In the midst of economic and social and health havoc caused by a global pandemic, the cities have erupted in protests and riots, triggered by a viral video of a cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck until he died.
As a middle-aged, suburban, white woman — a Karen — nobody should care what I say, but I’m going to say it anyway. I am profoundly moved by commentary from community folks on CNN, especially the moms. If the point of the protests was to get people’s attention, it worked.
Glued to CNN and my twitterfeed this weekend, I was both horrified by the violence and looting, and touched by impassioned by the voices of community leaders and mothers of victims of police violence. I don’t think one has to choose between horror and compassion. I think we can feel both.
All weekend, I retweeted links to videos and images that were both horrifying and touching. These tweets included a cop pointing his gun at protesters, Washington, DC on fire, protestors and cops marching together, the crowd outside the White House, the cop who was killed in Oakland, a long thread with videos of LA’s protests, three generations try to figure out a better way, a shop owner being beaten up by a mob, a mob beats a man badly.
I struggle to find sympathy for the cause when it moves from orderly protests to wild mobs hurting people and breaking things. Yes, I understand that this is a product of extreme emotions, but it’s hard to watch. No, I don’t believe that Antifa, White Supremists, Privileged White Kids, or Russians are responsible for most of the damage.
Mobs are scary things. I will never support a mob targeting innocent people, regardless of the cause.
What about the looting? Well, I have mixed feeling about all that. When these mobs destroy local businesses in their own community that provide diapers and medicine for people in the community, I’m upset. When then burn random stuff in their neighborhood, I’m upset.
But what about when looters target fancy stores in Soho, like Rolex and Burberry? I guess we could see this as a form of economic redistribution – a statement about system inequalities in work, housing, education. People have been out of work for a couple of months now, and they are economically hurting. Or maybe they just want a new cellphone. I don’t know.
If those fancy stories choose to not open their stores in cities and relocate to the suburbs, where all the rich city people are going anyway, then we’re going to see a return of 1970’s New York City, when the whole place sucked.
The looting of places like Target, just makes me sad. People are taking basics, like diapers and cheap sundresses. We should just be giving people that stuff. Nobody should have to steal a package of diapers.
On Friday morning, before things got too crazy, I wrote a newsletter. In it, I explained that I was extremely angry about what’s happened to schools this spring. I’m not posting it here today because it’s too off-topic. But I do think that a whole lot of people are angry about schools, on top of a long laundry list of other angers, including police brutality.
Society was riddled with inequities and injustices before. Now, that we’re in the midst of a pandemic with an inept president, those inequities have grown more extreme.