In an interview published in NPR earlier this week, author Vicky Osterweil defended looting from businesses in the name of social justice and dismissed concerns about rioters attacking essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
“When it comes to small business, family owned business or locally owned business, they are no more likely to provide worker protections. They are no more likely to have to provide good stuff for the community than big businesses,” Osterweil told NPR.
The left-wing author, whose recent book is aptly titled “In Defense of Looting,” also bizarrely called the idea of respecting small business owners a “right-wing myth,” suggesting that it isn’t true that small business owners create jobs and are part of the community: “It’s actually a Republican myth that has, over the last 20 years, really crawled into even leftist discourse: that the small business owner must be respected, that the small business owner creates jobs and is part of the community. But that’s actually a right-wing myth.”
“A business being attacked in the community is ultimately about attacking like modes of oppression that exist in the community. It is true and possible that there are instances historically when businesses have refused to reopen or to come back. But that is a part of the inequity of the society, that people live in places where there is only one place where they can get access to something [like food or medicine],” said the author. “That question assumes well, what if you’re in a food desert? But the food desert is already an incredibly unjust situation. There’s this real tendency to try and blame people for fighting back, for revealing the inequity of the injustice that’s already been formed by the time that they’re fighting.”
The release of the NPR interview comes as left-wing rioters have destroyed businesses and burned property in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the aftermath of the Jacob Blake shooting by a police officer last Sunday.
According to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Haul (D), Blake was non-compliant when officers tried to arrest him, and officers were also unable to subdue him with a taser. Haul also said that the officer only fired his gun at Blake after he leaned toward the open driver’s side of his own car door, where investigators subsequently recovered a knife.
During the interview with NPR, Osterweil also said that the concept of property rights is “derived through whiteness” and oppression toward black people.
“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,” said Osterweil.
The author also declared the idea of an “outside agitator” going to a town to riot is a myth itself, which traces back to the days of slavery, “when plantation owners would claim that it was Freedmen and Yankees coming South and giving the enslaved these crazy ideas—that they were real human beings—and that’s why they revolted.”
The Kenosha Police Department recently arrested nine people from out of state after a concerned citizen reported a group of people meeting in a remote lot. Police allegedly spotted several of them filling up gas canisters, and in the subsequent arrest, police recovered illegal fireworks, suspected controlled substances, helmets, and other gear.