Race and Riots

“No justice, no peace!” they shout. Then they break windows.

It makes me furious.

But then I watch the video of the Minneapolis cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, while Floyd repeatedly says, “I can’t breathe,” and three other officers just watch.

Then I see the video of the woman in Central Park calling 911, claiming, “An African-American man is threatening me!” But that was a racist lie.

Christian Cooper just asked her to leash her dog. We’re supposed to leash our dogs in that section of Central Park.

But Amy Cooper didn’t leash her dog. She frantically called 911, claiming she was under threat. She knew that by telling the police “an African American man is threatening me,” she’d probably get a more aggressive response.

The left-wing New Yorker (she donated to Democratic campaigns) was careful to use that pointless, yet politically correct, term for black. Even though she’s a racist.

Watching things like that should help me sympathize with the people rioting last night.

So should my friend Fabian’s experience. When Fabian was 20, he bought his first car, a luxury edition Infiniti J30 Sedan. He’d saved up for it working as an airplane technician, transporting U.S. soldiers to war zones around the world.

Then, while pumping gas back in NYC, police officers approached him, demanding his license and registration.

He produced the documents and showed them that the car was registered in his name. But Fabian is black, and the police would not believe that the car belonged to him. They arrested him and charged him with grand theft auto.

He sat in jail for two days.

Finally, a judge dismissed the case — using the same documentation Fabian had showed the police. They released him — without any apology.

The trauma still haunts him. Fabian says it evokes a sense of helplessness — a fear that “anytime there’s an encounter with law enforcement, getting arrested or even death could be the outcome.”

Yet, as I watch protesters (even two lawyers were arrested) throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers, and I see opportunistic young people looting stores, and my privileged left-wing white friends say things like, “the looting of our society by unrestrained capitalism is worse!” I get even more furious.

This country, and capitalism, has done more good things for disadvantaged people of all races than any society, ever.

Fabian, despite his terrible experience, says that living as a black man in America is a gift. He came here as a teen from Jamaica. America, he says, gave him opportunity he would never have had elsewhere.

Now, he’s a capitalist who owns things. He smiles as he says he sees “a cultural black renaissance: promotion of black education, ownership, and acquiring assets as a top priority.”

America, he says, is the land of opportunity.

Even if some cops are racist bullies.

Yet, so much that is exceptional about America is drowned out by the loudest voices on the extremes.

On one side, we have an “unraveling” president, as George Will puts it, an angry bully “banging his spoon on his highchair…”

On the other side are the leftists who defend the violence and looting, like the masked antifa children who want to destroy capitalism.

On Twitter, I watched video of a group driving around in a Mercedes-Benz, passing out bricks (for protesters to throw). I applaud the young black woman who called them “stupid” and tossed the brick back into their car, yelling: “This white b—— giving a group of black men a brick to throw! You know that s—- could get them killed!”

It could. No one wins in these clashes.

I assume there is less racism in America than there once was, but there’s no way to prove that. Even if there were, Malcolm X wrote, “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress.”

But I think that’s the wrong way to think about it.

George Floyd’s killer was arrested and other cops who abused their power were fired. In the past, police officers were never prosecuted.

For years in America, the percentage of interracial marriage has steadily increased. That suggests progress.

Burning police stations and looting stores won’t speed that progress. It sets us back.

46 thoughts on “Race and Riots

  1. Agree. Great article Mr. Stossel. Unfortunately I feel you may be one of, if not the last true journalists left. Good luck to you and stay safe.

      1. I love how conservatives suddenly like black people just to make a lame point about the wonders of capitalism.

      1. Trump is weak he didn’t want to server his County during Nam someone went in his place of the ones who didn’t server some got wounded and killed

        1. Jerry, I suspect you’re right—-Trump didn’t want to serve his country by going to Vietnam—–but on the other hand, neither did Bill Clinton.

        2. Jerry, do you have any evidence that Trump did NOT have ‘bone spurs’ AND that ‘bone spurs’ was NOT a reason that the military allowed deferments?
          If not, well, you know…STFU.

    1. The reason I follow Stossel is bc he reports with an open mind. If he cant make a critical remark abt Trump without it “losing you” … You are too invested in Trump, not the truth.

  2. Why not an article about good cops doing positive things in the black community? Guess that doesn’t sell. Thought you were different from the rest of the media. My mistake.

  3. Fabian and his fellow black men have a problem (being associated with a group of men who are disproportionately responsible for crime and destruction) that I can’t solve. That some police officers will act on that association is unfortunate, but both the blame and the solution are in the hands of the men committing crimes and, indirectly, the hands of the men who are wrongly accused and might have some influence on the criminals.

    1. Jeffrey, you state that black men have a problem (being associated with black men who commit crime). Yes, that problem has a name; it’s called racism. Then you say that only black men can solve this problem. You say that the ones committing the crime must stop, and that the ones not committing the crime must “influence” the others to stop committing crime. So, do you see yourself responsible for the crime committed by whites? Are you out there “influencing” bad white men to stop committing crime? If you were “wrongly accused” (arrested, handcuffed, jailed), would you say to yourself, “Well that’s on me. I should have done a better job of “influencing” my fellow whites to be law-abiding.” Of course not! Racism associates by skin color, and that is not something any of us can (or should want to) change about ourselves. The blame for racism falls squarely on the head of the person who decides to assume something about another person based on his or her race. The good news is that, contrary to what you said in your first sentence, YOU can help solve it. Refuse to make those associations based on race. And when you see others do it, call it out.

  4. Hello John. I have been a fan for years. So, with the Cooper(s) story. I read the transcript somewhere, wish I would have grabbed the source, (but now it is buried in internet land to hide the truth) I read the transcript of the entire conversation between Mr Cooper and Amy (Cooper) before he started filming. He said to her, “well if you are going to do what you want to do, I am going to do what I want to do and you aren’t going to like it.” I don’t care who you are, if a man any man said that to me alone in a park, I would freak out too. Yes. Ms. Cooper was wrong dead wrong to head straight to the race card as she freaked out with fear, but he was also wrong using aggressive language like that. So, while I was outraged OUTRAGED when I first saw this story, after reading the whole conversation I think they were both wrong. Maybe that is why she said, “words are just words” in her apology. Wondering if you could look into this. Or would it matter? Or is it the right thing to do in the current political climate? Maybe that is what Mr Cooper was trying to do anyway? It is convenient that he began videoing her after he freaked her out with aggressive language.

    1. How do you know what was said before the video started? Is it even considered a transcript if it’s just someone telling you second hand what may have been said?

      1. Amy: Good focus. Folks in the media and on the street don’t seem to get the fact that that cop was hired and trained way before this President was in office. And Liberal cities/states tie the hands of police and some of the officers react badly (Boy no kidding) causing tension on both sides. The mayor of San Francisco said last night that they weren’t going to hire (?marginal, iffy?? lost the exact quote) officers from now on? Why were they hiring less than the best? Perhaps because cops see how the city and leaders/DA treat them. I got more to say but so does everyone.

        1. Kyle, we know it was said because a police file was done where he admitted to saying it. It was two people being pissy with each other. Anne, you can look up Candace Owens. She did commentary on this incident.

    2. Perhaps he meant that if the dog got too close to him, he was going to kick it. That woman had ZERO control over dog. You’re making the same assumptions about him that Amy Cooper did. Sad.

  5. I was wondering where you were John. Yes and No’s. I believe prejudice is taught. It is also spotty in this country.
    I disagree with George Will that the President is banging his spoon. You of all people know this is the State and local officials responsibility . They are trying their best to make it a Federal responsibility! When he steps in they will claim he’s a tyrant. You know reface has nothing to do with the rioting ( Not Demonstrating) and this has Nothing to do with George Floyd! But a lot to do with the election!!! So John WHO is/are the temper tantrum children banging their spoons??? And have been since this President got in!

  6. My son shares the elevator with you when he visits my parents (your neighbors) As the parents of an African American young man who has also experienced negative interactions with the police, I share your views. The older we are the more we see the positive change but the young people who haven’t lived through the change just see it as terrible. Which it is. Unfair and hurtful and although there is great opportunity in this country it is difficult to get past the pain of being seen as a predator when your just nice kid. Love your insight thank you!

    1. Kathy, there may be older people talking to the young “rioters” who do remember how race riots of the 60s and, particularly, the 70s forced change. Considering that highlights the lack of meaningful action from our overly bureaucratic government.

  7. I agree. The looting and violence takes the attention away from the real problem— systemic racism and prejudice, especially within groups of authority or power. But let’s not overlook that looting and rioting are inherently the product of injustices too long unaddressed or redressed. At the dawn of this country, a group of white men donned disguises and stormed through boats not their own to loot and destroy property not their own because no one in power paid attention to their grievances regarding ongoing injustices. Their anger at being ignored turned into rage and that rage was displayed through criminal acts. If we refuse to learn from our history; if we refuse to see how ignoring gross injustices destroys the rule of law then we are going to continue to reap the whirlwind. If you doubt this….just ask King George.

  8. Sounds like you are as conflicted as I am. The only thing missing is my bewilderment that some of the worst rioting and police brutality seems, if the media is in anyway even handed, to occur in the cities that proclaim to be the most progressive and supportive of equality and “social justice.” What does that say?

  9. Hi.You Were Right There Is Not Going To Be Any Winners In This Situation.But The SolutionIs Very Easy.FirstMake Sure To Clean The Police ForceBy Overhauling And Clean Up And A BetterTrainee And Undrstanding That They Are To Protect And Serve The Peole Equally.Need Mr President To Understand To Be Patient And Even Him Just A leader And Not God.And He Is The President To All People And Even Him Is Not Above The Law.We Need EqualityAnd Justice For All
    .

  10. It’s not a police vs. protesters, it’s more complex, and the lack of understanding of that complexity is making it even more complex.
    There are few different “forces” at play here.
    There are people that are angry about racist cops. Then there are people that are angry about police brutality and lack of accountability in general, toward all races.
    Just between those two groups there are people that show their anger in civil manner and some that do it in counter productive way, often with violence. Sometime such violence is the result of long term unsuccessful civil attempts, when people are just fed up and do not know what else could be done.
    On top of that, because the country has a lot of inequality, income disparity and just inadequate social protection, mixed with failed immigration policies, poor education, broken family culture, excessive consumerism, etc. we have a huge class of people that failed to do well, they feel that they can not be successful in the normal life of the society. Such moments of even partial lawlessness is an opportune moments for them. So they go out and take advantage of that while they can.
    Even in a wealthy countries there are some people like that, but they not numerous and thus it’s easy to be dealt with. So, the sheer number of such opportunistic scum that wants to start looting is a wide societal problem.
    Then there is Antifa and similar groups. They are a separate entity here, they are not protesting police brutality or want to defend rights of racial minorities, they want to achieve a civil unrest, they want riots and fall of law and order. It’s not one coherent agenda, some of them just foolishly dream of a socialist revolution, some think that current society is so broken that it’s hard to fix it and it must be destroyed first, some are just confused idiots that had so little real hardship in their short life that are fighting imaginary enemies. And so on. But many of those groups are organized and they inflame violence and actively yet covertly do things that make things a lot worse. For example they deliver stacks of bricks, they attack people, they provoke all sides, they vandalize and start braking things, inspire the hooligans and create an atmosphere of lawlessness.
    Then there are cops, and they are different. Unfortunately some are real thugs, they take advantage of inadequate police policing, they abuse power virtually all the time. Invasive isolation measures gave them feeling that now they can do even more of their control crap that usually.
    And they are mixed with normal police that had to try to maintain law and order.
    In addition militarization of the police created a culture of more aggressive and excessive force to anything that police might not like.
    Corrupt officials and judges often like to have such unruly policemen, they help they to maintain the power and curb the protests.
    This is a complex issue. Let’s not simplify it.

  11. Great article John. Be careful with the Central Park case- the gentleman did issue a veiled threat he suggested he might poison her dog. He admitted this himself and said it was a tactic to get people to leash their dogs. To his credit he has been contrite and called for her to not be threatened. He also didn’t post the video. I think we need to be more cautious calling the woman racist we don’t know her intent we do know she overreacted.

  12. Everyone has access to the net. Now we will see every event that offends someone. We have been conditioned to be offended by everything we see as sensational. and we must pick sides.

    We need to go back to the fundamentals.

    Police officers despite constant warnings killed this man. Until proven otherwise, it is not a white cop murdering a black man, an over-hyped exaggeration of facts.
    Police should stop interacting with citizens in an official manner if there isn’t a victim of crime. No fishing expeditions to find a crime. No broken tail lights to cause a fishing expedition. No probable cause to break into a home and murder the occupant.

    This man appears to have created a crime and police have a duty to interact with him. But killing him, everyone knows is wrong.

    The riots are due to conditioning by the the politicians and the media giving stupid people a reason to be overly offended.

    The riots appear to be driven by groups intent on unrest and enabled by useful idiot politicians, media and celebrities.

    Then we have the opposing views by police. They obey their masters and violate the unalienable right of the citizens or they speak up for the unalienable rights of the citizens and get suspended.

    We need to take back education. The current government education are making the people stupid.

  13. “No one wins in these clashes”
    I think that the president approaches these conflicts from a view of War, to “dominate” them, empowering the police with more military surplus resources, send in the national guard, etc… He can’t win with this approach because ‘no one wins in these clashes’. The rioters too will not ‘win’ by marching, damaging, looting, etc…to them its about drawing attention to the problem, building fervor, accelerating change.

    “George Floyd’s killer was arrested and other cops who abused their power were fired. In the past, police officers were never prosecuted.”
    Yet many still continue to never be prosecuted as they are protected by Qualified Immunity laws (which Pres. candidate Justin Amash at least wants to eliminate), or Police Unions shielding details of incidents, or departments shuffling/trading problematic officers rather than outing them, etc..

    “For years in America, the percentage of interracial marriage has steadily increased. That suggests progress.”
    But that is not the only measure of progress, one far better measure is wealth, which as a capitalist you should well understand. Capitalism can be leveraged to help alleviate a lot poverty/crime but it must be bridled with compassion, otherwise it too becomes predatory and discriminatory.

  14. Good write Mr. Stossel. I thought it was a well balanced article. I am not a fan of Trumps generally speaking but I don’t think he is “unraveling.”
    One person in the comments wrote why not write about cops doing positive things in the black community. Yes, I believe it could have been added because there of course are many good cops. However, it would have diminished in some ways the sense of uneasiness that many black people face when they are confronted in public spaces, not to mention the very recent example in private spaces like with Breonna Taylor. I know for me, I am an avid runner and honestly speaking, if I were black, I would not feel safe in some instances running outside. I think part of it too for black people is that many cops who commit injustices get off the hook easily by getting fired, by being reassigned, or sometimes by nothing even happening. That can be really disheartening because black folks do take notice. I think for them, it leaves them not trusting the ones who are meant to be protecting us because they never know if some cop will abuse their power. That is not to say that there has been some solidarity between cops and protesters this week. I think that could be a possible article for the future that would be positive.
    On a side note, looting is horrendous and solves absolutely nothing. That’s another topic in itself.

  15. Is it true that the policeman who killed George Floyd had seventeen prior complaints? Was he protected by his union? If so, should the union and its political allies be held accountable?

    1. I saw a great post that said legal judgments and payoffs for police brutality and abuse should come out of the police pension account, rather than being paid for by the state. When one cop’s abuse reduces the other cops’ pension payouts, you can bet those other three cops in Minneapolis would have made him get his knee off of George Floyd’s neck.

    2. Not to defend this officer but officer frequentlyget complaints file against them. People they arrest or interact with know they can file a complaint and cause trouble for the officers. I assume all other complaints were investigate, as they should be, and appropriate action taken. If not the upper echelon of that department needs reprimanded. Maybe there is a problem within that department that needs investigation, but what we are living though is not very helpful. How many good people would want that job. Risk your life and are second guessed almost every time. We need good cops. As the saying goes they are ” the thin blue line between chaos and order”. Stay safe all you good guys and girls willing to do that job.

  16. It does seem like there’s a lot of racism. Republicans should be the ones fighting against racism because democracy really only helps majorities. Blacks are a minority. In a few parts of the country they are a majority but those are the places that benefit from being in a republic.
    The solution is probably the more equal playing field and freedom of speech the internet gives us. That’s one problem with capitalism: The artificially created demand for things. The creation of scarcity. Scarcity must be created artificially in times of plenty. No one really cares that red tape that is creating this scarcity. Like most people who don’t understand problems enough they want to completely do away with everything. Throw the baby out with the bathwater and start completely new. It happens over and over again. No one cares about the best solution. They want change maybe just for change sake because change is exciting and because they don’t know how to fix even a little problem. But they haven’t lived through the great depression. They haven’t picked food from the back of a garbage truck. If they had Trump would be everyone’s favorite President. When the Israelites cried out for a King they wanted someone like Trump. Someone who would do away with the chaos create stability and safety and protection. Since we haven’t lived in a country ruled by gangsters and thugs we don’t appreciate someone like Trump. We haven’t lived in a place like Mexico where in one city thousands of women just disappear.

  17. Do the cities have culpability for not sufficiently protecting businesses? I agree with people protesting the death of George Floyd, but the looting also steals peoples jobs that have children to feed and bills to pay. What have they done that they need to be punished

  18. Thank you –
    So few people can see, and appreciate both sides of an issue. You might be the only media member who can.

  19. This is what happens when generations are brought up without a father.

    Blame Lyndon Johnson and his war on poverty where the law that said no welfare if there was an able bodied men in the house.

    Good article John

  20. John says, “This country, and capitalism, has done more good things for disadvantaged people of all races than any society, ever.” It was not free market capitalism that did that. It was the highly taxed and regulated type of capitalism we had between 1933 and 1981.
    I looked at census data Table P-8 Age—People, All Races, By Median Income and Sex: 1947 to 2016. I specifically looked at male ages 35 to 44 years (because I thought that mid- career wages would be a good reference for the wage scale). The table shows that between 1947 and 1973 there was terrific wage growth. In 1947 the median income was $26,751 and in 1973 it was $58,107 (both in 2016 dollars). That was the time when the American middle class became the largest and richest middle class in world history. That happened when taxes were high (top tax rate over 90% in the 50’s), the economy was regulated, and unions were strong. Wages stopped growing in 1973 when Nixon’s wage and price controls were in effect. They have not gone up since then; in fact they have gone down.
    The data are further broken down into race. That shows that black and Hispanic median incomes went up before 1973 but still lagged far behind white incomes. The good news is between the 70’s and 2016, the income gaps have narrowed. The bad news is that happened because white incomes declined more than black or Hispanic incomes. White incomes declined 11.5% between 1973 and 2016.
    Similarly the poverty rate was about 32% in 1947 and declined to 11% in 1973 when Nixon’s wage and price controls put a stop to that decline. Poverty rates have not gone down since then.
    Factory jobs in America went up between 1947 and 1979 and hit an all-time high in 1979. They have gone down since then.
    Ronald Reagan talked about the “welfare queen” who drove her Cadillac to pick up her checks, and the “young buck” buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. He said those things so white people would think, “I don’t want my hard earned tax dollars going to lazy black people! I’m going to vote for Reagan and he’ll cut welfare!” What they got was a new economic system called “Supply Side Economics.”
    They got an economic system that caused white wages to decline faster than the wages of black or Hispanic workers. That is how racism is used against white people too. It gets them to vote against their own best interest. It is a “divide and conquer” strategy to drive a wedge between the races and prevent them from working together for their mutual benefit.
    Real GDP per capita has doubled since 1973. You might wonder, “If the size of the economy has doubled, and wages have stagnated, where did all that money go?” The answer is that it has gone to the rich. Reagan’s tax cuts and deregulation allowed unlimited top incomes, and top incomes have grown so fast there has been no money left over for wage growth. The rich have a strong interest in continuing the present system because they have collectively made trillions of dollars from it. The have the money to donate to political parties, hire lobbyists, create think tanks and institutes, and buy media outlets. They hire public relations companies. The goal is to get people to vote for tax cuts and deregulation, which benefits the rich at the expense of the masses of people that were tricked into voting for it.
    The United States had very low taxes and small government during the Gilded Age, high taxes and big government during the New Deal era from 1933 to 1981, and lower taxes and deregulation since 1981. By far the best period of time for the vast majority of Americans was between 1933 and 1981. Isn’t it better to have growing wages? Isn’t is better for the poverty rate to go down? Isn’t it better to have more factory jobs? Why choose an economic system that has been tested and proven over many decades to be detrimental to most people of all races?

  21. Stossel doesn’t say Trump is a baby pounding a spoon on his high chair. He used an unethical and lacking of integrity commentators quote. I believe Stossel k ows Trump is the closest thing to a Libertarian than anyone else. Smaller govt, less spending, etc are all on Trump’s hit list, he has not had the opportunity though to get these things done, although he has tried.
    One comment I saw in the list was Trump didn’t want to go to Vietnam, not one individual in this time period really wanted to go, but Trump did report for the draft unlike almost every other politician currently in office or running for office from that time period. He was rejected by the Army after his physical. So why dont you peole find some integrity and ethics yourselves.

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