The protests will eventually end. But state-sanctioned violence against black Americans won’t.
For all of America’s history, black people have been subjected to violence at the hands of the state, or agents of the state, or members of the white majority. Mass demonstrations against state violence have also been a fixture of US politics, from the civil rights movement to Ferguson, Missouri, to today. The scenes from Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Brooklyn last night are just the latest chapter in that story. And yet, already, the protesters’ legitimate grievances are being subsumed by political leaders and others questioning whether they are registering their anger appropriately. This is also a pattern in these moments: the demonstrations, so visible and visceral in the news coverage, become the story. The structural problems being protested start to fade into the background.