Above Photo: Justin King in Ferguson.
Flint, Michigan (TFC) – The United States has seen more than its fair share of riots over the last couple of years. Many like to see riots as spontaneous events that are completely unpredictable; and some forms of riots are, such as those after sporting events. Most, however, are very predictable. Certain conditions need to be in place before an inciting event can trigger a riot.
The reason the United States is seeing more and more riots is because the conditions are prevalent in more and more communities. These conditions are present in Flint, and the longer it takes the government to act, the more likely a riot becomes. Many times, the cause of the riot is seemingly unknown to the government. In fact, it’s almost a prerequisite for a riot because not many governments are callous enough to let an important grievance of their people go unattended if they are aware of it. In Flint, the government knows what will cause the riot, they just don’t care.
Martin Luther King famously said that a riot is the language of the unheard. He’s right. The conditions for a riot are simple. A populace needs to have a long-standing grievance of life and death that has gone unheard by the government, and they need to be economically depressed. Those three conditions set the stage, then an inciting incident must occur.
A long-standing grievance: This can be something like a racist and corrupt police department in Ferguson, a department that has historically victimized its population like Baltimore, “a long train of abuses” such as those the led to the Declaration of Independence, or a poisoned water supply that the local government continues to downplay while doing nothing to fix.
Unheard by the government: The battle cry of the American Revolution was “no taxation without representation”. If the colonists had representation, it is unlikely that the war, or riots that preceded it, would have occurred. Whatever the grievance is, the government must ignore it. An example of this would be a high-ranking government official dismissing the concerns of the people, like when Director Sygo of the Department of Environmental Quality told police the Flint water crisis was “overplayed”. Knowing of the link between a disease outbreak and the water system for at least ten months before telling the public would also fall into this category. That much depraved indifference to the death and destroyed lives in Flint goes a long way to driving average citizens to violence.
Economically depressed: The people of Flint can’t sell their homes and move. Their homes are worthless. This journalist was offered a small three-bedroom home in Flint this weekend for $2500. The community is broke. The city that poisoned people wants the residents to pay for $2400 dollars service fees.
The community has no reason to believe the government is going to assist them when officials downplay a pile of dead bodies or use government-compliant news outlets to state that lead levels have improved, even though they are above federal limits. The city has said the water is safe for bathing, even though the specter of Legionella is in the water. Legionella causes Legionnaire’s Disease, the disease that killed 12 people and infected 91 in Flint. It’s contracted by breathing in water, like you do when you take a shower.
The stage is set for riots in Flint. All of the pieces are in place. An inciting incident may come in the form of a child dying this summer from Legionnaire’s, a beloved pastor contracting it, or it may come in the form of some completely unrelated incident of corruption that finally pushes citizens through the breaking point. The city is literally waiting for a reason to riot.
To Flint City Officials (If you’re a resident, I encourage you to share this with them):
You may want to dismiss this as hyperbole. I could give you my qualifications concerning insurgency, but I think a quick glance back at some of my other predictions may help persuade you to take it more seriously. I predicted a second round of riots in Ferguson, which was kind of a no-brainer. Before the fires cooled, I predicted a riot in another city before Freddie Gray was ever placed in the back of a van in Baltimore. I predicted the targeted killing of officers in a scenario that matched the New York killings in almost every detail (I said they’d be stopped at a stoplight). I predicted that police departments across the country would issue new safety guidelines to officers in response to the attacks, they did. I predicted those guidelines would be geared towards attacks by firearm, they were. I predicted that people would attempt to conduct their future attacks with bombs instead of guns, just like they did in Indiana. While most of the country predicted bloodshed at Bundy Ranch, I predicted it would end exactly as it did. Because of Bundy Ranch, most researchers predicted the standoff at the refuge in Oregon would end peacefully; I predicted bloodshed. This list could go on forever. I have literally never been wrong when it comes to a domestic insurgency situation. I am telling you point blank, if you don’t fix the water quickly, the city will burn. You can choose to ignore this, but you do so at your peril. I’ll say this again: I have never been wrong. Fix the water before more people get hurt and this incident becomes another bullet point in my resume. You have the chance to prove me wrong, please do it.