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Why riot?

"In the final analysis, the riot is the language of the unheard. What is it that America has failed to hear?" - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1967

MINNEAPOLIS — To understand why people destroyed parts of Minneapolis, we must look at the past. As night fell Wednesday, Minneapolis burned and smoke billowed. But that dark cloud blanketing the Twin Cities speaks.  

Words delivered by civil rights icon Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. nearly 53 years ago still speak to what's happening now.

In his speech, "The Other America," from 1953, King said the following: 

"I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. In the final analysis, the riot is the language of the unheard. What is it that America has failed to hear?," King questions. "In a sense, our nation's summers of riots are caused by our winter’s delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these occurrences of riots and violence over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”

Now that the world is listening, the message from doctor king - who taught us all to dream, still speaks. 

People are outraged over the death of George Floyd - an unarmed black man - who died while in Minneapolis police custody. Four officers involved in the case have been fired. Protesters across the nation are pushing for the officers involved to be charged and prosecuted

Rev. Jesse Jackson, who marched with Dr. King. was in Minneapolis Thursday pushing for what he calls justice. He spoke with Adrienne Broaddus via FaceTime. 

"The pain is real. Rioting is the voice of those who truly have no way to express themselves," he said  shortly after leaving a meeting with Attorney General Keith Ellison. 

Dr. Shonda Craft is the Dean of the School of Health and Human Services at St. Cloud State University. She breaks down the psychology behind riots.

Craft also said when people are gathering it is not only to express rage and frustration but to call for change and find hope in a situation that feels hopeless among people who feel helpless.

"This is a trauma that has happened to one person but the ramifications are being felt throughout a community," she said. "We are in the middle of a pandemic and people are feelings isolation. This sense of being heard and connected … feeling rage and frustration is coming to a boiling point for so many people."

But does the destruction help or hurt? 

"For some people it is going to feel like it is helping because they don't know what else to do with their emotions. They don’t know what else to do with their fear, the anger and their sadness. This feels like something tangible," she said. "It also hurts the reputation of a community. This is the ultimate way of trying to be seen and heard. If one person's voice is not enough, how big and how loud does it need to be before our pain is recognized and our pain is heard?" 

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman spoke to reporters Thursday. 

"That video is graphic and horrific and terrible and no person should do that. We need to weigh through all that evidence and to come through with a meaningful determination and we are doing that to the best of our ability," Freeman said.

Fifty-three years after Dr. King's speech some say there is still injustice. Thursday the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office released the following statement: 

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office is actively investigating the death of George Floyd and awaiting final results from laboratory studies to provide the most medically accurate cause of death determination possible.

The Medical Examiner recognizes the public expectation for timely, accurate, and transparent information release, within the confines of Minnesota law. However, the autopsy alone cannot answer all questions pertaining to the cause and manner of death, and must be interpreted in the context of the pertinent investigative information and informed by the results of laboratory studies.

Under Minnesota state law, the Medical Examiner is a neutral and independent office and is separate and distinct from any prosecutorial authority or law enforcement agency.

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