This is not the last riot

Will Rippey is a Sophomore Philosophy, Politics, and the Public major. Will is a staff writer and copy editor for the Newswire from Bowling Green, Ohio.

I never thought that I would see an insurrection on the scale of the George Floyd riots so soon. If anything, I expected riots like them in, at the very least, a decade and that the surveillance state in combination with law enforcement would quash them in a day. However, now that they are here, I whole-heartedly support their cause and hope they continue for as long as possible. For far too long, the state has continuously denied Black people any reform that would address the acts of violence the state has inflicted on them. Those who criticize these riots, claiming that violent protest is not the answer to state violence are unaware of all of the peaceful organizing that has gone on throughout the past decade–likely due to the fact that these peaceful attempts at requesting state reform have failed. 

I also have come to the realization that these are not going to be the last riots of the 21st century. These riots have proven to me that it is still possible to defy and threaten the state regardless of how technocratic and authoritarian it may be. Furthermore, the solidarity foundational to these riots has proven to be an incredible force in resisting authorities. Lawyers across the country are offering pro bono legal work for arrested protestors, bus drivers tasked with transporting protestors to jail are refusing orders to keep the protests alive and street medical teams have been present at every riot to help those struck with tear gas and rubber bullets.

This network of aid is not just astounding in its organization and response time, but also for its effectiveness at maintaining the riots. As I write this, the president has locked himself in a bunker to avoid the riots going on outside. As police stations, courthouses and city halls burn, cities are becoming ungovernable.

All of the successes of the riots are proofs of concept for future activists. However, the main reason I believe there will be more riots on this scale is the fact that these riots have one aim: pursuing justice for Black victims of police brutality. The fact that such a massive uprising has been ignited by this one important issue makes me believe that more riots are inevitable. I can easily see riots for anything from workers’ rights to healthcare reform happening in the near future as a result of the George Floyd riots.     

I think the most important aspect of these riots is what they present to us as a nation and as individuals. The riots are in many ways an ultimatum. They present us with two choices: preservation of an authoritarian technocratic state which rules with violence or the destruction of this state in the pursuit of a more just society. To the state, it presents a dilemma of whether or not to bend its knee to the riots or to kill them. The riots that are happening now and the ones that will happen in the future will determine the future of the United States, and I sincerely hope that anyone reading this sides with the riots. The riots are not a mindless violent uprising; it is an organized effort by a group of people who have been repeatedly denied justice even through peaceful means. Those who criticize them telling them to be peaceful or to just vote in the next election fail to see that voting and peacefully demonstrating have not delivered justice for their communities.

The riots have also highlighted the egregious acts of violence the state is willing to take against its own citizens. Police are driving cars into crowds of unarmed protestors, shooting media correspondents with tear gas canisters and permanently blinding people with rubber bullets. As western capitalism’s flaws become increasingly pronounced and the state fails to address their harmful effects on its marginalized populations, these riots will grow increasingly common. Once it is no longer sustainable, we will be faced with two options: The authoritarian extension of capitalism in the form of statist fascism, or the destruction of the current state in favor of a better world.

This is your decision. Choose wisely.