August 18, 2020


How might the riots be responsible for these outcomes? The National Bureau of Economic Research suggests a number of ways:

Property risk might seem higher in central city neighborhoods than before the riots, causing insurance premiums to rise; taxes for income redistribution or more police and fire protection might increase, and municipal bonds may be more difficult to place; retail outlets might close; businesses and employment opportunities might relocate; middle and higher income households might move away; burned out buildings might be an eyesore; and so on. These damaging aspects of riots, the authors find, apparently outweighed outside assistance directed toward the riot areas in the wake of the disturbances.

The Minnesota Reformer reported in mid-July that:

At least 127 people are facing charges related to the unrest after Floyd’s death, according to a Reformer review of all unrest-related charges filed so far by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, the city of St. Paul and the city of Minneapolis. The vast majority of people charged are Minnesota residents — but fewer than half live in Minneapolis or St. Paul.

It might be fun for some people to travel to a riot, smash some stuff up, and head home thinking they have struck a blow for some cause or other. The evidence shows that it is those left behind who pay the costs.

Or as James Lileks wrote yesterday of Minneapolis:

They had stories of what it’s like to live downtown now, and if I could sum it up, it would be this: SUDDENLY CRAZY. Emboldened lawlessness. A year ago: living in a beautiful neighborhood with spectacular views, access to parks and restaurants, peaceable dog walks after dark. Now: Carjackings, fireworks, madmen muttering outside the front door, a spiky sense that anything outside of a block or two radius is questionable. These are long-time downtown residents.

It should be noted that they did not gentrify anything and drive out residents; the area was utterly depopulated until the condos were built in the husks of the old industrial buildings. They pay a huge amount of taxes. And they feel as if no one has their back, because no one does.

It’s not that no one can fight the disorder. It’s that there aren’t enough resources, and disorder is something they’re expected to accept.

It took 20 years to build up this part of the city, and three months to spoil it.

Just compare Pompeii Detroit to this time capsule video from 1965, just before the lights went out:

Related: When Half of NYC’s Tax Base Leaves and Never Comes Back.

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