The True Cost of Riots

The True Cost of Riots By Lipton Matthews for American Thinker

In a recent interview, BLM organizer Ariel Atkins argued that lootings are reparations for African Americans.   Atkins denounced the suggestion that anything can be gained from peaceful protests. “Winning has come through revolts, Winning has come through riots, ‘’ she said.   Unfortunately, the belligerence of people like Atkins has been nurtured by mainstream intellectuals, who originally downplayed the malevolent intentions of dangerous activists. Therefore, as adults, we have no alternative but to remind these youngsters that sparking riots is an ineffective strategy to advance the cause of African Americans.

A striking case against riots is clearly expressed in the findings of Professor Mary C. King  whose research demonstrates “little relationship between regional progress for African Americans and relatively proximate race riots.” Riotous behavior often results in businesses fleeing minority communities, thus depriving residents of employment and income.

Racism is an extremely sensitive matter; however, sensitivity must be tempered by logic.  African Americans have experienced substantial progress over the past century.  Eroding these gains is a possibility if rational adults refrain from correcting misguided activists.  Such was the impact of the race riots of the 1960s.

Examining the effects of civil disorder on small businesses in inner cities, sociologists Howard Aldrich and Albert Reiss found that riots not only inflicted serious property damages but in the long term they made it prohibitive to operate in inner cities, hence driving up insurance costs. As a result, businesses migrated to nurturing environments.  Low-income residents are the major beneficiaries of entrepreneurship in the inner city, so when emotions trump logic and businesses exit these communities, the losers are poor black people.

Current agitators also seem oblivious to the impact of riots on black property owners.  Eminent economists Robert Margo and William Collins in their assessment of the effects of the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr argue that “the riots depressed the median value of black-owned property between 1960 and 1970, with little or no rebound in the 1970s. Analysis of household-level data suggests that the racial gap in the value of property widened in the riot inflicted cities during the 1970s.” Housing is a contributor to the racial-wealth gap, therefore if properties depreciate due to the risk of riots, how can African Americans make headways in closing the wealth gap?  The long-term implication of riots is that they stigmatize African American communities as hotbeds of social unrest.  Homes in such neighborhoods will not be purchased by progressive people interested in building wealth.  What this means is that African Americans are deprived of the social capital and networks required to succeed in a competitive environment.

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