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Calgary

Behind the Violence, Looting & Vandalism During the Black Lives Matter Riots

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6 minute read

Image Credit: Michael Tracey 

It has been just over 2 months since the death of George Floyd in the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the hands of 3 police officers in broad daylight, ignited a global conversation on police brutality. The significant outrage invoked by this tragedy has manifested across the globe in the form of mass protests under the banner of Black Lives Matter. While a significant number of protests have been peaceful presentations of solidarity and collective calls for change, a number of cities throughout the United States and across the world have been devastated by violent riots, vandalism and looting. The response of the media and general public to these instances of violence, which have left a number of people dead, have dramatically deepened the ideological divide surrounding the already controversial issues of systematic racism and police brutality.

One side of the argument is highlighted by an opinion piece written by Robin D. G. Kelley, an American history professor, published in the New York Times titled “What Kind of Society Values Property Over Black Lives?”. This article argues the media’s focus on looting as a part of the riots is a way to deflect from the central issue. “The police keep killing us with impunity,” says Kelley, “Instead, once the burning and looting start, the media often shifts to the futility of “violence” as a legitimate path to justice.” 

Similarly, an InStyle piece by Jacqueline Schneider states, “If you’re more concerned about looted storefronts than the brutal loss of life that spurred these protests, please re-evaluate.” The article goes on to highlight certain leading fashion brands, such Marc Jacobs and Coach, have come out in support of the protests despite the material losses sustained by their brands as a result of the looting and destruction. Marc Jacobs published an Instagram post featuring the vandalism of a Los Angeles branch location with the simple caption, “A life cannot be replaced. Black Lives Matter.” 

A number of other works with a similar sentiment have emerged over the last two months, many of which make reference to the work of Martin Luther King Jr. While King is largely known for his unwavering commitment to non-violence in the face of oppression, he “recognized violent political rebellions … as the organic response to racial oppression and structural violence” (1).

 ““Alienated from society and knowing that this society cherishes property above people, [the looter] is shocking it by abusing property rights,” he said. The real provocateur of the riots, he argued, was white supremacy.” (2)

Therefore, many of the arguments that do not denounce looting as a part of the riots lean on this ideological argument along with the notion that the destruction of property should not be discussed alongside the loss of human life. 

On the opposite side of this controversial debate, journalist Michael Tracey presents an investigative report featuring first-hand stories from shop owners and locals in small US cities that have received minimal coverage throughout the riots. In something of a post-apocalyptic Purge-esque collection, Michael Tracey’s interviews showcase the current quality of life in places like Atlantic City, Fort Wayne, Green Bay, Olympia and more.  The impact of the riots in these areas has been the significant destruction of small businesses and housing projects, burnt buildings and cars, shattered glass and windows barricaded with plywood, oftentimes featuring bullet holes. 


Photo Credit: Michael Tracey 

According to Tracey, who spent six weeks travelling the US collecting testimonies and documenting the unfolding implications of the ongoing riots, “…The primary victims – meaning those who feared for their safety, suffered severe material losses, and whose lives were upended – are themselves minorities, and were targeted by activist whites.” 

Tracey shares the stories, fears and opinions of a number of minority locals and shop owners who struggle to make sense of the looting. Victims of the riots highlight the lack of available emergency responders during the crises, adding to the level of fear and helplessness being experienced. In one video, Tracy interviews a local resident, who “recalls being told during the riots that there would be no fire or police service available and people needed to fend for themselves.” 

A number of boarded up storefronts, many of which will likely never open again, feature signage with the phrase “Black-owned business”. Tracey believes this is both a statement of pride as well as a plea to be left alone by rioters, “Does the ubiquity of these types of signs, in which owners declare their ethnic or racial status, seem healthy to you?” he asks.


Photo Credit: Micheal Tracey 

These disparate opinions position looting and violent rioting as an inevitable response to minority oppression and injustice, while highlighting the logical inconsistency that occurs as a number of those being victimized are themselves, minorities. While this debate continues to unfold, the chaos remains ongoing across the United States, where many protests have continued to take violent turns and the death toll continues to rise.

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Alberta

‘Boiling point’: Alberta doctors warn of health system collapse as COVID cases climb

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CALGARY — Alberta’s health-care system is on the verge of collapse, warns a group of physicians who are pleading with the government to strengthen public health measures to fend off a relentless fourth wave of COVID-19.

Dr. Shazma Mithani, an emergency room physician in Edmonton, said a staffing crisis, overwhelmed intensive care units and mixed messaging from the province has created a “dire” situation.

Her biggest fear, she said, is that doctors will need to triage patients should hospitalizations continue to mount.

“We don’t want to have to make these decisions where we’re choosing who gets to have (intensive) care or not. And we’re getting closer and closer to that every day,” Mithani said in an interview.

Alberta Health Services, the province’s health-care provider, said in a statement Wednesday there were 258 intensive care beds in the province, which includes 85 added spaces. It said intensive care unit capacity sat at 87 per cent — just slightly below a seven-day average of 91 per cent.

Mithani said the government needs to listen to frontline health-care workers and implement stronger public health restrictions to prevent the health system from crumbling.

“This is much, much worse than I think people understand,” she said. “We, as health-care workers, are telling you that things are very dire, that ICU beds are running out, that we are stretched very thin in terms of our hospital capacity.”

On Friday, the Government of Alberta reinstated an indoor mask mandate for public spaces and an alcohol sales curfew at 10 p.m. It also announced a $100 incentive for unvaccinated Albertans who get their shots in response to an intensifying crisis.

Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta, said those efforts are “all but meaningless.”

“They are worse than doing nothing at all because now it is going to delay the government from taking more definitive action,” Schwartz said during a panel discussion Wednesday with advocacy group Protect Our Province.

Dr. Darren Markland, an intensive care physician in Edmonton who was also on the panel, said the government should consider vaccine passports and a circuit-breaker lockdown, which is a tight set of restrictions for a limited amount of time to curb ongoing transmission of COVID-19.

Relying solely on vaccinations won’t reign in a growing fourth wave driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, added Mithani.

It takes at least six weeks for people to build full immunity against COVID-19 because vaccine shots need to be separated by a month and then allow another two weeks to develop protection.

In the meantime, there are no signs COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are slowing. There were 647 Albertans in hospital Wednesday due to COVID-19, with 147 of those patients in intensive care. Hospitalizations jumped by 7.5 per cent from Tuesday. Another 18 people died in a 24-hour period.

The doctors with Protect Our Province said there are risks related to government inaction. Those risks, they said, include reduced health-care access for Albertans and increased burnout among health-care professionals.

Alberta Health Services announced late Wednesday that all scheduled, elective surgeries and outpatient procedures in the Calgary Zone have been postponed for the rest of the week. It said on social media the move was necessary to deploy qualified staff to intensive and critical care units.

“The situation really has come to a boiling point,” said Schwartz.

“It’s going to be a while before the premier and the chief medical officer of health will be willing to step back and accept that these actions have failed to immediately curb transmission and by that point, we’re going to be in dire, dire trouble.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2021.

Alanna Smith, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Enbridge advances Gulf Coast strategy with US$3B Moda Midstream purchase

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CALGARY — Enbridge Inc. has signed a US$3-billion deal to purchase a U.S.-based terminal and logistics company.

The Canadian pipeline giant says it will buy Moda Midstream Operating LLC from private-equity firm EnCap Flatrock Midstream.

As part of the deal, Enbridge will acquire the Ingleside Energy Center located near Corpus Christi, Texas.

Ingleside is North America’s largest crude export terminal. It loaded 25 per cent of all U.S. Gulf Coast crude exports in 2020.

The deal also gives Enbridge access to other crude export assets in the Gulf Coast region, including the Cactus II Pipeline, the Viola Pipeline and the Taft terminal.

Enbridge says the purchase will advance its U.S. Gulf Coast export strategy. It says the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter and will immediately add to the company’s earnings.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 7, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:ENB)

The Canadian Press

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