Violence in Resistance


Cities and towns across the country. Protests have broken out telling the police killings of George, Floyd. We honor Taylor Tony mcdade others while many of these protests were peaceful. Others have turned violent with buildings, being destroyed or looted in clashes, breaking out between the police and protesters. In light of these events, we wanted to bring you an episode from our archives to better understand some of the history behind the black lives matter protests why protests sometimes turned violent how governments often respond and what the role of social media is all of this? This episode was originally recorded with Avi Green in two thousand seventeen, and we're bringing it you a bit earlier this week. Our usual schedule given this weekend's offense. Hi I'm Miranda Kelly, and this is the scholars strategy network Snow Jargon. Each week. We discussed in American policy problem with one of the nation's top researchers without jargon. In this archive episode Avi spoke with Professor Ashley Howard She's an assistant professor of African American history at the University of Iowa shears their conversation. Professor Howard. Thanks for coming on new jargon. Thank you for having me. Why did these protests happen? Well there's no one easy answer, but if I were to give an umbrella term to why they happen is that people feel that they are not receiving equal treatment under the law or in society, and they feel that all of the established means getting equal treatment have failed them. You mean in a way. They're sort of fed up and sick and tired, absolutely fed up in sick and tired I think this is something that people often forget when we think about not only the uprisings or the violent protests that happened in the past two or three years, but also looking historically that there are lots of preceding events that occur beforehand there. There were marches there protester letters of indignation. There were speeches given fun of City Councils, and for whatever reason those cries. Those grievances were gone unheeded unheard, and because of that people take to the streets, and it gets attention, and it's a very loud cry for help and for acknowledged professor. How can you just tell me about one protests from beginning to end? I would love so I'd like to start with kind of the protests. That's been nearest and dearest to my heart. It's the one that I've been researching the longest, and it also takes place in my hometown of Omaha. So in one, thousand, nine, hundred, sixty, six fourth of July weekend. There are a group of young people. In a parking lot of the Safeway Grocery store on North Twenty four straight. And this kind of an area where people congregate and it was. Evening. GOOP young people were setting off firefighters or firecrackers. A police officer comes. They begin to throw firecrackers at this police vehicle, the police kind of get scared and equipped takeoff they come back and forth, and this kind of sets it off people. See Police as indicative at this time of the state of unfair treatment, and oftentimes these police, public attractions are the catalysts for these uprisings, so over the course of three days young people go up and down North Twenty Fourth Street in the black enclave, and they set small fires. They break windows. They steal goods out of these stores, and the very much engaged in property, violence as protests, but meanwhile has this is going on. You have the mayor of the city Av Sorenson actually meeting with these youth activists listen to their grievances listening to what? What they feel is going on the community. And why love, starting off with Omaha is because Omaha had a long history, a civil rights activism prior to the nineteen sixty six engagement, and what was so notable is at the end double ACP, an urban league had been begging the state for years to open up an unemployment office on North, Twenty Fourth Street, and for years that desire for a building was met. You know was ignored, and by the end of the week of those three days of uprisings North Omaha got their unemployment office. While you know it's funny because I think the words are so charged when we think about uprisings or protests that end in violence that involves some aspect of violence on TV you hear about riots. Can you tell me a little bit about why you call them violent uprisings, and what you think of some of those other words? I mean in some ways. I think riot is pejorative, because it seems that when people use that term, it's divorced from the context in which people are participating at it seems as it's just want violence as a social and Beran, and not actually rooted in issues, and you don't violence approach as protests had along and storied history in the world, so if you think of Labor bread riots. In France in England. Through the green corn rebellion in the United States hey, mark an uprising working class people people without a lot of political capital engage in violent protests as a way to make their voices heard, and it seems that really in the nineteen sixties when blacks began to use this as a primary tactic in their. Repertoire of protest actions that really begins to be demonized in not lauded as you know the underclass kind of going up against those in power and so for me, I like to use rebellion or uprising, because I see these actions on a political. Continue up that you have protests, you have marches, you have demonstrations and at one end of that spectrum. Is this violent protests? It's not divorce from the other things that have come before, but it's the next step when those issues are continually ignore it. Well. It's interesting to think about the more recent violent protests in the context of that long longer history of protests and the longer history of civil rights and racial relations in the in the states as a white person and also somebody who's gone through sort of the standard His. You know I'm not a student history just like history and high school and all that sort of thing. Boy. Is there a difference in the way that we hear about the non violent protests. Martin Luther King. Gandhi all that sort of thing, and and then the way that Events like watts are described and certainly the way that the media today traits events like Ferguson. And there's a difference between how they were portrayed in the moment, and how they're remembered so watts south central l., A. Nineteen, sixty five. This is one of the first when the earliest large uprisings, and so there is the infamous McCone commission that came out where Ronald Reagan is referring to these folks as mad dogs and lawbreakers, and so even though they're pathologising to actions of the people who are engaging in this type of protests they. They. Still understand that it's rooted in politics. The kerner commission, which came out in nineteen, sixty eight, which looked at that. What's been called the long hot summer of nineteen, sixty seven, and that and that was summer with a whole bunch of protests and uprising. Something about that's correct. That was the deadliest summer and the one with the most amount so in the aggregate, the most amount of in terms of scale and scope the largest. Amount of uprisings, this is when you're and Detroit. Both happened and the Kerner Commission looked at this, and said that this is actually rooted in the fundamental desire to have full inclusion American Society and that it's this notion that had as Robert, focus and a scholar who wrote about this in the contemporary moment, said it's not a attempt to overrun America but to alert America. That's something is very wrong and I think when we look at it today, you know it seems. A bit as an anomaly, I at the time Ferguson has time of Baltimore. There was a black president. I think many of us had kind of been lulled into this false sense of security of a a sort of colorblind society. That racism was over. No longer are people using the end where no longer is. The clan burning crosses on people, Yar People's yards. It's over, but in many ways is racism became more systematic or structural, more institutional and hidden, and so these issues still exists is that people don't realize that they're

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