Below is an open letter to Sarah Kendzior, an individual whom I have discussed before in reference to Umar Lee and her article which tried to deny the existence of gunfire directed at officers during the protests/riots. In my opinion, that theory was pretty thoroughly debunked here:
Dear Dr. Kendzior,
I believe you may want to reconsider your commitment to writing articles about Ferguson since it seems that you’ve been misinformed about the reality on the ground. As a friendly public service, I’ve decided to fact-check your recent article with the hopes that you’ll do the right thing and make adequate corrections.
Claim #1: “The violence and looting that took place in Ferguson was limited to a small strip in the commercial district of West Florissant Avenue, with one business, QuikTrip, burned to the ground. The few stores that were looted reopened shortly afterward.”
Reality: Looting was widespread on W. Florissant between Jennings Station Road and Chambers, specifically during the first week. Even W. Florissant as far as Dunn road did not escape the violence. Looting extended down Chambers and onto Halls Ferry. There was also isolated looting off of S. Florissant, Gravois, Delmar, Brentwood, and S. Grand. In total the cities of Ferguson, Jennings, Dellwood, and Florissant experienced regular looting in the first days. Isolated looting also occurred in Brentwood, University City, and South St. Louis City.
Furthermore, while QuikTrip was the only business to be “burned to the ground,” it was hardly the only victim of arson. A number of other businesses were either set on fire or attempted to be set on fire including Whistle Stop, Faraci’s, the Chop Suey place, and Dominoes. There were also numerous dumpster fires and other attempts at hurling Molotov cocktails, one of which exploded near one of my Sergeants who was standing in the Buzz Westfall Plaza in Jennings. Reasonable people consider arson to be newsworthy even when a structure isn’t “burned to the ground.”
Over 100 businesses related to the riots have been the victims of vandalism, arson, burglary, and theft since August.
Claim #2: “It is debatable whether the August violence, limited in damage and scope, could be classified as a riot.”
Reality: Only to you. Webster’s defines Riot as (couldn’t help myself):
: a situation in which a large group of people behave in a violent and uncontrolled way”
RSMO 574.050. states, “1. A person commits the crime of rioting if he knowingly assembles with six or more other persons and agrees with such persons to violate any of the criminal laws of this state or of the United States with force or violence, and thereafter, while still so assembled, does violate any of said laws with force or violence.”
Claim #3: Some have interpreted the boarding of Ferguson as racist, a sign of business owners’ lack of faith in residents and protesters.
Reality: The old Fox News, “ask a question to articulate a controversial opinion you don’t want to commit to”? Could the preemptive boarding up not be in relation to the evidence presented in reference to Claim #1 or at the behest of business owner insurance companies? No, I suppose racism is better click bait than damage mitigation and preparedness.
Claim #4: “It is easy to find other parts of St. Louis that resemble the aftermath of riots. Shattered windows, roofless dwellings, boarded buildings, and stately homes whose bricks were stolen by the poor are all part of St. Louis’s landscape.”
Reality: Economic blight elsewhere doesn’t negate looting damage in Ferguson and abroad. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
Claim #5: “Large chain stores in the same area, like Target, have not boarded, and with the exception of a T-Mobile, a Sprint, and a Family Dollar, smaller chains remain unboarded as well.”
Reality: So boarding up is evidence of racism and not boarding up is evidence in faith in the community and protesters? Could the decision not to board up be related to national chains having significant corporate backings and insurance? Could the decision not to board up have to do with several large chains announcing that they will be closing their Ferguson locations anyway such as Walmart and Kmart? In Target’s case specifically, might their decision not to board up have anything at all to do with the fact that the police command post along with over a hundred police cars in August were located in front of their store and will likely be located there again? Is it not more difficult to board up large chain stores with two story glass windows? No, clearly race is at issue here and nothing more.
Perhaps if you’re ever the victim of an arson, vandalism, burglary, or theft you can take comfort in the notion that as long as you’re able to occupy the building shortly afterward or the building isn’t razed to the ground, it’s apparently no big deal. Unfortunately, for those living outside of the fiction you’re determined to use in place of reality, the victims of rioting aren’t so lucky. Take a step back and consider for a moment that others can be suffering even if they don’t identify with your friends within the Justice for Michael Brown movement.