought of anti-viral masks was not uppermost in everyone's lives
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Jun 3, 2020