Columnist Jay Ambrose

Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune. Readers may email him at speaktojay@aol.com.

So now we know. It was a White supremacist who started the first riot in Minneapolis.

He was walking along wearing a black coat with an umbrella and, the next thing you knew, he was breaking glass windows with a hammer.

The crowd of peaceful protesters got excited and soon enough had mastered the art of destructive mayhem. No less than a day later the protesters had started 30 fires costing $500 million, including in police stations.

He is called “The Umbrella Man,” this accused miscreant, because, for one thing, he was indeed carrying an umbrella, and, for another, there was a man who earlier got that name because he was carrying an umbrella at the scene of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Some thought he was the one who killed Kennedy and so there is a similarity here: Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t do it and the peaceful protesters didn’t do it.

The second part of the thesis appears to have increased legitimacy because various reports tell us that some of those stirring up trouble aren’t protesters, but KKK, neo-Nazis and other groups of White supremacists who are also opportunists.

If this is the case to any considerable extent, the nagging question becomes why Democratic governors and mayors have allowed this to go on, this minimizing of police protection when the Klansmen block traffic, cause utter confusion in downtown areas or throw rocks hitting officers in the head. Do they not care about the neo-Nazis hoisting Molotov cocktails high and wide, about eye-blinding laser beams, about wrecked businesses, even about people shot to death? Why have Democratic members of Congress been in favor of allowing White supremacists to destroy a federal court in Portland, Oregon, along with parts of several cities?

It is time for answers and they are obvious. First off, it does not matter who is harmfully breaking the law. The harm must be legally stopped, and too many of our leaders just don’t get it. They say less racism is a good cause and they are right, but it does not follow that a good cause means anything goes.

They will tell you that peaceful protest is part of what America is, and they are right, but it is absurdity surrounded by deception to maintain that what we have had is just peaceful protest or that White supremacists are mostly to blame.

Even if the Umbrella Man started what happened in Minneapolis, it was then the protesters who sprang into action.

And if it is mostly White supremacists committing evil at an event, then the peaceful protesters should depart. They should protest elsewhere. They should avoid anything damaging other lives. They should quit cheering the people who hate them.

They do seem to be doing a decent job of identifying some of the troublemakers as antifa or KKK or what have you. Just from watching TV, I have no doubt many of the unruly protesters, maybe even a majority, are White, but I also suspect some are upper-middle-class young people subscribing to leftism.

I have seen all kinds of articles defending peaceful protest, and so do I, but then so many of those articles confuse “peaceful” with arson, theft and vandalism. What they do is make excuses and tell you how horrible police are and how insistent racism is. They neglect progress and the fact that police debasement, hindrance and the wrong kind of reform can lead to the kind of Black-on-Black criminality right now killing Black children in Chicago.

To be sure, I understand the fear of public officials that a policeman could possibly shoot a demonstrator, but leftists refuse to listen to research at odds with their claims about racist police shootings or about calamitous consequences of unleashed criminality in Black neighborhoods or about cultural issues fostering much of what we are seeing.