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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

Calgary Stampede receives $10M from federal government to aid recovery from pandemic

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Calgary – The Calgary Stampede has received more than $10 million from the federal government to help it bounce back after last year’s event was scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report to the city this week showed the Stampede had an operating loss of $8.3 million in 2021.

Last year’s Stampede ran at half capacity because of COVID-19 public health measures and was cancelled all-together the year before.

Daniel Vandal, the federal minister for Prairies Economic Development Canada, says the money aims to support a full-scale Stampede to deliver the “authentic western experience” this year.

He says it would also help to reignite Alberta’s visitor economy.

The 2022 Stampede is set to run from July 8 to 17.

“Festivals large and small were hard hit during the pandemic,” Vandal said in a news release. “They are events where families and friends come together and take in the exciting atmosphere.

“The tourism industry is facing a strong comeback providing quality jobs across the country, showcasing stunning landscapes and offering exciting experiences right here in Alberta.”

The federal government also provided about $1.8 million for four other tourism projects in southern Alberta: Charmed Resorts, Cochrane Tourism Association, Heritage Park and Tourism Calgary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2022.

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Alberta

Calgary police charge teen accused of trying to hire someone to murder another youth

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Calgary police are accusing a 16-year-old of trying to hire someone to kill another youth.

Police say in a release that they began investigating last month after getting a complaint.

After a six-week investigation, police say officers gathered enough evidence to support charging the teen.

Staff Sgt. Colin Chisholm says the allegations are disturbing and police are thankful they could investigate before anything tragic happened.

The teen was arrested on Tuesday and is charged with counselling to commit murder, breach of a court order and possession of marijuana.

The suspect cannot be named under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.

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