A friend posted this fantastic image on Facebook just now. It’s from early this afternoon in Chicago, with the following text: “Over two and a half hours later much of Michigan Ave, Water Tower & many surrounded stores are still SHUTDOWN for Laquan McDonald.” (Photo credit to @MinkuAzad from Chicago.)
Now let me get out in front of something here.
The point of this kind of tactic, I believe, is to take a problem that pretty much only black people care about and make it a problem that corporations have to care about.
It’s a way of creating leverage.
If powerful people in government think this is just about black people who live in the “ghetto” and don’t have much economic power, they will keep doing what they’re doing–which is essentially nothing.
If the same powerful people in government are getting pissed off phone calls from CEOs about losing their supposedly biggest shopping days, and if they’re getting threats from those same CEOs about moving to the suburbs, well… the idea is that they’ll see fit to dole out just enough justice to get the protesters to get out of the street.
I’m not saying it will necessarily work, but it’s logical. If you don’t have direct power over someone, you find a way to get the focused attention of someone who does have direct power over them.
(Yes, I’m implying a few other things here: that the protesters don’t have an effective grip on the electoral process, that the politicians have never really answered to them, and that the corporations that sell things on Michigan Avenue are the real bosses of Chicago.)
What this means for white people
Many people who fancy themselves Black Lives Matter “supporters” continually object to tactics that inconvenience third parties because they fail to understand the concept of leverage.
Either that, or they have a moral objection to causing any harm, no matter how slight, to these “innocent” third parties. But then those people are actually saying “Black Lives Matter, Just Not As Much As Marshall Fields Does.”
If you don’t believe me:
Check out these comments on the original Facebook post.
- “No justice. No profits.”
- “Cops tried to cover up a murder…..stores should sue them.”
Stores should sue them. Yes. Well no, not really, the law doesn’t work like that, but people get the power dynamic here. You don’t go after the most isolated, reinforced, protected part of the power structure; you go after the levers that are unprotected, like downtown traffic. If that makes the store owners angry enough to turn on the political leadership, then it worked.