During two nights in mid-August, on Milwaukee’s north side, angry crowds pelted the police with rocks and bottles, smashed police cars, while several businesses were engulfed in flame.
As usual, the police, the politicians, the media, and the supposed experts called this “a riot.” They decried the so-called “senseless violence.”
Yet, their police are armed to the teeth. And when police unleash their violence on a regular basis, these same authorities, politicians and news media don’t condemn it. They don’t decry the “senseless violence” of the police. No, they justify it!
And that’s exactly what happened after the Milwaukee police shot and killed 23-year-old Sylville K. Smith during a routine traffic stop.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up