Ariel Atkins

Ariel Atkins, a Black Lives Matter organizer in Chicago, justified the mass looting of businesses Aug. 10 in the downtown area as "reparations." She has called the idea of criminality "racist." No Black Lives Matter leaders have denounced her.

Following the death of George Floyd May 25 at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officers, many Americans wanted to do something about racism in our society. It looked like some good might come from Floyd’s death.

Those efforts are now in tatters. The blame can be laid squarely on the Black Lives Matter organization. Far from acting to create social justice, they have proven to be filled with a self-righteous version of the “them and us” mentality that says whatever they do is okay because they are owed something.

Early on Aug. 10, large mobs of looters struck businesses in downtown Chicago. This was apparently in response to the Chicago Police Department’s non-fatal shooting a young black man the night before.

They even tried to break down the door of a Ronald McDonald House.

A Chicago BLM leader, Ariel Atkins (not to be confused with the WNBA player), defended the looting as “reparations.”

Here’s what she said at a rally, according to the New York Post:

“I don’t care if somebody decides to loot a Gucci’s or a Macy’s or a Nike because that makes sure that that person eats. That makes sure that that person has clothes. That’s a reparation. Anything they want to take, take it because these businesses have insurance. They’re getting their money back.”

When the Rev. Jesse Jackson denounced the looters, Atkins told him to keep his opinions to himself. Jackson has been on the front line of the fight for civil rights for more than 50 years.

In another interview, she dismissed the idea of criminality as “white supremacist B.S.”

I hoped other BLM leaders around the nation would denounce the looting and Atkins’ comments. I heard nothing.

The weekend of Aug. 15 in Seattle, a crowd of protesters gathered outside the home of a white family in central Seattle. They shouted at them to get out of their home and give it to black people. They told the family they had stolen that land, and they didn’t belong there.

The same weekend, also in Seattle, BLM activists intimidated and threatened a white business owner because he called the police over a broken window on his store. He was called a racist and told to stop using his white privilege. He was also told his business didn’t belong there, and he should get out.

Again, I waited for BLM activists to denounce this. Again, I heard silence.

Some history:

On May 31 and June 1 of 1921, white mobs burned down the nearly all-black Greenwood section of Tulsa, Okla. The area was known as the “Black Wall Street.” They burned businesses, churches, schools and homes. The official death toll was 36, but some estimates place it as high as 300.

In 1925, a black physician, Dr. Ossian Sweet, attempted to move his family into a home in a previously all-white neighborhood in Detroit (the previous owner was a light-skinned black man passing as white). A white mob gathered outside his home and became threatening. Someone inside Sweet’s home fired gunshots. That was when the Detroit Police moved in.

Sweet and members of his family were charged with attempted murder. He was defended by none other than Clarence Darrow, who argued at trial that Sweet had the right to defend himself and his home against a threatening mob. The trial ended in a hung jury. Prosecutors didn’t bring any further charges against Sweet or his family.

What happened in Tulsa was wrong. What happened to Dr. Sweet in Detroit was wrong. What happened recently in Chicago and Seattle were wrong. One wrong doesn’t justify another wrong.

Atkins is right that many of those businesses that were looted had insurance. Those insurance rates will go sky high now. Businesses will look at their bottom line, and they will conclude doing business in a black neighborhood is too expensive. They may close their doors for good, and take their jobs and services with them.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson put a lot of time and effort into building bridges between the black and business communities following his retirement from the NBA. He tried to persuade corporations that the black community was a good place to invest and do business.

BLM seems to be trying to throw all that effort out the window.

The notion of defunding the police is based on the socialist myth that there’s plenty to go around, but some nasty rich people are hogging it all. BLM’s idea is the police are taking all the money that could be used for education, housing and other social welfare programs. The trouble is there isn’t enough money in municipal budgets to do what BLM wants, even if the police were abolished all together.

Many black Americans are buying guns because they fear what will happen in their neighborhoods when the police are defunded.

Some people are catching on. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has denounced the looting as criminal. She has beefed up the city’s police presence despite calls to defund them. Residents of a black Chicago neighborhood, Englewood, told BLM demonstrators to get lost because they cause nothing but trouble, and the police took it out on the residents.

There’s still time. Americans of all races can come together and still create a more just union. However, we can’t do it in a climate of fear, malice, envy, distrust or hatred. Black lives matter, but the actions of the BLM organization are making things worse.


(1) comment

D. E. Kern

Well said, John G. This is, perhaps, the best column I have read from you.

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