Recently a video surfaced allegedly showing the aftermath from group of people looting a Hibbett Sports store in Memphis following the release of a video showing the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols by police officers. The looting of the store has raised questions as to why it was targeted, and why the incident occurred in the wake of the body camera video being released. Were protesters the culprits, or just people taking advantage of the tragic situation?
The body cam footage of the moments before Tyre Nichols death showed a 5 police officers repeatedly beating him with club like punches after spraying him with mace, prompting an outcry from the community and protests in the city. In response to the incident, government officials were expecting possible chaos to ensue with emotions running high, so the Hibbett Sports store getting looted isn’t surprising. However, in situations like these there always needs to be line drawn between peaceful protesters, and the people who just take advantage of situations to do illegal things.
On social media many people have argued that Hibbett Sports looting was not carried out by true protesters. Rather they believe it was simply opportunistic, with the chaotic atmosphere in the city providing an opportunity for bad actors to steal items from the store. In some instances there has been evidence showing that some people will loot stores on purpose just to make it harder for peaceful protesters to move around during major social justice related events.
Regardless of the motivations behind the Hibbett Sports store looting, the incident is a reminder of the deep-seated divisions in the city, and the lack of trust between the police and the community. It should also a reminder that looting and vandalism should not be seen as a legitimate form of protest, and that looting of businesses is a criminal act.
When bad actors loot stores while real protesters are making a point through peaceful means it tends to make the message get lost behind the destruction.
The Tyre Nichols video was horrific, and people have the right to be angry about that. The key is channeling the anger constructively to deliver a powerful message that will lead to faster change, which is what peaceful protesters do. It’s important to never group them with looters.