It’s a Set Up

June 2, 2020
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“It’s people that look like me that are dying, not these white anarchist people fucking shit up just so they can fuck shit up.”

—Noah Crow-Saba


It’s a setup.

Things have been poised to explode and the black community has been set up for the fall. Again.

A masked white man with a hammer strolling along a sidewalk smashing windows in Minneapolis.

A white arsonist photographed in Nashville trying to burn down the historic courthouse.

White nationalists infiltrating peaceful protests in Lancaster.

A white kid vandalizing a police vehicle in Pittsburgh.

A professional Caucasian agitator destroying a street corner in D.C.

Pallets of bricks conveniently left for black protesters in front of a courthouse in Dallas or at Second Avenue and St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s alt-right terrorists or entitled millennial Marxists or saboteurs taking direction from a troll farm in Saint Petersburg. The first are racists hellbent on destroying black communities. The second are thugs who borrow victimhood from communities with real suffering, who distort, pervert, and toxify what was never theirs to begin with. The third is a foreign government violating us once more in an attempt to get us to kill one another.

Time will tell who is behind this. It doesn’t matter right now. What matters right now is who will pay.

Guess who always pays? Guess who has to fight everyone else on the way to the real battle for survival?

The black protesters filming white thugs destroying storefronts and screaming for them to stop. Pleading with white vandals to stop spray-painting, stop defacing cop cars, stop lighting stores on fire. Grabbing a professional saboteur to turn him over to the cops, almost getting pulled into the fray themselves. They are literally shouting for the violence to stop . . . to whites . . . in the middle of demonstrations over the killing of a black man.

Because they know the cost.

They know that what we will see emerge from the relentless crush of 24-7 coverage is footage of black rioters. Young black men on the streets acting out their rage in unacceptable ways. Blacks looting.

I get it. No one can make you pick up a brick. No one can make you join in.

But remember this: In a time of excruciating pain after the black community was told again and again that they didn’t kneel right or march right, that the venue was wrong or the timing was wrong, that their fear and frustration didn’t make for good political strategy, when they were at a breaking point after generations of injustice and 8 minutes and 46 seconds of “I can’t breathe”. . .

. . . that outsiders showed up to hijack their grieving and their protest and literally brought tools of destruction, started mayhem, and instigated violence with cops.


Amid all this chaos, the most valuable thing we can decide now is where we put our attention.

Do we listen to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms? Do we listen to the black police chiefs, business owners, reverends, community organizers, mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters who are the overwhelming majority of protesters making clear that they are not anarchists, not agents of chaos, not looters and rioters? That they embody the same American values that we do because they are just as American as we are?

Or do we let the media attention, political attention, our attention go where it always does? And use that as an excuse, once again, to not listen to what our fellow citizens are trying to tell us?

This will come down like hell on black communities. They are the canaries in the coal mine of American tragedies. When things devolve and polarize, black Americans pay the price first, and most often. Their voices get shut down. Their voting booths go away. Their children get killed.

They will pay in ways we can’t imagine. In courts and in jails and in morgues and in smoldering neighborhoods.

The least we can do is pay attention.

Don’t be fooled.

Don’t look away.

It’s a setup.

Gregg Hurwitz

Gregg Hurwitz is the New York Times #1 internationally bestselling author of 21 thrillers including the ORPHAN X series. His novels have won numerous literary awards and have been published in 32 languages. Additionally, he’s written screenplays and television scripts for many of the major studios and networks, comics for DC and Marvel, and political and culture pieces for the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, and others. Gregg lives with his two Rhodesian ridgebacks in Los Angeles, where he continues to play soccer, frequently injuring himself.