Rolling Stone, “Smashy Smashy: Nine Historical Triumphs to Make You Rethink Property Destruction,” October 21, 2014

Smashy Smashy: Nine Historical Triumphs to Make You Rethink Property Destruction
Jesse A Myerson, Jose Martin, Rolling Stone, October 21, 2014

Flag-burning and property destruction in Ferguson are part of a long, proud history

After Officer Darren Wilson shot teenager Michael Brown dead this summer, Ferguson, Missouri, erupted with outrage, compassion and street protests. The response from many corners of the commentariat was predictable: condemnations of those “bad elements” among the protesters who resorted to property destruction as their demonstration of resistance. After two more high-profile incidents of cops shooting St. Louis black men to death, protesters even burned Old Glory, eliciting still more scandalized gasps from the usual crowd.

While drunken, rioting white college students may be surprised by how the cycle of condemnation plays out, it’s a familiar refrain for anyone who’s been involved in Occupy Wall Street, the anti-Iraq War movement, or any of dozens of other protest cycles: The “good” protesters march, carry signs and make their voices heard, but anyone who smashes, burns or vandalizes contaminates the otherwise defensible show of democracy.

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