As I mentioned in today’s Georgia Mae Morning News post, a group of people in the Bay Area have been rioting in downtown Oakland to protest the killing of Oscar Grant, an black man who was unarmed when he was fatally shot by a subway police officer.
Why on earth do some people think that smashing in the windows of local businesses is the proper way to respond to racial injustice? Not only is rioting a bad idea because it’s illegal and immoral, in my opinion, but it’s also counterproductive.
The businesses that suffer in these riots are typically owned by people of color. Furthermore, the riots simply result in more blacks behind bars and, quite frankly, they just make us look stupid.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a strong believer in demonstrations in response to injustice and I’m happy to report that there was a peaceful protest at the subway station where the shooting took place. But soon a group of about 200 people broke away from that protest, headed downtown and chaos ensued.
The San Francisco Chronicle article I referenced this morning quotes Leemu Topkawe, the black owner of a local salon who had the windows of her business smashed by the protesters.
“This is our business,” she shouted. “This is our shop. This is what you call a protest?”
The reporter also interviewed Nia Sykes, one of the demonstrators, and asked if she felt sympathy for Topkawe. Her response: “She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life.”
I understand it’s hard to just call and write letters of complaint to the director of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system and the BART police. But trashing cars and businesses won’t deliver justice. It’ll just land you in jail.