The remarks from the Pulitzer Prize winner came during an interview with CBS News when she was asked about the property damage that's occurred during some of the demonstrations against police brutality following the killing of Floyd, an unarmed African American man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police after a white officer knelt on his neck for about 8 minutes.
"I think we need to be really careful with our language. Yes, it is disturbing to see property being destroyed. It is disturbing to see people taking property from stores, but these are things," Hannah-Jones said. "Violence is when an agent of the state kneels on a man's neck until all of the life is leached out of his body. Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence."
"Using that same language to describe those two things ... it's not moral to do that," she added.
"Violence is when an agent of the state kneels on a man's neck until all of the life is leached out of his body. Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence. To use the same language to describe those two things is not moral" -@nhannahjones on CBSN pic.twitter.com/GGteXRFwAr— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 2, 2020
The comments sparked backlash on social media, mostly from right-leaning outlets and commentators.
According to this logic, burning down a building isn’t an act of violence.— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) June 2, 2020
What a sophomoric and morally bankrupt defense of the indefensible. https://t.co/tDV1CPYPUA
"1619 Project" author @nhannahjones:— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) June 2, 2020
Since black Americans supposedly aren't included "in the social contract" (or something), it's not looting, it's, uh, "symbolic taking."
This leftist claptrap would be funny if the implications weren't so serious.https://t.co/mnu2Dgdh6B
When I moved to DC in the late 90s, it still wasn't close to recovering from the 1968 riots. Economic devastation in cities has long-term consequences, leads to despair, and it will kill people just as surely as bad cops do. This is such a terrible argument. https://t.co/b1EYEfzCEU— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) June 2, 2020
Disgusting and stupid comments. Such comments only deserve one response: a Pulitzer Prize. https://t.co/oa9Mqtowf2— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 2, 2020
“Destroying property is not violence.” Those looters with crowbars and bricks smashing windows and stealing last night? Not violent at all. In fact it’s *immoral* to imply they were! https://t.co/3ExypSacjS— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) June 2, 2020
Hannah-Jones fired responded to the criticism by saying her comments were being misrepresented on the right in an attempt to "silence black journalists."
Despite numerous comments by people asking to post my address or burn or destroy my house, the Daily Caller is encouraging this by repeatedly reposting this story that falsely claims I am defending looting and actual violence. https://t.co/7Omo7gVcp7— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) June 3, 2020
This tactic is an attempt to silence black journalists and I will not cower.— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) June 3, 2020
Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer for the Times's "1619 Project," which marked the 400th anniversary of when slavery began in the U.S.