Carvell Wallace expands upon Dr. King’s insight that “a riot is the language of the unheard”:
A riot is not a tactical decision for political gain. It is a liturgy. It is a spiritual grasping for emotional justice, for an assertion of self. It is an attempt to bring back into wholeness that which has been split. It is meant to reify the dual senses of life and death, hope and fury, that circumscribe the black experience. The flames of a riot are dramatic and angry. They are destructive and a violation of the most core aspects that bind our society together. And yet they are honest and true, dispassionate and inevitable. And by the time they arrive, they have been crying for centuries to be set free so they can do the work of consuming every little shop and bank, every receipt and toy, every pencil and photocopied government form that has played a part, no matter how small, in your continued oppression. When Jeremiah in the Old Testament was told he must not speak the name of the Lord for fear of persecution, he remarked that “his word is in my heart like a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” In our days of darkest rage, the word of the Lord comes in the form of fire. In our days of darkest rage, fire is the only thing that makes sense.
Hong Kong last November (don’t miss the comment at the end):