vandalism for justice?

I’m pissed off that a man in Florida can shoot an unarmed youth dead and get off scot free. Unfortunately, that is the law in ass-backwards Florida. The result of the trial was completely predictable — however unjust — given the conflicting testimony, the jury’s inability to convict beyond a shadow of a doubt, and the system of gun-toting white privilege in which we live (Zimmerman’s self-identifying as Hispanic notwithstanding). And yet, destructively protesting the Zimmerman verdict does nothing to promote the cause of justice.

Read the report on riots in Oakland from the San Francisco Chronicle.

To the 125 protesters in Oakland whose anger burst onto city streets last night: What message does smashing store windows send? That you are hoodlums just as George Zimmerman assumed? Thanks for supporting the defense.

Throwing garbage cans at innocent motorists does nothing to further your call for justice. It paints you just as George Zimmerman (wrongly) saw Trayvon Martin: a threat to public safety.

Why write F* the Police on a BART police vehicle in California? Did they have anything to do with the crime, the prosecution (belated though it may have been), or the verdict in the Zimmerman case? I can only assume that this was in response to what happened in Fruitvale in 2009, brought back to light by the film Fruitvale Station that opened recently. Thanks for your mixed messages, which dilute anything you might be trying to say to the boneheads on the other side about justice for Trayvon Martin’s death. (I get that it is all part of the bigger picture of institutionalized racism you are protesting, but they won’t. Read your audience.)

I understand and share your fury, although from my white, middle-class position of privilege I cannot possible know how you live it. But unleashing your indignation in a publicly aggressive way and destroying the property of people who had nothing to do with the particular situation (other than participating in a racist system, as well all do) only supports the perspective of those against whom you are protesting.

Get a clue, people! Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. Find another outlet for your justified anger. The opposition is too dim-witted and narrow-minded to comprehend the centuries of crimes against you. Take the higher ground. Learn from the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fighting injustice with peaceful protest sends the message that you are in control of your emotions and not to be feared. It shows the racists and racial profilers that they are wrong about you.

Or go ahead: vandalize and rage on. You only serve to fuel the enemy’s fires of racism.


[see my previous post on institutionalized racism here]

For a counter-perspective on the riots, see Professor Brittney Cooper’s article on Salon. She makes some interesting points about fighting an inherently unjust system.

photo: SF Chronicle 2013

photo: SF Chronicle 2013

One thought on “vandalism for justice?

  1. One of my favorite Dr. Martin Luther King quotes: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Oh, and this one: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” There are so many more wonderful, peaceful things he said. We must band together in peace to change this world.


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