While unrest across the country is at an all time high, a divide amongst those who are on the frontlines fighting is now ever present — protestors vs. looters. And while this fight is far more trivial than the fight against police brutality, it has begun to overshadow the bigger picture — justice for George Floyd and an end to to the systemic racism that has taken the lives of countless others.
There is a stark difference between protestors and looters. Protestors seek to evoke change by taking to the streets and having their voices heard. Rioters, people whose justifiable anger manifests itself physically in the destruction of property, often turn into looters, people who seek out the opportunity to benefit personally from the damaged businesses by taking property. And then there are the wolves in sheeps clothing — those who infiltrate the protest with the sole purpose of disrupting the peace and distracting from the real cause.
This complicated structure has caused conversations online that have pitted the protestors against the looters. Social media is split, and the discourse has caused some celebs to speak out in anger against the rioters and looters, while other have found compassion for those people that are so angry that they take “no justice, no peace”, literally!
Reality TV star Shekinah took to Instagram Live and shed tears over Atlanta looters taking merchandise from the Gucci store at Lennox Mall.
Singer The Dream also took issue with folks in Atlanta looting businesses — namely his business.
Dear People, IF YOU ARE NOT FROM ATLANTA, DONT COME HERE AND PLEASE GO HOME. I OWN THINGS IN THIS CITY, A LOT OF BLACKS OWN THINGS IN THIS CITY, FROM BANKHEAD TO BUCKHEAD. DO NOT DESTROY PROPERTY THAT NEGATES THE DECADES OF WORK. MY CHILDREN WILL NOT BE SET BACK BY YOU!
— THE-DREAM (@TheKingDream) May 30, 2020
However, rapper/singer Tory Lanez used his voice to condemn those more concerned with the looting than they are with the police brutality that got us here — specifically, Shekinah and other celebs more worried about businesses, than Black lives.
When my rich celeb friends in they house and on the gram like “stop looting u fucking up our business “ … Y’all can miss me with that shit … y’all niggas is rich ! Y’all not feeling the pain of these people out there that done lost they job and are deeply affected by this .
— Tory Lanez (@torylanez) May 31, 2020
Niggas wanna cry about protecting these businesses of these huge brands and cooperations from looting …. AS IF THESE STORES DONT GOT INSURANCE TO GET ALL THAT SHIT BACK !!!! I don’t condone looting . But the people gone do what they feel is right . Period . #JusticeOrNoPeace
— Tory Lanez (@torylanez) May 31, 2020
Tory Lanez tells all celebrities that are posting against the protesting to stop pic.twitter.com/m2TpwPz90d
— Complex Ambition (@ComplexAmbition) May 31, 2020
And while Cardi B is celebrating looting, she understand that maybe it’s a necessary evil.
They looting in Minnesota and as much as I don’t like this type of violence it is what it is .Too much peaceful marches,too much trending hashtags and NO SOLUTIONS! The people are left with NO CHOICE . pic.twitter.com/IToSr08yBG
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) May 28, 2020
Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar penned an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times and in it he reflected why looting is the least of our worries.
Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air. So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.
It’s not lost on us that this is all occurring on the anniversary of the massacre of Black Wall Street. 99 years ago, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a white mob descended upon The Greenwood District, an area of affluent African-Americans known as “Black Wall Street”. The racist mob burned nearly 1,200 homes across 35 blocks and killed close to 300 Black people — and it was largely unreported until 1996.
The burning of Black Wall Street was also the inspiration for the jumping off point of the series HBO series Watchmen starring Regina King. The show was filmed in Tulsa and used the race massacre and the tensions of white supremacy in Tulsa as a central narrative for the superhero drama.
Almost 100 years later, and it feels like not much has changed since the burning of Black Wall Street. However, with these latest protests there does feel like there’s a shift … do you feel it?