The Riots Will Continue

| Resist!

Above Photo: From

April 26th, 1992
There was a riot on the streets
Tell me where were you?
You were sittin’ home watchin’ your TV
While I was participating in some anarchy

– Sublime

100 Years of Riots

In 1917, white supremacists, the National Guard and the St. Louis Police killed an estimated 150-200 blacks in what is commonly referred to as the “East St. Louis Massacre.” Much like St. Louis, Chicago was an up-and-coming industrial city that was experiencing massive demographic shifts as a result of the “Great Migration” north at the beginning of the 20th century. Similarly, Chicago experienced its own race riots in 1919, where 38 people were killed and 500 injured. Two years later, over 300 blacks were killed in the “Tulsa Race Riot.” In other words, none of this is new for black Americans.

Unfortunately, history has a sick way of repeating itself.

On Friday, September 16th, 2016, a white Tulsa police officer by the name of Betty Shelby shot and killed Terence Crutcher in broad daylight, next to his broken down SUV (she claims she was reaching for her Taser). Four days later, Charlotte police gunned down Keith Lamont Scott as he sat in his car. While people remained somewhat subdued in Tulsa, tensions have increased in Charlotte. So far, one person has been shot and a police officer was sent to the hospital with undisclosed injuries.

The riots continue as I type. I can hear the stomping of police boots, the faint chants of angry protesters and the off-handed remarks of citizen journalists who are truly the only reliable source of live action on the web or T.V. Who needs CNN when I have Facebook friends who are live-streaming the action without the plasticized commentary and right-wing propaganda?

Black people have been rioting in this country for over a century. And unfortunately, while much has changed (only because of the work of brave activists), much remains the same.

From the Harlem Riots in 1964, where the police shot and killed James Powell, a black teenager, to the Miami Riots of 1981, which were the result of the police killing Arthur McDuffie, a 29 year old former marine and black salesman, after a high-speed chase – people have been resisting police violence for many decades.

And of course, it’s not just in the U.S. where blacks have rioted as a result of police killings and economic inequality – London (1958), South Africa (1976), Liverpool (1981), Brixton (1985), Sydney (2004), Paris (2005). Since 2008, the largest riots in the U.S. have taken place in Ferguson (2014) and Baltimore (2015).

White People Waking Up?

Today, because of social media and the internet, people around the globe are receiving real-time reports, videos and information about police shootings in the U.S. As a result, White America has been forced to deal with the fact that blacks in the U.S. live in a virtual Apartheid State – both racially and economically. Black lives are threatened by second most trusted institution in American society: the police (the military is number one).

The first riots I can recall are the L.A. Riots of 1992. Indeed, at the time, I had little knowledge (I was in second grade) of why the riots were happening. My father was working full-time and my mother didn’t bother with the news, so no one explained why black people would be so upset that they would burn down buildings and smash police cars.

Without question, I was a typically ignorant and naive white kid who never worried about being beaten, jailed or killed by the police because of the color of my skin.

Almost 25 years later, I try and put myself back in that mindset when talking to some of my white family and friends who still can’t wrap their minds around the fact that it’s not just “a few bad apples,” but the entire prison-industrial-police state (increasingly militarized) that’s the problem. It’s a difficult task, but a necessary one if we hope to build interracial movements.

It may take several years for the proper data to emerge, or maybe we’ll find out because new social movements and coalitions will bloom, but I assume more and more Americans, particularly young Americans who spend their time on the internet, will become increasingly critical of the police, what they do, and who they serve. In some ways, we see this already.

Building More Effective Movements

Elites, the media, many whites and the police are hoping existing movements disappear, but they won’t. If anything, the issues of policing, systemic racism, systemic economic inequality and political corruption will only become more prominent as existing institutions become increasingly militarized and violent.

In the meantime, progressive/left political movements are losing on many fronts. Yes, it’s true that people (primarily young black activists) are fighting back, but with limited results. Last year, not one police officer was charged with manslaughter or murder. And this year’s police killings are on pace to break last year’s horrific numbers (1,146 killed). In other words, whatever we’re doing as a movement or a series of movements, isn’t working.

Here, I’m simply writing what I think many activists know, but are hesitant to express: namely, the fact that things are getting worse – ecologically, economically, politically, militarily, etc.

Yet, we continue to resist using the same strategies and tactics, or lack thereof. Further, our movements lack vision. What, exactly, do we want? Yes, we want less shootings, more accountability, less prisons and more jobs, but how do we get those things? And are protests, riots, civil disobedience and citizen journalism enough to stop one of the most vicious and militarized police forces in the world?

Are activists interested in reforming the police and/or replacing the police? I don’t see the two as mutually exclusive, just as I don’t see reform and revolution on a broader scale as mutually exclusive paths. We need all of the above. And we need it all, and we need it soon, because the situation is critical.

Since the murder or Eric Garner, black protesters have chanted “We Can’t Breathe!” Americans should listen.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned since attending BLM events is that black people are living in a constant “State of Emergency.” They endure state-sanctioned murders on a daily basis, and the problem is getting worse, not better.

In the end, we should always support activists who take to the streets in protest. They’ll receive enough criticism from the mainstream press and reactionary whites – they don’t need it from the progressives and the left.

Until Black Lives Matter, the riots will continue, as they should.

  • John Moody

    Except the cop that shot him was black. And the Tulsa cop has been charged for that killing. You are full of gate and lies.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    Go back to sleep.

  • easywriter

    A thoughtfully written personal essay.

  • DHFabian

    What some white people notice: We’re 20 years deep into a hell of a class war. The great majority of US poor are white, but the hell of deprivation of basic human needs is just as bad regardless of race. Our homeless poor have been attacked, even killed, by police and citizens alike in recent decades. None of these incidents resulted in weeks of liberal media outrage, marches for justice. “Just some homeless bum.” Today’s Americans don’t regard the poor as human at all, deserving of the most basic human rights (UN’s UDHR) of food and shelter. We don’t talk about it, don’t even think about it. Would it be possible to be more marginalized than that?

  • DHFabian

    Except that it’s a legitimate point that deserves further examination, as the country grapples with the inevitable consequences of militarizing our police. Many work hard to portray police violence as white racism, disregarding the many cases where the cop was black and the victim was white (or any other racial combination). I get it. Color is simple. We can see color. But not everything is about race. It’s impossible to address such critical and complex issues as police violence if we disregard the facts that don’t fit the explanation we chose.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    You can’t recognize that it’s cop culture? That beating up on black people is part of cop culture? That cop culture is determined by the white overlords?

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    No, the ruling elite has always been engaged in class warfare against the subject classes. You should read A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn.

  • Robert Hodge

    (swipes hands) There! All fixed.

  • John Moody

    Wrong again. You clearly drink the koolaid. Most are not that ignorant and have the capacity to see truth with eyes open. Again you ignore the fact that the cop was black. Race did not play a role in this. Has it not occurred to you white people are killed and beaten as well? That just doesn’t make the news because it doesn’t sell like race does. That is fact. That is the truth. Believe it or not. It happens. Media is playing people that think like you as fools.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    Hilarious! So now you’re claiming that cops don’t pick on the most vulnerable of society?

  • John Moody

    Most vulnerable? You mean the ones they have to face daily? Total brainwashed. Has it occurred to you wealthy non drug using people are not the ones ignoring police commands and doing things that force a cop to act? You are really out touch with reality. Ask around to your friends and family. I sure one of them has a cop friend. They can sort the facts out for you. If you are willing to accept facts. I am betting you are to brainwashed with what the news feeds you.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    Hilarious! More silliness presented as ‘facts’! You do this all the time. Did you get your training at CTR?

  • John Moody

    Didnt even bother asking huh.. Stay uneducated. World needs all kinds to make it go around. If everyone believed what main stream media says they wouldn’t have to make things out like this. Enjoy your bliss. I prefer to think.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    Funny! You actually think that your level of silly ignorance is too be recommended. Go read the New York Times, and fill your air head with Mockingbirds.

  • John Moody

    Times is bought and paid for. Why would I bother. Do a search for number of protesters arrested…Read through. Isnt just this. Its everything. Baton rouge. Charlotte. Why stop there? Look at OWS protests. People bought and bussed in to inflame. Hell even this very site. “popularresistance”. they are making money off posting these lies. Maybe you are a part of it? Sorry. Anyone that can reason can see through this smoke and mirrors. Sites that sell Survivalist items post every bit of nonsense end of the world they can think of. its money. I have looked though your posts. You are either a part oft he farce. or one weak minded that swallows what nonsense these people throw out. Neither of which will withstand scrutiny, I a not trying to convince you of anything. Stating the obvious. The ACTUAL protesters in Charlotte did things right. And were left to protest. Look up the names of those arrested that were part of the rioting… Only a small handful were from Charlotte. Facts, I will leave you to believe what you will. Or be a part of the media circus. Whichever is your case. in the end none of it matters. And at some point the rioting will be stopped. IF not the police then by the TRUE protesters, which they did in Charlotte, or citizens, which also did in Charlotte, will stop it themselves. By the way. the Tulsa incident was CLEARLY an overly excited police woman that was WAY to over wound and out of control making a MASSIVE error. One she will pay for with her freedom in prison. One that will hopefully lead to better police training in trying to remain calm in a tense situation.. Enjoy your day.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    You write a lot for someone who doesn’t do his homework…