2 police officers were killed in Mississippi. Time to go riot, burn buildings, steal food and money, burn cars, break windows. Oh wait. We don’t do that for police officers? Oh, right. Forgot it doesn’t fucking work that way.
To be clear, there’s no “right response” to police disproportionately killing black people — other than for police to stop disproportionately killing black people. But if we’re going to talk about theft, we really need to talk about the theft that’s been plaguing Baltimore for years: the millions of dollars stolen from black home buyers by large financial institutions.
I am not saying that you should feel personally guilty for the things your ancestors did. Guilt is largely a useless emotion and I have little patience for it. I don’t care about your feelings, for the most part (although I would like it if you were angry at the situation that caused the riots). I am, however, saying that you should recognize your complicity in those acts. They are not merely historical relics that can be safely forgotten or discussed in “what a shame” terms at a cocktail party. They have force and effect in explaining where we are today. They have force and effect in explaining why Mike Brown died, why Darren Wilson did not even have to see the inside of a courtroom, and why Ferguson is out in the streets. Our failure to confront our history only ensures that we will continue to perpetrate its atrocities. And let’s be clear: we are still doing it. It’s not ‘the past’ – it’s the present. And it will likely be the future, unless we confront it directly and accept our place in it.
Before I say anything else, understand that my heart goes out to the people of Baltimore who are rallying for justice. I am in support of the cause they are standing for. I understand that sometimes justice cannot be obtained peacefully. But I also need you all to understand something:
Stop supporting looting.
Rioting and looting are two totally different things. I keep seeing posts saying “support looters! just loot the big companies, not mom and pop stores!”
No. Don’t. The safety of the employees of chain companies is JUST AS MUCH at stake as small businesses. Also, looting affects so much more than just that one store.
Case in point, I work in a call center for CVS Health. Think customer service for medicine. And this morning, we have received news and training because about 10 of our stores in Baltimore have been looted and people’s medications have been stolen, not to mention people cannot get their medications because the stores are completely ransacked and will be closed indefinitely.
In case you don’t understand how pharmacies work, a patient cannot just walk into any pharmacy and say “I take _____. Fill it.”. If you can’t get your rx from your pharmacy where it’s on file, the only way to get it elsewhere is for another pharmacy to call THAT pharmacy and get it transferred. That’s not possible if the store is closed.
That means that people, hundreds of thousands of people, are now indefinitely unable to get their medications. Some of them are medications people will die if they go without. And that’s just CVS PHARMACIES. That doesn’t even account for any other pharmacy chains that were looted.
I understand the riots. I support the cause.
But do not support looting.
It does not support anyone. It causes more damage than you can see on the surface. The big companies are not suffering, innocent people are suffering.
Differentiating between protesters and rioters is “good-protester versus bad-protester” bullshit. It is an extension of the “peaceful protester” myth and is a mechanism of self-policing. The state and capitalist elite want you to feverishly believe in the idea of peaceful protests because it erases the unrelenting violence of capitalism and the state. Their idea of “peace” is more accurately defined as the unabated continuation and invisiblization of their own violence. By sanctioning only state endorsed methods of resistance you help do the work of policing militancy FOR THE POLICE.