Bree Newsome has argued that rioting and looting are ‘a legitimate, politically-informed response to state violence’
A prominent activist who supports the Black Lives Matter movement has appeared to support violent protests, arguing that rioting and looting are ‘a legitimate, politically-informed response to state violence’.
Bree Newsome, 35, made the passionate remarks in a series of tweets this week, arguing that police are not limited to non-violence, and that a violent response to injustice can be appropriate and justified.
Newsome, a filmmaker and activist on racial justice issues, famously scaled a flagpole at the South Carolina State House to tear down the Confederate battle flag in 2015. Weeks later, lawmakers order the divisive symbol’s removal from the grounds.
‘I’m definitely in the camp of defending rioting & looting as a legitimate, politically-informed response to state violence,’ Newsome said in a tweet on Tuesday. ‘I’ve tweeted on this topic many times & I’m always willing to engage people in good faith discussion of why I hold that position.’
Police confront demonstrators in Minnesota. ‘I’m definitely in the camp of defending rioting & looting as a legitimate, politically-informed response to state violence,’ Newsome said.
‘I refuse any effort to deflect from the central issue of racism by pretending property damage warrants police firing teargas on communities that are justifiably outraged by how police keep murdering people,’ Newsome continued.
‘Far from making the argument people think it does, the hand-wringing over property damage & looting in situations like this only highlights how this society treats Black people as less than human,’ Newsome said.
‘I saw less concern when a white man blew up an entire block in downtown Nashville,’ she added in a reference to the December 2020 suicide attack on an AT&T switching center by Anthony Quinn Warner, who was fueled by bizarre conspiracy theories about 5G.
Newsome continued: ‘No one has difficulty understanding targeted property damage as a political act when it’s white ppl. Depicting Blk &/or poor ppl as mindlessly looting just to ‘take advantage’ of social unrest [fostered by actions of the police] serves a racist fantasy of Black ppl being lawless.’
‘The whole function of the focus on looting is to say, ‘look— this is why we need police even if they frequently murder people. Black ppl are just waiting for any opportunity to steal & the police are the only ones protecting the property,” the filmmaker argued.
She continued saying ‘people are so fully indoctrinated into white supremacy that they’ve never interrogated who is allowed to damage property & why. The police are simultaneously damaging property during a riot they incited but that is deemed acceptable.’
Newsome, a filmmaker and activist on racial justice issues, famously scaled a flagpole at the South Carolina State House to tear down the Confederate battle flag in 2015
A store near the Brooklyn Center Police Station in Minnesota is seen ransacked this week
‘I saw less concern when a white man blew up an entire block in downtown Nashville,’ Newsome claimed about coverage of BLM looting
Newsome compared property damage during BLM protests to the havoc at the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 riot, saying that ‘half’ of the political establishment believes ‘that the people who damaged property that day were justifiably outraged.’
‘The Boston Tea Party is also framed as a justified political act. It’s only Black ppl who must protest quietly,’ she said.
Newsome followed up with other tweets doubling down on her argument, writing on Wednesday: ‘Folks love to distinguish between ‘peaceful protesters’ and the protesters throwing rocks at police while ignoring how the police side of the conflict is nothing but violence & military grade weaponry. Why can’t police also be obligated to respond by marching in circles w/ signs?’
‘There are many arguments to be made in favor of nonviolent resistance. ‘Violent resistance never leads to desired results’ is not one of them & it hurts the credibility of the argument to make a statement that is demonstrably untrue,’ she added on Friday.
‘It’s also problematic that many only speak of nonviolence to say how people should *respond to* violent systems but don’t call for the abolition & dismantling of the violent systems themselves,’ Newsome added.
Her impassioned remarks come in the midst of the trial of the former police officer who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, and days after another Minnesota cop fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright.
Demonstrators protest outside of the Brooklyn Center police station on Wednesday in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota following the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright
Derek Chauvin, 45, faces murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death. Former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter, 48, is charged with second-degree manslaughter after she said she meant to pull her Taser when she shot Wright.
Newsome is outspoken about her belief that racial injustice in policing cannot be resolved with reforms to the current system, and that police departments should be abolished, defunded and the funds redirected to community services.
‘I understand the focus on consequences for Kim Potter but they could put her in an electric chair side by side with Chauvin right now for what she did & we’ll still be left with the murderous institution of policing having been altered in no substantive way,’ she remarked of the Wright and Floyd cases earlier this week.
Her remarks in defense of rioting and looting drew strong criticism from conservative commentators, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
‘BLM leader Bree Newsome no longer talks about ‘peaceful protests.’ She doesn’t want those any more,’ Carlson said of recent tweets.
‘It goes without saying that Bree Neswsome is a child of privilege. Only privileged people could be that decadent,’ Carlson added of Newsom, a graduate of New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts.
However, Carlson drew his own strong reactions after an apparent slip of the tongue led him to refer to the Confederate flag as simply ‘the flag’ when describing Newsome’s 2015 protest.
‘A few years ago, she trespassed at the Capitol in South Carolina and ripped down the flag. She also trespassed in a state lawmaker’s office and refused to leave. Is she rotting in jail?’ he said, comparing her case to the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In the U.S. the phrase ‘the flag’ usually refers to the American flag, leading left-wing critics to question Carlson’s sympathies.