Project 21, a group of black conservatives, issued a statement condemning the violence committed in the name of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis. Former police officer Derek Chauvin, in the process of arresting Floyd, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck to the point where he lost consciousness.
Chauvin has been charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder.
“Expressing grievances to our elected officials in the form of protest is a time-honored tradition” co-chair Stacy Washington wrote. “But what we are watching unfold across the country is a coordinated effort to destroy the rule of law and order in our communities and to gin up racial tension. In video after video, we see masked white protesters dressed all in black destroying property in black neighborhoods. And it’s blacks who are trying to stop the Antifa protesters from defacing small businesses. President Trump has rightly suggested declaring Antifa a terrorist group. What we need is for everyone to take a step back. The officers who killed George Floyd will be tried and judged by a jury of their peers. That is the system of justice that we have and cherish here in America. I’m praying for peace.”
Project 21 began in the aftermath of another riot. In 1992, after the world saw video footage of the LAPD beating Rodney King, riots broke out in Los Angeles. Rioters committed violence and destroyed property.
The common refrain of rational people is they understand the anger and frustration about what happened to Floyd but not the violence. Hurting people and destroying property are not solutions to what some see as police brutality targeted at blacks. These actions feed into racial stereotypes and undermine efforts to fix the real problems.
Project 21 member Derryck Green reminded us of what Dr. Martin Luther King said about riots. They are “socially destructive and self-defeating.” Rioting undermines the moral authority associated with, in fact, needed, to pursue justice.
“The opportunistic practice of destroying private property has nothing to do with justice,” Green wrote. “People should stop rationalizing and excusing criminal activity.”