By Chris Crass
Rioting throughout history, by oppressed peoples against injustice, has been one of the most effective ways to make positive changes in society. Regularly rioting takes places after all avenues have proved ineffective.
I would say that support or indifference to social policies and practices that routinely result in premature death for entire groups of people (due to state violence, poverty, substandard basic human rights such as housing and healthcare), that such support and indifference is pathologically anti-humanity. Rioting for bread, for justice, for an end to unchecked state sanctioned murder of Black youth, is often done at great risk, often provoked or started by police, and is often the result of courage to no longer be ignored in the face of socially sanctioned annihilation. From the Warsaw ghetto uprising, to the Soweto uprising, to the Watts riots, to the Rodney King riots, to Ferguson.
I believe in non-violent direct action and grassroots community organizing, but there is also a place for people’s uprisings against injustice, in unbearable conditions, like what we are seeing in Ferguson.
For all who denounce rioting and those engaged in it, the most important question isn’t “what is your opinion on this response to injustice?” but rather “what will you do to end the injustice?”, followed by “what is your responsibility to the communities suffering these injustices?”