Primarily For Minorities
Many of the anarchists and radical activists engaging in rioting and looting across the country are, ostensibly, doing so to protest police brutality and racism. But the long-term economic consequences of this destruction will only further the racial inequity rioters detest.
The rioting and looting have drowned out the underlying tragedy that prompted it — the tragic death of an innocent black man, George Floyd, at the hands of reckless police officers. There is no excuse for the cop who killed Floyd. But also consequential is the economic damage and the property destruction from the violent unrest that has almost certainly disproportionately hurt minorities and minority-owned businesses.
Consider the sad example of Korboi Balla, an African American firefighter who used his life savings to open a sports bar. His plans to open on Monday were sabotaged when rioters and looters burned his bar to the ground.
His wife’s heartbreaking Facebook post explained that they do not have insurance and were facing financial ruin because of the destruction:
Luckily, since the Ballas’ story has gone viral, a GoFundMe page has fundraised over $1 million to help them. But the hundreds of other minority business owners whose dreams have been burned to the ground likely won’t have such resources.
The rioters and looters who are involved in this chaos are racially diverse, but in some areas, the neighborhoods targeted for destruction are clearly minority communities. The Star Tribune reports that the riots in Minneapolis have “[left] Minnesota communities of color devastated” and explains that “the spasm of violence following the death of George Floyd in police custody has destroyed numerous other immigrant- and black-owned businesses.”
In such a rapidly changing and unfolding situation, it’s impossible to calculate exactly what proportion of destroyed businesses are minority-owned. However, we do know that these riots are occurring in heavily urban areas, which are disproportionately populated with minorities compared to the rest of the country. Accounts such as the Star Tribune’s reporting clearly show specific areas where the destruction has harmed minorities the most.
It’s reasonable to conclude that the long-term economic costs of this vandalism, rioting, and looting will disproportionately burden minorities — the group this radical activism ostensibly purports to support.
This isn’t just speculation. It’s exactly what has happened in the past.
A 2005 Vanderbilt University study examined the rioting and unrest that broke out in the late 1960s during the civil rights movement. It finds that much of it occurred in minority neighborhoods, such as the predominantly black Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles.
The study’s authors explain that riots and unrest can have serious economic consequences because the resulting uncertainty and chaos suppress business investment and economic activity. It finds “negative, persistent, and economically significant effects of riots on the value of black-owned housing” to the magnitude of “a 10 percent decline in the total value of black-owned property in cities,” therefore increasing the racial wealth gap.
The long-term harms of rioting are clear and well documented.
“The evidence suggests that violent protests and rioting empower right-wing political forces, provide an opportunity for gangs to enrich themselves and exploit destabilized local populations, impoverish property owners, and harm long-term economic fortunes,” Zaid Jilani wrote in Quillette. “And so it’s worth asking whether the well-intentioned progressives who are doing their best to cast the Minneapolis rioters in righteous terms are truly doing these underprivileged residents any favors.”
As Jilani notes, none of this is to take away from the underlying tragedy and injustice of Floyd’s death. Of course, looting and vandalism would be immoral, even if it was just white business owners facing economic destruction.
But the immense financial burden this chaos is imposing on minorities is undeniable. If rioters truly care about racial equality, they should rethink their tactics immediately.
Author: Brad Polumbo
Source: Washington Examiner: Economic destruction from riots and looting will hit minorities hardest