Liberal Elites Want Us to Care About Jan. 6. But They Don't Care When Our Cities Burn | Opinion

I remember the call from my husband on May 31. It was our anniversary, and he was out running errands before he came home—not because we had plans, but because there was a curfew in place in Minneapolis. He called to tell me he had to drive to a nearby suburb to pick up a medical prescription. "Our Walgreens on Hennepin Avenue isn't there anymore," he said. "It was burned to the ground."

Over the spring and summer of 2020, thousands of businesses were looted, damaged, or totally destroyed during the George Floyd protests—especially here, where Floyd was killed. Every day we read heartbreaking stories of business owners begging and pleading with rioters to spare their livelihoods, many of them uninsured, pleas that went unheeded. There was over $2 billion in property damage.

And yet, to follow the mainstream news, you'd be forgiven for thinking the destruction of cities across the country—the decimation of small businesses, many of them owned by lower income people of color—wasn't the biggest story of violence in recent history. That honor, to hear the media tell it, is reserved for an hours-long mobbing of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The Capitol riot on January 6, 2021 has been the lead story in the liberal mainstream media all week long.

This breathless, week-long commemoration—along with the sacrosanct solemnity with which January 6 is discussed in elite liberal circles—exposes whose lives really matter: the elites in D.C. ivory towers and Manhattan newsrooms. And it exposed whose lives don't.

Minneapolis erupted in violence following the death of George Floyd. There was no law, only disorder. The metro buses were shut down, curfews were in place, grocery stores and drug stores looted and burned. The Third Precinct police station was gutted.

But the narrative from most of the journalists who flew in from New York was of a city and by extension a country facing the racial reckoning it deserved. There were no rioters, to hear the media tell it; the mobs throwing Molotov cocktails shattering windows were demonstrators and "mostly peaceful" protesters. The violence was framed as a necessary airing of grievances. The collateral damage to businesses and lives were cast as a pittance compared to the national discussion on race relations and policing in America.

But that was just the beginning of the abandonment of underserved cities and urban neighborhoods by the people charged with representing and protecting them.

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Police vehicles burn after being set on fire by demonstrators in the Fairfax District as they protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while while being arrested and pinned to the ground by the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, on May 30, 2020 in Los Angeles. - Demonstrations are being held across the US after George Floyd died in police custody on May 25. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images

In Minneapolis, the decay happened quickly. In the weeks and months that followed, Minneapolis and its sister city St. Paul started to see record levels of violence, homicides, and carjackings. And it's ongoing. Residents are now living in fear as bullets hit children playing in their front yard. In North Minneapolis, residents have resorted to suing the city council and Mayor Jacob Frey to regain proper police numbers in an attempt to restore order out of the fear and chaos.

This is what happens when the national journalists go back to New York. When the politicians are done making statements about social justice. When they are done marching with arms linked to activists in the streets. After they issue press statements about reform, they go home to safe streets and secure homes.

They don't see and don't write about the funeral for 6-year-old Aniya Allen, whose tiny casket was carried through the city by horse-drawn carriage. They don't attend the funeral of good Samaritan Kavanian Palmer, who was shot and killed while trying to stop a carjacking.

These elites don't seem to think so but all the lives lost to unspeakable violence matter. The estimated $2 billion in damage after the riots matters. America cannot continue as a properly functioning democracy if our great cities are self-destructing. It should be the top concern of every elected official.

Instead, all they are concerned about is their own self-importance and grandstanding in front of cameras glorifying what amounted to a day-long temper tantrum—to be sure, one marred by crime and violence.

They do nothing to help us. But while the residents of Minneapolis were trapped inside a burning city, D.C. elites put up rows of barriers and barbed wire to keep people out. When Senator Tom Cotton wrote an op-ed in the New York Times calling for military intervention to restore order, it was condemned and the editor who gave it the green light fired. After the January 6 riot, tellingly referred to by somber-faced journalists as an "insurrection" and "domestic terrorism," the National Guard was stationed in D.C. for months.

The narcissism is just staggering. But it goes much deeper than that. Pitting groups against each other and stoking fear and anger is how our elites—our politicians and journalists among them—keep themselves in power, while average Americans are left with the tragic aftermath.

This is the disappointing but unsurprising reality of a society partitioned between the powerful and the powerless. The powerful have the luxury of nursing their trauma by sitting down for dewy-eyed interviews and twilight vigils, with news networks holding all-day specials. The powerless go to food shelters because their grocery store burned down and beg for justice when another child is gunned down in the street.

The powerful hold probing investigations and organize congressional hearings. The powerless sit with their unanswered prayers at loved ones' funerals and watch their businesses get boarded up again.

The real threat to democracy is an elite class who has shown us they value their pain, their inconvenience, and their lives more than ours. How can they ask us to care about one riotous day last January when every day in cities across America, the lives of the most vulnerable are in danger, their livelihoods threatened?

A powerful overclass apathetic to the concerns of the people they are supposed to represent, and for whom they work, is the real miscarriage of justice they claim as their own.

Jenna Stocker is the managing editor of Thinking Minnesota and a freelance writer. She holds a degree in accounting from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

The views in this article are the writer's own.