Grady Judd's choice, part 1: good cops and good citizens -- or his lynch mob base

Capitol Lynch Mob supporters love famous Sheriff Grady Judd and are the core of his political support. His meek public submission to them will define his place in history.

“I would tell them, if you value your life, you probably shouldn’t do that in Polk County…Because the people of Polk County like guns, they have guns, I encourage them to own guns, and they’re going to be inside their homes tonight with their guns loaded. And if you try to break into their homes tonight and try to steal, to set fires, I’m highly recommending they blow you back out of the house with their guns.”

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd — June 1, 2020 — at a press conference amid George Floyd protests, citing unquoted, bogus social media “threats” from “Antifa.” These never-explained or documented threats were almost certainly a hoax perpetuated by a white supremacist group called Identity Europa. Story here.

The FBI has reached out to the Polk County Sheriff's Office and requested that we spread the word that they are looking for 21-year old Jonathan Pollock of Lakeland. They are seeking Mr. Pollock for his part in the breach of the U.S. Capitol in January.

According to the FBI, Pollock "assaulted three police officers, pulling one down a set of steps, kneeing and punching another in the face, and punching and pushing a third by the neck." Anyone with tips regarding Jonathan Pollock's whereabouts can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit

Polk Sheriff Grady Judd’s Office meekly, daintily “spending the word” on Facebook a few days ago on behalf of the FBI and not having a giant, Grady-talk press conference about actual violent fugitive Jonathan Pollock. The FBI had to ask Grady to do that much. Pollock, who is not a figment of anyone’s imagination, is loose in Lakeland. He was caught on video taking part in the failed Capitol Lynch Mob, invading the People’s House, and inflicting violence on multiple police officers fighting for their lives.

The U.S. Capitol Building is my house — and yours. We share its ownership, which is defined not just by the physical structure, but by the representative government that occurs there.

On Jan. 6, an as yet unnamed law enforcement officer protected our house by blowing home invader Ashli Babbitt back through a glass partition she had breached at the vanguard of a very dangerously positioned faction of the Capitol Lynch Mob.

Had this part of the Capitol Lynch Mob followed Babbitt past the partition in force, its members would have had free access to actual Congresspeople who were being evacuated just feet away. The mob, including Ashli Babbitt, was seeking them eagerly. Ashli Babbitt’s attempted jump through the partition was the high watermark of the Jan. 6 Capitol Lynch Mob’s haphazard attack on representative American government.

An incredible recent narrative video documentary from the New York Times makes this clear. See it here. It’s not paywalled.

It recounts the whole Jan. 6 attack like a battle documentary. I would urge anyone who takes citizenship seriously to watch it. (And no, it’s not bias or fake news or blah blah blah — as everyone knows. It’s from video taken almost entirely by the Capitol Lynch Mob itself.)

You should watch the entire 40 minutes. But at the very least, watch the sequence starting at 27:00, which lays out the righteous law enforcement killing of Ashli Babbitt. This is the crucial climax of the entire battle. It’s the closest any element of the Capitol Lynch Mob came to having a free shot at our actual elected officials, who were being evacuated just feet away. I did not realize this fact until I watched this documentary.

Anatomy of a righteous officer-involved shooting

From their vantage point outside the partition looking in, Babbitt and her fellow lynchers could clearly see the representatives evacuating.

“There they are,” screams a female voice — most likely Babbitt’s. “What the fuck.”

Eventually, three officers standing between the mob and the door/partition step aside, and the mob starts bashing in the glass.

That’s when the single, plainclothes officer emerges with his gun drawn to cover the retreat of the representatives, which had just cleared this hallway.

Babbitt stepped into the breach created by bashing in the glass.

As Ashli Babbitt moved through the breach in the glass, the unnamed officer “blew her back” out of this part of the People’s House, as Grady Judd might say.

The officer fired a single, well-placed shot, which he waited and waited and waited to fire until he had no choice. By doing so, he disciplined everybody else in the mob. Nobody else came through. And this part of the Capitol Lynch Mob began to retreat in fear of its life. The tide turned — thanks to the ultimate good guy with a gun.

Not only that, this officer almost certainly saved many other lives within the Capitol Lynch Mob itself.

Several heavily armed riot police had arrived a few moments before at the rear of the mob in the hallway. If the mob had breached the partition in force and moved to abduct or assault congresspeople, the riot police would have needed to pursue and open fire at scale from behind. This would have become a chaotic bloodbath. It’s unlikely that either the officer or the mob could see or was aware of the firepower at the rear of the mob.

You see all of this clearly on the video documentary.

Lynch mobs and their members or supporters deserve no respect or approval — at all — of any kind

Fortunately for all involved, this indulgent Capitol Lynch Mob of petty criminals and wife beaters and bored inheritance babies and anti-vaxxers and gun fetishists and mass shooter sympathizers and Nazi cosplayers lacked any conviction whatsoever for their violence. Their only conviction was self-indulgence.

Real “insurrectionists” would have come through and risked whatever that lone anonymous officer could do to them for their FREEDOM!!!!! He could not have stopped determined PATRIOTS!!!! all by himself. Sure, he would have killed a few more before they killed him, but FREEDOM!!! isn’t free,” right?

Lynch mobs and pogrom mobs are likely the most cowardly social organisms on earth. They differ from any other type of mob, historically, because they always believe deeply that they act with the blessing of official power. A lynch mob is defined — before violence or racism or lawlessness — by the iron belief that it will face no actual consequences for its behavior. Ever.

Historically, lynch mob participants have been correct in that belief. This pure indulgent impunity is the lynch mob’s fuel. The nature of American racism, historically, makes it the excuse for murderous mob self-indulgence that American power has been most likely to encourage and support through impunity.

And if you listen to the words of the Capitol Lynch Mob after the fact, many members say they thought the waning presidential power of Donald Trump gave them impunity to act however they chose.

When many brave officers fought — and especially when this brave and competent officer killed Ashli Babbitt — it took impunity away and imposed real consequences in the moment. And this Capitol Lynch Mob collapsed rather than “fight for its FREEDOM!!!” like 1776. We’ll see what the next one does.

Modern day Peter Hagans beset by modern day mobs

Like Officer Eugene Goodman, who defeated his part of the mob with clear head and guile and deep courage, the as-yet unnamed law enforcement officer who killed Ashli Babbit acted Jan. 6 in the great, lonely American tradition of Putnam County Sheriff Peter Hagan — of law enforcement heroes who turned back lynch mobs that fully expected law enforcement cooperation or submission.

I’ve written about Hagan, my personal historical hero, many times. (That’s right. A law enforcement officer is my personal historical hero.) He was the first Florida sheriff to violently repulse a lynch mob in 1923. The Putnam County public then promptly voted him out of office. But he came back … read the story here.

Like the Putnam County voters of 1924, today’s loudest Republican Party voices are thirsty for vengeance against the as yet unnamed police officer who blew Ashli Babbitt back through the partition. The supposedly reasonable Republicans — and Grady Judd — are cowering in silence before this baying for vengeance.

Loud Republican voices are particularly bloodthirsty because they perceive the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt to be a black man. The skin showing on his hand and arm is non-white. That’s clear. But I don’t know any more about his ethnicity than that.

But you can read a good rundown at this link of how the loudest GOP voices, including Trump, are racializing Ashli Babbitt’s killing.

[Trump] venerated Babbitt as “an innocent, wonderful, incredible woman,” adding, “if that were on the other side, the person that did the shooting would be strung up and hung.”

Anyone who knows anything about lynchings and pogroms, historically, knows that the innocent womanhood riff is Trigger #1 for murderous mobs. And here’s another, even more explicit example:

Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative commentator, walked a similar line as he described the killing on a Monday episode of his podcast as a parallel with Floyd’s death, suggesting that Babbitt’s race meant she was treated badly and that the cop who killed her was protected.

“But the reason this cordon of protection has gone around him, not only from the authorities but from the media, is they can’t afford to admit that the only lethal force used on Jan 6 was illicitly, inappropriately, and in violation of law — used by a black male capital police officer against a female unarmed trump supporter,” he said.

I should be clear: any law enforcement officer who uses the power of the state to kill a citizen — even a lynch mob participant — should be named. The state should not have the carte blanch, anonymous right to kill people I do not respect. This officer, for whom I have nothing but praise, should be named and then immediately protected from the vengeance voices of the Republican party and Donald Trump’s minions.

Impunity and consequences

As I’ve already noted, “thwarted, cowardly lynch mob” is the most apt description of the January 6 horde that assaulted the U.S. Capitol.

Because the would-be lynch mob’s feralness took aim at an official governing function and the seat of democratic government and was nominally attempting to disrupt the outcome of an election, people tend to describe the Capitol Lynch Mob as “insurrectionist” or “seditionist.”

This is undeserved “credit,” in my view, outside of a few of the organized Oathkeeper and Proud Boy guys, maybe. But they’re a stretch.

Generally, the people of the Capitol Lynch Mob did not have any personal commitment to true “insurrection” or “sedition.” Not one of them made an intentional sacrifice for their supposed belief that Donald Trump won an election he obviously lost by million of votes. (I don’t believe you think he won, by the way. You’re lying. What you really mean is you don’t want to share a society with me. Tell me something I didn’t know.)

The Capitol Lynch Mob, like all lynch mobs, pursued violent self-indulgence with the full expectation of impunity. They mobbed because they thought they could and because it was fun. They got off on it. The moment that impunity violently disappeared with death as a consequence for FREEDOM, they crumbled. Cowards, all of them.

Grady’s base

And yet they are Grady Judd’s base, just like they’re Donald Trump’s. Grady cowers before their cowardice by indulging them non-stop with what he says and doesn’t say in his ongoing talk show disguised as a Sheriff’s Office. You know it. I know it. They know it. He knows it. Everybody knows it.

God, Grady, Guns.

How many of the “Defending Freedom” 55 percent — in Polk County — love Grady Judd’s mythology of himself? All of them? He can’t possibly quit them. It’s not even about votes. He could still win after having stern public conversations with them. But they wouldn’t love him the same way anymore. In my long observation, Grady is a surprisingly needy person. He wants more than anything to be loved. And nobody loves quite like the God, Grady, Guns tribe.

Can you imagine how much better off Polk County and Florida would be if Grady had leveraged all that love and adoration to get his people vaccinated? It breaks my heart. But he was too busy telling me how to vote, while wearing the uniform and state-sanctioned power I help authorize.

If you doubt this, take a look at the Polk Sheriff’s Office’s meek little squeak for public assistance in catching actual violent cop-beating Lakeland fugitive Jonathan Pollock. And look at the hundreds of Facebook comments cheering Pollock on and denouncing law enforcement from the supposed “Back the Blue” crowd following the Sheriff’s Office on social media.

I don’t put much credence in the threats or posturing of Facebook fascists any more. A Facebook comment mob is almost as cowardly as a lynch mob. Facebook commenters are generally eager to fight to the last drop of somebody’s else blood or pixels or consequences.

But yes, sure, the cowards could get together a mob and gather all their guns and come snatch me — or anyone else — from their house and lynch us if they chose. That would not make them any less cowardly. And somehow I suspect even Grady Judd couldn’t go ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ about it. I know Lakeland PD wouldn’t.

The Facebook mob members would also prove me precisely correct about their chosen nature, which is exactly what they don’t want. So what do they want?

In my experience, they want approval.

They want approval — even my approval — much more than FREEDOM!!! or violence. They want to be told their mobs are special and righteous, while other mobs outside the God, Grady, Gun tribe are evil. They want to feel good about the full consequences and powers and entitlement of what they claim to believe.

You’d be surprised how many Capitol Lynch Mob supporters or apologists try to debate this with me — as if debate about this has any meaning at all. You’ll either lynch somebody/murder somebody in the name of impunity and FREEDOM!!!; or you won't. You’ll either excuse it; or you won’t. There’s nothing to debate. You’re not getting my approval; and you know I don’t lie to you.

The Facebook fascists do get approval from Grady all the time — both openly and by his refusal to confront them in any meaningful way politically or tribally. They are his indispensable political and personal base.

We 44 percent don’t have a sheriff — and neither do many of his deputies

So if you’re a Polk deputy of color or a female deputy or a gay deputy or a white male deputy who cares about equal protection of law and just order, let me ask you this question:

If you ever have to kill somebody in the God, Grady, Guns base storming the County Commission building or Supervisor of Elections Office or Lakeland City Hall as they “defend freedom,” do you think Grady will publicly, strongly back you when his base starts screaming for your blood?

Just look at his public behavior today and decide for yourself.

Do you think all Grady’s trash talk didn’t encourage the deputy he had to arrest for cheering on Capitol Lynch Mob? Thank goodness for the brave unnamed deputy who reported him. It’s telling that Grady didn’t present him publicly so we could honor him. He needed to protect this deputy from his own base.

I’m sure it’s cold consolation; but I’ll have the deputy’s back in that situation. And yes, if deputies have to do it to protect against non-existent Antifa hordes — or whatever fantasy the Grady base lives in fake fear of — I’ll back them then, too.

If you doubt me, it’s been 15 years since the “because we ran out of bullets” killing of Angilo Freeland, who murdered Deputy Matt Williams and his K-9 Diogi. And I’ve never once not had the back of the officers who killed the extraordinarily dangerous Freeland — because I covered those terrible days from beginning to end. And I knew much more about what actually happened than Sheriff Judd’s famous “bullets” trash talk, which launched his legend and made his deputies and the Fish and Wildlife officers who did the shooting sound bloodthirsty.

If, like me, you’re a law abiding, productive citizen, who is not part of the God, Grady, Guns tribe, you don’t have a sheriff anymore. You have a tribal politician angling for a talk show who whips up the bloodthirsty God, Grady, Guns crowd against you every chance he gets.

He talks trash about how you choose to vote while overseeing a 68 percent spike in the Polk County murder rate in 2020. That’s, by far, the biggest jump of any of any of the top 10 largest counties in the state. Florida’s overall rate increase in 2020 was 13 percent. And Polk’s rate is higher than Florida’s as a whole. More on that in Part 2.

It wasn’t always this way. The Grady Judd of pre-summer 2020 was a different animal than the Grady Judd we have now — his standard Grady-isms aside. I always thought he had the Grady Show character basically under control.

We had good debates and collaboration while I was on the School Board. I was proud of the blunt, productive relationship we formed. I think it served the public well. I publicly praised him for his administrative work on the Guardian program and risk protection orders. As a constituent, I want that Grady Judd back. Forty-four percent of Polk County didn’t vote for Donald Trump. The sheriff seems to no longer care that we exist. Maybe he never did.

I don’t know why he decided to become a uniformed political tool for the governor ‘s basest instincts and fully submit to the God, Grady, Guns tribe in summer 2020 and beyond. But in a time of great national testing, history, if we have history, is going to note that Grady Judd did not remotely rise to the occasion like Peter Hagan. I can’t think of a single helpful public act. At least not yet.

But he’s likely to get more chances. Maybe one day he’ll choose service and support and respect for all good, productive citizens rather than just those who buy God, Grady, Guns shirts.