A silent majority? Black Americans reject violence, looting in neighborhoods after Floyd death

The rioters are 'reflective of a small subset of black America that is jobless, lawless, wild, and capable of the brutality we saw,' said Rob Smith, a black conservative activist and decorated Iraq War veteran, but 'the silent majority will always stay on the side of law and order.'

Updated: June 5, 2020 - 11:22am

Black Americans across the ideological spectrum are speaking in support of peaceful protest — but rejecting the violence, looting, and destruction of black neighborhoods after the gruesome death of George Floyd, an African-American man, at the hands of Minneapolis police. 

"Black America, like broader America, they're sympathizing with the fact that the murder that triggered all of this was a horrible thing, and I think all reasonable people are appalled by it and protested," said Shelby Steele, well-known author, documentary maker and senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. "After that, things become more murky."

While acknowledging there is "a segment of black America — Black Lives Matter and so forth — that want to sort of use this tragedy as a means to power, as a means to dominance in American life," Steele says, "There's a growing number of blacks in America, who take the opposite point of view: That we've never been freer, and opportunity is sort of waiting for us to take advantage of it, and that we need to be busy with that, rather than getting sidetracked here, pretending that racial progress has never been made and that blacks are still victims. We're not. We're free. And no one sanctions that kind of murder that occurred. Nobody, certainly no one I've ever seen, not one single person is supportive of that. So I think that's enough. Now, let's move on. We have to."

Like Steele, the National Urban League, a prominent, left-leaning civil rights group said in an online statement that it distinguished between peaceful protesters and those engaging in violence and property destruction.

"There are those who are inciting violence and mayhem," the National Urban League said. "And there are those engaged in peaceful protest. No one should assume they are the same people, and we refute any attempt to discredit or dismiss the just cause for which people are marching based on infiltrators bent on sabotage ... Cities across the nation have erupted in rage and despair. As civil rights leaders who are committed to racial justice, we share the protesters’ anguish, and the heartbreak of the communities where uprisings have turned violent." 

Rob Smith, a black conservative activist, decorated Iraq War veteran and author of "Always a Soldier: Service, Sacrifice, and Coming Out as America's Favorite Black, Gay Republican," told Just the News he thinks that the vitriolic online anger and street violence are not reflective of the majority of black America.

"It's reflective of a small subset of black America that is jobless, lawless, wild, and capable of the brutality we saw," Smith said. "These people are fatherless, aimless, and don't represent the vast majority of black Americans ... the silent majority will always stay on the side of law and order."

The peaceful protesters "want people to recognize systemic inequality, but they're being overshadowed by the looters and rioters," Smith said.

Filming on the ground in Minneapolis, Smith documented on social media the destruction of rioters who destroyed low-income, black businesses.

"The protesters didn't hurt black people and black-owned businesses, the rioters did," Smith said. "The rioters and looters care about nothing and nobody. They've never had anything, so they only want destruction."

Terrence Floyd, brother of the late George Floyd, has spoken out forcefully against violence perpetrated in his brother's name.

"I know he would not want you all to be doing this," Terrence Floyd recently told those engaging in violence and property destruction during recordings shared across social media and mainstream media outlets. "That's not going to bring my brother back at all."

In online statements, President Trump honored the late David Dorn, a former police captain from St. Louis who was shot and killed during looting. 

"This has to stop," tweeted Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the first African-American U.S. senator elected in the South, post-reconstruction. "The more lives we lose, the more lives that are stolen, we fall farther and farther from the solutions we need. Rest In Peace, Chief Dorn. We must find justice for you."

"Peaceful protests of good people who rightfully want justice and change turned into organized chaos of violence, looting, rioting, property destruction and even deaths," Paris Dennard, a Black Voices For Trump advisor for President Trump's 2020 election campaign, wrote in a recent Real Clear Politics essay. "Reports now show many of these agitators are members of organized militant leftists’ groups like Antifa that have no interest in peace, change or justice."

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights movement icon, released a statement denouncing the violent protests. “To the rioters here in Atlanta and across the country: I see you, and I hear you," he said. "I know your pain, your rage, your sense of despair and hopelessness. Justice has, indeed, been denied for far too long. Rioting, looting, and burning is not the way."

recent poll from Morning Consult found that a majority (54%) of Americans are angered by the killing of George Floyd and support the ongoing protests. That includes 77% of black Americans and 49% of white Americans. 

The same poll also found that an overwhelming 71% of American voters support the involvement of the National Guard to supplement police forces, with just 18% opposed (11% had no opinion). However, among African-Americans, that support was split, with 42% supporting the National Guard and 43% of African-Americans opposed. Fourteen percent of black respondents said they didn't know or had no opinion.

Kay Coles James, the first black president of the powerful, conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, distinguished between peaceful protest and violent outbursts.

"Protest does not equal a license to break the law," James wrote. "Criminals belong in jail, not on our streets. Let's put the criminals taking over our streets in jail so that the rest of us can figure this out. Let me say it louder: To acknowledge we have had a problem with racial issues for a long time in our beloved America does NOT mean that America is a racist country! We are not. We enjoy more freedom and opportunity here than anywhere on the planet."