‘These People Are Tearing Up Our Livelihood’: How Jesus Responded to Violence

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“They did this for no reason. It’s not going to bring George back here. George is in a better place than we are. Last night, I’m going to be honest, I wished I was where George was. . . . These people are tearing up our livelihood.”

This is how Stephanie Wilford, a disabled African American woman who lives in south Minneapolis, responded to the recent destruction in her community. She obviously had nothing to do with the tragic death of George Floyd, but she has become a victim of those who are perpetrating violence in response to it. 

A woman threw a Molotov cocktail into an NYPD car with four police officers inside Saturday. The bottle shattered two of the vehicle’s windows, but the gas inside did not ignite because toilet paper was used instead of a rag. 

At least sixty Secret Service officers and special agents sustained multiple injuries in three days of violent clashes near the White House. The Lincoln Memorial and National Mall World War II Memorial are among the sites defaced with graffiti. Four police officers were shot early this morning in St. Louis and were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The ongoing violence has forced store closings around the country. 

In response, President Trump said late yesterday that he is taking “immediate action” to mobilize “all available federal resources” to stop looting and riots across the country. 

“The people are left with NO CHOICE” 

David French recently quoted New York Times author Michelle Goldberg, who noted that 2020 started off like 1974 (an impeachment crisis), quickly became 1918 (a pandemic), turned into 1929 (an economic crash), and is now 1968 (massive urban unrest). We could add 1992 and the images of Los Angeles burning after four police officers were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King. 

According to US historian John Baick, “What’s fundamentally common for all of these things in our history is a lack of agreement of what reality is—a lack of agreement about facts, about causes. When we can’t agree on basic truth, we reach our greatest periods of divide.” 

Here’s the reality upon which many are not agreeing today: violence is the wrong response to violence. 

Rapper Cardi B tweeted: “They looting in Minnesota and as much as I don’t like this type of violence it is what it is. Too much peaceful marches, too much trending hashtags and NO SOLUTIONS! The people are left with NO CHOICE.” 

Slate columnist Steven W. Thrasher claimed: “Property destruction for social change is as American as the Boston Tea Party and the Stonewall Riots.” (I plan to discuss the Boston Tea Party analogy in tomorrow’s Daily Article.) 

By contrast, Atlanta’s African American mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, denounced vandalism in her city: “What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is chaos.” She added: “If you want change in America, go and register to vote. That is the change we need in this country.” 

Which view more accurately reflects reality? 

Dr. Jim Denison is the CVO of Denison Forum. His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 200,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries.

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