Cycle of Insurgency: What does Milwaukee mean?

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (TFC) – An allegedly armed suspect was shot and killed after reportedly fleeing from officers. Riots break out. For those who have been following this series of articles, this should come as no surprise. It appears as though the response from citizens has died out, but the importance of this event cannot be understated. Had other cities joined in the rioting, this could have been the incident that sent the US into the final stage of the cycle of insurgency, which is widespread and open insurrection.

For those just joining this series of articles, a brief recap is in order. The series began in the immediate aftermath of the Ferguson riots. It outlined cycle of insurgency and explained how insurgencies form, mature, and erupt. The series provided milestone events, which would need to occur prior to open rebellion taking hold. They have all occurred. The cycle of insurgency is a historic pattern that has repeated itself throughout history and will continue to do so. The stages are:

Prior to the digital age, pamphlets were the main method of spreading dissent around the world. The pamphlets examined and questioned the authority of the contemporary governments and control systems. In the modern world, pamphlets have been replaced by blogs, social media, and to a smaller degree, adversarial journalists.

Reactive Protests:
Once the seed of dissent is planted, people take to the streets to voice their opposition to the government. These protests occur after the control systems of the era attempt to defuse an offending incident.

Preemptive Rioting:
Preemptive rioting follows a period of reactive protests that go unanswered by the government. The people begin taking to the streets and destroying private and public property as soon as an offending incident takes place, rather than waiting and hoping for the government to police itself.

Military or Law Enforcement backlash and crackdowns:
These riots and small incidents of resistance trigger a government reaction. The control systems of the country tighten their grip on the people and further curtail civil liberties and infringe on people’s rights. The government crackdown fuels the resistance movement as more people tire of government intrusion.

Widespread rebellion and insurrection:
At some point during the crackdown, an incident occurs that tosses a match into the powder keg of dissent. At this point, open rebellion occurs.

We are on the cusp of entering the final stage. This incident highlights the severity of the change in the mindset of the average citizen. Reports indicate the subject was armed, fleeing, and in the commission of a crime. In years past, the citizens might have held a candlelight vigil for the deceased, but would have lamented the poor decisions leading up to the death. Today, social media is ablaze with questions about whether or not any of the police narrative is true. Meanwhile, another American city burns. The riot cannot be confused with preemptive rioting because immediate reports indicate the suspect was engaged in illegal activity. Reports indicate this was not an innocent or unarmed person. This is not an event triggered by reports of an unarmed person dying at the hands of an out of control government.

Molotov Image Source: joy garnett, Flickr, Creative Commons

Image Source: joy garnett, Flickr, Creative Commons

The significance of this turn of events is important. It marks a shift from the assumption that law enforcement is acting in good faith to the assumption that law enforcement will kill and fabricate a false narrative. The refusal to convict those responsible for the death of Freddie Gray cemented law enforcement guilt in the minds of Americans. It was a sentiment that was growing daily with each new report of another unarmed person being gunned down by government officials who are seldom held accountable. The immediate violent response from the community plainly indicates that the American people are ready to fight government officials, even in situations that government actions appear to be justified. The result is a riot that, while on the surface appears to have been preemptive rioting, was an offensive act or a punitive response. This is not Ferguson and this is not Baltimore. This was a subconscious attempt to take the fight to the government.

The attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge have shown that citizens are willing to initiate violence. Milwaukee clearly demonstrates that Americans are prepared to riot before law enforcement investigates themselves and finds no wrongdoing. Any of these three incidents could have been the trigger to move the US into open insurrection.

Typically, in historical examples, when incidents of this magnitude occur in a short period of time, it signals the start of a waiting game. They will increase in frequency until multiple incidents occur on the same day. With multiple cities suffering attacks or unrest, the likelihood of widespread insurgency increases exponentially.