Tuesday, August 12, 2014


A Man in Ferguson Defends the Looting

You ain't got to kill him. He ain't got no gun in his hands. Why'd you kill him? You say Trayvon had a hoodie on, you ain't know what's going on with him. Well, he ain't got no hoodie on and his hands was up when you shot him. So what's your excuse?

Put this on an intro to the next Kanye album. I don't know why (out of the approximately one million reasons, in particular) I'm so inflamed by all this Ferguson stuff. I remember one night two summers ago when I was staying around St. Louis thinking about accepting a grad school offer at Wash U. Around three in the morning a car full of my friends saw a black girl get pulled into another car, assaulted violently by multiple men, and then shoved out at an intersection once the men saw they were being watched. My friends held the girl and called the police for her and the police refused to come. It was a bad neighborhood, the police said; they didn't cover it. They took the girl back to her house and the police still wouldn't come because it was still a bad neighborhood and the girl was afraid to talk to them directly on the phone.

The police in Ferguson have still not released the name of the officer who shot Mike Brown. There's video of police blowing tear gas onto residential property and throwing a 6-months-pregnant woman on her stomach onto the ground. In the meantime, Anonymous (who threatened to release information about the Ferguson police chief's daughter and thankfully recanted) has leaked a photo of a Confederate flag in the police chief's home, and the whole town's been declared a no-fly zone, keeping press helicopters conveniently out of the picture.

I mean, I am not defending this position, but I'd be a fucking looter too. [Fox2Now, via]

26 Comments / Post A Comment


Its been declared a no-fly zone because the looters were shooting at helicopters. They destroyed one news van, so news crews are staying away for their own safety. The teargas was released on the second night of looting because there were injuries to innocent bystanders the first night, by the looters. Hundreds of people are claiming to be there, hundreds are lying. They all have a story, and eventually we'll find out what the actual story is. No-one knows right now, so maybe stay in your safe little spot and quit making assumptions.


@StLAmy The point is, "assumptions" are constantly being made in favor of those with institutional power (white police) and against those without it (unarmed black people). I do not understand these commenters incessant need to point out dominant American views as if Jia or other supporters of protesters have not had them forced down their throats for their entire lives.


@StLAmy A dispatcher has been quoted as saying that "It’s just for a no fly zone because we have multiple helicopters maneuvering in the area and we were having some problems with news aircrafts flying around there." Add to that the reports of press being turned away from protest areas. It's not as if journalists don't report from unsafe conditions.

You're right though, everyone does have a story. And I think we're seeing a lot of those stories through social media. And there are still a lot of unanswered questions. However, in the meantime, I will feel 100% comfortable making assumptions about a police force that shot an innocent boy like a fucking animal in the street.

Jia Tolentino

@StLAmy there is not a single assumption in here babe, there's a point of view

Jia Tolentino

@StLAmy but like if you want me to start making assumptions i've got QUITE A FEW

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@pajamaralls PREACH!

Seriously, anyone who immediately tries to put down someone else's opinions/assumptions with opinions/assumptions of their own is doing it wrong. Let's not pretend that Ferguson is all sunshine and rainbows, okay?


"a riot is the language of the unheard"
What's surprising is not that there are riots in Ferguson, it's that there aren't riots in every city in America every day. I'm not a violent person, and I don't generally believe that violence or the destruction of property are useful or productive actions, but damn, if my kids were getting killed in the street on a regular basis, I might tip over a car or two. Because when no one in power seems to give a shit, what the fuck else are you supposed to do?

Lisa A

I so agree wt. StLAmy last part!! I do feel U Folks N Ferguson Who Live and Work There Need 2 Keep Up The Pressure On The Police Department! The Story The Chief Is Floating is an Out Right Lie Aimed At protecting That Cop That Murdered The Young Man and The Chief's Job! And All Civil rights groups need 2 get behind the family and help them. Cops Who dehumanize communities don't look at folks as Human Beings. I saw and heard Cops trying to bait folks into actions that weren't in anybody's well being and then call them Animals! I can see how it all went down, U See 2 Black Young Men n the street laughing, joking around and the white cops roll up on them and start bait5ing them and before you know it,the f words start flying, cop puts his hands on the young Black man and then here come the guns out!!~ in this case, an unarmed young man is killed in broad daylight, with his body left out in the street for all to see. Stay On the Case Ferguson!!!


What the man in the video is describing is to my mind a perfectly logical if genuinely terrifying reality: if the so-called servants of the community, its protectors, instead terrorize and attack the members of that community, what investment are they expected to have in the infrastructure and economic processes of that power structure? I absolutely do not condone or wish to justify any kind of violence, but I can't help thinking the people of Ferguson are reacting fairly accurately to the messages they've been given.

Pariah Carey

@colleenish I think that's what the man was getting at with the "'secret society' type thing, we're gonna eat, you're gonna starve…" at the end. That the reaction is so big because the problems are so big and so institutionalized.


Pariah Carey

Thanks for continuing to cover the story, Jia.

I live in a very segregated city and I'm feeling like this could happen here (police or just a white person in general shooting a young, unarmed black person and facing little to no recourse) because in the past few years, it seems like it's been happening everywhere. The conditions for this kind of violence exist everywhere. And I wonder how everyone I know would react to this situation? Not only the violence, but the abject feeling of hopelessness--that there is no recourse, and like there is so little national attention being paid to the injustice that is impossible to ignore in Ferguson.

And what happens when Ferguson is finally "under control," and yuck, what does that phrase even mean?

Robyn Bianconi@facebook

IT note: I'm not sure if this is a Hairpin or Facebook problem, but I can't share this without it using Nicki Minaj's album cover as a thumbnail, and that's wildly inappropriate.

Jia Tolentino

@Robyn Bianconi@facebook ugh i've been trying to fix this all day, i think i just got it, but sorry :/

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if cops feel free to murder citizens, why not do a little looting? what is the law worth?
reading these stories every morning has me seriously shaken as well, jia. frankly i'm glad that one of these deaths is causing such a stir, but i'm horrified by the thought of more lives lost without consequence. i grew up in a neighborhood where police just DIDN'T CARE TO GO, so i know that's real.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

Does anyone else wish someone would step in at this point? It looks like it's just a conflict between a scary, ego-inflated police force and a scared, angry population. Where the f is anyone who could override the local police on this and maybe figure out what the hell is going on?


@Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that) Well, the StL County PD and the FBI are handling the investigation of Mike Brown's murder, but the militarization of the police force in the area is just making things worse. I grew up in the neighboring town, and plenty of my friends and their families still live in Ferguson. It just seems like nothing can make it better or back to normal, at least not yet. It's like Halloween or New Year's - plenty of people are taking this and twisting it into an opportunity to act like hooligans, when the goal of most people who live and work in the area is fixing the system and getting justice for what happened to Mike Brown.

All my social media feeds are full of firsthand accounts/pictures/video of the happenings in and around Ferguson, but I am so thankful that Jia is keeping this community informed and updated through the Hairpin.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@kellyography Thank you! It's really good to get another perspective on something so polarizing - even the stuff I've seen on social media has been (very justifiably) extreme.


"I mean, I am not defending this position"

I am.

Jia Tolentino

@stuffisthings luh u


Agreeing 100%. I don't like looting. The person whose store you're looting, they didn't cause this problem, and you're destroying their livelihood so you can get free stuff. But. BUT. People don't start looting because their favorite sports team lost a championship, or because they got fired from a job, or because they can't find good healthcare, or they just had a shitty day. People start looting because they put up with being oppressed and marginalized all the damn time, and the rest of the population turns a blind eye. People start looting because they have been invisible their whole lives. People start looting because they have nothing left to lose, and no other way to get their voices heard, no other power left.

I mean, sure, I'm sure if you look long enough you'll find someone who just wants free stuff and doesn't feel like their whole lives they've been smacked down every time they ask for the basic rights we're supposed to be guaranteed. But that's not most people who do this.

The quote used by Blushingflwr above is correct: "a riot is the language of the unheard."


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