Angela West: Am I “acting white” by asking why black people are looting their own neighborhood?

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Would I be “acting white” if I asked why in God’s name are black people looting and destroying their own neighborhood in St. Louis? Would I be a sell-out if I asked why stealing all the tennis shoes from a sporting goods store would make a point for justice for a young man who was killed allegedly by a cop?

Would I be an “Uncle Tom” if I asked why burning a gas station, breaking into at least one convenience store, including a check-cashing store, a boutique, a small grocery store, a sporting goods store, a cellphone retailer, a tire store and a Wal-Mart would make things better? Would I be behaving stupidly when I told you that between 20 to 25 Walmart employees took shelter inside their store Sunday night as rioting and looting ran rampant in the area around them?

Would it be wrong to ask why people carted away goods from several of the stores, even as police moved in? These are stores located ] in this area — often at their own peril. These proprietors — small business owners — often live in the area or darn near close to it. Neighbors stealing from neighbors…shamelessly destroying their neighbor’s property as though they were released from bondage in order to pillage and plunder.

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Police were having a difficult time catching the looters because crimes were happening at several locations. And it all started with a peaceful protest.

Thirty-two people were arrested, two officers had minor injuries — one injured a knee, another was struck with a brick — one officer was shot at, but not struck, nearly a dozen patrol cars were damaged, and someone in the crowd fired shots at a police helicopter but did not hit it, according to St. Louis County Police. WHY?

According to First Coast News, “earlier Sunday, Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County Police Department said the incident started when a Ferguson officer encountered two men, one who was Michael Brown, on the street near an apartment complex. One pushed the officer him into his police vehicle.”

“The men had a struggle inside the car, Belmar said, and at some point the man — it was unclear whether it was Brown — reached for the officer’s weapon. One shot was fired inside the vehicle. The fight moved outside the squad car and Brown suffered fatal gunshot wounds about 35 feet from the vehicle, Belmar said. The second person has not been arrested, and police are not sure whether he was armed. Brown was not armed.”

The race of the officer involved in the shooting has not been disclosed. He has been placed on paid administrative leave. It will solve NOTHING TO TEAR DOWN YOUR OWN HOME. But for those who consider themselves to be victims of “Da Man” anything calls for a riot. Any reason suffices to tear down the walls of society and decency. And this is not just limited to the young — from the videos and pictures of the event, grandma, grandpa, mama and daddy were making off with whatever they could get their hands on.

Where did this happen? As Aisha Sultan writes for St. Louis Today, Ferguson, Missouri, a community of 21,000, is an inner-ring suburb, a place where it’s easy for the economic recovery to bypass the poor. It’s a city of 6 square miles, about 10 miles north of downtown. About two-thirds of the residents are African-American. The median income is $37,000, roughly $10,000 less than the state average. Nearly a quarter of residents live below the poverty level, compared with 15 percent statewide. But now it seems that some of these businesses are not looking at reopening in Ferguson — was that the intent of the riots? It is certainly the unintended consequence — or maybe intended — regardless, it is difficult to gain and maintain the “moral high ground” when the shooting of Michael Brown is lost in the visual scenes of the rioting and looting.

It’s part of north St. Louis County, where whites left en masse beginning over the past few decades. In the ’60s, they began rapidly leaving north city, creating one of the most extreme cases of “white flight” in the country. But many who remained in power are still white, including much of the law enforcement. A local lawyer said whenever she goes into courthouses in North County, all the defendants are always black.

It’s not surprising that the black community should be angry and tormented by the tragic death of one of its own. But am I “acting white” if I ask why we destroy our own communities in protest?

This is not the first time.

1980: Miami Riot 1980 – following the acquittal of four Miami-Dade Police officers in the death of Arthur McDuffie. McDuffie, an African-American, died from injuries sustained at the hands of four white officers trying to arrest him after a high-speed chase.

1991: Crown Heights Riot – May – between African Americans and the area’s large Hasidic Jewish community, over the accidental killing of a Guyanese immigrant child by an Orthodox Jewish motorist. In its wake, several Jews were seriously injured; one Orthodox Jewish man, Yankel Rosenbaum, was killed; and a non-Jewish man, allegedly mistaken by rioters for a Jew, was killed by a group of African-American men.

1991: Overtown, Miami – In the heavily black section against Cuban Americans, like earlier riots there in 1982 and 1984.

1992: Los Angeles riots – April 29 to May 5 – a series of riots, lootings, arsons and civil disturbance that occurred in Los Angeles County, California in 1992, following the acquittal of police officers on trial regarding the assault of Rodney King.

1992: Harlem, Manhattan in New York City – July – involved Blacks and Puerto Ricans against the New York Police Department, around the time of the 1992 Democratic National Convention being held there.

1995: St. Petersburg, Florida riot of 1996, caused by protests against racial profiling and police brutality.

2001: Cincinnati Riots – April – in the African-American section of Over-the-Rhine.

2009: Oakland CA, Oscar Grant Murder Riots

So far the race industry leaders Sharpton and Jackson haven’t appeared on the scene, but send some more news crews and sweeten the money pot a little and who knows where they might pop up, because soon we might hear about whose son the unfortunate young man Michael Brown might look like… if he had a son.

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