Updated: May 9
WARNING: the video below contains graphic language. This video of a man confronting BLM protestors blockading traffic was published in the last day or so and has since gone viral, shared by Andy Ngo, Ian Miles Cheong, and others. I actually ran into this a week or so ago when it happened.
When I saw what was happening, I was on my way home with my daughter. I wasn't close enough to see any of the signs, so I didn't know who it was or what it was about, but it didn't matter--they didn't belong in the street, so I called the police and was able to make a U-turn to avoid getting stuck in it.
I'll state some things unequivocally first before I offer my thoughts about this.
I don't care who you are, I'll defend your right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, as protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and Article I, Section 17 of the Texas Constitution.
I don't care who you are--once you cross the line (in this case into traffic) into lawbreaking, whether it's to obstruct traffic and intimidate motorists, or burn down businesses and murder people, you've lost my support entirely, and you're afforded no such right under our constitutions.
In what has become a familiar experience, all that's come to light is a 2-minute video, where people have filled in their own blanks. Now, having gone viral, when we first see it, it comes with whatever narrative the presenter has provided. In some cases, this is as pronounced as "They [BLM] even pull a gun on the driver, and the officer targets the driver, not the aggressors."
I always encourage everyone to evaluate only what they can actually see, and not let other people fill in the blanks for you, especially when they have no way of knowing the blanks. So here's what we actually know from the video:
BLM was illegally obstructing the road, causing a backup of traffic.
There was only one officer on the scene, that we can tell during the video.
The officer didn't "target" anyone during the course of the video; he appeared to be trying to keep the driver and the "protestors" (in quotes because they were breaking the law) apart from one another.
We see the guy with the gun in only about one second of the 2-minute video.
We didn't see the gun at all until the driver took a swipe at a woman's phone, at which point, presumably, the gun was drawn.
The driver was plainly the most aggressive person in the area, at least during the brief video.
Here's what I additionally know:
This actually occurred on the Frisco side of 121 (I know because I saw it); I presume the Plano Police Officer in the video was the first to arrive while awaiting additional officers (either Plano or Frisco).
The "protestors" were there for less than 10 minutes. This I know because I've inquired internally. I don't know whether they left of their own accord or were dispersed by the police.
Here, then, are some reasonable things we can conclude until we know more:
If the Plano officer was indeed the only one on the scene, it would have been foolhardy to try to disperse the "protestors" by himself, or to start arresting them.
The officer appeared to be trying to keep a volatile situation from getting worse until appropriate backup arrived.
He didn't "target", attack, or otherwise take any action against the irate driver other than to try to keep him away from the "protestors."
Whomever drew the gun was evidently already prepared to draw, and might have even already had it drawn, but not yet pointed at the driver. However, it's reasonable to assume he might never have pointed it at the driver had the driver not taken a swipe at the woman. The guy with the gun reacted very quickly, and didn't know what the driver was doing when he struck out. We know only after watching the video.
It's also reasonable to assume the police officer never saw the gun. I didn't notice it at all until I saw a still frame someone posted with the gun circled. Not only was the officer's attention likely on the driver, but his view of the gun could easily have been obstructed by the person taking the video or the person closest to the camera. Just because the camera has a view of it doesn't mean the officer does.
If the entire event occurred over less than 10 minutes, it's reasonable to assume the officer wasn't there when it started. If officers knew about this in advance, it seems likely there would have been a greater police presence. Even if someone called 911 immediately, and he arrived within a couple of minutes, that doesn't mean backup will get there instantly. Even if it only takes 2-3 minutes for sufficient backup to arrive, unless they want to risk someone getting killed by just making a bunch of arrests, if they immediately began to disperse people, it would likely take 3-5 minutes to do so and get traffic flowing safely again. That accounts for the entirety of the time.
If officers dispersed the "protestors" as quickly as they could safely do so, then nobody "let" the "protestors" (I'm wearing out the " key on my keyboard) do this. They just did it.
All that said, I will not support or condone that kind of lawlessness in Plano. I'll support anyone's right to peacefully protest, but I won't support anyone's efforts to "mostly" peacefully protest.