Civil Society circa 2020

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Here’s one story to demonstrate how the current civil situation in our country is irredeemably broken.

A Nebraska bar owner and former vet, Jake Gardner, was inside his bar when the windows were shattered by a peaceful protest turned riot.

Gardner received multiple traumatic brain injuries while serving as a Marine in Iraq, and was granted medical discharge. Though he still suffered from PTSD, he successfully started a new civilian life and was a successful business owner. That is until he heard what he thought was a shot (it was a pole thrown through the front window of his business), and saw people coming in his front window and vandalizing his property.

He pulled the fire alarm. He called 911 to report the incident. Then he went outside to try to diffuse the situation while waiting for help from the authorities to arrive.

That’s when he saw his father shoved violently to the ground by protestors. Gardner still maintained his composure. As a video from the scene shows, Gardner was trying to backing away from three men when they attacked him.

Gardner ends up on the ground, with an attacker on top of him. But former Marine Garner had a firearm, which he knew how to use all too well. Back on the ground and pushed to his breaking point, he killed his attacker.

The county prosecutor reviewed the video evidence and confirmed that Gardner acted properly and in self defense. And he stated that he would NOT charge Gardner.

It was a sad outcome of a peaceful protest that turned ugly, and a brutal mob attack targeting the wrong man at the wrong time in the wrong place. That man defended himself, too aggressively perhaps, but understandably and legally.

If only the tragic story stopped there.

But it gets worse…

Many were not willing to accept this outcome. So they harassed Garner on social media, spread lies, and directly threatened his life. Garner was instructed to leave town for his own safety. So amidst the pandemic, he did. He left for California…just in time for the fires.

Protesters also surrounded the courthouse where a Grand Jury decided to charge Gardner with manslaughter. This can as a shock to the legal community, and especially to Garner.

Still getting death threats by phone, he planned his return to Omaha (with a fellow friend and fellow vet as a bodyguard) to defend his innocence. But the social media storm, constant harassment, and disillusionment of it all was too much for him. He’d lost his livelihood, the business he’d built, and his standing in the community.

He feared for his life, but he really had no life left to protect, so he beat the mob to the punch. He took himself out. Another vet, another suicide. 17 per day here in the USA, at last (pre-COVID) count.

More than that, Garner is a casualty of our crumbling social structure, as is the protester he shot and killed: James Scurlock. They don’t get to come back from this one.

And at this point, I don’t think our country gets to walk back from this civil precipice either. We’re going over. Civil society R.I.P.

Here’s the link to the local news story

And if you know someone like Jake Garner, please get him help

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