GET free shit while Effecting social change! Don’t sit down at a sit-in and wait for the pepper spray Put on your running shoes and try rioting instead

* make us famous

More than 200 people were arrested during Baltimore’s riot late in April. Luckily, about half of them were released from jail without charges, mostly because the cops had no idea who had done what during the chaos, leaving prosecutors with little evidence. Which brings us to the good news: cops are notoriously bad at their jobs, and an untold number of people, hundreds or perhaps more, got away with various crimes during the riots, from stealing booze and drinking it in public to smashing cop cars and straight-up arson.

These people are currently walking the street, shaking hands and kicking it, and they should be admired for their will to manifest their own political agency. And a lot of them got some free shit that they stole from stores. The reason our government loves to celebrate Martin Luther King Day is that he never advocated for burning or stealing shit. Refusing to get up from a sit-in protest, however, will only get you locked up with a bologna sandwich.

Let's look at the cost benefit analysis. We’re not saying that protesting doesn’t work to achieve political goals (although, in reality, it rarely does). Rioting, on the other hand, has been proven to achieve political goals and also provides a chance to cathartically burn the fuck out of stuff and steal shit that you need, such as beer, medicine, tools, liquor, music equipment, and liquor. Did I mention that high proof liquor is flammable?

If you think that the cops who murdered Freddie Gray would have been indicted on the kind of serious charges they now face without the burning of buildings on national television, then you have never been to Baltimore or anywhere else besides up your own ass.

The nation is having serious conversations about police brutality and the realities of being a person of color in America. Politicians are actually taking criminal justice reforms seriously, and the prison abolition movement is attracting followers in droves. The civil rights movement is flexing its muscles, and youth are leading the way. None of these things, which are crucial for actualizing social justice in the United States, would have been possible without riots.

I wasn’t in Baltimore, but I did report from Ferguson during the initial uprising there last August. As a journalist, I can assure you that riots draw more attention to real issues than peaceful protests. Those in power are then forced to act when the same cameras turn on them. Attorney General Eric Holder did not give a shit about Mike Brown until S. Florissant Avenue became a war zone.

Riots tell reporters exactly what to do, which is a slam dunk in terms of public relations. Ferguson was beyond irony. The cops, armed with military-grade tanks and weapons, attacked bands of teenagers—who were protesting over-policing and excessive use of force—because the teens threw a few plastic bottles and tear gas canisters. So, why not burn down the corner store that only sells beer and Doritos? The New York Times will print an editorial about food deserts. Smash some cop cars and loot the CVS while you’re at it. The Washington Post will report on how zero-tolerance policing exacerbates urban poverty.

It’s true that civil disobedience can have a similar impact, but participating in civil disobedience almost guarantees that you will get arrested and possibly beat up because, well, that’s the point. Riots, on the other hand, provide enough chaos and anonymity to drastically lower your chance of getting caught, and you can easily end up with lots of free beer, clothes, food and other retail items. Civil disobedience provides none of this, except that bologna sandwich you get in jail.