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Let me be blunt, I am frightened by the level of violence that protests have attained in my own city, and in cities throughout the country.

protests

But I am also acutely aware that I have little or no influence on the people out in the streets doing the worst damage. What we have going on here looks more and more like a generational uprising as well as a protest against police violence.

It is why so many protesters are not listening to people like me who tell them that looting stores and firebombing cars undermines the moral force of their protests. Here is the argument I am hearing more and more.

"You are in no moral position to talk about looting. Your generation looted the country so much that all we have left is student debt, low paying, dangerous jobs, and a militarized police force to keep us under control in cities which have been handed over to the rich. You tossed our generation on the garbage heap and now it's time for payback."

If you look at the collective distribution of income wealth and opportunity in our society, can you really say this argument is wrong, especially since the Pandemic has given a fatal blow to the hopes of many already living precarious lives. There are millions of unemployed, out of school young people in this country who have nothing to lose and huge amount of anger at their position.<

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No one is organizing these protests. And their very spontaneity shows how deep rooted the grievances are.

Several months ago, I feared that we could be facing food riots and rent riots on a Depression scale when the government stimulus money ran out and there were mass evictions and disruptions to the food chain.

I never thought they would come this early, or with this particular spark.

We are in deep deep trouble as a country. Years of impoverishing and marginalizing the poor, and handing our cities to the rich have brought us to this point.

If we view racist, militarized policing as an instrument used to enforce rising levels of inequality and gentrification in our major cities, then much of what we are seeing in these protests makes more sense.

mark naison

Mark Naison
With a Brooklyn Accent