As Protests Grip Cities Across the Country, Scooters Take a Starring Role

Dockless scooters join rocks and bricks as a protest projectile.

A scooter smashed through CVS window in Portland, Oregon.Screenshot/Fox 12 Oregon

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As protests have erupted across the country following the police killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, demonstrators have deployed all the traditional tools of urban unrest to smash things up: bricks, bottles, rocks, and whatever else might happen to be lying around at the moment. In a sign of the times, one of the things lying around during many of these protests have been electric scooters. Light enough to be tossed around but strong enough to crack glass, the scooters are electric and, if hit in a certain way, they can explode. Protesters from DC to Salt Lake City employed them to inflict a remarkable amount of damage.

In Dallas, for instance, a few people smashed one through the window of a police car, and seemed surprised by the resulting sparks:

Portland, Oregon, was the scene of multiple scooter incidents, including the ransacking of a CVS, caught on tape by local news station Fox 12:

A similar smashing happened to other city windows:

And, finally, others in the city used a scooter to pummel a police car:

In Indianapolis, scooters littered downtown storefronts:

In Los Angeles, demonstrators even used scooters to create a cordon to block off a street:

Dockless scooters have been the source of controversy in many cities, sparking debates over the use of public space and the relative environmental merits of this new mode of microtransit. Even before this week’s protests, cities had been grappling with the fact that scooters have become a new form of litter, as people have chucked them on to subway tracks or into rivers and bushes. Fed up with the favorite ride of tech bros, opponents also have turned their wrath on the scooters themselves, setting fire to the them, tossing them in the ocean and off balconies. Given that history, it perhaps shouldn’t come as any surprise to the scooter companies or their municipal boosters that the scooters would play a role in civil unrest. Bird did not respond to a request for comment or questions about what it might do about the situation. 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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