While I understand the impulse, attempting to show that there are a multiplicity of responses to the verdict and that not everyone feels the same about property destruction, it also seems to repeat the criminalizing of folks who do loot and suggest a certain respectable propriety as what the “good” protestors are doing.
This continues a similar delegitimizing of property destruction and looting that the mainstream media panders in. But property destruction and looting are not senseless. They’re not dumb. They’re a response. An uncomfortable response for a society who thinks private property is an extension of our bodies.
But given that those who are descendents of people who were property, those dispossessed who through policing are made out to be property for the state, it would seem in the looting and property destruction is a critique of private property as the invention that produces public property, which is black flesh. And this production of public property as blackness is the production of its profitability as its expendability. Darren Wilson received 500k in support of his defense of this division of property, paid leave, a marriage celebration, and a public interview to top it off.
Until we can come to terms with the fact that our faith in capitalist divisions of property, labor, and flesh, is faith in what keeps black lives expendable we will continue reading these disruptions to property as senseless. But perhaps these property destroyers are something akin to Jesus entering the temple and overturning the moneychangers tables, proclaiming “my house shall be called a house of prayer, but you’ve turned it into a den of thieves.” We all know that Ferguson’s/STL/The Nation’s political officials are nothing if not a den of thieves.
Why, then, do we keep talking don to and trying to distance ourselves from folks who know where the thieving is going on and point it out? And turn tables? And try to herd the robbers out of the sacred spaces of their homes?
If nonviolence as a strategy is only able to recognize property destruction as an act of violence it has already given it’s language over to a logic it claims to oppose, and doing so has repeated the cut that takes its legs, the dispossessed and despised, out from under it.
Amaryah Armstrong currently resides in Atlanta, GA where she is pursuing a Masters of Theological Studies in Systematic Theology at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Her work centers on Black liberation theology, political theology, and eco-theology as ways into reconfigured understandings of Trinity, Theological Anthropology (what it means to be human theologically), and Christology and the implications on political practice. When not in school, Amaryah enjoys working in a vegan bakery and cafe, getting over her fear of water by learning to swim, and beginning drum lessons.