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Opinion: Who’s controlling these protesters?
06172020 OLDJOE 2.jpg
About 85 people gather Wednesday, June 17, 2020 in downtown Gainesville to protest the Confederate monument Old Joe. - photo by Scott Rogers

Regarding recent demands to remove Civil War statues and monuments, readers need to understand this protest movement is not just a U.S. phenomenon. Simultaneous demonstrations are happening in Canada, Britain, France and Belgium. Protesters in Britain are demanding removal of statues of Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi because someone called them racists.  

Gandhi led India to independence from oppressive British colonialism. His peaceful protest methods were adopted by Martin Luther King Jr., who wrote “while the Montgomery boycott was going on, India's Gandhi was the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”  

The fact protesters have been manipulated into demanding removal of statues of Gandhi indicates an utter lack of respect for King and the civil rights legacy.  

Legitimate protests over Black lives lost in questionable encounters with police may have been infiltrated and appropriated by Antifa and its shadowy network of provocateurs. Public anger is being stoked through selective focus by news networks to steer the racial justice movement away from reform of police behavior and toward violence against the government. As the news networks appear to be complicit, I think the corporate establishment is involved.  

Simultaneous timing of protests in several countries suggests it's not a grassroots movement but artificial (astroturf). It reminds me of the infamous Brooks Brothers Riot, when hundreds of paid GOP operatives were recruited and flown to Florida to act as angry locals and cause a riot to stop the recount in the 2000 Bush vs. Gore presidential election. It was completely fraudulent, but it worked by manipulating the public.  

Not only have protesters demanded removal of Gainesville's statue of a Confederate soldier but also demolition of the carving on Stone Mountain and removal of statues of certain founding fathers they have described as racists. Statues of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Andrew Jackson and Christopher Columbus have already been taken down.  

America has transformed from a country where lawless mobs of hooded vigilantes gathered in the night to lynch a person to a country where lawless mobs of vigilantes gather to lynch a statue, instigate violence, assault and intimidate bystanders, break windows, loot businesses and burn buildings. Is that progress?  

Martin Luther King never supported any protest group that allowed violence, vandalism and arson within its ranks. He opposed the Vietnam War, which threatened corporate profits. The corporate establishment may have silenced him to control the public.  

Old Joe is not dividing our community. That's the doing of organized thugs and provocateurs intent on sowing chaos.  

I believe Antifa is like the GOP operatives in the Brooks Brothers Riot. The corporate establishment may be behind Antifa and intends to paint these protest groups as violent socialist militants. That would smear democratic socialism by framing recent events as a leftist and socialist insurrection against the government.  

This theory ties in with recent establishment efforts to deny Bernie Sanders the Democratic nomination for president. Bernie's positions on universal health care made democratic socialism attractive to progressive constituents. Capitalism desperately needs to destroy that impression. 

Bruce Vandiver 

Lula 

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