Kenneth Patricio sees #Ferguson as a microcosm of the struggles of a larger world.
So in the days leading up to the grand jury decision, and in the past 24 hours, it has occurred to me how #Ferguson is a microcosm of other world struggles—-a struggle that we are all a part of.
The dozen or so of those actually burning down the community, breaking windows and leading the looting are the lowest of the low, the extremists few—the terrorists in ISIS, Al-Qaida, Hamas, genocidal militias in Asia and Africa. Doing what they do by perverting and ignoring the principles they claim to live for, and truly not a part of the community they live within, but intensely selfish.
It is important to note even those groups noted above are broad umbrellas that contain many factions and individuals that alone would not be considered terrorists or even extremists. Many looters are not actively breaking windows, but just taking advantage of the situation that others are gaining by as well. Opportunities to improve their lot do not come up often, so they might as well help themselves too.
The hundreds of rioters are the fringe of the protest—the purely local militant groups in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Ukraine. They are tired of being oppressed, waiting for change, and seeing none, acting out. They feel they are fighting to protect their families who are right on the front line. Sometimes ‘necessary, but presently unable / unwilling to listen, forgive and move on.
The police force is the US government and military. Mostly trying to do good, but often short-sighted, with over simplified beliefs, too quick to action, and blithely ignorant of collateral damage from institutionalized oppression that undermines its message. There are certainly individuals in those groups who are actual bad seeds, with ignorant, superior and/or racist views; people who abuse their power and support the incorrect notion that they are representative of their group as a whole.
The thousands of protesters in Ferguson and elsewhere are those who are trying to participate—the majority of those in areas of conflict. Trying to get the world at large to listen to them, understand their pleas, and just live their lives in peace.
We are all players in both of these conflicts. I am a hetersexual male, born into a stable middle-class family, and have benefitted from an excellent education. When I or any of my similarly-privileged friends pass along that ‘funny’ comment or meme, it really only adds to the problem. It reinforces a “not us, not my problem” mentality that makes the divides between the haves and have-nots even deeper.
I never stopped to try and understand why people loot until recently. I had always stopped thinking about it at “that makes no sense” through my own lens and moved on. It does make sense to many, many people though, which means there is a disconnect to try to understand, not dismiss. I would greatly encourage anyone else who has that “why the heck would a person do that?” response to try and answer your own question by opening up yourself, looking for answers and discussing what we can all find out together.
Other reading: In my own research, I came across this article that I think does a great high-level job in starting off that path towards understanding looting: The UK riots: the psychology of looting by Zoe Williams.