The Independent Institute

 
        

Small Business Suffers: The Riots, Past and Present



Small business owner Natalie Dubose saw her bakery destroyed by looters during the Ferguson riots. Help her out here: http://www.gofundme.com/hsivb8

Several years ago, I wrote an article for The Independent Review on the urban riots of the 1960s (and the Rodney King riot of 1992). Watching the events unfold in Ferguson, it seems those in charge of riot control learned nothing. Once again, the victims were small business owners—many of them African Americans (as was the case in the 1960s). Civil leaders held the police and Guard back, apparently following the same old “it is better to let them loot than shoot” policy. Belatedly, the Guard was posted at the stores that are usually rioted: pharmacies, liquor stores, etc.

Read my Daily Caller essay for a discussion of victims of looting and arson in Ferguson.

The response from law enforcement on Monday night was baffling, given the very realistic expectation of looting. Here is an excerpt from a Reason.com article:

When asked if he had been unprepared on Monday night, Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said that, “none of us could have imagined last night would be what it was...we’ve never seen anything like this.” I’m guessing the man isn’t getting much sleep these days, but it’s fairly alarming that the on-scene commander of the Highway Patrol wasn’t familiar with, or hadn’t taken any lessons from, past instances of unrest following controversial and racially divisive judicial decisions.

On Tuesday, Governor Nixon announced he was tripling the number of troops responding, and their presence was quite visible. National Guard troops also played a different role than they did the night before, with soldiers actually going into crowds of protestors to make arrests. Troops were also stationed in front of businesses on at-risk roads—something the already looted/burned businesses would have no doubt appreciated the night before.

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