White Liberals in Minneapolis

The remnants of buildings burnt down during riots in Minneapolis, Minn., June 1, 2020 (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Yesterday, the Washington Post‘s Greg Jaffe profiled a group of white liberals in Minneapolis.

One of Jaffe’s subjects was a woman named Michelle Garvey, a thirty-something from suburban Minneapolis. Garvey called rioters’ destruction of a local Target “a perfectly warranted and justified response” to George Floyd’s death, and “an expression of righteous rage.” Whether the employees of that Target felt the demonstration similarly “justified” is left to our imagination.

Jaffe also profiled a “community activist” named Meredith Webb, pictured atop the Post article before her stuccoed suburban cottage with a black lives matter lawn sign to her right and a hand-drawn end white silence banner in her window. Webb was more uneasy about the riots than Garvey, but said it “felt wrong to say we’re with you until you start looting.” Whom, exactly, the “we” and “you” in that sentence are meant to refer to is unclear.

The most poignant moment in the piece came when Jaffe described a meeting at the Minneapolis Public School board’s headquarters. Webb was in attendance, cheering as speakers pleaded for the removal of student resource officers from the school system. Jaffe writes:

About a dozen black high school students shifted uneasily and waited for their time to talk. When it was their turn, they spoke about Charles Adams Jr., the African American police officer who kept their school safe and coached their high school football team. Now they worried he was going to be forced from their school.

“To me, I have my dad first and second to that is Officer Adams,” said one student.

“Officer Adams is like the father I didn’t have,” added another. “He makes me feel like myself.”

Last up was a history teacher from the school: “I beg you. I beg you. Look at these young men. They came on their own because they are worried about their safety and losing someone they consider a family member.”

Webb listened carefully. “It’s complicated,” she whispered to a friend.

Yes — it certainly is “complicated,” isn’t it?

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