November 6, 2020

Statement on recent protests and vandalism

I’ve been vocal in my support for the nightly Black Lives Matter protests, and clear about the distinction I see between property damage by protesters and physical violence by police -- with the latter, in my view, more dangerous.  Now I also need to be clear about this: the escalating vandalism we’re seeing is destructive to our community, and does not advance the cause of racial justice.

For some time now, there has been a divergence in tactics between groups and events clearly associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, and other, smaller groups intent on destructive behavior. Last week, multiple businesses in the Lloyd District were damaged. Two nights ago, it was small businesses and a church downtown - a church that serves hundreds of houseless people every day. Last night, City Commissioner Dan Ryan’s home was vandalized.

This activity hurts businesses that are already suffering, impedes the economic recovery we need in order for our entire community to weather the pandemic, and damaged an institution that performs a vital public service. 

And it does not further the cause of Black lives or of public safety transformation. It risks diminishing public support for justified protest, distracts attention from necessary action and change, and feeds a damaging narrative of violent protest and the need for additional policing. It does not reflect the values of the Black Lives Matter movement, which are expansive, humanistic, and constructive - not destructive.

Protest is a means to an end -- Black lives mattering, racial justice, and a community that reflects those values. Now, more than in a very long time, we have enormous opportunity to move towards those goals. That’s where we need to focus -- with strategic action, care, and intention. Thank you to all those who continue steadfastly to do the work.