George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer.
George was handcuffed and restrained and being completely cooperative when this all went down. The officer put his knee on George’s neck choking him for minutes on minutes while George screamed that he could not breathe. Bystanders begged for the police officer to take his knee off George’s neck, but the officer didn’t listen and continued to choke him.
Nine days ago when I saw the whole thing play out on CNN “breaking news” I cried. Then I thought, where can I hide because they are killing men who look like me.
We should not be upset about merchandise in Target or GUCCI; we should be upset about people being murdered by law enforcement because of the color of their skin.
Black protesters are not inciting violence. They are the victims of violence. Presently, they are protesting against gross injustice, which is their constitutional right. Yet because of easily bought and circulated racist narratives, Black people are being maligned and trapped in a variety of outrageous double standards.
Rioting is a pejorative term for “protesting when Black.” In this context, it is also synonymous for “protesting while being provoked and then attacked by police, despite the fact that protesters are largely peaceful and unarmed.”
Rioting, as defined above, works. It gains both attention and momentum for an agenda that otherwise is not given any air-time. When an issue is literally life-or-death, we should be championing any strategy that galvanizes public outrage in an effort to move the needle.
A taxpayer-funded police officer murdered an unarmed, unresisting Black man in broad daylight in front of witnesses. Taypayer funds will be used to defend the murderer in court. Historically, police officers are rarely, if ever, held accountable for murdering Black people while on the job; based on existing precedent, Black people have little reason to believe that justice will be meted out. Meanwhile, Black people are significantly more likely to be sentenced to prison as compared to white people who committed the same crime. Black people are presumed guilty at first glance, and the justice system is intrinsically rigged against them.
All peaceful efforts to raise awareness have not changed anything – white people continue to call the police on Black people for existing, and Black people continue to get murdered for jogging, hanging out in their backyard, watching TV on their own sofa, sleeping in their own bed.
Yet some white people still feel like the “looting” is the problem? When you condemn the looting, you are distracting from the central issue. This is gaslighting, and it is not ok. If you are wringing your hands about property destruction in the context of centuries of the state-sanctioned slaughter of Black people – this is racist.
Today, a CVS or a Verizon Store receives more protection and insurance than Black life. A smashed window causes more outrage than a shattered spine. We shame the looters as a distraction from what caused their outrage. America was built on stolen land. Built by a stolen people. Spare me the hysterics over a microwave oven.
Fox News wants to know: how does rioting bring about justice? First, it gets people’s attention. There is a reason that we remember Rodney King’s name. Galvanizing public outrage pays dividends and slowly gives needles the momentum to move. Second, when we validate the right of Black people to protest – to scream out their outrage in the streets – we validate their right to exist. To not be murdered without consequence. This, in itself, is a form of owed justice.
Marching in protest, no matter how large, no matter how powerful, no matter how much it shows another way — cannot come close to shifting the world. Real change has to happen one determined step after another after another after another. . . until everyone finally gets it.
The 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade was a riot and it gave women the right to vote. The Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, and that gave LGBTQ community legal and social rights. The Los Angeles riots sprung from years of rising tensions between the LAPD and the city’s African Americans, highlighted by the 1991 videotaped beating of motorist Rodney King. Protest and riots are not new – they are effective.