Here’s a List of Media and Politicians Who Downplayed Violence and Looting

By Mary Margaret Olohan Published on June 4, 2020

Media figures and politicians alike have downplayed the violence and looting occurring throughout the United States following the death of George Floyd.

Activists have set cars ablaze, looted and pillaged businesses, and protested against police in cities across the nation over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.

The police officer, Derek Chauvin, has been fired and charged with murder and manslaughter.

Both media figures and politicians have downplayed the destruction during the riots and protests, and some have suggested that white supremacists are to blame for destruction or violence. Notable people who have downplayed the violence include MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkin, and more.

New York Times Writer Nikole Hannah-Jones

New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones defended the rioting Tuesday, telling CBS News:

We need to be really careful with our language. Yes, it is disturbing to see property being destroyed. It is disturbing to see people taking property from stores. But these are things.

Violence is when an agent of the state kneels on a man’s neck until all of the life is leached out of his body. Destroying property which can be replaced is not violence. And to use the exact same language to describe those two things, I think really it’s not moral to do that.

I think, yes, any reasonable person would say we shouldn’t be destroying other people’s property. But these are not reasonable times.

These are people who have protested against police violence again and again and again, year after year after year, and still we can have videos of law enforcement, with witnesses, nonchalantly taking the life of — of man for the alleged crime of passing a fake $20 bill.

So when we have people who say that people should respect the law, they’re not respecting the law because the law is not respecting them. You can’t say that — that regular citizens should play by all of the rules when agents of the state are clearly are not.

“I stand by what I said in the context of what I said it,” Hannah-Jones told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “I stand by the argument I was making, which is we need to be careful in the language and not treat the destruction of property as the same thing as the destruction of human life. That I stand by.”

“I don’t defend looting,” she added. “I would never defend looting. I would never defend people losing their property. That’s silly.”

MSNBC Host Chris Hayes

MSNBC host Chris Hayes tweeted Monday that it is “insanely dangerous and irresponsible” to describe the looting, pillaging and violence as “domestic terrorism.”

“Calling what’s happening on the streets domestic terrorism is both plainly wrong and insanely dangerous and irresponsible,” tweeted MSNBC host Chris Hayes. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.

Hayes’ tweet came the day after President Donald Trump announced that United States will officially designate Antifa as a terrorist organization following days of protests, riots, looting and violence across the country.

Activist Deray McKesson

“I’m tired of hearing about violence and non-violence,” said activist Deray McKesson during an appearance on CNN with Christiane Amanpour. “The only violence I have seen in the street is the police … I have a friend who’s now permanently blind in one eye because the police shot her in the eye with a rubber bullet. That’s violence.”

“There has been no violence from the protesters, there has been property damage,” he added, without pushback from Amanpour. “And that property will return.”


Amanpour, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, shared the clip of the discussion on Twitter without correcting McKesson’s assertion that there has not been violence from the protesters.

Seattle Councilmember Tammy Morales

Seattle councilmember Tammy Morales said at a council session Monday that she can’t understand “why looting bothers people so much more” than black people “dying every day” at the hands of police.

“What I don’t want to hear is for our constituents to be told to be civil, not to be reactionary, to be told that looting doesn’t solve anything.”

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“It does make me wonder and ask the question why looting bothers people so much more than knowing that across the country, black men and women are dying every day, and far too often at the hands of those who are sworn to protect and serve,” Morales said. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Sunday that “white men” have caused much of the destruction that has occurred during the rioting.

“I want to acknowledge that much of the violence and destruction, both here in Seattle and across the country, has been instigated and perpetuated by white men,” Durkan said Sunday night on Twitter.

“These individuals experience the height of privilege and are co-opting peaceful demonstrations that were organized by and meant to center people of color, particularly Black Americans,” the mayor added. The mayor did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.


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