Charlotte And The Difference Between Protesting And Looting
September 23, 2016 (Fault Lines) – Protest is at the heart of American freedom. From the time Samuel Adams and company dumped all that British tea into Boston Harbor, an undercurrent of violence flows below dissatisfaction with the status quo.
As it well should. Congressional hearings and lawsuits and elections may make for some change, but the image of a city burning should guarantee that change. Unless it’s to cover up stealing. Then it’s not a protest anymore. It’s just stealing.
Charlotte, North Carolina is burning. Keith Scott’s death by shooting at the hands of the police was the culmination of a growing body count of black men killed by police officers. So maybe the city should be burning. Maybe that will focus the attention needed for a change.
Or, maybe the solution is some sweet new Charlotte Hornets gear. While Keith Scott and others remain dead, why can’t a Kemba Walker jersey be the solution to our problems? As protests grew violent earlier this week in Charlotte, the Hornets’ team store became a target.
The NBA’s Hornets, who play their home games at Spectrum Center near where one person was critically wounded as protests turned violent Wednesday, confirmed to WSOC-TV their official team store at the arena was being looted after several windows were broken.
It wasn’t just the local NBA team gear that was targeted. Videos from the protests show a cash register being hauled out of a souvenir store, cracked open, and emptied. As the protests grew increasingly violent, the inevitable happened and someone was shot.
So where are we now? What have the protests accomplished? Keith Scott is still dead. Shot by a black police officer, which matters if you think the problem is as simple as pure racism. Stores and property are looted and destroyed. More people are getting hurt. Has this violence in North Carolina united the people against more police violence on citizens?
Not really. Instead, it’s played right into the narrative the police are advancing. Its fine to be polite and tiptoe around controversial issues, but let’s get real for a minute. The police are shooting more young black men because they think young black men are more dangerous. The police don’t want to get shot. They have identified a group of people they think will shoot them. So they are shooting first.
That narrative isn’t accurate. But now Fox News has a collection of videos to plaster around showing young black men looting stores and beating innocent people. Whose narrative just got advanced over the last few days? Who can show support for their position?
It’s the police. And because of that, the message of protest in Charlotte has been lost. The short-sighted might think that is unfair. After all, we look at the revolutionaries from the Boston Tea Party as heroes. And arguably, dumping the British East India Company’s tea into the ocean was looting. There was definitely looting leading up to the Boston Tea Party.
It seems unfair the founding fathers of our country could loot with impunity, but we don’t want police shooting protesters to do it. What’s the difference? The biggest one is the goal. In the 1700s, there was little doubt American colonists wanted war with England. And they got it. Less than two years after the Tea Party, the Revolutionary War began.
The modern problem with the police is very different. An all-out war isn’t the answer. Meeting law enforcement with direct violence is counter-productive. And probably useless. A war on police officers not only fosters an incredible amount of danger, it proves the police point. The idea that they are responding to some false danger is no longer all that controversial if the danger becomes real.
Turning that violence towards the rest of the public is just as counterproductive and useless. A business owner watching his property burn to the ground or his cash register get cleaned out is not going to take up arms for the cause. In fact, it may drive them right to the other side.
Nobody wants to hear about peaceful protest. It’s not nearly as fun. It doesn’t get the attention from the news media and it rarely leads to dramatic scenes on the evening news. But the current problem with police shooting requires more than the loudest voices creating the most trouble. And until the Charlotte protesters figure it out, all of this rioting and burning is a waste of time.
We need to see protesters take the higher road and prove the police wrong. Show law enforcement that whatever it is that makes them pull that trigger too fast is born out of an unsupported fear or an unfair belief or a simple failing or training or person. But it’s for damn sure not justified.
But busting out the front window of the Charlotte Hornets’ team store and stealing all of that Hornets gear? That’s not advancing any cause or sending any message. That’s just stealing.