Tank tops, cicadas, and college graduation parties offer welcomed signs that after a long, “dark winter,” summer is finally approaching, with only one week remaining until the holiday that will signal its commencement. This Memorial Day, however, will also signify something else: the anniversary of rioters descending on America’s cities.
It’s been one year since the night that began the summer of rage. May 25, 2020, the day George Floyd lost his life at the hands of the Minneapolis Police, set in motion a relentless revolution that, although presently dormant, includes no limiting principle and no hope of fully ceasing.
Floyd’s was just one of many names exploited for political points that ignited waves of violence from Black Lives Matter and other rioters in the form of vandalism, arson, burglary, and even murder, leaving bodies in the streets and racking up billions of dollars in property damage. They contrived systemic racism and screamed for social justice, while many immigrant- and black-owned businesses swept up broken glass and rubble in their wake.
These violent displays were supposedly necessary and effective. Left-wing Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said “marginalized” people “have no choice but to riot,” and others have mimicked her resolve. During our trip to Kenosha following the shooting of Jacob Blake, one demonstrator told my Federalist colleague Evita Duffy that “riots work.”
But do they? It’s been a full year, and besides cramming ahistorical curriculum laced with critical race theory into government schools and racist antiracist training into boardrooms, what have the race-baiters accomplished? Making cities less safe? Stoking distrust and division among racial groups? Making otherwise-neighborly Americans race-obsessed? And destroying minority-owned businesses? Is that it?
It seems to be. Any progress or justice since last May has been the result of due process, not lawlessness. Violent mobs didn’t put former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin behind bars for murder; a jury of his peers did. Meanwhile, anything the race-baiting rogues have touched has only deteriorated.
Of course, the same corporate press that called the violent demonstrations “mostly peaceful protests” and “not, generally speaking, unruly” as they broadcast in front of burning buildings will still tell you riots were a myth. Juan Williams did so just a few weeks ago on Fox News, saying it’s “not true” that “cities burned last summer.” Business owners would beg to differ.
I left a message for Sam from Car Source in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Duffy and I walked last summer in the immediate aftermath of the arson that left every vehicle of his car lot a gutted carcass of scorched metal. Although the immigrant business owner was kind enough to return my call, he politely declined to answer any questions about how he’s doing a year later, telling me he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.
“I closed that chapter,” Sam said.
— Kylee Zempel (@kyleezempel) September 2, 2020
Sam was far from the only one left watching his life’s work up in flames. Tom Gram, the owner of Rode’s Camera Shop, suffered a similar fate when rioters torched the store that had been a community establishment since 1911 and for three generations of John Rodes before Gram took it over about 42 years ago.
“I’m almost 64 years old,” Tom told The Federalist last summer outside the singed remnants of what was once his business. “And to put all that effort into rebuilding and getting the lab equipment and everything, the customers back, I just don’t think I have it in me anymore.”
After shouts of “No justice, no peace” rang through city streets last year, that slogan remains a two-pronged blow to business owners like Sam, who now have neither justice nor peace. His and Tom’s stories repeated themselves in Minneapolis, Portland, the District of Columbia, and elsewhere, yet some victims didn’t live to tell their own stories.
Just four days after federal protective service officer Dave Patrick Underwood was killed in an anti-police drive-by shooting, rioters left David Dorn to bleed out on the sidewalk after the black police officer tried to defend his friend’s store from mobs of looters.
These men should be alive today, preparing to honor our nation’s fallen heroes as they spend a day relaxing with family and friends. Sam and Tom should be posting abbreviated Memorial Day hours to do the same. Instead, Underwood and Dorn have become a different kind of fallen hero, and Tom has no business hours to shorten.
Never forget the hell that Black Lives Matter rained down last summer. And on this one-year anniversary of the Floyd riots that sparked them all, remember how much progress they’ve secured: none.