Police Abuse

End the Violence in Baltimore: Rioting and Looting Never Justified

Violence gives cops the justification they need

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Baltimore
CNN screenshot

Violence has engulfed Baltimore, Maryland, in the wake of the funeral for Freddie Gray, a black 25-year-old who died while in police custody last week. It's a confusing scene, but CNN is reporting that high school students started throwing rocks at police. Later, a CVS was looted by protesters, and someone lobbed a Molotov cocktail at a police car. It erupted in flames.

Several police officers have already been injured in the attacks, and arrests are being made.

This kind of violence is always wrong, even when it arises out of legitimate concerns about police brutality. That the criminal justice system is barbaric and in desperate need of reform is not an excuse to set cars on fire, or rob convenience stores, or throw rocks at anyone: cop, civilian, or bystander. Violence is violence, and it's wrong. That's a foundational principle of libertarianism, for one thing.

For another, looting and rioting do not inspire support for police reform. Rather, such violence provides law enforcement and its supporters the exact justification they need to escalate their efforts.

As Rev. Jamal Bryant said on CNN earlier today, "Breaking glass and windows is not reflective of justice."

(Someone tell Matt Bruenig that.)

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NEXT: Watch: Cops and Locals Clash in Baltimore

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  1. I really hate that these idiots are making me reflexively side with the pigs.

    1. Why would you do that? There’s no good guy(s) here. Except people who wanted to protest without violence and had that taken over by assholes.

      1. I mean in a sub-rational way. The hooting part of my brain.

        1. Hoot for me, you musclebound baboon!

          1. *takes off shirt*

            HOOT! HOOT!…HOOT?

    2. The crime that precipitated these events…..now largely forgotten due to the rioting.

      Sound strategy spontaneous urban shoppers.

    3. Well, at least Warty is admitting that, deep down, he is an oinker who would pay to detail dunphy’s Dodge Dart.

      1. That’s not how I understood what he said.

        I know I get exasperated when the protesters start looting businesses, that tends to elicit sympathy for the police.

        1. Gene, yes, you are right. If you were not new (I do not recognize your handle) I would have asked about your sarcometer.

          At any rate, Warty thinks I need more allopathy and less Rothbard.

        2. Ask Mikey here about vaccines. You’re not dealing with a man who can think complex thoughts here.

          1. Warty may be right about my inability to think complex thoughts, but I do know that Jenny McCarthy plus her tits equals an aroused Woodrow for Warty.

  2. Let’s us not forget that 1967 Detroit riot started out as a protest of police behavior and the ensuing riot was a key factor in the city being turned into a shithole.

    And the IRA, beloved by Reasonoids, did claim to be responding to police and army brutality. And that the Northern Ireland troubles were caused in part by discontent with the RUC.

    1. This is your third post mentioning Detroit and Northern Ireland.

      The Detroiters probably had the same reasons for rioting.

      I’ve seen more digs at Peter King and the Kennedys – who supported the IRA – by commentators than I’ve seen beloving. Fuck the Pope and the Queen , I sez.

      1. I’ve seen more digs at Peter King and the Kennedys – who supported the IRA – by commentators than I’ve seen beloving.

        Dang, do I need a sarcasm tag?

    2. Detroit became a shithole because of pubsec unions looting the city treasury. Those riots preceded it by 25 years.

      1. Not to mention the Big 3s inability to stay relevant during the oil crisis, their inability to stay relevant after NAFTA and their refusal to reel in union payrolls when the manufacturing costs in non-Union plants around the country forced manufacturers to wither move or fail.

    3. “Let’s us not forget that 1967 Detroit riot started out as a protest of police behavior and the ensuing riot was a key factor in the city being turned into a shithole.”

      Ditto: Newark, New Jersey

    4. “Let’s us not forget that 1967 Detroit riot started out as a protest of police behavior and the ensuing riot was a key factor in the city being turned into a shithole.”

      Are you saying Baltimore is at risk of becoming a shithole?

      1. Well an even bigger one…

        1. Finally turning the ruins into ash seems like the most expedient thing to do at this point.

          1. And sowing the ground with salt?

  3. What did Michelle Obama wear at the WHCD?

  4. This kind of violence is always wrong, even when it arises out of legitimate concerns about police brutality.

    It’s not clear it’s arising out of said concerns, or is simply opportunism.

    1. ^this…

  5. These protestors should protest like they are a Techno Viking.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpZBOH6cLQY

    No violence. No looting.

    Nothing but winning for everyone.

    1. Still an unknown mystery man.

  6. The trouble is, things like this don’t happen as an outgrowth of protests, but because of the relaxation of policing due to the protests.

    The truth is, stuff like this can happen at the drop of a hat any time there is no police presence. I hate it, but police are a very necessary evil.

    1. things like this don’t happen as an outgrowth of protests, but because of the relaxation of policing due to the protests.

      Since there’s been no relaxing of policing you’re obviously wrong.

      The truth is, stuff like this can happen at the drop of a hat any time there is no police presence.

      Keep me out of your delusional fever-dreams please.

      1. Actually the Mayor herself admitted that she ordered police to leave areas open to be destroyed. Unless she’s walked that back now, I’d say that’s textbook “relaxing of policing.”

    2. The truth is, stuff like this can happen at the drop of a hat any time there is no police presence. I hate it, but police are a very necessary evil.

      Yeah, when you disarm the populace and direct the police to harass law-abiding citizens. Police are a “necessary evil” in progtopia. If the police actually didn’t have any presence, then the looters and rioters would be dead on the streets.

  7. Being a Minister of Defence doesn’t pay anymore.

    Is he still worried about Thatcher having his guts for garters and that Chris Walken can’t be bad?

  8. Matt Breunig and his wife are really horrible people. ESB also babbled about how anyone complaining about the damage caused by the Ferguson riots doesn’t care about dead black people.

    It never occurs to these people how a riot harms those living in the neighborhood oftentimes for decades. The ’67 riots basically ruined Detroit and there are parts of LA that are still destitute from 1992. But the Breunig’s are in their little lily-white gated communities, so who gives a shit if some coloreds have their stores burned down?

    1. I think Detroit would be ruined anyways but the riots certainly accelerated the course of events.

      1. ” ESB also babbled about how anyone complaining about the damage caused by the Ferguson riots doesn’t care about dead black people.”

        Because you either support one group of wrongdoers (abusive cops) or another group (rioters/looters).

        Choose sides, people! Are you going to get hung up on mere property crimes while black youths are getting murdered?!?!?!?!?

        /sarc

  9. As Rev. Jamal Bryant said on CNN earlier today, “Breaking glass and windows is not reflective of justice.”

    That’s very clever, Jamal.

  10. Violence is violence, and it’s wrong.
    .
    Good thing King George listened to reason when Thomas Jefferson sent him that letter or else we might have had some violence here in 1776.
    .
    Sometimes violence is necessary, but you need lots of it and you need it pointed in the right direction.

    1. Maybe we could have a set of rules for when it’s OK to start a rebellion – and what kind of actions are appropriate in the course of that rebellion.

      Maybe require a just cause, exhaustion of peaceful remedies, a decent chance of success, proportionality and protection of civilians.

      Too bad nobody’s thought of these issues before.

      1. Hell, they might just start with not electing fuckheads like Rawlings-Blake. It amazes me how little accountability people wish to hold their own government to.

        1. Voting the bums out is certainly on my list of peaceful remedies which need to be exhausted before we even consider an armed revolt.

          There’s also the “chance of success” part.

          1. Of course, city elections are some of the most corrupt known to mankind. Yet any time somebody proposes something to try to clean up the process, they’re called racist. Apparently city dwellers should live in fear of rioters and be taxed into squalor just because they’re black, or something.

    2. Damn it, I didn’t read the comments before I made mine. Here I thought I was being clever but you beat me to the punch.

    3. Tell us more about how Reagan sending the navy keep the Falklands in the hands of a CIA-backed right-wing Argentine military junta that was disappearing people would have lead to Latin American leftists loving America.

      1. The Falklands are ruled by Britain and have been for quite some time. That is unless they’ve given back control since that little war in which they defeated the Argentinians.

        I may be confused here.

        1. I’m referring to a comment Jerryskids made a while back about how Reagan should have sent the Navy to keep the British from retaking the Falklands since Latin America would have liked the US more for doing it. Besides being interventionist as fuck I found it particularly idiotic since US support for regimes such as the Argentine military junta is the big reason that the US is unpopular in Latin America in the first place.

    4. First rule of rebellion is you have to win. Otherwise, you’re guilty of treason whether that be true or not.

  11. I disagree with the premise that violence is horrible and always wrong. I’m of course open to debate on this but to me, it is the intent of the violence and the reason of why you are being violent.

    There are perfectly justifiable reasons to be violent in life. Violence and the threat of violence has freed more people than sitting and calmly debating something.

    The threat of armed violence is what is technically supposed to hold the powers that be from abusing their designated powers. I’m obviously talking about an extreme situation here where no branch of gov’t is heeding anything and they are completely running amok.

    1. Of course this is a double edge sword as violence has been used to oppress untold millions, if not billions, of people. As I stated, your reasons for violence are big clues as to your intent.

      1. Hence, the non-aggression principle. You can be violent only in response to violence. Never initiate force, but don’t hesitate to defend yourself from it.

        1. I can’t say that I’m totally against the rioters. I think it’s fucking stupid to go burn some store down as the owner has nothing to do with the police fucking with you.

          Burning the cop’s stuff though, kind of makes sense. It’ll get their attention one way or the other. Probably the worse other.

          1. Burning anything that belongs to the department is meaningless. They will just get a grant from the state or the feds to replace it. All it does is further soak whoever is dumb or unlucky enough to remain a property owner/taxpayer in Baltimore.

            If they were targeting the cops who killed Freddie Gray, on the other hand, they might actually accomplish something. As it stands, they are just turning Baltimore into Detroit on the Patapsco. And the mayor seems thrilled by that idea.

            1. You’re probably right. It will be all for not. The end result will probably just be more laws and more gov’t control.

              For the children.

            2. If the death penalty is unreliable, even after a trial where the defendant gets to put his case, how much less reliable is vigilante murder, where guilt is simply decided in the murderer’s mind without, I’m guessing, giving much consideration to the “defendant’s” possible defenses.

              1. If the death penalty is unreliable, even after a trial where the defendant gets to put his case, how much less reliable is vigilante murder, where guilt is simply decided in the murderer’s mind without, I’m guessing, giving much consideration to the “defendant’s” possible defenses.

                I have previously said, and generally believe, that justice is the absence of injustice. An injustice can never be righted, certainly not by another injustice. But sometimes a lesser injustice can prevent a greater injustice. As far as it goes, the rioters are doing harm to people who had nothing to do with Gray’s death. That is just a lot of injustice without anything to show for it.

                1. Lest it be unclear, I completely and unequivocally condemn the murder of any individual, including the cops involved with Gray’s death. I am not advocating for the suffering of any individual, I am just making a point about the misdirection of anger and rage. Of course, I don’t think the riots are really about that. Looters gonna get their loot on.

  12. It seems like “Violence is violence, and it’s wrong” is not only *not* “a foundational principle of libertarianism, but it’s closer to the opposite of foundational principles of libertarianism, because it doesn’t distinguish between the initiation of violence and retaliatory violence.

    Surely it’s conceivable that riots and looting in the face of decades of systematic, structural racism and police violence could be considered retaliatory, right? And even if you argue that such violence is misdirected (i.e., at property owners instead of police per se), it could further be argued that such property owners enable the police (who, in fact [on libertarianism, anyway] exist to protect those property owners).

    You might not buy that reasoning, but it begs the question to simply wave your hands and assume that by definition looting is violence that libertarianism doesn’t tolerate.

    1. When I visited Baltimore I wanted to see the H. L. Mencken house but I got the message that that would be a bad idea, given the neighborhood it was in.

      Though there seems to be a campaign to revive it to attract the tourists.

      (remember them? Baltimore used to have them)

      http://www.menckenhouse.org/wordpress/

    2. it could further be argued that such property owners enable the police (who, in fact [on libertarianism, anyway] exist to protect those property owners)

      WTF? We have this thing called “universal suffrage” which means everybody, not just property owners, gets to vote. What exactly are property owners doing that is particularly enabling the police? Except being stolen from to fund them?

      So really what you’re saying is that property owners deserve to get double fucked, first by the government, then by the rioters and looters. My, is it any wonder that riots like these never solve the problems that they are allegedly started in response to?

  13. Someone tell Bastiat and Hazlitt.

    Police murder and vandalism is also never justified, but it also seems never prosecuted.

    If the blue people get away with murder, how long should the people wait for – I don’t know what, a deus ex machina – to come along and dispense justice?

    Or should the Continental Congress have apologized to King George?

    War is lawless. If the Cops are actually soldiers of an occupying army, the “civilians” are the rebels and the resistance.

    You can call for the rule of law, but if the police, prosecutors, and judges laugh in your face, then what?

  14. What could Bastiat and Hazlitt possibly have to do with the question of whether looting is justified under libertarian principles?

    1. My mistake! Thought this was a reply to my comment. Sorry!

  15. Meh. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

    Now what is oil the going to be?…that’s the question. In Baltimore, it’s going to be sensitivity training or some superficial boost in municipal entitlements of some sort. The source of the problem is already forgotten and will not be addressed at all. But then again, a peaceful protest wouldn’t have had any effect either. Not without white suburbia realizing the police are completely out of hand themselves and joining in. I think the media does a fairly good job of divide and conquer the second they run headlines like “cop kills black man”. Instant polarization on all sides.

  16. “A riot is an ugly thing and it’s about time we had one!”

  17. I’m going to have to disagree with you on one point. The events taking place in Baltimore are indeed wrong, I’m with you there. Looting is wrong, none of those store owners did anything to anyone there, nor did they have anything to do with the death of Freddie Gray. The disorganized violence is wrong as well; but mostly because it is disorganized. Let’s not forget that the reason we even exist as a country is because some brave citizens decided that violence was the only answer to oppression. In order to win their freedom, and ours, they agreed to pay with their blood. This ongoing chaotic response to police brutality won’t make a difference. In fact, as you correctly pointed out, it may have the opposite effect. However, it is becoming steadily more apparent that police are no longer in the business of serving and protecting the people (their employers) and have instead decided to become violent stormtroopers who have more in common with the Gestapo than with the helpful protectors we once knew. They no longer serve the people, they serve the state; they have become the sword of our oppressors. At some point, the true government of this nation may need to reclaim their rightful position.

  18. And while we can hope and pray that bloodshed won’t be necessary, history tells us that it usually is. Those who we’ve elected as representatives have gone rogue and have amassed stockpiles of powerful weapons which we have seen time and again, they have no problem with using against us. The likelihood of such a struggle ending without bloodshed is virtually nil. This land was birthed in blood and when we finally reclaim our birthright, our hands will no doubt be stained with it; as were the hands of our forefathers. For a time, these cowardly pigs may spill our blood, but when we finally rise against them, the streets will flow with theirs. And once again, as occurred at our inception, the echos of our defiance will reverberate throughout the entire world.

  19. This is the reply that I posted on the NYT to a comment by a racist named ‘Chris’ who had suggested that the ‘black community’ was using the “outrage of violence”, that was “outraging him watching on TV” — and that instead they should just “speak-out strongly”.

    “Yes, Chris, as you say this could have been addressed non-violently and more effectively by “the black community speaking loudly enough” to simply and strongly demand that the dominant and ruling community of our country “Stop acting like an Empire that treats us like ‘subjects'”.

    That peaceful but strong and true message would have resonated with the whole “black community”, and likely with the “poor white community”, and the “unemployed community”, and the “working poor community”, and the “debtor community”, and the “community looted by Wall Street banksters”, and quite probably the “struggling middle class community”, and maybe even the “lower 90% community” in this “two Americas community” being screwed under this Disguised Global Capitalist Empire only ‘posing’ as our formerly democratic country.

    Yes, Chris, strong, true, and non-violent “speaking loudly” by the people, if not by the media/propaganda-sector of this Empire, could be very corrective in America as it was for our forefathers in early America when a more visible Empire was also oppressing many in the “community of colonial ‘subjects’ of the British Empire”

  20. What if we flip the argument. When the government decides to preempt our freedom in the face of perceived dangers, including the construction of ‘necessary checkpoints,’skirting legal requirements which necessitate the need for warrants and the arrest of individuals without legal merit isn’t the government acting as a terrorist and in a criminal manner? How is it now that the protesting community have now become branded as thugs and criminals by the media and the oligarchy they represent?

    http://scallywagandvagabond.co…..criminals/

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