The push to decriminalize, justify, and legitimize looting

There’s a pattern evident in left-wing and progressive propaganda.  One article will appear, “sowing the seed” for a particular idea;  then, within days (sometimes within hours) several more articles will appear, referencing the original idea, lauding it, and trying to popularize it.  What’s more, opposing ideas will be shouted down or “de-platformed” by the mainstream media.  Within a couple of weeks, the idea will be viewed (at least in far-left-wing circles) as accepted wisdom, and any dissent will no longer be tolerated.  It’s become part of the progressive pablum.

That’s evident in the drive to decriminalize looting, in both the legal and the moral sense, and make it an accepted part of demonstrations and protests.  Several far-left-wing spokespersons and outlets are combining in a shared thrust to render it “normal”, tolerable, and even praiseworthy.  It’s all a lie, of course, but that doesn’t stop them trying to force the lie down our throats.

It ranges from official legal circles to individual activists.  In the legal world, Politico has just published an article by “five Black, female prosecutors” who “offer 11 ideas for how to make their profession part of the solution” to “this flawed [legal] system”.  It doesn’t mention looting per se, but includes it by implication in the legal reforms it advocates.  The article starts with a lie in the very first sentence, and goes downhill from there.

Our criminal legal system was constructed to control Black people and people of color. Its injustices are not new but are deeply rooted in our country’s shameful history of slavery and legacy of racial violence. The system is acting exactly as it was intended to, and that is the problem.

We should know: We’re Black, we’re female, and we’re prosecutors. We work as the gatekeepers in this flawed system. And we have some ideas for how to fix it.

. . .

The decisions that prosecutors make can either work to rectify the inherent harms in the legal system or perpetuate them. Part of our responsibility, as elected public servants, is to be self-aware and recognize that we are part of the problem. It is our moral and ethical duty to start advancing racial equity-minded policies—and community advocates and voters should hold us accountable for doing so.

Thanks to smartphones and social media, we have seen just the tip of the iceberg of traumatic injustices that float between arrests and prison cells, and at times result in death. While we have worked tirelessly to address these disparities, we understand that they are long-standing, systemic problems that precede our tenures.

We ran for public office on progressive platforms to shrink the system and create a more equitable and just society.

. . .

We are beholden to the people who put their faith and trust in us every day to achieve safety and justice through measures that advance racial equity. And that means not just holding police officers accountable, but reimagining the entire criminal legal system—from police, to prosecutors, to judges—and from arrests to charging to sentencing. Each level of the legal system reflects a level of inherent bias, and unless we stop trying to reform the system and instead work to transform it, we will never achieve the kind of change needed to upend a system rooted in slavery.

Working from within, we have begun the steps to rectify past wrongs. We are implementing policies that include declining to prosecute minor offenses, overturning wrongful convictions, refusing to take cases from officers with a history of racial bias and expunging marijuana convictions. And we are currently working within our own offices to make the system fairer and more just.

. . .

We have decided to make the following 11 commitments, and we urge our fellow prosecutors to join us:

1. Do not prosecute peaceful protesters. Citizens have a right to protest, and prosecutions can antagonize marginalized communities …

6. Expand our office policies on declining low-level offenses to cover decisions regarding charging and issuing warrants. By increasing our efforts to decline to prosecute certain low-level offenses, we can work to reverse the disproportionate impact the legal system has on Black people and low-income communities …

10. Solicit feedback from Black and brown community groups we were elected to serve through public, virtual forums in the next two weeks. Only by listening to the most impacted communities and advocates and bringing them to the table, will we truly understand their greatest needs and biggest challenges. Then, we will work together to rectify them.

There’s more at the link.  You can read here how one of the authors is implementing such measures in her jurisdiction.  Her guidelines include whether looting was committed for “personal need” rather than “financial gain”.  I’d love to know how prosecutors will figure that out – and how they’ll justify their conclusions.

Notice how point 11 of the Politico article specifically references “public, virtual forums in the next two weeks“.  Funny how five progressive DA’s around the country can come up with the same timeframe for their respective jurisdictions, isn’t it?  Coordination much?  When you look at the rest of the pro-riot and pro-looting propaganda that’s emerging simultaneously with their article, one sees the unmistakeable imprint of deliberate organization behind it all.  I daresay the conclusions of those “public, virtual forums” will be almost identical, too.  Funny how that works out, isn’t it?

Let’s move on to more specifically looting-related issues.  Earlier this month, following massive looting of stores on Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile”, a Black Lives Matter organizer defended it.

A Chicago Black Lives Matter organizer defended the widespread weekend looting in the heart of the Windy City — as “reparation.”

“I don’t care if somebody decides to loot a Gucci’s or a Macy’s or a Nike because that makes sure that that person eats. That makes sure that that person has clothes,” Ariel Atkins said at a rally outside the South Loop police station Monday, local outlets reported.

“That’s a reparation,” Atkins said. “Anything they want to take, take it because these businesses have insurance.”

Again, more at the link.

Ms. Atkins clearly has no understanding whatsoever of business or economics.  When organized looters pull up in rented U-Haul trucks to strip a store of its contents, that’s not for them to eat or wear – it’s to sell for their own criminal gain.  She also clearly doesn’t understand that when businesses have to pay drastically increased insurance premiums, they recover them by raising their prices, affecting everyone who buys from them.  As for “reparations” – reparations for what?  What have the owners of that store done to those looting it?  Nothing at all, as far as I can tell – so no reparations are due.  Even minority-owned businesses are looted or destroyed in such unrest, as we most recently saw in Kenosha, WI last week.  Why should they “pay” reparations at all?

Now comes an effort to make looting acceptable in mainstream debate.  Vicky Osterweil, described as “a writer, editor, and agitator”, has published a book titled “In Defense of Looting“.

In an interview with NPR, Ms. Osterweil speaks of riots and looting as if they were interchangeable concepts, and defends them from a perspective that might make even Marx himself blench.

[Looting] does a number of important things. It gets people what they need for free immediately, which means that they are capable of living and reproducing their lives without having to rely on jobs or a wage—which, during COVID times, is widely unreliable or, particularly in these communities is often not available, or it comes at great risk. That’s looting’s most basic tactical power as a political mode of action.

It also attacks the very way in which food and things are distributed. It attacks the idea of property, and it attacks the idea that in order for someone to have a roof over their head or have a meal ticket, they have to work for a boss, in order to buy things that people just like them somewhere else in the world had to make under the same conditions. It points to the way in which that’s unjust. And the reason that the world is organized that way, obviously, is for the profit of the people who own the stores and the factories. So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.

Importantly, I think especially when it’s in the context of a Black uprising like the one we’re living through now, it also attacks the history of whiteness and white supremacy. The very basis of property in the U.S. is derived through whiteness and through Black oppression, through the history of slavery and settler domination of the country. Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police. It gets to the very root of the way those three things are interconnected. And also it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. And I think that’s a part of it that doesn’t really get talked about—that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory.

There’s more at the link, although why anyone would want to read more of such drivel, I can’t imagine.  Certainly, initial reviews of her book at show that many readers share my opinion.  For example:

Quite so!

Ms. Osterweil made a telling point in a 2014 article of the same name, which helps to explain her rather warped and twisted perspective.

Recently an Instagram video circulated of a Ferguson protester discussing the looting and burning of the QuikTrip convenience store. He retorts the all too common accusation thrown at rioters: “People wanna say we destroying our own neighborhoods. We don’t own nothing out here!” This is the crux of the matter, and could be said of most majority black neighborhoods in America, which have much higher concentrations of chain stores and fast food restaurants than non-black neighborhoods. The average per capita income in Ferguson, MO is less than $21,000, and that number almost certainly gets lower if you remove the 35% white population of Ferguson from the equation. How could the average Ferguson resident really say it’s “our QuikTrip”? Indeed, although you might hang out in it, how can a chain convenience store or corporate restaurant earnestly be part of anyone’s neighborhood? The same white liberals who inveigh against corporations for destroying local communities are aghast when rioters take their critique to its actual material conclusion.

It’s telling because it equates the moral “ownership” (i.e. care for and of) of one’s neighborhood with financial or physical ownership of the commercial assets in that neighborhood.  That’s nonsensical, of course.  I don’t own any of the stores I patronize in the town where I live;  but I rely on them for the necessities of everyday life.  If I destroyed them, where would I get those necessities?  In that sense, all of us who patronize them have some degree of “ownership” by association, because we shop there.  Making sure the stores stay open is good for our community;  forcing them to close is very bad for it.  As Victor Davis Hanson points out:

When you loot and burn a Target in an hour, it takes months to realize there are no more neighborhood Target-stocked groceries, toilet paper, and Advil to buy this winter.

You can in a night assault the police, spit at them, hope to infect them with the coronavirus, and even burn them alive. But when you call 911 in a few weeks after your car is vandalized, your wallet is stolen, and your spouse is violent, and no one comes, only then do you sense that you earlier were voting for a pre-civilized wilderness.

You can burn down a Burger King in half an hour. But it will take years to find anyone at Burger King, Inc., who would ever be dumb enough to rebuild atop the charred ruins—to prepare for the next round of arson in 2021 or 2023.

Today’s looter carrying off sneakers and smartphones in 10 years will be tomorrow’s urban activist, understandably but in vain demanding stores return to a charred no man’s land, to do their fair share, and to help restore the downtown, neighborhood, inner-city, or the “community.”

More at the link.

To say that because we don’t actually own (as in “possess”) local shops and the goods they sell, we have no stake in them, is patently ridiculous.  We can easily “disown” them by taking our patronage somewhere else – but we don’t.  We’re voting with our feet and our wallets.

Finally, some are already deploying the “moral” or “spiritual” argument that human lives (i.e. of looters) are more important than goods or property.  In a moral (particularly a religious) sense, yes, they are:  but then we have to look at the relevance of the goods or property to human life.  Am I going to have to pay – in the form of increased insurance premiums, and/or higher prices, and/or rates and taxes for enhanced security – for the looting of that property and the theft of those goods?  Will I have to travel further, at greater expense, to buy the things I need?  In every case of looting of which I’m aware, the answer to all those questions is “Yes”.  Therefore, are the lives of thieves or looters worth more to me – in financial terms, if nothing else – than the goods and property they’re taking or destroying?  The answer is very clearly “No!”

That’s in purely human terms, of course, not in terms of the Christian message, which values human life because we’re “made in the image and likeness of God”.  However, we live in a post-Christian society, where (in the First World at least) the majority no longer consider themselves governed by Biblical or any other religious morality.  Therefore, if business owners and/or patrons, operating from a secular perspective, decide that shooting looters is an acceptable way to minimize their losses, on what grounds are we to blame them?  A few rounds of ammunition are certainly far more affordable than replacing a store’s entire stock of goods for sale, or rebuilding the store itself.  On purely economic and utilitarian grounds, the bullet wins every time.

My position is simple.  “By their fruits you will know them.”  It’s straight out of the Bible, and sums up the grounds on which all of our lives will be judged in due course.  I know looters by their fruits – crime, dishonesty, damage to communities, loss to business owners, and disruption of civil society and law and order.  That being the case, I have no problem with stopping looters by any means necessary, up to and including violence.  It has nothing to do with politics, or race, or individual need (particularly because individual need can be, and is, met every day through organizations set up specifically to help those in need, such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, local churches, etc.).

The home-made billboards stuck up in storm-ravaged neighborhoods, that many of us have seen in news reports over the years, resonate with me.

I can’t condemn the sentiment.  Indeed, as regular readers will know, I’ve done something about contributing to neighborhood security in such an environment from time to time.  I daresay I’ll continue to do so – in riots as much as in bad weather.



  1. Of you look at looting the way the left is trying to shove it down our throats it is against all common sense. This is especially true when they loot and burn black businesses. Now if you look at it from the outlook of the mid 1300's it is just war! I've been reading some historical novels of that era in England. The kind with bibliographies and they point out that men signed up for service in the war in France to make their fortune and that many of the Lords that led them were there for the same reason. From that point of view the often mentioned civil war is already here!

  2. The real big picture is not the looting but for TPTB to keep minority communities from gaining the first rung on the ladder to an economic future. Note that the black businesses are the hardest hit from the looting. The minority owners most likely don't have the capability to rebuild what was destroyed. They are now shackled to the state welfare apparatus. The employees who worked there are now shackled to the state. The customers who no longer can get the goods and services provided by these stores are now shackled to wait for their free cheese from the state. The last three years of rising minority employment was the biggest threat to the Deep State MOFO's. An independent chattel class is the last thing they want.

    Spin Drift

  3. Sigh… The twisting of 'logic' into a pretzel trying to justify this is…nuts. That last pic says it all.

  4. Howard – even earlier than the 1300s, good leaders didn't let their troops loot on their home turf, or excessively loot and pillage in areas that were to be conquered.

    One of the cardinal rules of warfare since Roman times was once a breech was made in a fortification, the defender had the opportunity to surrender and offer up a selection of loot. If they didn't offer up loot, then a small sack would be the norm. If they didn't surrender, well, the whole location would be looted and pillaged, and all lives within the fortification were subject to be terminated. (It's the main reason the Crusaders sacked Jerusalem once they finally breeched the walls. The defenders and their subjects didn't surrender immediately. Therefore, according to European rules, all lives inside were forfeit.) These were seemingly brutal rules, but actually very fair and tended to not descend into bloodletting, as everyone pert near much knew, once a breach was made, surrender or die.

    These jackanapes? They're looting their own locations. Only idiots and uncivilized tribal members loot their own locations.

    And the only answer to idiots and uncivilized people like this is the answer civilization has always had. The blade, the sword, the axe (and now, the gun.) Want to act uncivilized? Then meet civilization at its worse.

    Like so many memes and cute stories say, the light switch of response is either 'Off' or 'Oh, Hell Yeah, It's fully ON now, Beyotches!!!!'

    If the first few violent riots (like the Women's March back on January 21st, 2017, but definitely the Portland and Seattle bullscat and the Ferguson garbage and and and) had been put down quickly and very bloodily AFTER a general announcement and warning period was made, we would not be seeing the constant escalation of violence and stupidity that we see.

    Looking at it from a historian's standpoint, what we are seeing are the same tactics the Bolsheviks and the Nazis used to climb to power. Act all 'for the law' while encouraging their followers to punish and destroy in order to force law and custom changes.

    Which is why, in a sensible world, some of these jerks would be snatched up off the street and questioned, so as to follow the chain of command to the top. Then bag those, short trial, long drop. All public like. Bloody, messy, nasty. Heads on 'Traitors' Gate' and four pieces to the corners of the country.

    That's how you stop violence. With surgical violence, most bloody and most nasty. Splatter one of these riots HARD and follow up with prosecution of those that transport and care and maintain them. Hard and swift and fast. Justice of the gun, the knife, the rope.

    Otherwise our country is dead.

    And, really, 'Five Black..'? Martin Luther King's vision is so dead. That is the vision of Marxism. Divide, separate, set the people against each other, burn everything down and then rebuild in Marx's image.

  5. The issue isn't "but they're destroying black communities." The issue is, as always, the revolution. Destroying the economic base both in the black community and in the country as a whole is a means to the end, which is power. First immiserate and indoctrinate, in particular indoctrinate that "revolutionary violence is justice," then point out the desired targets and turn the mob loose.

    The mob having destroyed the "olds" as in the Cultural Revolution, the Party is then to be seen as the only possible source of stability

  6. Hey Peter;

    People wonder"why do the looters and rioters destroy their own areas", why do they crap in their own neighborhoods." It is the hood mindset…They live for the here and now….tomorrow may never come, that is why they don't care what may happen tomorrow, they don't care if there is a retail desert when the target or the QT says "Screw it, We've lost too much money due to looting and shoplift-lifting, we can't spread it through the system any more, we are closing stores". the hoodrats live for the here and now. that is all that matters to them.

  7. The looters are the lower case problem. The upper case PROBLEM is the folks who refuse to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and prosecute the folks who are breaking the law. It doesn't matter what they say – it matters what they do.

    The message to the rest of us is clearly written on the wall.

  8. Civil insurrection, ie: riots, negates insurance coverage. Buildings, contents, vehicles, none are covered during "war, or warlike conditions".

    Good chance your health plan doesn't cover injuries sustained, if you inform them of the situation that was involved.

  9. That's in purely human terms, of course, not in terms of the Christian message, which values human life

    Not so fast, Peter. What about the lives supported by the proceeds from those (looted/burned/bombed) stores? In the case of family-held and -operated, maybe 3-10 "lives" depend on that income. And even in the case of "corporate-owned"–well, the typical Target store employs 75-100 people; a Burger King employs 25-40…..

    What about those "lives" who no longer can pay rent, buy food,…….hmmmm?

  10. The issue is, as always, the revolution. Destroying the economic base both in the black community and in the country as a whole is a means to the end, which is power.


    An internet news outlet here interviewed a 30-year resident of the bombed-out section of Kenosha (Uptown). He says that he saw 7-8 carloads of people, all with walkie-talkies, all in communication with a man directing them down the street–after which he saw the fires start.

    He said he did not know ANY of those people. Never saw them in all the years he lived there. Kenosha is not a big town and has a fairly small (but tight) black community.

    These were revolutionaries from the outside.

    The looting may well be done by locals. But the war is prosecuted by the Marxist/Anarchists.

  11. I wonder how much Vicky Osterweil looted from Abby Hoffman's "Steal This Book" in 1970?

    Pardon me if I'm dismissive, but I've heard this socialist crap all my life. "It attacks the idea of property…" Please, girl, grow up. Go look at evidence of how the market system has improved the lives of billions in India. Looking at evidence isn't racist, anymore than noticing someone else got burned putting their hand in the fire and deciding not to do that.

  12. Many, most, of these people are tribal and becoming increasingly Marxist. You already know that, but seem reluctant to write about that part of it. In a Marxist insurrection they either win or die.

  13. While I do NOT condone "Steal This Book" at least there was the guts to have that title. This.. thing.. is NOT titled "Loot This Book." And doesn't THAT tell everyone everything about it, really?

  14. BTW: Osterweil was/is a dude biologically… trans… totally hideous looking 'her'… just sayin'… Demented ideas borne of a demented mind…

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