Yale University students are learning there’s “a practical and tactical benefit to looting.”


Students in DeRay Mckesson’s lecture on “Transformational Leadership in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement” received some very interesting reading material this week, as highlighted by Twitter user ShordeeDooWhop, who’s apparently in the class, Hotair.com reports.

“I’m back in @delray’s class @yale today. The topic now is ‘In Defense of Looting,’” ShordeeDooWhop posted with a link to an article penned by Willie Osterweil during the height of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

The reading was assigned by Mckesson, a middle school administrator and Black Lives Matter protester, who is one of three speakers in the Yale Divinity School’s new course offering. Other assigned readings include Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book “Between the World and Me,” a Huffington Post article titled “How The Black Lives Matter Movement Changed the Church,” the book “Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfilled Hopes for Racial Reform” by author Derrick Bell, Leah Gunning Francis’ book “Ferguson & Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community,” and a New York Times article titled “Our Demand Is Simple: Stop Killing Us,” according to Fox News.

The Osterweil piece, as the title suggests, makes the case for why looting and violent riots that accompany racial strife is a good thing, and attempts to justify the actions of thieves and criminals who participate.

Osterweil argues that the white supremacist media perpetuates the problem of violence at protests, and claims it’s the violence itself that led to change during the civil rights movement.

“In working to correct the white-supremacist media narrative we can end up reproducing police tactics of isolating the individuals who attack property at protests. Despite the fact that if it were not for those individuals the media might pay no attention at all,” the article reads.

“If protesters hadn’t looted and burnt down that QuikTrip on the second day of (the Ferguson) protests, would Ferguson be a point of worldwide attention? It’s impossible to know, but all the non-violent protests against police killings across the country that go unreported seem to indicate the answer is no.

“It was the looting of a Duane Reade after a vigil that brought widespread attention to the murder of Kimani Gray in New York City,” Osterweil continues. “The media’s own warped procedure instructs that riots and looting are more effective at attracting attention to a cause.”

The article claims that violence is what ultimately convinced President John F. Kennedy to take action in the 1960s.

“It took months of largely non-violent campaigning in Birmingham, Alabama to force JFK to give his speech calling for a civil rights act. But in the month before he did so, the campaign in Birmingham had become decidedly not-non-violent: protesters had started fighting back against the police and Eugine ‘Bull’ Conner, throwing rocks, and breaking windows. Robert Kennedy, afraid that the increasingly riotous atmosphere in Birmingham would spread across Alabama and the South, convinced John to deliver the famous speech and begin moving towards civil rights legislation.”

And the fear riots instill in whites is the point, according to “In Defense of Looting.”

“The mystifying ideological claim that looting is violent and non-political is one that has been carefully produced by the ruling class because it is precisely the violent maintenance of property which is both the basis and end of their power. Looting is extremely dangerous to the rich (and most white people) because it reveals, with an immediacy that has to be moralized away, that the idea of private property is just that: an idea, a tenuous and contingent structure of consent, backed up by the lethal force of the state. When rioters take territory and loot, they are revealing precisely how, in a space without cops, property relations can be destroyed and things can be had for free,” according to the reading assignment.

“On a less abstract level there is a practical and tactical benefit to looting. Whenever people worry about looting, there is an implicit sense that the looter must necessarily be acting selfishly, “opportunistically,” and in excess. But why is it bad to grab an opportunity to improve well-being, to make life better, easier, or more comfortable? Or, as Hannah Black put it on Twitter: “Cops exist so people can’t loot ie have nice things for free so idk why it’s so confusing that people loot when they protest against cops” [sic]. Only if you believe that having nice things for free is amoral, if you believe, in short, that the current (white-supremacist, settler-colonialist) regime of property is just, can you believe that looting is amoral in itself.”

ShordeeDooWhop’s tweet about DeRay’s lecture on looting prompted numerous comments on the social media site before her account was switched to private.

“It was a nice run America,” EducatedHillbilly tweeted in response. “We had some laughs …”

“Call me crazy but I really don’t see how that’s gonna help you get a job when u graduate,” vanna516 added.

“How about ‘In defense of getting a job’? Is that on the curriculum?” #war tweeted.

HotAir.com also sounded off on Mckesson’s assignment.

“Apparently we’ve had this whole ‘crime vs lawfulness’ thing backwards the entire time. Looting isn’t a criminal activity … it’s a way to have nice things for free, and if you think that’s amoral position you are obviously racist and part of the effort to keep poor people down,” blogger Jazz Shaw wrote.

“I simply can’t believe how wrong we’ve been for all this time. In fact, I could use a new TV for the den, so if any of you would be willing to help me strap a few shopping carts together and give me a ride down to Target …”


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