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The Looming Specter of Kent State

Free Speech Free-for-All

 

The crescendo of demonstrations is taking place against the backdrop of “forever wars” in the Middle East and Ukraine, the invasion of illegal immigrants into the US, the severe economic disconnect between the stock market and consumer prices, and rising violent domestic crime.

 

In the meantime, we are approaching the home stretch to the contentious DNC and GOP conventions followed by the US presidential elections in a year of potentially game-changing elections globally.

 

The arrival of seasonal sweltering summer weather will undoubtedly match the intensity of political demonstrations nationwide.

 

 

THE PROTESTORS

 

The Deep Core of Protestor Anger

 

Although it appears that the students are genuinely supportive of the Palestinian people, I believe the core reason is of self-interest. Their pro-Palestinian efforts actually represent a convenient cover for several factors which are fueling their anger which affects them personally.

 

Since the end of WW II, a college degree has been the “ticket” to at minimum a comfortable middle-class lifestyle that surpassed the previous generations.

 

However, the quantum leap in high tech has reduced and sometimes eliminated these college degree jobs initially to countries with a a well-educated, English-speaking citizenry for a fraction of the cost and fewer restrictive labor laws.

 

In a perverse twist, corporations are onshoring many jobs that require a highly educated workforce, but these are now assigned to domestically based AI-programs and robots. The quantum efficiency and cost-effectiveness of high-tech at scale has been a game changer.

 

This trend leaves recent and soon-to-be college degree holders nothing but crumbs with respect to high-paying jobs.

 

For this reason, their return on time & investment in advanced education is more likely to be negative for the rest of their lives, as they struggle financially, burdened by debt and unable to save enough to purchase a modest home on subpar job salaries. For this reason, this young and recently feisty generation has taken to the streets.

 

The young generation has a similar, but not equally comparable, solidarity with the Palestinian citizenry in a broad way; both groups are suffering from a multigenerational governmental oppression and erosion of freedoms with dwindling options.

 

“Technocrat Terror”

 

The factors that have broken the proverbial “straw that has broken the camel’s back” are the following:

 

·      Increasingly restrictive freedom of speech, particularly those against the present-day official narrative.

·      The creation of a socio-economic serfdom engineered by the public/private cabal of mega-corporate interests confirmed statistically by an historical widening of the Gini Index.

·      A complicit government that legally rigs the system allowing an open interpretation of new & existing laws which supports a pervasive intrusion and expansion of mega-corporate powers.

 

In the past corporations influenced government decision-making. Today, thanks to powerful lobbyists, mega-corporations dictate US policy. The interests of the public/private sectors are profoundly intertwined economically & politically creating a bond in which they are beholden to each other.

 

Many elected officials were middle or upper-middle class when they entered office. Many have become multi-millionaires within one term in office on a low six-figure salary through investments in companies and/or sectors which [ironically] many are government regulated.

 

This creates a disincentive to fully serve the public and represents a painful betrayal of public office.

 

For this reason, the aforementioned conditions have pushed students into a corner in which they have little or nothing to lose and are willing to get arrested with future consequences when applying for jobs and housing.

 

Learning from the Old Guard

 

The mainstream media seems to harp on the chaotic, impulsive actions of student protestors. However, this is a dangerous assumption. The student protestors may not know their history, but they know how to leverage connections such as elder protestors, their version of Obi-Wan Kenobi, from the 1960s and 1970s.

 

These elders are providing sage advice from the late 20th century to their 21st century protégés who are leveraging this wisdom with 21st century technological social media tools.

 

In any movement anywhere, especially one that is high profile, high stakes, the young, present-day generation seek advice, wisdom and support from their elders. Like military history, although the present-day “war” is always different than previous ones, the fundamentals remain unchanged such as command & control, swift adaptability through effective communications and esprit du corps.

 

This process is multi-generational with the participation, collaboration and support of specialty groups with similar grievances and compatible agendas.

 

Defining Agitators

 

Agitators are anyone, everywhere, within or outside the core protesting group.

 

·      Within the main protesting group, usually hot-heads who are exceptionally adept at stirring trouble.

·      Within another group marching for solidarity with a similar cause and objective.

·      Anarchists seek to provoke chaos, not awareness and solution. For this reason, all anarchists are agitators. The problem is identifying them as anarchists.

·      The media whether mainstream or citizen journalists sometimes plays the role of that guy in the playground that shoves one opponent into another during a stare down or just as they’re about to decamp, just to see some action.

 

TECHNOLOGICAL CHALLENGES & URBAN SECURITY

 

Exposing The Evils of AI Deep Fakes

 

The tragedy at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, 54 years ago, resulted in 4 deaths and 9 wounded by the Ohio National Guard during a demonstration against the Vietnam War. It was a galvanizing moment as this tragedy triggered massive nationwide protests and draconian law enforcement security measures.

 

The virtual nuclear weapon is AI-created deep fakes whose images have become uncomfortably indistinguishable from real-life.

 

Because demonstrations are increasing in intensity worldwide, the probability of a fatality increases as well. For sure, there are groups seeking to take this to the “Next Level” by creating a 21st century version of the Kent State tragedy through clever AI-imagery and supporting disinformation.

 

The creation, ersatz or real-life, of a martyr will galvanize the protest movement and harden the resolve for all sides.

 

It wouldn’t be surprising if these deep fakes have already been created and are on “standby”, ready to be unleashed. Once the dark genie is free from its virtual cage, damage control will be difficult even if acted upon immediately.

 

We’re in the midst of a highly emotionally charged period with wildfire news impatient for fact verification that creates a firestorm which is difficult to discern or dispute from actual facts.

 

Because many once trustworthy organizations have lost enormous credibility, even the savviest news reader will have their doubts and will believe what they want to believe, not what has been proven false.

 

Many of the aforementioned issues were discussed in my article entitled The Fog of Media, published January 16, 2024.

 

Crowd Control Challenges

 

The looming unprecedented urban security challenges with simultaneous demonstrations at various locations, law enforcement may be forced to “cannibalize” human and equipment resources from elsewhere exposing at-risk, crime-ridden communities.

 

Policemen and women have been retiring in droves with not enough new recruits to fill the gap and exacerbated by municipal budget cuts. Thus, the police are stretched to the breaking point despite all the new, high-tech gadgetry.

 

Inevitably, the National Guard, inexperienced and untested in these affairs, will be called to support the overworked police. Overwork leads to fatigue and inevitably bad decision-making at every level, possibly with fatal results.

 

This situation leaves certain communities vulnerable to devastating mass looting & destruction. Chain stores and independent businesses, already closing shop, may become extinct in those communities, never to open up again.

 

Once one community has been hollowed out, the criminals, like locusts, will move to the next community to feast on. Exacerbating the violence, illegal migrants are ghost criminals because their real identities and biomarkers such as fingerprints are not in any system.

 

High-Tech Security

 

Mass surveillance sweeps can target a protest generation weaned and dependent on internet social media, easy to track and identify beforehand. Many protestors have probably been identified electronically “tagged” through facial recognition and consequently through their social media connections.

 

The limitations are that this is mostly a reactive forensic technology rather than a “Minority Report” preventive one. Nonetheless it’s now an era of new tools with new rules.

 

Is Chicago Burning? Lessons Learned?

 

It’s a Twilight Zone historical déjà vu, the forthcoming tumultuous summer and fall of 2024 in many ways echoes 1968 with respect to chaos. This trend represents an historical “reunion” with the past with everyone coming back to Chicago.

 

The confluence of fluid, volatile and unpredictable dynamics makes it anyone’s guess as to how this all will play out prior to, during and after Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Chicago in August.

 

One could have an untenable crowd control security situation despite intensive law enforcement electronic surveillance blankets and the National Guard on standby to handle thousands of protestors from near & far during a sweltering hot summer.

 

To take an infamous line from the classic movie Cool Hand Luke (1968), “What we have here is a lack of communication” exposed gaps and faulty communication to authorized law enforcement officials as to the impending high-risk of chaos prior to the January 6th US Capitol building takeover.

 

The upside is that law enforcement already is extensively preparing for a showdown with demonstrators in Chicago this August replete with high-tech surveillance and localized lockdowns. These methods are effective for a known, upcoming major event at a specific location and its nearby environs.

 

The downside is whether law enforcement’s efforts will be sufficient at containment. One zone might be temporarily contained, however the protest intensity may eventually breach that zone and/or a spillover into other less protected zones. Like raging water, demonstrators will seek the path of least resistance, go to lightly defended areas and take their frustrations out on whatever and whoever is in their path.

 

If law enforcement realizes that containing the demonstrators is becoming untenable and the demonstrators breach all the security ring(s), panic will ensue.

 

The Menace to the Constitutional Infrastructure

 

An intriguing possibility to consider is to what extent a third-party, notably a foreign nation state, is using unwitting American citizens as an accelerant to a dangerous flashpoint?

 

Infrastructure is not only an engineering matter. It also encompasses the US Constitutional that is the supporting document to preserve the American way of life. We can weather a bridge collapse, or many bridges collapsing, but not an institutional one.

 

The confluence of major events within a short period of time, notably the upcoming DNC and GOP conventions this summer, major elections in the UK (ironically on July 4th) and the US in November, not to mention the Summer Olympics next month in Paris, provide opportunities of mischief for dark forces.

 

Conclusion & Takeaways

 

Demonstrations in US cities will grow more frequent and intense at or near high profile locations as the Palestinian issue will continue to be flaunted more like a brand rather than a cause by protestors.

 

As we head down the stretch to the aforementioned major events, the only unpredictable variable is the level of intensity on the streets and whether it can be safely contained with minimal human consequences. This factor will remain in place well after the elections with the losing side inevitably claiming improprieties at the voting stations.

 

It’s certain that whoever wins the election will guarantee a tumultuous and volatile next four years.

 

 

 

 

© Copyright 2024 Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC

 

Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

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