For those who are trying to understand why riots may occur in a community:
Think back to the last time you were hurt, disrespected, wounded, or humiliated by a friend, enemy, or family member and then lashed out in anger. It was surprising even to yourself that you said what you said or did what you did in retaliation. You may have even regretted those words or deeds but your violent words or actions were your pain turned outward. Maybe it wasn't the wisest or most helpful thing you said or did but it felt like the only way your pain could flow out of you and truly be known. You also hoped your friends and family did not frame your entire identity solely through the lens of that expression of pain.
Now, transfer that feeling to a social system in communities were systemic poverty, poor infrastructure and resources, historical accounts of discrimination, and even some amount of excessive force may possibly exist due to skin tone and geographic location. This is an oversimplification but hopefully helps to open our eyes to the why. Pain, hurt, frustration, and feeling there is no effective platform through which to voice such emotions and fears creates drastic actions in individuals and social systems.
This is not to say whether the riots were good or bad nor to judge who has posted anything. I see valid critiques coming from a plethora of perspectives at the moment. I just wanted to interject that what we all do at times in frustration is also what systems can and will do as well. This is a plea for empathy.
For those of us from the Christian and Jewish traditions, some of the Psalms give voice to similar kinds of pain in very vivid and even violent terminology. Psalms from Israelites in deep pain and confusion as they are overpowered by an oppressor which speak of dashing the enemies’ babies against the earth is clearly the voice of amplified pain.
I have also seen many posting about the mom who went and found her son in the protests as any good mother might. However, I want to caution us to understand that son, and many others like him, may have a pain inside of him others of a fairer complexion never have to know in the US. My prayer is the mom who found her son went home, grounded him, then hugged him tightly like only a mother could. I hope they had a good cry together about the brokenness of things, and then had dinner together. I hope that boy finds a way to go to college and get an incredible job. I hope he becomes a man of incredible integrity that lives in a way that flips his pain into a tool to bless other young men who feel they have no resources to get off their feet. More than anything, I hope his pain today is heard by ears who can supply him with a path to an incredible future!
I know some good policemen--of various races. I likewise know some very wonderful and wounded African-Americans. I don’t know answers to this mess however. There are likely people who need to be held accountable for ugly things we humans have done to each other. I just don't know which ones in every instance even if I have my thoughts on occasion.
I do know, however, having bread and wine with other men and women to hear their stories is a good place to begin having empathy. Having this meal when it represents a Messiah who bled out for people who had all sorts of false assumptions about him and his intentions should and could be even more powerful.