All of America has its eyes on Minneapolis. Every major news source has accompanied the shocking footage of the lootings, the images of the flames, with dramatic headlines. Indubitably, the murder of George Floyd has elicited a strong response from people across the country. But do not let the media confuse you: looting and rioting are valid forms of protest when countless peaceful endeavors have fallen on deaf ears. Violence is a logical and appropriate next step.
Fred Hampton was a black activist and a chairman of the Black Panther Party during the civil rights movement. He was a socialist and Leninist who strongly believed in using force to achieve overdue justice. One of his most famous quotes is “You can kill a revolutionary, but you can never kill the revolution.” With more and more deaths of innocent black people (including organizers of the Ferguson protests) surfacing, the words of Fred Hampton haven’t been truer since the years he uttered them.
“Racism is an excuse used for capitalism.” – Fred Hampton
Scrolling online, I’ve seen countless complaints about black people destroying their own community. But since when are white people concerned about black people in their community? The black citizens of Minneapolis can choose how to govern their community. And according to CBS Minnesota, in 2019 the Twin Cities were the fourth worst American city for black people, with the typical black household earning $34,174 a year—only 43% of the median income of a typical white household in the metro.
This isn’t Minneapolis’s first time being on this list—where was the white outrage then? Most importantly, Target, Aldi, Arby’s, and countless other chain businesses have absolutely nothing to do with the black community. The black community cannot be reduced to a series of billion-dollar, white-owned businesses within a ten-mile radius. The black community has nothing to do with capitalism.
“We say we’re not going to fight capitalism with black capitalism, but we’re going to fight it with socialism.” – Fred Hampton
A protest that began peacefully was met with rubber bullets and tear gas. That’s when the looting began. Many of the “looted” goods have since been set up in tent stations, making milk, water, and many other goods available to aid the protesters. Some see footage of the thefts and call it crime; I call it liberation. This is how you redistribute wealth back to your community after your government has failed you. We don’t need the support of our government leaders, nor do we need their suggestions about how we can be taken more seriously or with more respect. How can my oppressors tell me what the appropriate response is to their malpractice?
The poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic—the virus which, statistically, is four times more likely to kill black people—by the White House and state governments is just one of countless failures from our country’s leaders. The murder of George Floyd is another failure. Charging the officer who killed him with third-degree murder, as if it was an accidental death, is yet another. If the government wants us to comply with civility, they’d better comply with the simple task of carrying out their responsibilities.
It doesn’t matter how many times we peacefully protest, how many times we kneel, how many times we peacefully march—for most of the people that hold the keys to significant change will not care. And when we turn to another viable tactic, the narrative will always be the same: see, this is why they deserve to be treated like animals. They deserve to get shot, choked, broken, strangled, left to die whether it be in the concrete with their own blood, or in their cities with the blood of their nails clawing themselves out.
They’ll never show the full story. They won’t show the liberation or the strength of our community in the news. We must resist. A revolution was always imminent, and this is one of many stones thrown at the stained glass of our current fragile system. Will it always be violent? It will if it has to be.
By Tyler Bey