by Ryan Lee

On 30 May 2020 a large crowd amassed at Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles jolted into action by the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. After two months under state-ordered lockdown there was a palpable atmosphere of anger diffuse amongst the crowd; how these passions would translate into action was at that point ambiguous. Smaller demonstrations had already occurred in Downtown LA days before: on 27 May a BLM-LA organized protest had ended with thousands of protesters marching onto the 110-freeway, then followed by two days of spontaneous protests resulting in scattered vandalism and looting. The conflagration that had engulfed the Third Precinct in Minneapolis was then freshly etched into the psyche of millions of Americans; the symbolic significance of this act transcending the physical desecration of the actual building. Los Angeles, of course, has its own genealogy of racist police violence and black proletarian rage; the memory of the 1992 Rodney King riots still endures among the populace, unable to be forgotten. A 2017 survey of LA residents found that 60% expected another riot to take place within five years; amongst the young, more than 70% expected a riot in the near-term.1 On the restiveness of his generation, a young Angeleno observed: “they blame something and don’t know what it is exactly; they can’t express it, so they just go out.”2

The crowd that had convened was young, multi-ethnic and, like many other demonstrations in cities across the country, skewed predominantly white. Numerous protest signs called for inter-racial unity, perhaps an implicit acknowledgment of the racial tensions exposed by the ’92 riots, but also a unity against President Trump’s racialized invectives against American minorities throughout his tenure. “Black” was the central mobilizing identity, a pole of attraction that for the first time extended well beyond the black population itself; but “black” also provided the means for the symbolic condensation of the injustices, degradation, and violence experienced by different communities under a head of state viewed by many as illegitimate. Perhaps the essential link here was a latent recognition, by non-black participants, of the social content blackness signified as a marker of a degraded class: ongoing dehumanisation as a result of forced unemployment and state-mandated lockdowns. California had been the first state to undergo a lockdown after governor Gavin Newsom declared a state-wide stay-at-home order on 19 March, abruptly shutting down large chunks of the economy. The unemployment rate in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, which includes Long Beach and Anaheim, increased from 3.9% in February to 18.3% in May, with over 1 million unemployed, a third of California’s total.3

Patrisse Cullors, at that time the last remaining co-founder of the national BLM organization and an LA resident, made a guest appearance proclaiming “we’re living in the middle of an uprising for black life!” The rally took place in the Fairfax district, a predominantly white neighborhood on the westside of LA. Organized by the local chapter of BLM-LA headed by Melina Abdullah, a Professor at Cal State University Los Angeles, and a new local non-profit BLD PWR started in 2019 by Hollywood actor Kendrick Sampson, the demonstration’s location was “deliberately chosen” by organizers, a retort to often-heard complaints of black riots occurring in black neighborhoods to the detriment of black communities. As the rally ended the crowd overflowed into the surrounding streets splintering into two blocs; a large crowd marched to Beverly Hills passing by luxury stores on Rodeo Drive as protesters chanted “eat the rich”, while another crowd lingered around the upscale commercial strip on Fairfax Avenue. At the latter location Sampson concluded the official demonstration by quoting BLM’s favored icon Assata Shakur: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win” which was then followed by an enigmatic denouement as Sampson told the crowd that the protest was over, but it was “up to the crowd” to decide “what happens now”. Was this a surreptitious invitation to riot? The meaning of the declaration was ambivalent, but the crowd seemed to have a presentiment of what was to come.

What transpired afterwards was the familiar pattern of protest-cum-looting that was then unfolding in major cities across the country. Confrontations between LAPD and the large crowd lingering on Fairfax precipitated the sequence: cop cars were set alight as clashes between the police and protesters spiraled outwards from Fairfax Avenue; widespread vandalism and looting percolated throughout westside LA, concentrated in the adjacent neighborhoods of La Brea, Melrose, and Beverly Hills, the westside’s prized temples of consumption.4 Skirmishes with police played out on alternating blocks while caravans of cars rolled up on empty commercial corridors lacking any police presence and cleared out storefronts of various luxury goods. Later that evening local news interviewed a young protester sporting a college sweatshirt and mask holding a BLM sign with the aftermath of the day’s destruction as the backdrop. The reporter posed the usual question: was all this violence and destruction necessary, wasn’t it obscuring the message? The young woman replied calmly: “this violence you see out here is what black people feel everyday. Rioting is a language of the unheard”. Similar types of rationale could be heard in many other cities across the country. By night’s end Mayor Eric Garcetti called in the National Guard to quell the unrest.

In the following days a similar pattern of protests accompanied by diffuse rioting but mostly looting spread to the surrounding cities of Long Beach and Santa Monica, and Van Nuys. A county-wide curfew was set in place for several days as soldiers from the National Guard patrolled the streets; many protesters were arrested for violating the curfews. On 2 June the LA Police Commission held a virtual meeting online open to public comment: for eight hours Police Chief Michel Moore was pilloried by what city residents had perceived as LAPD’s aggressive handling of protests; Moore had also blamed looters for “capitalizing” on George Floyd’s death.5

Over the next few weeks demonstrations of variable size swept through cities at the outer limits of LA county, extending to faraway suburbs in the Inland Empire and Orange County. Many of these demonstrations were not organized by formal groups or activists but by young high-school and college-aged individuals using social media. BLD PWR, BLM-LA, and local rapper YG organized a Hollywood protest attracting more than 10,000 to the streets. Over 50 cities in Los Angeles County witnessed demonstrations; by the end of the first week of June, close to a quarter of all protesters arrested nationally were in LA.6 By mid-June, demonstrations were still ongoing but had started dwindling in numbers. An activist group calling itself the Black Future Project, tracing its own genealogy to Occupy LA and BLM, set up an occupation downtown in front of city hall, which saw an ebb and flow of participants camping out, holding strategy meetings, and figuring out how to push the struggle further. Demonstrations continued through the summer, but as summer turned to fall, protest activity had been reduced to a hard core of militants.

While this wave of struggle was multi-racial, it was no less marked by inter-classism; the largest share of protesters came from the middle class.7 Many demonstrations spontaneously emerged in suburbs and exurbs, often initiated by young high school and college students. While looting tended to be set in motion by proletarian youth, action by the middle classes were by no means homogeneously peaceful. Their discourse and actions were often contradictory and shaped by the practical intensity of proletarian rage. On social media a powerful counter-discourse emerged contesting criticisms of rioting and looting; justification, if not support, for looting became widespread on liberal platforms. This was amplified by speakers at numerous demonstrations, with even local and national media outlets interviewing purported looters about their actions, at times sympathetically.8

One high-profile case in New York involved Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman, two lawyers “with promising futures” arrested after throwing a Molotov into an empty patrol car parked in front of a Brooklyn police station. Mainstream news outlets reported the duo had been driving around Brooklyn after a protest looking to incite others; Rahman had declared to a journalist earlier that day: “this has got to stop and the only way they hear us is through violence”.9 Both had working class backgrounds and Mattis had an Ivy League education; the event perplexed the liberal media, how could these two symbols of American uplift so willingly disavow their ascent into the prized elite? Rahman and Mattis are perhaps exceptional cases, but their gesture reverberated at least in spirit with a layer of the disaffected middle class. While there were momentary convergences between fractions of the middle class and more proletarian and lumpen elements, the tensions between class fractions also reflected tensions within the middle class itself.

The middle class conceives of itself as the “non-class”. The ambiguous identity of the middle class acts as a denial of class identity, substituting class antagonism with a moralizing repudiation of the two polar extremes of the class hierarchy: a phobia of the proletarian poor (or of possibly becoming them) at the bottom and a hatred of the wealthy economic and political elites at the top. Fractions of the middle class had already been squeezed economically since the 1970s; the financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic had exacerbated this pressure. The lockdown had been a boon for some segments, increasing their savings in some instances, while simultaneously immiserating others, whether economically or existentially. In this context particular fractions of the middle class conceivably found themselves confronting a choice: the party of Law and Order or the party of humanity? For black middle class activists in particular, especially those of whom had been activated by the initial iteration of anti-police struggles earlier in the decade, these tensions would prove to be insurmountable.

From Race Leaders to Race Entrepreneurs

“The only thing #Deray #Netta or #BlackLivesMatter (the org) did in #Ferguson was tweet about our work and collect $”
– Darren Seals

By fall of 2020 the unity afforded by ‘race’ during the uprising began to fracture. These fault lines were of course not new, they were already apparent in the first wave of black-led anti-police struggles where an uneasy coalition between black proletarians and a constellation of black middle class activists had propelled the uprising forward in Ferguson.10 But this unease only became a rift after the struggle had ebbed and the gradual return to the normal reproduction of everyday life put material pressures on local activists and black proletarians in Ferguson, while a handful of newly prominent social media activists decided on their menu of outside options to the dissipating struggle: national non-profits, media, journalism, the culture industry. Where only months before “race” had mediated class amidst the clamor of struggle, now an inversion took place as class came to mediate “race”.

DeRay Mckesson, emblematic of the new coterie of young activists activated by the fires of Ferguson, had already drawn ire from Darren Seals, a close friend of Brown and his family and a local Ferguson activist. Seals denounced Mckesson and other social media activists for their betrayal of local activists in Ferguson, abandoning the plight of black proletarians in pursuit of personal gain. Indeed, after the uprising ebbed, Mckesson went on to be interviewed by liberal news outlets, unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Baltimore, started the policy reform organization Campaign Zero, and a host of other CV fillers. Meanwhile, Darren Seals returned to his job on the assembly line of General Motors, using Twitter to criticize the new black activist elite until his mysterious death on 6 September 2016.11 The tension between these two figures is representative of the segmentation within the nebulous category of the “black middle class”: on the one hand, a segment comprised of those working in the public sector or secure blue-collar jobs but still often living in or near poor black communities; and on the other, the small fraction of professionals and petit-bourgeois working in the non-profit and media industries, often far removed from the constituencies they claim to represent.12

While the new activists identified with the plight of black proletarians, their disconnection from this “base” compelled them to adopt tactics from the non-profit world of which many were familiar, such as fundraising through building social media influence. The social media ecosystem had enabled some of these activists to amass large online followings, simultaneously providing visibility to themselves while signal boosting protests and incidences of police violence. This media prominence in turn attracted resources: donations from sympathetic liberals, but also book deals, meetings with politicians, and career-boosting CV items. This generation’s social media activists were perhaps not so much the new “race leaders” as they were “race entrepreneurs”.13 They do not view themselves as leaders, and they do not represent a defined black constituency; but their self-delegation as spokespeople for the cause has blurred the line between promotion of black issues and self-promotion.

Like other entrepreneurs, this new activist elite also competes with one another: in September 2019, DeRay Mckesson released an expository blogpost detailing Shaun King’s penchant for raising funds for various black causes only for the money to mysteriously disappear.14 Yet Mckesson himself would fall prey to public scrutiny after Campaign Zero’s #8CantWait was launched amidst the national uprising in summer 2020. It proposed eight policies to reduce police violence, including restrictions on choke holds, de-escalation mandates, and a requirement for police officers to give a verbal warning prior to shooting. The effort was met with opprobrium by other activists for being out of sync with the moment, for “defund the police” had become the new watchword circulating in cities across the country outflanking more liberal reforms. The activists behind Campaign Zero were out-of-step with the sentiments of the moment. Shortly thereafter Campaign Zero imploded: Brittany Packnett Cunningham left the organization at the beginning of June followed by Johnetta Elzie and Samuel Sinyangwe; all had been thrust into the media spotlight during the first wave of black-led struggles; they publicly criticized Mckesson’s self-promotion and fame “getting to his head”. DeRay remained behind in the organization appointing himself the executive director.15 Apart from such interpersonal quibbles, the organization had faced public questions about the it’s “accountability”: whose interests did they really represent?


On 30 November 2020, ten BLM chapters calling themselves #BLM10 released a public statement entitled “It is Time for Accountability” raising concerns over the lack of “financial transparency, decision making, and accountability” of the national Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGN). Days before Patrisse Cullors had appointed herself the Executive Director for BLMGN while also forming a BLM Political Action Committee and BLM Grassroots, an assembly of official Black Lives Matter chapters. She responded by downplaying the incident as unofficial BLM chapters attempting to garner clout. Issues about the financial transparency of BLMGN had already circulated due to the large influx of donations during the national uprising. The New York Times found the organization awash with upwards of $90 million of donations; the average donation was $30, but a portion had come from corporate donors including Amazon, Microsoft, and Intel. More than half of that sum was spent on consultations and real estate along with grants to smaller organizations.16 In 2019, the national non-profit already had $3.3 million in assets, not an insubstantial sum for an organization founded by self-professed “Marxists”.

As a national organization BLMGN has an ambiguous purpose: its aversion in participating in national politics and rejection of the Democratic Party is coupled with the absence of a clear policy platform. The national non-profit was essentially a social media brand and a franchise of sorts for activists. BLM was supposed to be decentralized and leaderless, as tirelessly reiterated by its three co-founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Ayọ Tometi (formerly Opal). But the relationship between the national non-center “core” and the local chapters was always somewhat vague. Local BLM chapters, adhering to a set of guiding principles, would define themselves according to pertinent issues affecting local black communities. Aside from the air of legitimacy garnered by association with the “official” BLMGN brand, local chapters did not differ much from other similar activist groups in their activity, sometimes employing disruptive actions and engaging in a range of hot-button liberal issues: voter registration, education, reproductive rights, etc.

The chapter in LA was led by college-educated professors and artists. The shooting of 25-year-old Ezell Ford by the LAPD on 11 August 2014, only two days after Michael Brown had been murdered in Ferguson, propelled the group forward. A series of small protests ensued in the following days for the twin deaths of Ford and Brown, but LA’s turnout in 2014 was a handful of black activist groups and local civil rights leaders. BLM-LA camped out in front of mayor Eric Garcetti’s house in Hancock Park and was eventually granted a meeting with the mayor. Later in the year the group participated in a protest camp outside LAPD headquarters that lasted for about a week before it was cleared out. It was only in the aftermath of high-profile police shootings that these local chapters were able to draw crowds and act in some sense as representatives of an imaginary movement. Their real leverage against the state was the sanction of proletarian riots. BLM, the organization, always maintained a nebulous relationship to the rioting. To disavow the riots would undermine their identification with their black proletarian “base” whom BLM were supposed to represent.

On 16 March 2021, Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, and Lisa Simpson, whose son Richard Risher had been killed by LAPD in Watts in July 2016, released a statement condemning Cullors, Shaun King, and other media activists profiting at the expense of their dead sons: “we don’t want or need y’all parading in the streets accumulating donations, platforms, and movie deals etc.”17 Shaun King had been notorious for setting up a donation fund for Tamir Rice’s family with the funds never directly reaching the family until they pressured King publicly. Meanwhile BLM-LA had promised Lisa Simpson to cover her son’s funeral expenses, but Simpson never saw any money. Simpson also stated she was never contacted by Patrisse Cullors, despite the latter stating publicly that they had. The statement was released a few weeks after Michael Brown Sr., father of Mike Brown, and local Ferguson activist Tory Russell posted a video demanding $20 million for local activists and programs.18

Then in May 2021 the conservative tabloid New York Post published an investigation into Cullors’ purchase of four luxury homes in LA and Atlanta, insinuating the misuse of BLMGN funds. That, in conjunction with the massive inflow of donations following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, signaled that a reckoning had come. It appeared as though Cullors was running a racket. The national non-profit was an organ without an organization; a lucrative trade mark whose value was dependent on the high-profile slaying of typically poor black Americans. Cullors denied any wrongdoing by making the balance sheet public, asserting in multiple interviews that she had not used any donations for personal use. However, Cullors stepped down as executive director by the end of May, purportedly to focus on her second book and a TV deal with Warner Brothers. Alicia Garza, who now runs the Black Futures Lab, a think tank dedicated to pushing “Black political power”, had left the organization back in 2017. Ayọ Tometi, meanwhile, had continued her work at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, a non-profit advocacy organization working on racial and immigration policy. Both made their expected appearances in a handful of news outlets and liberal magazines after the demonstrations and riots had died down, but both also remained distant from the debacle unraveling their coveted organization. Then in April 2022, it was revealed Cullors had secretly purchased a $6 million mansion in Studio City in October 2020, a city on the westside of LA where the median household income is above $150,000. The secret was inadvertently publicized in a YouTube video featuring Cullors, Garza, and Melina Abdullah chatting on an ornate patio; Cullors discussed how the public criticism of her property purchases was a hit job by the right-wing media on the BLM brand while Abdullah concurred: BLM (but which BLM?) could not be canceled. The house was supposed to be a BLMGN campus for black “content creators”, but the purchase was invariably perceived as a misuse of funds.19 Along with the property, recent tax filings revealed BLMGN had paid 4 million dollars to “consultants” who were close to Cullors, including Damon Turner, the father of her child, and her brother Paul.

Over the past decade, the peculiar brand of militancy curated by high-profile BLM activists had generated a certain mystique in which a vaguely defined radical (even “anti-capitalist”) self-image was coupled with material support for conventional liberal anti-racist issues. Thus, BLM could proclaim that “capitalism doesn’t love Black people” while welcoming “sympathy” from corporate executives in the form of donations. But the contradictions underlying black unity, namely the gap between the largely college-educated and middle class activist elite and poor black proletarians, led many of these social media activists to conceive of “blackness” in its evermore refined particularity. Intersectionality provided the alibi.

In LA one would often hear the slogan “ALL Black Lives Matter”, a testament to the internal differences and contradictions that belie outward projections of black unity. The impossibility of adequately representing a set of unified black interests that would translate to a coherent program of action would result in many activists pursuing creative interventions in the economy of subcultural representation, namely, the arts, the movie industry, etc. as entrepreneurs of identity.20 These cultural entrepreneurs explicitly rejected the model of representation prominent during the civil rights movement, in which a black political elite symbolized the interests of all blacks under a metaphoric unity. Instead, for BLM activists, blackness functions metonymically, the heterogeneity of black interest registered by the contiguous but separate segmentations of identity. If before the part had mediated the whole of blackness, now the parts were immediately the whole.

This string of identities tended to affirm black entrepreneurs, as BLM activists called on supporters to invest in black-owned businesses and banks. But did it also include the proletarian looters? This may have been the case. Many BLM chapters across the country responded ambivalently to the riots: challenging Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot’s condemnation of the looters, BLM Chicago issued a statement proclaiming the false equivalency of corporate and proletarian looting; while BLM-LA reframed the events in LA away from the looting by asserting the primacy of the death of another black man at the hands of racist police. BLM-LA’s Melina Abdullah and Patrisse Cullors had made it a point that they had deliberately chosen the wealthier part of LA for the demonstrations: could this have been a simple miscalculation, or a retrospectively opportunist adaptation to the public sentiment? The ambivalence of BLM activists was visible more widely amongst middle class participants: with political and existential commitments chafing against class interests. In the riots this ambiguous form of black representation was confronted with its repressed content: the proletariat, not merely as a sociological category, but rather as a partisan orientation in the struggle for a human community. Those who had confronted the cops, burned cars, looted shops, and participated generally in what Watler Benjamin had named the “destructive character” part and parcel of the proletarian disposition.

While the 2020 uprising had enabled the handful of social media activists to once again gain some degree of prominence in the media spotlight, they proved unable to maintain a secure foothold. Black identity could temporarily suture the gap between class fragments, but material gains by the “chosen few” were a glaring affront to the cause. Yet despite being constrained by class and professional allegiances, some BLM activists have also recognized that the riot is the most powerful sanction at their disposal. The contradictoriness of BLM resides in the intrinsic volatility of identity politics. Social media had provided access to the position of race leadership, but due to the continuous capacity for black identity in particular (and identity more generally) to be formed and re-formed by whomever decides to affirm it, the new race leaders struggled to maintain their position as the penultimate representatives of the movement. 21

Crime Wave

Amid the spectacularized fall of the national BLM network in the year following the 2020 summer uprising, there was another trend that disconcerted news outlets and liberal suburbanites; the riot-wave had seemingly turned into a “crime wave”.

On the one hand, in 2020, homicide rates increased by 25% in cities across the US, with the rise disproportionately due to gun violence and concentrated in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. While murders were still far below the highs of the 1980s and 90s, the year-on-year increase in 2020 was unprecendented. Some attributed this to the disruptive impact of the pandemic, on both personal relations and criminal gangs. But the rise also echoed past waves of protest, when the uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore were followed by an uptick in interpersonal violence in those cities. The so-called “Ferguson effect” has been attributed to a reduction in policing, due either to a demoralisation of police in the face of protests and negative media representation, or to an intentional withdrawal of police “labour” to gain leverage in fraught city budget negotiations. But the sharp increase in homicide and assault may also be explained by a pulsion, or unconscious reaction, to the glaring and intensifying misery of daily life after the effusive possibilities of open struggle (see the articles in this special issue by Shemon Salam and Idris Robinson). What remains clear is that interpersonal violence is a real social symptom of a world dominated by capital, one that manifests itself as much in the household as in the street, and that this raises a question not only for any prospect of defunding the police, but also for any communist prospect: how can we address conflict without the mediation of the police, the courts, or the state?22

On the other hand, long after the riots had died down, organised looting remained a semi-regular occurrence in major cities across the nation. In 2021, as local economies reopened in California, a series of high-profile “smash and grab” robberies, primarily occurring in high-end commercial districts, caught the attention of the media cycle in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco. In November, organised groups raided the Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Bloomingdale’s in Union Square and downtown SF; in the outer Bay area suburbs of Walnut Creek and Hayward, coordinated groups armed with crowbars and ski masks looted stores.23 In LA, the fall and winter saw a similar pattern, repeated daytime smash and grab robberies of luxury stores, groups ranging in size from a handful of individuals to hundreds; a CVS in Hollywood was sacked by around 100 people.24 There were also reports of a spate of home invasions in wealthier neighbourhoods and multiple incidences of the wealthy followed home by robbers, culminating in December when Hollywood notable Jacqueline Avant, wife of music producer Clarence Avant, was fatally shot in her home in Beverly Hills during a home robbery.

What was odd about all this was what seemed to be the targeting of stores and homes in wealthier and whiter zip codes in a relatively brief window of time. It appeared to be coordinated to varying degrees. Images on the news of luxury jewellery stores looted in broad daylight, often by large groups of young black and brown proletarians, resonated uneasily with the looting that had taken place in conjunction with protests just a year before. Of course, this time there were no demonstrations to work with as a foil. But maybe the widespread spontaneous looting had been emboldening while the police and the city government looked increasingly illegitimate, if they even ever were. LA’s new liberal DA, George Gascón, was swept into office in December 2020 intent on reforming the prosecution of crime; he was now blamed for its increase, especially his policy of not seeking cash bail for certain crimes. LAPD police chief Moore reported that there were organised gang members involved; later he suggested that there were “crime tourists” from other countries, mainly from Latin America, coming to LA to go on a crime spree. The “crime wave” of course gave grist for conservative backlash, as echoes of “defund the police” disappeared from public discourse and seemingly perennial suburbanite fears of “outsiders” came into rotation.

The protests and riots had come and gone in LA, like an odd delirium that had punctuated the reproduction of malaise and misery held tenuously together by a Katechonic state: “the retainer that holds down the chaos that pushes up from below”.25 Now a hidden transcript of organized proletarian “struggle”, the Other movement, had appeared in the streets. What remained after the widespread demonstrations and riots was an indivisible remainder, the persistence of a practice that had found its place within the topology of struggle, but now appearing as an involution of black identity struggle to its most operative term: organized looting. Perhaps the latent tensions of the uprising here perversely manifested as an immediate practical critique of the middle class (hence the targeting of luxury stores, wealthier neighborhoods, tourists, etc.), with its operative denial of class antagonism, but a critique that came with immediate material benefits. While large portions of the middle class withdrew back into their respective habituses, poor proletarians were once again confronted with the pressing issue of survival. The pillaging of rich neighborhoods and sites of conspicuous consumption was a reminder to polite society: we are still here.

  1. ‘LA Riots 25 Years Later: 2017 Los Angeles Public Opinion Survey Report (2017)’; the highest increase since when the survey was first conducted in 1997.
  2. ‘LA Riots 25 Years Later: 2017 Los Angeles Public Opinion Survey Report (2017)’
  3. BLS Local Area Unemployment Statistics
  4. Smaller protests had occurred in the previous nights with some confrontations with the police and scattered looting in Downtown.
  5. ‘L.A. Residents Flood Zoom Meeting with Calls for LAPD Chief to Resign’, Huffington Post, 3 June 2020.
  6. ‘Arrests at widespread US protests hit 10,000’, AP News, 4 June 2020.
  7. Here we use “middle-class” loosely to denote middle-income earners. A report on the demographic composition of the protest conducted by Civis Analytics found that the largest share of protesters had annual incomes higher than $150,000. See ‘Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in U.S. History’, New York Times, 3 July 2020.
  8. One individual told a local LA news channel that “we’ve got no other way to show people how angry we are”. Source: ‘Looters who hit L.A. stores explain what they did’, Los Angeles Times, 5 June 2020.
  9. ‘Brooklyn Lawyers Plead Guilty in Firebomb Case’, The New York Times, 20 October 2021.
  10. ‘Brown v. Ferguson’, Endnotes 4, October 2015.
  11. ‘Meet Darren Seals. Then tell me black death is not a business’, The Correspondent, 1 October 2016.
  12. See the distinction between the two black middle class layers in: ‘Brown v. Ferguson’, Endnotes 4, October 2015.
  13. Cedric Johnson, Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics (University of Minnesota 2007).
  14. DeRay Mckesson, ‘On Shaun King’, Medium.
  15. ‘The Rise and Rupture of Campaign Zero: How the founders of one of Black Lives Matter’s most prominent organizations fell’, New York Magazine, 31 January 2022.
  16. ‘After raising $90 million in 2020, Black Lives Matter has $42 million in assets’, New York Times, 17 May 2022
  17. ’10 Years Since Trayvon: The story of the first decade of Black Lives Matter’, New York Magazine, 31 January 2022.
  18. ‘The BLM Mystery: Where did the money go?’, New York Magazine, 31 January 2022.
  19. ‘Black Lives Matter Secretly Bought a $6 Million House’, New York Magazine, 4 April 2022.
  20. Theorie Communiste, ‘Class / segmentation / racisation. Notes’, Libcom, October 30, 2016.
  21. ‘Brown v. Ferguson’, Endnotes 4, October 2015.
  22. Of course violence is a problem much older than capitalism, often connected to patriarchal structures and class stratifications, but also not entirely absent from more egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies. There are good reasons to assume that violent conflict between human beings will persist beyond the overcoming of capital, the question is whether the means of violence remain concentrated in the hands of an elite.
  23. Similar relatively large-scale raids have taken place in shopping districts in Chicago and Minneapolis. In some cases these events appear to have been timed to coincide with expected riots (such as the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse) although the riots often didn’t occur.
  24. ‘California’s ‘smash and grab’ robberies – what’s really going on behind the headlines?’, The Guardian, 17 December 2021.
  25. Jacob Taubes, The Political Theology of Paul (Stanford University Press 2004).