2018 Super Bowl LII When the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, fans in Philadelphia started flipping cars and lighting trash on fire in the streets.
2014 World Series After the San Francisco Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 World Series, Giants fans set fires, vandalized buses and police cars, shattered windows of businesses, scrawled graffiti, and threw bottles at police. Two people were shot, one person was stabbed, and a police officer was badly hurt from fireworks exploding. 40 arrests were made.
1993 Stanley Cup Montreal experienced a riot shortly after their Canadiens defeated the Los Angeles Kings in the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals, as victory celebrations mutated into unrest. Stores were looted and police cars were set on fire. The riots eventually caused $2.5 million in damage.
1991-1997 NBA Championships Rioting and looting occurred in Chicago after the Chicago Bulls won the NBA Finals in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996 and 1997
Football, baseball, hockey (in Canada!), and basketball. Riots, criminal destruction of property, injury and loss of human life occurred in connection with championships in each of these sports.
These are just several examples, there have been so many more.
While residents of these areas no doubt condemned these events, nobody suggested that the Eagles, Giants, Canadiens, and Bulls give up their championships. It’s difficult to imagine any fans abandoning their teams because some people committed crimes in a way that was adjacent to the culmination of the season. In fact, as far as I can tell, the fact of this lawlessness did nothing at the time they occurred, or in the years since, to tarnish the achievements of the teams that prevailed.
Why then, when riots and looting occur in connection with otherwise peaceful protests seeking justice and equity in the wake of another black man, George Floyd, killed at the hands of police, do some people, many people, in fact, insist on shifting the attention to instances of violence and lawlessness, instead of focusing on the source of these protests.
Further, some use this lawlessness, via some twisted logic, to negate the righteousness of the cause itself. Why?
I have friends and family who are business owners, cops, and other emergency workers directly involved right now in the midst of this chaos in New York City. I fear for their safety. I condemn the violence that’s occurring. ALL good people condemn this violence. Of course they do!
But, we must not allow this to divert from or substitute for our attention on the righteous cause that motivated these protests, justice and equity for ALL.
After publishing this piece, I saw this statement by James Mattis, esteemed Marine General and former Secretary of Defense under President Trump. Felt it needed to be added:
IN UNION THERE IS STRENGTH
I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.