There is no social justice in looting

Following this week’s killing of Daunte Wright by a Brooklyn Center police officer, protesters exercised their First Amendment right to “peaceably” assemble.

It must be rather galling for these protesters to be lumped in with rioters, about whom their is little ‘peaceable.’ But, last night, Operation Safety Net, “The official source of public safety information for the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin,” tweeted:

I would argue that if you engaged in these activities – chucking rocks at the police, attempting to blind them with lasers, and trying to storm a police station – you are not protesting but rioting. Yet, in every tweet, protesters, whose First Amendment rights should be defended as stoutly as rights guaranteed by any other amendment, get lumped in with violent hooligans.

Neither should the protesters be lumped in with the looters, who seized upon Daunte Wright’s death to help themselves to consumer goods. Looting is not “a powerful tool to bring about real, lasting change in society,” it is theft, plain and simple, and often from people who cannot afford it.

Like Moh Habib. His Minneapolis sneaker store was first damaged during the riots last May, where about $150,000 worth of merchandise were stolen. Following a seven-month closure, Mr. Habib’s store, STUDIIYO23, reopened two weeks ago. This week he was called on to protect his business – “my sole source of income for me and my two little kids” – once again when looters struck. This time, Mr. Habib along with armed friends and employees were able to protect the store.

Last May, it was immigrant and minority business owners who bore the brunt of the looters attentions. So it is again. The looters shouldn’t be dignified with the description of ‘protester’.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.