The protests in reaction to George Floyd's death were different, they changed our history. For 24 hours, America stopped looking like the land of the free and started looking more like a sinister fascist dictatorship.
Military units toting six-inch-long bayonets (that's spiked knives to you and me) and AR-15's but without name badges appeared on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial, looking like stormtroopers from The Empire Strikes Back.
Then under orders from the president, peacefully protesting American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights were violently attacked with flash grenades, tear gas canisters, truncheons, and lethal rubber bullets by masked police and military police.
On President Donald Trump's order officers from the U.S. Park Police, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies began violently confronting fellow Americans. Video shows that the police attacked everyone indiscriminately with their shields and batons, including the young, the old, the shocked, and the filming international press, who were all suddenly fleeing for their lives.
It turned out that Trump, out of his depth and possibly out of his mind, had wanted to deploy 10,000 American troops to the streets of Washington D.C. to quell peaceful protests he could see from the White House windows.
Top Pentagon officials and Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff resisted him, leading to a shouting match.
Leaking news reports that Trump and his family had been evacuated from the White House to a secret underground bunker had enraged him because it made them look like a fleeing kleptocracy in the final days of an unloved dictatorship. The hashtag #BunkerBoy began trending on Twitter with images of former deposed authoritarian leaders making the point.
So all of this unleashed military firepower, all of this unnecessary and dangerous escalation, can be explained by the damage done to Trump's vanity by the BunkerBoy barbs and his obsessive need to retaliate.
He doesn't care who he hurts, he doesn't care how bad it looks, he doesn't care that he's bringing American democracy to the brink and doing the unthinkable by ordering American troops to fire on American citizens. All he cares about is how he looks at himself.
The only people he's truly passionate about protecting are himself and his family of grifters, the same people he has ambitions for after his own ghastly presidency comes to an end.
Coming from the North and having grown up through the Troubles I know that rubber bullets should just be called bullets. That's because they can break your skull, permanently blind you, or take your life. Rubber bullets killed scores of people in Northern Ireland, children, and adults alike, during the long war and I never thought I'd see an American president consent to unleash them on his own citizens until last week.
Recall that we are in the midst of a pandemic without cure, that 40 million American's are unemployed on his watch, that most stores are still closed, that for months we had crucial medical supply shortages, that most planes are grounded and we are still not welcome to travel abroad, that protests, riots, curfews and now a sinister form of martial law have just been declared, and you have to ask yourself is the still the United States in any real sense at all?
An astonishing 80 percent of Americans now feel the country is out of control. They are upset and fearful and looking for leadership. But Trump's response to their sorrows was to blast them with stun munitions, then take a walk to a church he doesn't attend to hold up a book that he doesn't read.
At his cynical bible toting photo opportunity he did not offer calm words to heal the nation, he did not reflect on the terrible moment the nation finds itself in, he simply held up the good book in silence like the prop that it was and then he poured gasoline on the flames via his Twitter account.
Trump does not believe that he is the president of the United States, he does not believe the people protesting the shocking murder of George Floyd are American citizens, he simply sees a nation of supporters or enemies (and the majority of American citizens fall within the latter camp). He will never be an American president.
So last week Trump's mask slipped and we saw a little preview of where he and his family of grifters are taking us. It's to a new nation the majority are violently subjugated. It's a nation of unnamed military forces who hold unlimited power. It's not the United States of America, but its end.