On April 20th, 2021, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of two murder charges and of manslaughter, and an extremely tense city and nation collectively exhaled. Large, peaceful crowds gathered in Minneapolis, and in other cities relatively small groups formed to celebrate the verdict. The specter of massive and destructive riots, as we saw in Los Angeles after the Rodney King beating in 1992, largely evaporated. As shown in the image above, one lonely protestor stood on the Steele Street overpass in Denver to call attention to the killing of Daunte Wright barely a week before. In reality, however, our justice and police systems have not fundamentally changed, nor have the grievances of all manner of moderate or extremist activists. “ANTIFA” is not suddenly satisfied with the state of the world, nor are far-right and white supremacist groups. Yet—for the moment—the wind seems to have fallen from their sails. We would be foolish to think this will last.
Eco-terrorism has been unusually calm for years. White supremacists have been absent from the national spotlight since the Capitol Riots of January 6. Sadly, only crime and mass shootings have been keeping up their statistical average. There have been over 50 mass shootings in the United States since March 16th, and violent crime is up nationwide in the first three months of 2021—over already elevated 2020 levels. We should appreciate the lull in civil unrest while it lasts. But we should not think that any day-old state of perceived calm is somehow the “new normal.”