Instigator / Pro

THBT: On balance, the crimes committed during the George Floyd protests were worse than the crimes committed during the January 6th Capitol protests.


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Contender / Con

THBT: On balance, the crimes committed during the George Floyd protests were worse than the crimes committed during the January 6th Capitol protests.

BoP is shared equally. Pro argues that the crimes committed during the George Floyd protests were worse. Con argues that the crimes committed during the January 6th Capitol protests were worse.

The George Floyd protests were “protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd.”
The Jan 6th Capitol protests were “an event in which supporters of Donald Trump entered the Capitol Building.”
Worse means “more harmful as a whole.”

1. All specifications presented in the description are binding to both participants.

Round 1
Per the definitions in the description, this debate should be judged on the basis of total harm. Whichever set of protests caused a greater amount of harm, or adverse effects, is worse. We can determine this using the criteria of total property damage, total injuries, and total deaths.

My Case
The crimes committed during the protests following the death of George Floyd are numerous, and I will divide them into two sections. After I have addressed them, I will briefly evaluate the crimes committed during the January 6th protests and compare the two cases.

1. Arson:
Harm Caused
There were 200 cases of arson during the George Floyd protests, and one person was killed as their pawn shop was set ablaze.

Total Cost
This will include the other property damage as well, but I’m listing the figure here just to give a general gist of the total damage caused. According to Axios, “The protests that took place in 140 U.S. cities this spring were mostly peaceful, but the arson, vandalism and looting that did occur will result in at least $1 billion to $2 billion of paid insurance claims.”

2. Further Property Damage and Assault:
Events listed here.

Attempt to Enter the White House
On May 30, 2020, hundreds of violent protestors on Lafayette square overcame barriers near the White House and vandalized six secret service vehicles. Secret Service personnel were directly physically assaulted, and at least 60 Secret Service members were injured.

Attack on DC
This falls under the arson category as well, but I will include it given where it occurred. Protests destroyed a car and set a number of fires near the Washington Monument. This scene was described as a “war zone.”

Killing of Government Officials
A retired police chief was killed by looters. The CNN center housing a police precinct of the Atlanta Police Department was attacked and damaged by protesters. A Fox news crew was attacked by protesters.

Violence Against Police
95% of riots in 2020 were linked to BLM, and a number of reports show violence committed by protesters against police. For example, “On 28 May 2020, about 200-400 people demonstrated in Columbus, Ohio in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and against police brutality and the death of George Floyd…Some people threw water bottles, smoke bombs, and other items at police.”

3. January 6th:
Event is summarized here. Parts of the Capitol building were looted and vandalized. Rioters also assaulted Capitol Police officers and reporters.

4. Comparative Degree of Harm:
Property Damage
The George Floyd protests caused billions in property damage. Comparatively, the attack on the Capitol caused only $1.5 million in damage.

About 114 capitol police officers were injured in the attack on the Capitol. Comparatively, more than 2,000 law enforcement officers were injured in the riots following the death of George Floyd.

Five people died during the Capitol protests, but none died due to crime, which is the subject of this debate. Comparatively, ACLED found dozens of deaths done in connection with the protests following the death of George Floyd.

Other Symmetry Breakers
That doesn’t even include the attacks on Secret Service agents or many of the other events I listed in connection with the George Floyd protests. Essentially, the George Floyd protests caused a greater degree of harm by pretty much every measure.

January 6th was an attempt to overthrow democracy and fair elections. Even if it failed in that, it was an attempt.
An attempt itself is harmful because: 
It contains intent of greatest harm possible for democracy: its destruction.
Attempt of murder counts as harmful and is punished. Likewise, an attempt to destroy democracy counts as harmful and is punished.
Had it been successful, USA would have become dictatorship.
It is an event that could have caused civil war and it still might.
It is an event that contained intent of greatest harm, intent that is harmful, much more harmful than some riots that were actually fighting for justice in society and dealing with racist system.
Round 2
Con brings up a number of points, which I will argue are irrelevant. However, I will address them anyway just to show that Con’s argument fails even if we accept his view of harm (though we shouldn’t).

Con does not dispute this directly. Recall that the description binds us to debating which crimes were more harmful, not which event had more potential to be harmful. Furthermore, the resolution addresses crimes committed and not crimes that had the potential to be committed. Voters should note that establishment of a dictatorship is a crime that did not occur, putting it outside the scope of the resolution.

Actual Harm vs. Attempted/Intended Harm
I could rest my hat on the resolution and description, which are clear already, but I’ll address this point anyway. When discussing a failed attempt in the past tense, the chances of it occurring are zero, because we already know what happened. A tornado that kills one person is worse than a tornado that could have killed one hundred people. Morally speaking, a drunk driver that doesn’t hit anyone by pure luck is as bad as a drunk driver that happens to hit someone. But the second event is still worse. We are discussing harm here, not morality. I’m sure that Con would prefer for a thousand people to try to kill him and fail than for one person to accidentally kill him.

Arguments 1-4:

5. “overthrow democracy and fair elections”:
Con does not show that this had any chance of happening or that it was the main goal of the protests. Taking the Capitol building is not nearly enough to overthrow the government, especially when the US government commands the most powerful military in the world.

Attempted Harm During the George Floyd Protests
Even though attempted harm is irrelevant, I should note that during the George Floyd protests, large crowds attempted to enter the White House. There were many attacks on police and government buildings. These protesters wanted to take political power or weaken the government as much as Capitol protesters did. If they hadn’t been stopped, these protesters probably would have occupied the White House and tried to take power. I agree that getting in a government building is a step closer to this, but if we’re evaluating “attempted harm,” then extremists on either side clearly attempted to disrupt central government operations. If we accept Con’s view, then how far the protesters actually got is irrelevant.

Given that BLM’s policy platform demands a radical restructuring of the government, we can safely say that extremists on either side would have been willing to make huge governmental changes to achieve their ends.

6. “an event that could have caused civil war and it still might”:
Con does not substantiate this, and I could easily say the same of the George Floyd riots, especially since they caused more damage.

7. “riots that were actually fighting for justice”:
Killing people in the streets, looting, and burning down buildings is not justice. Just because people claim to support a good cause does not make every action they take justified. If I stab a baby and say I’m doing it to fight racism, that does not make my actions any more justifiable.

I will note that many protesters were peaceful, but they do not fall within the scope of this debate.
My opponent does not deny that an intent to overthrow democracy is by itself a harmful thing, and that a murder attempt is considered very harmful and is strongly punished.

Instead, he says that failed attempt is more desirable and less harmful than actual success.
But that is not a refutation, since we are not comparing "success in overthrowing democracy vs a failed attempt to overthrow democracy".
No. We are comparing "a failed attempt to overthrow democracy vs some riots that went violent".

Its obvious that failed attempt contains intent which, if realized, would have meant an end to democracy.
This is not any "potential harm". This is an existing harm that by itself contains not potential but actual delusions and actual desire to overthrow fair elections.

Obviously, harm is not just material damage and realized murder. An intent is part of harm, since an intent to harm is by itself harmful and is legally punished. If I attempted to murder you, you would want me locked up for a long time. If I attempted to murder you, my defense in court would not be "I did no harm, because I failed to murder him.".
I would not walk away free. Therefore, even an attempt is considered very harmful and that is why it is punished.

My opponent already conceded that BLM riots were a result of an unfair killing of a black person, which my opponent stated in description.
He went as far to say that these riots wanted to overthrow government. However, as explained before, BLM riots were motivated by a just cause. They wanted to put an end to police brutality. Such riots did not at any point intend to overthrow democracy and replace it with dictatorship, nor is there any proof of that.

However, the only point of January 6 was to overthrow fair elections and prevent a democratic transition of power and make Trump a literal dictator. That was their motivation, their only motivation. They were looking for a way to do it, motivating others in the future. And their activities of spreading harmful ideas are not just limited to Jan 6, but they still spread harmful ideas that could lead to similar or worse events.

We know that motives and intents are part of an equation that every legal system takes into consideration when weighting harm.

On one side, we have BLM, who were fighting against oppression, motivated by unjust killing, seeking to end police brutality.

On the other side, we have Jan 6, people who were motivated by delusions and lies about Trump winning despite that Trump lost by huge difference, who were fighting against democracy, seeking to overthrow elections and establish dictatorship in USA.
Round 3
Harm is consistently defined as something which causes an adverse effect, not something that attempts to cause an adverse effect [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]. Morality and harm are two separate concepts. A tornado has no moral code and does not attempt to do anything but can still be harmful. Someone can be a racist and awful person but still not harm anyone. We are discussing the harms of the crimes themselves, not the merits of any particular ideology.

Extend. Recall that we are discussing crimes committed per the resolution, not crimes that people wanted to commit. Con’s entire case falls outside the scope of this debate. Even if it didn’t, Con gives no comprehensive weighting mechanism to show that one set of protests was more harmful than the other (even if ideology was relevant to the resolution, it would surely not be the only thing to weigh). So default to my criteria.

Arguments 1-4:
Extend. Note that these are the only arguments actually relevant to the resolution, and Con does not address any of them.

5. “overthrow democracy and fair elections”:
Con provides no evidence that this was the main goal of January 6th (or anyone’s goal). Changing the results of one election doesn’t ensure a permanent dictatorship, even if it risks leading to one. Since some BLM supporters have supported an actual dictatorship and tried to enter the White House, it’s statistically certain that at least one of them would want to be a dictator if given the chance. Some BLM supporters have committed terrorist attacks against police and called to completely abolish law enforcement [1] [2], which would lead to anarchy, essentially allowing any number of authoritarian leaders to emerge. So the end goals of extreme George Floyd protesters were even worse than the end goals of extreme Capitol protesters.

6. “an event that could have caused civil war and it still might”:
Extend my response to this.

7. “riots that were actually fighting for justice”:
Extend my response to this. Burning down buildings and injuring people does not end police brutality. In fact, it spurred more of it. Motivation is again irrelevant to the harm caused by a crime. Even if I stab a baby because I dislike police brutality, that does not justify my actions or make them any better. Con also does not provide any evidence that ending police brutality was the goal of all or even most of the protesters. Even if anger against the police served as motivation for many of them, being mad at something is not the same as trying to end it.

Thank you for the debate.