What gets looted? Box stores, banks, check-cashing and cell-phone enterprises and governmental buildings. What about on a residential street?
Wealth is hard to discern unless put on display. What’s a house’s version of a peacock’s plumage? Fancy paint jobs, swimming-pool fences, fancy cars in the driveway or a few too many garage doors. Maybe artsy weathervanes.
The people on our street have little. But unlike the Trump base, they don’t appear envious of others’ stuff. As the man I interviewed at today’s protest said to our city’s police chief, “You gotta teach your troops to understand and respect black rage, to not treat the man who can’t keep from yelling at the top of his lungs as a threat.”
There’s a similarity in any and all cries for respect. Maybe we’ve let our hierarchies lose a valid basis for their authority and slipped into a lazy because-I-told-you-so answer to that most natural of questions: Why? People are sick of living in a democracy where they’re given no say in their work lives, the ways in which our society works day to day.
Yes, looting happens when anger rises. But so, this time, does a growing cry to those telling us to behave, to not ask for more help in the face of a pandemic and economic crash, not to protest or impeach our president: Why?
“Because I say so” doesn’t cut it at this moment.
Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.