The Baltimore Incident: Stop Helping Us

Hey, guys. So, firstly, updates:

The school year’s almost over, but this summer’s updates will probably be few and far between. I’ll be teaching English overseas for a portion of it, doing research during the rest, and afterwards I need to start preparing for study abroad in Japan. Yeah, lots of time consuming stuff. But despite actually having a life, I can still find the time to be irritated about how people talk about “my people,” and the newest wave of “fuck ‘da man” “activism has finally hit in the form of the Baltimore protests turned riots. Specifically, I’ll be responding to this popular blog post about how people just don’t get it, man.

Shall we start? Okay. *Sigh* This is quite the long one, written over many days. I decided to make it one post, however. So buckle in.

In Support of Baltimore: Or; Smashing Police Cars Is Logical Political Strategy

Um . . . no it’s not? Props for the eye-catching title, I guess.

As a nation, we fail to comprehend Black political strategy in much the same way we fail to recognize the value of Black life.

Okay. I’m going to take a deep breath and respond to the first fucking sentence of this post without ranting. To be honest, this sentence is the reason I picked this post to respond to and not one of the myriad other posts on the topic about how rioting is okay as long as you have a “historically significant” reason to do it. I don’t know if this writer is black or a POC or just some random “I went to liberal arts college, so I get it” ally trying to help. But stop. Just stop.

Oh, really? The nation fails to comprehend “Black political strategies”? Does it now? What would those strategies be, exactly? What about them is so goddam complex that they’re just totally esoteric to the untrained observer? What is it about “Black political strategies” that people just fail to understand?

I’m going to say this is the calmest way possible. And I’m sorry in advance for how ineloquent it is, I know the use of profanity often doesn’t lend someone an air of intelligence, but it seems to be the most appropriate terminology to express how I feel about that statement about “Black political strategy.”

Fuck you. Seriously. Just fuck you. Not “you” as in this particular writer (who I can’t really blame for anything seeing as how they’re essentially just regurgitating what they’ve heard before), but “you” as in anyone who thinks this. Fuck you. Fuck your “help.” And fuck whatever idiotic sense of reparations you have that makes you think that this is an intelligent and insightful thing to think and spew out at other people who you look down your nose at for not “getting it.”

I’m sorry for that rant. I know I promised not to do that. But I’m sick of this. I really, honest to God, am just sick of it. I used to be able to just smile and nod whenever anyone brought this point up. But it’s like a douchey bro-country song being played on the radio one too many times: You can only listen to it for so long before you brain finally melts down under how insulting to the genre it is. And that’s what this idea is. It’s insulting. It’s insulting to social justice. It’s insulting to activism. It’s insulting to activists. And, as a black person, it’s insulting to me.

“Black political strategies.” You mean rioting, right? That’s what this post is all about: talking about the Baltimore riots and how people are focusing too much on the rioting and less on the reason for the rioting (which is a totally okay form of protest, according to this author). So aimless, mob-mentality violence is synonymous with the “Black political strategy” now? That is black how black people engage in politics. That is our way. Thanks. Thanks a lot. It’s good to know that my people’s civil rights are being defended by someone who essentially sees us as overgrown, petulant children who just can’t have anything more expected from us because we don’t know any better. Just pat us on the head and a give a juice box and send us on our way, “‘Cause we tried our best, idn’t dat right, Ma?” Oh, it’s okay for Jimmy to throw a tantrum when he’s mad, he’s a toddler. Oh, it’s okay for these people to riot in the streets, they’re black. What else do you want from them? You expected them to act like mature, civil adults with grievances to be addressed and a goal to achieve? What are they, white? You know you can’t expect that kind of behavior out of colored people. They get our attention with violence. It’s adorable, really.

Thanks a fucking lot. I’m glad to see you have my interests close to heart.

We see ghettos and crime and absent parents where we should see communities actively struggling against mental health crises and premeditated economic exploitation. And when we see police cars being smashed and corporate property being destroyed, we should see reasonable responses to generations of extreme state violence, and logical decisions about what kind of actions yield the desired political results.

I don’t see why you can’t see both of those things. I’d say that your view is unrealistically black-and-white, but not really. Your view isn’t even a gradient. It is a single-color paint swatch. I know everybody loves them an underdog. And who is a better underdog than the inner-city black youth fighting the Man and a society stacked against him at every turn because slavery was a thing once, and, of course, black people as a group will never, ever recover from slavery and shouldn’t be expected to even try to. That’s the perfect underdog. Let’s address each point one by one, shall we?

Ghettos and crime. The black people you’re referring to have these two things. I say “the black people you’re referring to” and not “black people,” because, proportionally, almost half of the African American population is middle-class or above. You shouldn’t associate poverty with being black. That’s just not the case. With that being said, I don’t know why you’re acting like they just shouldn’t be associated together when they’re clearly connected. Ghettos and crime are pretty interwoven. You take people in low-income situations and put them all in one place, and crime is going to happen. That’s not black people’s fault. Go to Britain to the council estates, which are mostly white, and they’re just as shitty a place to be.

Absent parents. I’d blame this on the culture cultivated by poverty–lack of education about sex with simultaneous glorification of sex starting at a very young age (it’s not uncommon to hear tween girls talking about their numerous sexual exploits in government housing areas), normalizing of youth pregnancy, sexual activity, and absentee parents, and a stigmatization against many acts that could be considered “good parenting” are  pretty prevalent.

Communities actively struggling against mental health crises. Once again, this is a poverty/lack of education issue. The hicks in rural Appalachia don’t know much about mental health either. With low-income black people, specifically, you have the added bonus of religiosity which generally does not go hand in hand with having a nice grasp on mental health. Plus, African American communities in of themselves, don’t tend to discuss mental health all that often. It’s still very stigmatized in that particular culture to have something mentally wrong with you, and, no, that’s not Whitey’s fault. That’s just how that played out. I don’t know what mental health crisis you’re talking about other than them just generally not acknowledging the importance of mental health. I’m sure less people would be in gangs if mental health were granted more importance in their communities, but I don’t see what that has to do with this instance of rioting.

Premeditated economic exploitation. Once again, this is a low-income problem. Not a black problem. There are more poor white people in America than black ones. To paint the–I’ll grant you–very real economic exploitation of the lower classes as “a black problem” helps nothing. If you want to focus on individual neighborhoods, that would be one thing. But you can’t make any generalized statements about this. America gives poor people shitty housing options so poorly planned out and poorly integrated with the rest of the area that they might as well of hung up signs saying “Do Illegal Activities Here!” The general standards of living are low, if addressed by developers at all. Because asbestos and thin walls are cheap, y’all! It doesn’t try to provide the residents of these neighborhoods with adequate information or education to better their situations. So separating them from everything else and making the place they’re relegated to particularly shitty leads to people turning to private forms of security and protection that isn’t granted to them by the official authorities, which leads to gangs. Which leads to gang territories. And pile on top of that this woefully ill advised “War on Drugs” that should really stop because it actively makes the “drug problem” worse by letting people disproportionally profit off of the drug trade which goes down in poor neighborhoods because that awesome architecture/development flaw I talked about, and you’ve got a crock pot of issues that fuck over poor people. So I agree that this is an issue. What does rioting do to help that, again?

And when we see police cars being smashed and corporate property being destroyed, we should see reasonable responses to generations of extreme state violence, and logical decisions about what kind of actions yield the desired political results.

Just going to throw this out there: they’re actually hurting themselves even more by smashing police cars and destroying corporate property. Just ignoring the fact that they’re trashing the place where they live and getting themselves hurt in the process, they’re also tax payers of the lowest bracket, which means they pay the largest percentage of their earning in taxes (another one of those exploitation of the lower and middle classes issues). Which means they’re going to lose the most once the government gets around to fixing this state-owned property. So they doubly fucked themselves over.

How in the hell is this reasonable? I already talked about how rioting makes no logical sense, but even if we pretended that they weren’t just hurting themselves more by doing it, what did it achieve? Another three weeks of people on the internet arguing over whether or not rioting is okay? That’s about it. I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Justifying something with “history” does not just give you free reign to do whatever the fuck you want.

Everyone has been screwed over by history at some point. Using this logic, it’d be perfectly okay for Jews to start rioting because the Holocaust was a thing and France doesn’t really like them anymore. So go destroy everything around you, Jewish people–no one will be mad, I guess. What “desired political results” are you talking about? You do realize that every single instance that has lead to black people rioting in the last few years hasn’t been made any better by them doing that, right? People don’t go to prison. Cops don’t get fired. What’s been accomplished? One state is maybe considering requiring cops to have cameras on them at all time to dissuade police brutality? Wow, what a sweeping change you guys made. And I’m pretty sure that wasn’t even something encouraged by rioting, so you don’t get that one either.

You seem to be forgetting that, throughout history, in America and everywhere else, the most successful social changes were not accomplished by violence. In fact, violence actively makes the fight for civil rights worse, if you want to look at the “history” that you’re so fond of using to justify it. Malcolm X’s violent rhetoric and insane actions only made white people more afraid of black people and less inclined to see them as equals. Brutally assaulting innocent men didn’t convict Rodney King’s killer, but it did set back and hinder the legal actions for years. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi, who should pretty rightly be considered the go-to guys for what to do in Civil Rights, both actively decried people forcing change through violence and chaos. They acknowledged that their were forces they were fighting against that shouldn’t be ignored that contributed to the violence, but they also made it clear that violence wasn’t the answer. You can condemn the conditions that lead to violence, as I clearly do, without supporting the violence as “a logical response.”

It was organization and well-thought out points and events that could not be accused of being bad or making things worse that got things done. They told people to only do peaceful things, so that if the situation resorted to violence, it couldn’t be blamed on them. It could only be blamed on “the problem.” It could only be a reflection of what they were fighting against and proof that change needed to happen.The black kid sitting at the counter of a diner didn’t do anything violent. When he got coffee poured on him, that showed how bad everyone else was and left him totally blameless.

What do these rioters have to say? They’re causing harm. They’re getting themselves hurt–both in the chaos of a riot and because, lo and behold, the police actually have a reason to beat you with a nightstick when you go rioting in the streets. So doing something that actually warrants a bit of police violence to say how bad police violence is doesn’t make your point all that well. What is that proving? That the police rightfully react to things that they’re paid to react to? This isn’t Egypt, where the military literally drove a tank into a crowd of peaceful protesters. You can’t start violence in order to make a point about how the reactionary violence is bad. You can’t provoke random cops by calling yourself a protester and then yelling every bad name in the book at them to make a point about how, when that cop finally reacts to being yelled at for thirty minutes, his reaction proves he’s a bad, racist person.

What political result do you want, exactly? Short-lived acquiescence based in the state not wanting to pay more property damages, maybe a hashtag or two? From where I’m standing, rioting only gets you brownie points from the left-wingers who will never in their life say a disparaging word about anything black people do because “we don’t know any better.” The rest of society doesn’t seem to take “the message” to heart.

I’m overwhelmed by the pervasive slandering of protesters in Baltimore this weekend for not remaining peaceful. The bad-apple rhetoric would have us believe that most Baltimore protesters are demonstrating the right way—as is their constitutional right—and only a few are disrupting the peace, giving the movement a bad name.

All I heard here was “I’m annoyed that people dare to point out that acting like a violent idiot only makes you look bad and doesn’t help prove your point.” I don’t know how many are protesting “the right way” and how many are rioting. Maybe most of them were being perfectly fine, I don’t know. It seems like that is the case, with the peaceful protesters making up the majority. And good for them. They are not the ones that I’m talking about.

But the ones who did choose to riot (and they chose to–the admission that there was in fact another means of protest going on shows that rioting wasn’t the only option to get what they wanted), should not be given a free pass. Destroying things tangentially related to what’s actually hurting you is what toddlers unable to deal with their emotions do, not grown ass adults. An idiot destroys a police car in order to make a point about how the police are bad. If you want people to take you and your cause seriously, it helps to do it through a means that can be taken seriously as opposed to doing it like a soccer hooligan whose favorite team just lost. Do you think CNN going to host an interview with someone who organized a rally, or the guy who started a riot that one time and trashed a police crusier?

This spin should be disregarded, first because of the virtual media blackout of any of the action happening on the ground, particularly over the weekend. Equally, it makes no sense to cite the Constitution in any demonstration for Black civil rights (that document was not written about us, remember?), but certainly not one organized specifically to call attention to the fact that the state breaks its own laws with regard to the oppressed on a nearly constant basis.

If there’s a media blackout of any of the action that’s transpired, why are you so staunchly defending it? You can’t tell people not to be okay with what happened because they “just don’t know” and then turn around and talk about it like what went on was perfectly fine. If we don’t know, you certainly don’t either. What if something happened that you disagree with?

As for the not citing the Constitution, if that’s the mentality you have, fine. But plenty of Civil Rights leaders have directly cited the Constitution as a means of gaining rights. Just because something didn’t help you initially, that doesn’t mean that it’s tainted forever and always, never fit to help you at any point. Rooting the rhetoric in talk of Constitutional rights a.) gets more people to care, for the most part, b.) stresses that you are a citizen who deserves those rights as well, and c.) makes it easier to actually take legal action. The courts decide what is Constitutional. That’s like saying that poor people shoudn’t cite their Constitutional rights to get things done because it originally only referred to land owners. By stating that the authorities are violating the Constitution, it’s a good way to get Joe Everyman to care a bit more and to bring their actions into direct legal question as opposed to simply moral question, making it conceivably easier to deal with.So it makes just as much sense to cite the Constitution as to not cite it. It’s just a matter of strategy. Also, even if you decided not to argue for your rights on a Constitutional basis, the Constitution has nothing to do with violence and when it’s an acceptable form of protest. If anything, the First Amendment allows freedom of expression, but I’m fairly sure that that doesn’t cover overt vandalism of other people’s property. So even ignoring that, you’re essentially saying “They’re above all laws because some of the laws are bad.”

But there is an even bigger problem. Referring to Black Lives Matter protests, as well as organic responses to police and state violence as “non-violent” or “peaceful” erases the actual climate in which these movements are acting, the militant strategies that have rendered them effective, and the long history of riotsand direct action on which they are built.

What? America was built on tax evasion, tar-and-feathering Torries, and guerrilla warfare. I know pretty much everyone has a problem with the government right now, so quick, readers! Take up your arms and attack your nearest government official, and don’t forget to refuse to pay your taxes next year because it’s part of this country’s grand history of fighting against oppression! What?

How the fuck did you make having a long history of militant political strategies and riots sound like a good thing? You do know that just because stuff happened before, that doesn’t mean that it was good, right? But “history” really is just the end-all-be-all justification for everything, isn’t it?

I do not advocate non-violence—particularly in a moment like the one we currently face. In the spirit and words of militant Black and Brown feminist movements from around the globe, I believe it is crucial that we see non-violence as a tactic, not a philosophy.

Well, I can see that you don’t advocate for non-violence. You seem to be chomping at the bit for violent revolution to take place. What are we currently facing? The authorities–particularly police officers–are biased towards black people. That is the issue. People aren’t getting lynched in the streets so often that it’s not even news. There aren’t separate doors for whites and coloreds. Affirmative actions programs are in place in both universities and employment offices/job fields. The main issue black people face in America now is being disproportionately criminalized and abused by police.

What is your standard for something being worthy of riots? MLK looked down on rioting back when a black man could still worry about being randomly killed or beaten by a lynch mob walking home from work, with that lynch mob going wholly unpunished. The main issue now is that people take advantage of their over-glorified authority as a police officer to get away with most-likely-racially-biased brutality and unnecessary use of lethal force. The two issues are distinctly different in that this is dealing with abuse of authority and ignoring of laws in place meant to check that abuse, while the civil rights movement of the 60s dealt mainly with abuse from public figures and laws that still allowed that abuse to transpire. It was about laws. This fight is more about perception and actually observing the laws in place. So, once again, how do riots change perceptions for the better?

Non-violence is a type of political performance designed to raise awareness and win over sympathy of those with privilege. When those on the outside of struggle—the white, the wealthy, the straight, the able-bodied, the masculine—have demonstrated repeatedly that they do not care, are not invested, are not going to step in the line of fire to defend the oppressed, this is a futile political strategy. It not only fails to meet the needs of the community, but actually puts oppressed people in further danger of violence.

No. Non-violence is designed to protest in a way that preserves one’s own standard of conduct while also fighting clearly in the name of a cause. It’s not lounging around, doing and accomplishing nothing, like you seem to think it is. And does it ultimately leave a better impression on those who aren’t directly fighting? Yes. But that’s not the main reason that most non-violent protesters prefer that tactic. Even if it were, protesting is a game of politics. If you want to have lasting political influence, you get in with the politicians, which means having something resembling social tact and a concrete set of goals. The guy spray painting stuff on the side of the capitol building gets people’s attention, but he hardly has the influence that he wants due to alienating himself from the people who he ultimately needs the help of to make true change by being violent and unpleasant.

“When those on the outside of struggle—the white, the wealthy, the straight, the able-bodied, the masculine . . .” This is the issue. This person seems incapable of comprehending that someone could be something other than a straight white male (the Devil as far as social justice is concerned) and still not be okay with what is happening. Well, I’m a black, border-line poverty line, legally blind (my eye-sight is really bad) woman, and I’m still against rioting. I’m very much “inside the struggle.” And using “the struggle” as an excuse for any overtly terrible behavior is not only demeaning to yourself, but it’s demeaning to anyone who doesn’t fall into that pessimistic, fatalistic trap that black people “will always be like this.” Gang members who gun down children for wearing the wrong color use “the struggle” to explain it. Well, I’m sorry, but your life being shit doesn’t give you the right to behave that way. It may explain why you behave that way, but understanding why someone does something does not entail approving of what they do. They have plenty of reasons for rioting. have plenty of reasons to go out and beat the next trust-fund-hipster-“Daddy’s only paying for me to go to Paris for two months instead of three,”- kid I see with a crowbar. Doesn’t make it “reasonable,” and doesn’t make it acceptable.

I find it ironic that you seem to care so much about this community. The community that just got burned to the ground. I’m sure that took care of its needs and didn’t endanger anyone. And I’m sure the ill will caused by that will in no way lead to anyone getting hurt in the future. It’s only non-violent protests that are bad for the community. (Also, way to shit on all the people there who actually protested and didn’t start rioting and looting. I’m sure they’d all be really happy to find out that you applaud the dick who burned down a nursing home as someone who was helping the community, but you see them as problematic.)

Militance is about direct action which defends our communities from violence. It is about responses which meet the political goals of our communities in the moment, and deal with the repercussions as they come. It is about saying no, firmly drawing and holding boundaries, demanding the return of stolen resources. And from Queer Liberation and Black Power to centuries-old movements for Native sovereignty and anti-colonialism, it is how virtually all of our oppressed movements were sparked, and has arguably gained us the only real political victories we’ve had under the rule of empire.

They, they started political action. There’s a reason you never hear about violent revolutions ending well. Riots are, at best, a way of jump starting attention. I don’t see what this writer wants. We’ve already had riots. We’ve had plenty of them. Did those not achieve anything that you wanted? Did those not get enough attention for you? Or are you still just building up to the time where that will no longer be appropriate? How many more riots need to happen for the political presence you want to be obtained?

Once again, I’m not sure how trashing your community protects that community from violence. You should fill me in on that one. In the moment, some of those people need a new house. Get on that. What was the political goal of that community? Because it seemed to me like they’re collective intended goal was to peacefully protest a possibly-unlawful death. I don’t think the protesters wanted a riot to break out. But just deal with the consequences as they come, I guess. You gotta break a few eggs, amiright? I think I’ll go light a few buildings on fire now as a form of vague protest. The consequences of that don’t matter. #YOLO

We need to clarify what we mean by terms like “violence” and “peaceful.” Because, to be clear, violence is beating, harassing, tazing, assaulting and shooting Black, trans, immigrant, women, and queer people, and that is the reality many of us are dealing with daily. Telling someone to be peaceful and shaming their militance not only lacks a nuanced and historical political understanding, it is literally a deadly and irresponsible demand.

I love how your version of violence is only perpetrated by the police, and is never black people hurting other black people, which clearly happened in those riots. Of course. Because setting buildings on fire then actively trying to prevent firemen from putting the fires out is in no way violent. I also love how the dreaded straight, white man is apparently never a victim of violence.

I’m just going to throw this idea out there. What the fuck did that riot actually accomplish? This writer is talking about it like rioting s going to flip our conversation about race relations on its head because riots will finally get the Man’s attention. But has it even done that? What nuanced conversation is being had now because Tyler from Baltimore was gracious enough to trash his own neighborhood for the greater good? No one is talking about how badly race relations have gone. No one’s evening talking about the cops anymore. All they’re talking about is this particular riot and about how rioting should be okay. No one’s even talking about what they’re “protesting,” just that rioting is a good/bad way to do it. The rioters have very much co-opted that protest by making it all about them and their particularly controversial actions and not about “the cause” at all. People aren’t talking about “the cause.” They aren’t talking about Freddie. They’re talking about whether burning down a CVS is okay. This “protest” fucking failed.

The political goals of rioters in Baltimore are not unclear—just as they were not unclear when poor, Black people rioted in Ferguson last fall. When the free market, real estate, the elected government, the legal system have all shown you they are not going to protect you—in fact, that they are the sources of the greatest violence you face—then political action becomes about stopping the machine that is trying to kill you, even if only for a moment, getting the boot off your neck, even if it only allows you a second of air. This is exactly what blocking off streets, disrupting white consumerism, and destroying state property are designed to do.

Yeah, because nobody in Baltimore that was negatively affected by those riots was black. They were all a bunch of white people, which of course means that they deserve all the negative things that happen to them, because being vindictive towards random civilians who’ve never done anything to you on the basis of them being white is the best way to go about things, right?

I wasn’t okay with the Ferguson riots either, by the way. You can tell how effective they were, looking back on it. People . . . remember that they happened. Not much else, but yeah! Malignant protest is the best at getting things done! They help race relations so much! Actually, if we’re going to be technical, when it comes to being an inner-city black person, the main source of violence you face is from other inner-city black people and their assorted cohorts. As it turns out, you’re way more likely to get randomly shot in a drive by or gunned down by a gang member for no apparent reason than you are to get killed by a cop. Who’d a thunk. So that’s just a patently inaccurate statement. “The Man” isn’t the main source of violence for them.

Yeah! Rage against the machine! By going after things that have nothing to do with the machine and really more to do with my friends and neighbors! Yeah. Fucking myself and those around me over is the greatest way to show how much The Man has fucked me over.

So people are mad. That’s all you’ve said so far. People are letting off steam because they’re pissed off at all that has happened. Since when has being pissed off warranted this kind of behavior? Maybe if they directed that violence and vandalism at something that made sense, I’d give them more leeway. But they trashed police cars, which is at least consistent . . . and then just random places that in no way had anything to do with anything. They were just there, so let’s trash them, now. If violence is such an awesome way of showing political dissent, I want a little more fucking planning and organization in the next race riot. Instead of making it seem like you’re just engaging in mindless violence, maybe give that a little more direction. Take a page from V for Vendetta if anarchy is that great, and have an actual goal in mind with that violence. Go fuck up something relevant if that’s the only effective way to do things.

Black people know this, and have employed these tactics for a very, very long time. Calling them uncivilized, and encouraging them to mind the Constitution is racist, and as an argument fails to ground itself not only in the violent political reality in which Black people find themselves, but also in our centuries-long tradition of resistance, one that has taught effective strategies for militance and direct action to virtually every other current movement for justice.

Yeah, and look at all the good it did. Oh wait, the major turning point in the Civil Rights movement was a peaceful march to a government building. Oh yeah.

No, saying that it’s okay for them to be violent “because they’re black, what else are they going to do” is fucking racist. It’s pretty much saying that black people should not be held to the standard of every other human being when it comes to what conduct is acceptable behavior. The standard for them is lower. When this author finally writes about how this riot in particular was an effective strategy that actually did good for anything, let me know, by the way. Because right now, they’re just saying that rioting is effective without really giving reason to believe that. They say “the past,” but they can’t mention anything specific about it. They say black people have done it and had it work before, but they don’t bring up any instance of that. They’re just saying that it works better than anything else that could be done.

And while I don’t believe that every protester involved in attacking police cars and corporate storefronts had the same philosophy, did what they did for the same reasons, it cannot be discounted that when there is a larger national outcry in defense of plate-glass windows and car doors than for Black young people, a point is being made; When there is more concern for white sports fans in the vicinity of a riot than the Black people facing off with police, there is mounting justification for the rage and pain of Black communities in this country.

I’m just going to throw this idea out there and say that maybe the dudes going at the police cars actually had something political in mind. The ones looting and burning random shit to the ground don’t really strike me as people “with a cause” if you know what I mean. And seeing as how you’re contributing to this national outcry not by focusing on “the cause,” but by justifying the riots, you too are focusing more on rioting than you are on the actual supposed goal of the rioting.

I also love how the author only ever mentions that they trashed police cars and totally neglects to bring up the drug store and fucking nursing home that got burned down.  Nope, they were only going after strictly political targets. It was totally justified. I don’t think people care that they trashed some police cars. I don’t. If that was all they did, I would have disapproved of the escalation of the situation but ultimately would’ve seen it as a political move and a form of protest. What did burning down a nursing home accomplish in way of politics?

Acknowledging all of this, I do think events this weekend in Baltimore raise important questions for future direct and militant action in all of our movements. In addition to articulating our goals, crafting our messaging and type of action, we need to think carefully about what the longer term results of militant action might potentially be.

Glad to know that you’re planning more riots. Hopefully, you do what I suggest and actually, you know, plan one with something  resembling a goal in mind. Oh, but I thought the consequences of militant actions didn’t matter as long as they were sending the message you wanted?

  • Are we harming state and private property, or are we harming people, communities and natural resources? Is the result of our action disrupting state and corporate violence, or creating collateral damage that more oppressed people will have to deal with (i.e., Black families and business owners, cleaning staff, etc.)? Are we mimicking state violence by harming people and the environment, or are we harming state property in ways that can stop or slow violence? Are we demonizing systems or people?
  • Who is in the vicinity? Are we doing harm to people around us as we act? Is there a possibility of violence for those who are not the intended targets of our action? Are we forcing people to be involved in an action who many not want to be, or who are not ready?
  • Who is involved in the action? Are people involved in our action consensually, or simply because they are in the vicinity? Have we created ways for people of all abilities who may not want to be present to leave? Are we being strategic about location and placement of bodies? If there are violent repercussions for our actions, who will be facing them?

These three bullet points totally invalidate the entirety of this post. You just brought up everything wrong with the riot. Putting a  question mark at the end like those weren’t the obvious repercussions of what happened doesn’t make it a “deep” question. It just shows that you fully fucking acknowledge that rioting in your own neighborhood is a bad idea, but you’re propping it up as something awesome anyway. Which makes me stop thinking that you’re dumb and start thinking that you’re just a terrible human.

We should attempt to answer as many of these questions as possible before action occurs, in the planning stages if possible. We also need backup plans and options for changing our actions in the moment if any of the agreed-upon conditions are not the same when it comes time to act.

It’s good to know that wise ole’ Captain Hindsight finally showed his face here. “Maybe we should actually have a target for violence and not fuck up our own communities when it’s the cops we’re protesting against. We should keep that in mind for the next time we feel like engaging in mindless violence with a vague goal.” Who would have thunk it?

What kinds of actions will it take to make it widely understood that all policing is racist terror, and justice can only come with its permanent abolition?

“Policing is racist terror.” Wow . . . Is it sad that I just now realized that it’s one of those kinds of articles? Abolish the police, guys! No one needs them ever. They’re totally unnecessary and only their to help the Man be racist. Black people never do anything wrong ever, and whenever a cop bothers them it’s because that cop is crooked. no other reason.

Now, I’m all for putting checks on the power of the police and fully acknowledge that we live in a culture that glorifies authority figures like them beyond all reason, which is ultimately bad whenever that authority turns out to be in the wrong. I don’t think we train our cops very well, and I do think the general culture of the Boys in Blue and the personality types that that kind of job entails attracts people with preconceived biases of many kinds. That being said, we still need the police. No one else is going to do that job. Black people, do commit crimes, you know? It’s not like they’re only ever arrested because the cop is racist. They’re arrested too much, but that doesn’t mean they’re always innocent.

It’s good to see that Allan Moore is still reaching out the the young people, though, teaching them the beauty of anarchism.

Here’s a quote from another article:

“When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the rioters themselves.”

What fucking war? Why do you people seem so fucking intent on there being a race war? I though liberals were all about preventing wars? How do you think that’s going to work out? I don’t think constantly using war-time rhetoric when talking about race relations is a good idea. I really don’t. It wasn’t a good idea in the 20s. It wasn’t a good idea in the 60s. And it isn’t a good idea now. Using war rhetoric is what inspires extremists to go out and assassinate people marked as “the enemy,” and it doesn’t fucking help.

Also, this is once again totally fucking ignoring that it’s not just the Man telling people to stop rioting. I agree with you 100% that the ones in charge of our country are absolute fucking hypocrites who pretty much never practice what they preach and who abuse their power over the populace. But this is vindictive. You know what fighting violence with violence does? It makes more fucking violence. And if someone ever comes out on top, which is doubtful, the new people in charge will most likely be just as bad as the old ones because they used the exact same tactics to get where they were that they decried the use of when they weren’t in charge. It’s just replacing one hypocrite with a carbon copy with different rhetoric.

Once again, if this violence that parts of the black community engaged in actually seemed to have a point, if it actually had rhyme and reason to it, actually had a concrete message to send and a goal to be achieved at the end of the bloodshed, I would cut it some slack. But it DOESN’T. It fucking DOESN’T. And people keep sharing photos from that “White people looting during the riot” like that’s somehow making a point about racism. I always fucking assumed white people were involved in that looting, and when I say that rioting is wrong, they’re included in that. I’m not saying that black people shouldn’t riot. I’m saying that no one fucking should. Although, I’d like to know why white people rioting is less acceptable than this riot. The most famous rioters of all are soccer hooligans, most of them being poor youths in poverty-stricken situations. And you’d think them being poor would be enough to justify that (you know “history”), but I guess not. You have to be poor and black in order for it to be “logical.”

Comparing rioting to a forest fire is a good metaphor. Because a forest fire doesn’t have a goal, it just destroys everything until it peters out and leaves nothing left for anyone. Maybe, you’ll get that one species of tree that only drops its seeds after a fire, but nothing else is going to benefit from that. Nothing. The fire burns itself out. It burns until it can’t sustain the heat any longer and dies, leaving no trace that it ever existed other than the destruction in its wake, because fire is an insubstantial, ephemeral thing that can’t last. While it’s burning, it destroys everything and hurts everyone in the general area, and even after its over with, those ashes don’t do anyone any good to breathe in. But, hey, it was chaotic right? And what better way to show your wrath than non discriminant chaos?

Fun fact: I’ve been in a riot. I wasn’t rioting, because I was a little girl. And I’d like to think that I wouldn’t riot now.  But I riot broke out around me once. It was also a riot started by black, urban youths, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that rioting is not some beautiful moment of chaos where you finally see the anger boil over and well into physical action. Rioting is not something that happens in order to achieve some larger goal. Rioting is just insanity and chaos. No one has a plan of action in a riot. They aren’t a good thing.

These people burned down a drug store. You know the people who worked there aren’t going to get transferred to another location after their guilt by association with the rioters. So those people are out of a job. Never mind the horrible chemicals that people are probably still breathing in because someone had the bright idea of burning up a drug store. Also, I’m sure plenty of people are wondering where they’re going to refill prescriptions now or get medical care likes shots and vaccinations. Having a local drug store is very convenient for that. They can’t do that anymore.

They burned a senior retirement home. And when the firemen showed up, they stabbed the hoses and actively tried to stop them from putting the fires out. I wonder how many people are now struggling to take care of their elderly relatives or how many older people now just don’t have a place to live. I wonder how many people in general don’t have a place to live because they lived in a now quarantined-off danger zone because fires happened, and fires can stir up too much in the air for that place to be inhabitable for a while.

There were people standing out in front of their shops with loaded guns to defend their property from people who wanted to break the windows and steal their merchandise and trash the place.

There were Crips and Bloods in the peaceful protest, you know? Crips and Bloods intentionally setting the feud aside to stand together in unity against a system that they felt was unfair, so unfair that they decided to join forces with someone who they would have otherwise shot dead. They went to go and actually protest. To make a, really very shocking, show of solidarity and unity.

But they were apparently part of the problem. Peaceful protesting was hurting their community.

I would pay money to see someone go up to them and say “You know, trying to peacefully protest is just bowing down to the racists and actually hurting your community. But those rioters over there, man. They’re the true heroes!” It doesn’t even have to be a gang member. Just go up to anyone who was actually there, who saw their community getting destroyed. Maybe go up to one of the shop keepers who guarded their store with a loaded gun. Or maybe go to one of the workers who is now out of a job. Or maybe go up to one of the firemen who had to work against rioters trying to stop them from preventing arson. Go up to anyone and tell them that those riots happening was great and a sign of progress.

I’d like to know how many of the people clamoring to justify these riots as a “logical form of protest” would be okay with it if it happened where they lived. I wonder if they would justify the hurting of innocent people’s lives and livelihoods as an acceptable show of disrespect against the Man. I wonder how many of them have had to actually deal with being present for a riot and really see just how violent and terrible it can be. I wonder how many of them would be willing to go down to those places and talk to the people affected by it about how rioting is a great form of protest. I wonder how many of them would even be willing to go to a place like that at all, riot or not.


One thought on “The Baltimore Incident: Stop Helping Us

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