They fear crime more than police and know rioters are opportunists, not revolutionaries.
It’s too early to know what will come of the violent protests in response to the death of George Floyd. But we do know that recent history has not been especially kind to militant efforts to advance racial equality.
The methods championed most famously by Martin Luther King Jr. culminated with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, two of the most consequential laws in U.S. history. By contrast, the Black Power movement that followed eventually imploded, and its most prominent leaders wound up exiled, imprisoned or victims of murderous rivalries. Whatever white sympathy the civil-rights movement had gained was quickly depleted in the aftermath of rioting in Detroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and other major cities.
Moreover, the heightened group identity associated with black militants, as with the Black Lives Matter movement today, was followed by a white backlash in the 1970s and ’80s, which saw the rise of the skinhead and white-power movements in the U.S.
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