Reflections On Broken Windows (Opinion)

Carol Denney
Sunday December 07, 2014 - 09:20:00 AM

Protesters tried to set fire to my apartment building last night, white people in masks who were stopped by my young Latino neighbors. The protesters brought a tank of gas with them to the march. We had to rescue a recycling bin, which they wanted to use as a barricade or perhaps burn. All this does is hemorrhage overtime pay into police pockets and frighten people away from joining marches.

We have children in this building. We have dozens of residents who stood in front of our apartments astonished at being targeted, watching the circling helicopters in the moonlit sky. We have everything in common with people who oppose police brutality and support police accountability. We are old and young, we are black, white, latino, asian, and pacific islanders. We are a rainbow community with stories of our own about police misconduct.

What do you masked protesters prove with broken windows? What message do you send by smashing into a grocery store, a yarn store, or even the local Wells Fargo branch, which is right under my neighbors' apartment homes?

I'm not someone who has not marched, sat in, gone to jail. But I will not provide cover for cowards who exploit a peaceful effort to join the national voice against police corruption at a crucial moment. Broken windows might catch a photographer's or reporter's attention momentarily, but whatever ambiguous message vandalism sends is not nearly as powerful as numbers, which masked vandals never seem to master. Peaceful, nonviolent tactics don't just sound nice; they are the practical path to change.