The PJ Tatler

That Awkward Moment When Protesting with Black Lives Matter Costs You an Apartment

For all their bluster about injustice and inequality, the only thing the Black Lives Matter movement has consistently demonstrated is that black protesters can act unjustly and get away with it. In the Twin Cities, the local Black Lives Matter cell has shut down interstate freeways, blocked families’ access to the state fair, obstructed commuter rail delivering fans to the Vikings home opener, and threatened to shut down the charitable Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, all with minimal legal consequence.

Even so, despite the irrational leniency of local authorities, some of the most egregious offenders still managed to get arrested. One such offender was Adja Gildersleve, described as “a community organizer with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.”

Gildersleve has since run into trouble finding housing on account of pending criminal charges related to an unlawful protest at the Mall of America. City Pages reports:

[Gildersleve] faces seven misdemeanor charges stemming from the holiday demonstration, including unlawful assembly, aiding and abetting trespass, and disorderly conduct.

Due to pending criminal charges, Gildersleve was denied the apartment, though she was invited to reapply after her trial, she says.

Facing such circumstances, some of us might be inclined to take stock of our actions and conclude that criminal trespass might not be the best way to express ourselves. We might take the loss of housing as a sign that rights-violating activity bears bad fruit. Alas, Gildersleve has a different takeaway.

“This is ridiculous. It’s like another form of redlining,” she says. “I technically am innocent now because I haven’t been proven guilty yet, but I’m still denied housing.”

Gildersleve isn’t throwing herself a pity party. She knew protesting might come with a price. Rather, the situation is emblematic of “a messed up system” that erects barriers preventing certain people from finding housing, a basic human need, she says.

“It’s a risk and so I’m dealing with the consequences now,” Gildersleve acknowledges. “I’m not angry at the decisions I’ve made. … What I’m feeling heavy about is the system and how unjust they are and the consequences for folks having a voice. There’s consequences for having a voice and speaking out against oppressive systems.”

As remains typical of the Black Lives Matter movement, Gildersleve here conflates distinct concepts for rhetorical effect. Redlining, refusing to sell or rent housing to individuals based on their race, is wholly different from refusing to rent an apartment to someone with pending criminal charges. “Having a voice,” whatever that means, does not require or justify criminal trespass against others.

Despite her claims that being black makes finding housing more difficult, Gildersleve would have been living in her new apartment today but for her choice to engage in criminal activity. Put another way, don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’.

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