In an interview last Thursday, the author of a book titled In Defense of Looting told National Public Radio (NPR) that looting enables rioters to steal others’ property with “an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure.”
Vicky Osterweil explained her theory to a supportive NPR that looting is merely a means to address the unequal distribution of wealth. She claims there is a distinction between “the mass expropriation of property, mass shoplifting during a moment of upheaval or riot” and “any situation in which property is stolen by force.”
She added that looting “attacks the history of whiteness and white supremacy,” because “the reason that the world is organized that way, obviously, is for the profit of the people who own the stores and the factories. So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.”
“Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police…,” she added. “And also it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. And I think that’s a part of it that doesn’t really get talked about—that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory.” Except by the people whose property is stolen or destroyed.