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James of Oakland’s Letter

Dear Mister Capitalism,

My name is James and I have been attending the protests in Oakland the last three days to express my anger at the George Zimmerman verdict in Florida this past week. (for those who don’t know, read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Trayvon_Martin)

For me, allowing this man to go free after killing Trayvon Martin in cold blood is truly a travesty. And not just a travesty for young black men who have been subject to this kind of treatment for literally hundreds of years, but even moreso for the nation as a whole, where people can still be killed or discriminated against because of the way they look. The cases of Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant should be a signal to the rest of the country that the lynchings of the past are not over, but rather that they are simply done under a different name. It used to be the Ku Klux Klan, now it is the Police Departments who carry out these wanton crimes, but the story is the same: black people get killed, and the killers get off scot free.

All these important issues aside, I would like to ask you to address a different (and yet somehow similar) question in this regard, Mr. Capitalism. Why, with all the injustice in this case, and all the legitimate anger shown by protestors (called “rioters” by the mainstream press), has so much focus been placed not on the issue at hand, but rather on the minor property damage done and the burning of the American flag? Which is worse, the death of a 17-year old boy, or the breaking of a window? The shooting of a man in the back on a subway platform, or a piece of fabric?

Angry and confused,


Dear James,

There is a falsehood in this country that our founding fathers set out to create a country that was about the freedom of each person to do as he pleased. This was not true then, nor is it true now. As the great president James Madison once said, “Government is instituted no less for the protection of the property than of the persons of individuals.” And this is exactly right: we value property and goods more than people in this country and we always have, if you’re just waking up to this fact, then you haven’t been reading your textbooks lately.

You ask the question, what is more important: a window or a 17-year old boy? Well, I would have to ask you a counter-question: where was that boy from and how big was the window? If the glass was tinted, double-paned, perhaps even heat resistant to keep the cool air conditioning breeze inside, then that can get damn expensive!!! Trayvon Martin? What was he worth? Was he double-paned? Was he able to keep customers cool or warm depending on the whims of a store manager? Hell no! He was some good for nothing punk, who was skulking around a neighborhood in a hooded-sweatshirt and he “looked suspicious.” That’s all I need if some kid comes into my community: I don’t care if he’s black, or brown or purple, if there’s someone in my yard I don’t know, I shoot him and let the cops sort it out. (and pay the appropriate fees to have it “sorted out” properly, of course. Now that’s the American way!)

To your second point, I think we can all agree that you are way off-base. Calling the American flag “a piece of fabric” is far more a travesty than the American justice system that you whine about so much. Those stars and stripes are a symbol of everything that makes this country great. And on top of that, it is property itself! Somebody paid their hard cash for that flag, what about them? Sure, you have every right to protest, but protest in a way that doesn’t affect me in any way! Don’t block my streets and cause traffic, don’t break my windows and don’t spray paint my cop cars. In fact, why don’t you just protest in your own homes so I don’t have to see your ugly faces at all? As you must have learned by now, we’re going to ignore you no matter what you do, so you might as well quit while you’re behind.



One thought on “James of Oakland’s Letter

  1. It is good to break windows in Oakland. It helps to make the demonstrators look like mindless thugs. It also helps to reinforce the scary stereotypes that led to Treyvon’s death in the first place. Maybe Trayvon was a thug after all and a genuine threat to the community?
    And breaking windows helps to support the OPD. Scarce community resources that might go towards such useless things as community centers and medical clinics, can now be channeled to the OPD for overtime pay and cool surveillance and “non-lethal”-weapons toys.
    So keep breaking those windows! (Except mine, of course).

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