Eugene Weekly reported (6-4) that those who took part in looting over the weekend here were mostly white. That’s good information, but it’s not enough. Though race matters, it doesn’t give us the whole picture of someone’s motivations or the material conditions from which said motives stem.
As someone who’s lived on the bottom rungs of American society for his entire life, I can’t help but ask: How many of those people are also struggling to pay rent or put food on the table? How long has that been the case? Have their communities tried to help, or have they been left to suffer in silence whilst polite society ignores them?
Instituting curfews and increasing police patrols is like giving morphine to a person with a broken arm: It treats the most apparent symptom, but we cannot just walk away without treating the real problem. By treating rioting as a problem of criminality, rather than a problem of society, we are giving up the opportunity to diagnose the problems at the heart of our community.
The late Martin Luther King Jr. said that riots are the language of the unheard. We can levy curfews and fortify our workplaces all we want, but until we fix the broken bones at the core of our society, the conditions that lead to rioting will remain untreated. I want the rioting and looting to stop just as much as anybody else, and that’s why I hope we change our response.