There were (are) riots in Baltimore.
In an press conference on April 28, the Mayor of Baltimore – Stephanie Rawlings-Blake – said,
It’s a very delicate balancing act because while we tried to make sure that [the police] were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. We worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate
Her statement about giving those who wished to destroy “space to do that as well” raised many eyebrows.
In my view, her statement was important – but not for the reason many think. Many were shocked by the notion that a containment strategy might actually include letting people destroy things. That, I actually get.What shocked me was that she admitted it.
Here’s the point: A riot that is sanctioned by the powers isn’t a riot. It is an impotent expression of social outrage, anger, and so on. It may be cathartic, but it will not change anything. It gives the appearance of substantive resistance, but in reality, the powers are just waiting near-by until the people tire of it all. Then they go right back to the way it was before.
What people know, that they don’t want to admit that they know, is that if riots really did start to change things substantially, the people would be crushed.
Put differently, a riot that is allowed to happen by the powers that be is like the violence that police allow inmates to exercise within a padded cell. Beat yourself up. Have at it. When you are good and tired, they will escort you to your regular cell.
Insurrection only happens when the measures used by those subjugated are actually able to challenge the powers that be. You will know it when that happens…