Last Week in Cyberpunk: The Black Lives Matter edition

WARNING: We are going to be talking about and showing images and videos of police brutality that may not be suitable for everyone. There is violence. There is blood. We at Neon Dystopia feel it would have been disingenuous of us to just talk about the protests, and not show what exactly is being protested against.

So while we were away from our keyboards, it seems the USA decided to set itself on fire. Seemingly overnight, the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police thug-for-hire Derek Chauvin (you couldn’t have a more on-the-nose name if you’d written it) on top of the COVID crisis and mass unemployment, has sparked civil unrest the likes of which many of us have not yet seen. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, lowlives–if not to enact lasting change, then to cause mayhem and finally stick it to the bootlickers that uphold an undeniably corrupt and racist system ripped straight out of a Philip K. Dick novel (but hopefully both). 

Therefore, we here at Neon Dystopia are proud to present you with a special edition of Last Week in Cyberpunk: Operation Roast the Pig. It is vital to know precisely who your enemy is in this mindfuck of a time, especially if you intend to involve yourself in any protests. So remember to stay frosty, never broadcast your location, and if you’re gonna riot, riot smart. Let’s make our punk rock predecessors proud and show the corpos and fascists what we’re really made of.

Cyberpunk Reality

The Internet: Finally a force for good (but also evil as usual)

The sudden blaze of the Black Lives Matter movement wouldn’t exist without our handy-dandy pocket computers–after all, the amateur broadcasting of Floyd’s murder across social media was the straw that broke the camel’s back. However, within the past two weeks we’ve seen inventive ways for even casual internet users to break the police’s lines of communication during protests. For instance, take the city of Dallas, TX, whose police force developed iWatch, an app that would allow users to directly send them videos of protesters who may or may not be breaking the law. Fortunately, K-pop fans the internet over decided to say “fuck that” and instead uploaded videos of their favorite idols, which not only made any footage submitted by Nazis in sheep’s clothing nearly impossible to find, but crashed the app’s servers within hours as well.

Just as notably, communications between Chicago police via scanners were disrupted during last week’s protests by bursts of music, which were later revealed to be NWA’s “Fuck the Police” and Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain”, the latter of which you may remember as a thirteen-year-old meme that, as it turns out, was about institutionalized racism this entire time. 

However, despite how inspirational these recent acts by the vox populi may be, be careful who you trust–because even though they clearly don’t have enough brainpower to see through their own bullshit, the alt-right (fuck it, masks off–they’re fascists, plain and simple) have been hijacking antifa’s mission via a bogus Twitter account, @ANTIFA_US, calling for wanton violence and chaos in the midst of the protests in an attempt to smear antifa movements. Pro tip: if some random shit-sniffer on Twitter claims to be the ambassador of a movement that is, by definition, disorganized and decentralized, call him out for the cuck that he is.

Meanwhile, however, a lack of communication among protestors is being perpetuated thanks to good old-fashioned ignorance. For instance, Twitter users have co-opted a protest by African American musicians called Black Tuesday, affixing hashtags used to spread vital information about the Black Lives Matter movement to images of black squares in an attempt to show solidarity with black victims of police violence. Unfortunately, this has been causing more of a communications blackout amongst those who truly wish to become involved with the BLM movement than anything else. If you want to help, please, leave the hashtivism at home and attend a protest in meatspace like the rest of us.

If You Listen to Alex Jones, Please Stop

In order to appease conservatives, misinformation is being spread by “performance artist” (re: con man) Alex Jones and America’s favorite brainwashing platform, Fox News. Without a shred of evidence to back these claims up, Jones alleged that George Floyd and Derek Chauvin were involved with a trafficking ring that was run out of a nightclub both individuals worked at. However, the connection between the two is tenuous at best, and, even if they had known each other personally, does not justify a nine-minute death by strangulation, 18 official complaints against Chauvin, the fact that his reputation has been protected by his fellow officers, or the needless deaths and violence that have occurred due to police incompetence across the nation.

As much as we love noir films, life isn’t one. Alex Jones and Fox News are using their influence to paint this as an isolated incident, and that #notallcops are bastards. Like all of Jones’ snake oil products, I highly suggest you don’t buy it.

Zoom Aids Police by Releasing Public Video Calls, Zuckerberg Suggests Protest Censorship

In case you weren’t already paranoid about being monitored at any time by shady government agencies, here’s another reason to be so. Zoom, the video call service that exploded in popularity once the coronavirus broke out, is now pretty openly collaborating with law enforcement, leaving free video calls completely unencrypted for them (or anyone, really) to listen in whenever they so desire. Avoid this service like the inevitable nano-plague if you intend to share any sensitive information over the internet.

Similarly, our third-least-favorite billionaire psychopath has recently stated that, should the US find itself in a “period of prolonged civil unrest”, social media under the Facebook banner (re: all the social media) will begin censoring all posts related to protests, because we all know that Facebook is a happy place where nothing bad ever happens. This is, of course, after our least-favorite billionaire psychopath tweeted this:

Yeah, that really seems like it’s in the people’s best interests, Zuck.

Masks Off for Tyrants: Anonymous Returns

It’s been some time since we’ve heard from the US’s most well-known showboating hacker group. Having gone dark for over three years, Anonymous has cropped back up in the wake of George Floyd’s death, vowing to expose police forces across the nation for what they truly are. So far, mischief attributed to the group include a DDoS attack on the Minneapolis police website, the leaking of an alleged database of email addresses and passwords associated with the police department, a vandalized UN website, possible involvement with the disrupted police scanners in Chicago, and the release of a supposed book of contacts once held by Jeffrey Epstein. 

Epstein, who you may know as a one-percenter sex trafficker who catered to wealthy pedophiles, died under mysterious circumstances before he could go to trial for his crimes. It should be noted that this list, which includes the names of many politicians, celebrities, and royalty, has not been confirmed yet as legitimate; even if it does hold water, the list may be at least partially aspirational, meaning that Epstein may have never made any unsavory dealings with many of these supposed contacts. However, it should be noted that good ol’ DJT’s ex-wife and daughter make an appearance. Trump himself seems to have had a relationship with Epstein in the past that had gone sour for reasons undisclosed to the general public.

Even if the allegations of Trump raping a 13-year-old girl at a party hosted by Epstein are true–and, let’s face it, they probably are–we all already know that he’s a rapist, a racist, a felon, a corporate stooge, and a severely incompetent, uncharismatic fuck with dementia. This doesn’t change that he’s not budging from office.

We know you’re out of practice, Anonymous, and it’s not on you to save the world from itself. But it’s not enough to simply expose these mob bosses who somehow gained control of the world for the walking, talking piles of dog shit that they are. Somebody needs to light these fucks on fire.

You can peruse Jeffrey Epstein’s little black book here.

Police use “munitions” to forcibly push back peaceful protesters for Trump church visit

Please meme this

Kicking the week off, Trump has protesters in front of the historic St. John’s Church in DC gassed and beaten back with batons so he could have a photo op in front of it while holding a bible. Because, ya know, that’s what Jesus would fucking do I guess. Protesters were at the church 15 minutes before curfew went into effect, with things quickly escalating as the National Guard were called in to surround the White House. 

The protesters and reporters who were there state that law enforcement did indeed fire tear gas canisters at the crowd before moving in. Then coppers used horses, batons, and shields to drive back the peaceful demonstrators. US Park Police Tuesday said that they didn’t use the chemical gas, but simply “munitions”.

While this was going on, Trump entered the White House rose garden for a press conference, declared himself a “law and order” president, saying “domestic terrorism” was to blame for the unrest. He went on to say that, “I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property,” he said. “We will end it now.” 

He also said he may invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act which would mobilize the military to combat civil unrest. As of writing this that has yet to happen. 

After the rose garden conference, Trump and his staff took a stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue to get the aforementioned photo-op. Attorney General Bill Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany joined the president for a group photo as well. 

To the surprise of literally no one (except maybe Trump himself), this little move did not sit well with many people. Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, diocesan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, issued a response to the president’s visit to the church, “The President just used a Bible and one of the churches of my diocese as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our church stands for. To do so, he sanctioned the use of tear gas by police officers in riot gear to clear the church yard. I am outraged.”

Instead of trying to listen to the grievances of the protestors (systemic racism and police brutality), Trump and his administration have largely focused on squashing any resistance and unrest. 

The president was heard saying during a vid call with US governors, “You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time,” according to a recording of the call. “They’re gonna run over you, you’re gonna look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”

If the authorities won’t back down, then you shouldn’t either. 

The President of the United states labels Antifa a terrorist organization. Bootlicker politicians and fascists lap it up. 

Gee, there are a lot of fascists running around huh? Between the Blue Lives Matter crowd, the so called ‘Boogaloo’ movement (a right wing adjacent movement trying to start a second civil war) , and your basic run of the mill Nazis, Black Lives Matter has revealed the filth in droves like a black light in a teenagers bedroom. Like Arkansas Senator and general cum stain Tom Cotton, who wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times (the editor of which has resigned after publication) detailing how he wants the military to be mobilized to beat back those awful rioters, that police have “born the brunt” of the violence, those poor babies (nevermind that police been witnessed in almost theaters of protest to instigate violence). The cum stain next to Cotton is Congressman Matt Gaetz, who had his Tweet censored for violence by Twitter for saying that, now that Antifa is a terrorist organization “can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?” Classy. 

Even our president, Orange White Supremacist Messiah himself, had tweeted that the US government will label Antifa a terrorist organization. Can he do that? No, not really. Under the First Amendment one is allowed under Free Speech to say whatever the hell ya like. This has protected white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, progessive groups, and ideologists such as Antifa, but after an assault on a Walmart targeting Latino Americans by a white supremacists, democrats have tried to have certain white power groups designated as terrorists. 

It’s difficult, however, to label any group a terrorist organization on US soil because, simply, we don’t have laws for that. We can label foreign groups (who are not protected by the US Constitution) terrorists, but unless a dedicated group created in the US sets off an actual bomb they will not be designated terrorists (mass shootings don’t count). Being radicalized online also has no legal backlash beyond taking the site down (and it took years for 4chan to be removed). 

The right has often depicted Antifa as some raging mob pillaging the countryside of good decent (white) folk, either not understanding or missing the irony of labeling a group that is literally Anti-Facist as some sort of evil totalitarian group trying to take your freedoms away. The New Yorker has a pretty good rundown of the movement, from its roots and past actions, to its modern incarnations, while interviewing the author of the book Antifa: The Anti-Fascists Handbook

A quick and dirty guide to protecting yourself against rubber bullets and tear gas

There’s a lot of ordinance being tossed around these days. Despite the banning of tear gas in warfare by the 1997 international Chemical Weapons Convention (yet is somehow ok for domestic use), and the improper use of rubber bullets by firing them directly at targets as opposed to bouncing them into peoples shins, with both being used in excess. 

So what is tear gas exactly? ‘Tear gas’ refers to a group of chemicals that cause irritation to the mucous membrane and the eyes causing tearing (hence the name), coughing, vomiting, respiratory inflammation, and can trigger asthma attacks. They are believed to be nonlethal, but studies have found excessive exposure and misuse can cause long term damage, even death. 

Protection against tear gas is pretty straightforward according to the International News Safety Institution (INSI). The best protection you can have is a gas mask with a proper filter. These are expensive and not exactly easy to get on the streets (and even in the age of Covid-19 you’ll stand out in a crowd which you DO NOT want). The next best thing is an escape hood, a disposable type of gas mask often used in fire safety and chemical emergencies, which is lighter and more expensive than a gas mask but by no means anymore subtle.  

Not suspicious at all

For the regular Joe, a builder’s respirator with the proper filters are ideal, along with airtight goggles. The protection won’t be perfect, but punks can’t be choosers.  

So the pigs have gassed you, now what? Well, if you have protection, just get out of the cloud as quickly as possible (the gas is heavier than air so the high ground is preferred). If you don’t have any protection, well, you’re in for some pain. Get out of the cloud as quickly as you can, use either water or milk to rinse out your eyes (I’ve heard both work fine). Your clothes are now saturated in the chemical which can cling to it for months (disposal is the best action when you get home). Any exposed skin is now saturated, so shower several times when you get home, and lastly, DO NOT rub your eyes as this will only activate the chemical further and make things much worse for you. 

The other preferred “non-lethal” weapon used by police is the rubber bullet. Not exactly a bullet, and not exactly rubber either, a rubber bullet (or ‘baton round’) is composed of a solid core (made of either wax, plastic, or steel) coated in rubber. Fired at range or skipped along the ground, getting hit with a rubber bullet should feel like getting punched by a gorilla in the thigh. However, studies have shown rubber bullets, even when used as intended, can cause serious injury via breaking of the skin, concussion, organ damage, broken bones, and even death. 

Linda Tirado is a journalist and photographer who, like many journalists currently covering the protests, was shot in the face with a rubber bullet. After surgery she would lose the use of her eye. 

Leslie Furcron is a 59-year-old grandmother who, while out live streaming at the protest, was shot between the eyes with a rubber bullet. She is in stable condition, but may lose the use of one or both of her eyes.  

So, you’re at a protest and the rubber starts flying. How can you protect yourself? According to Popular Science, wearing ballistic-rated safety glasses and goggles with an airtight seal will protect the eyes (even against tear gas), while a helmet will protect your skull. Thick clothing or leathers will protect the body (layers also helps), with some using makeshift body armor underneath made of tape and thick sheets of plastic, kevlar, or sheet metal. 

If you are hit and the injury has broken the skin or caused a fracture, get to an emergency room as fast as possible. Be prepared, be safe, and look for each other. 

Gunman plows car into protestors, shoots one, is gently collected by the police 

Because everyday is a fresh new hell, this happened as of the writing of this article. An unidentified man rammed his car through two barricades, a group of protestors, and shot one through his window. The assailant then exited his car and moved through the crowd to the police line where, ever so gently, was taken back to be arrested. So far there isn’t a lot of information about the shooter, as this is a developing story. 

The injured man, Dan, 26, walked off the scene as street medics put a tourniquet on his arm wound. So we have some good news at least. 

Over an hour of police brutality, uncensored

While we were discussing this edition of Last Week in Cyberpunk, we all agreed that talking about the protest would not be enough. After searching for recorded footage, one amazing soul has supercut over an hour of recorded evidence of police brutality over the course of the Black Lives Matter protests. We need to see why we are protesting, why we need a reformed and defunded police force, and why cops are bastards. Here is a backup incase YouTube takes this down. 

In an unprecedented move, Minneapolis City Council on Sunday voted to disband its police department

Turns out burning down a police precinct actually works. Who woulda thunk it?! On Sunday, the Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender, along with the majority of council members that cannot be vetoed by the mayor, agreed to disband its police force. It’ll start by defunding the police department (police departments and the military have higher budgets than education, medical, and public services), but what disbanding a police force and starting over will look like we really don’t know. 

A possible example could be what is currently being done in Rojava, where after the government essentially abandoned the people there, the citizens organized into a citizen style police force that anyone can volunteer for. Members patrol and protect their own neighborhoods while answering to a council made up of civilians. It’s an interesting look at a functioning policeless society that, hopefully, we will see more of in the future. 

End on a Positive

Every week seems to bring some fresh new hell into our lives. About the time we publish this something new and awful will happen. It’s exhausting, we know, to be wrapped in disaster 24/7. But despite how bad things are, no matter how dark things become, and when hope feels fleeting, just remember… RTJ4 is pretty fucking awesome! So no matter what happens, as America burns, we will always have each other, and Run the Jewels. Be safe out there, punks.

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  1. Hope all y’all are alright!

    • Thank you Stormy! I really appreciate the concern. As far as I know everyone is safe right now. Decompressing a little after this one, but we will have something a little lighter and something I really enjoyed reading. Hope you are doing well Stormy, be safe.

  2. Good article. Stay safe out there peeps and remember, you can’t call yourself a punk (or cyberpunk for that matter) if you aren’t willing to stand up and speak out for moments like these when it really matters. In the words of Mike Pondsmith “Cyberpunk is meant to be a warning, not an aspiration.”

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