It’s a crazy time in our country right now. In the face of what seems like endless government abuse and police brutality, it’s no wonder that people are fed up and have turned to protests to have their voices heard. But to me, it doesn’t make any sense to fight against the violence of the state with violence of our own. In fact, I believe all protests should be peaceful, even though traditionally, peaceful protestors get murdered just as much as the not-so-peaceful ones.
Sure, people have the right to protest. This is a free country! But I do think that incorporating property damage, or theft, or looting into an otherwise respectful and quiet protest distracts from the goal and gives your cause a bad name. Can you imagine if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had chosen violence? Would he have accomplished what he set out to do? I mean granted, he was threatened, defamed, goaded into committing suicide, and ultimately assassinated regardless of the fact that he peacefully led millions in protest and didn’t survive long enough to see his dream barely, barely realized. But that’s beside the point.
Sometimes, violence against your oppressors is a necessary evil. Our great country gained independence in the wake of a Revolutionary War, and our forefathers were forced to resort to violence to escape the rule of the United Kingdom: Boston Tea Party anyone? But that’s what we had to do to drive home the point that our human lives inherently had value. And sure, Nelson Mandela did the same thing with much less violence and was imprisoned for the better part of two decades, but he was Black, so that was a little different. You really do have to take the optics into consideration!
Think about Gandhi! Think about Kent State! Think about some of the Ferguson protestors! They all had reason to be angry and yet many of them also pushed for peaceful protests! Wait, they were killed too? Oh, hm, maybe don’t think about them then. Bad examples.
The bottom line is: people should absolutely be allowed to fight for their rights, especially when whole communities are being targeted by historically racist and violent institutions with no respite in sight. But they should do it nicely. You can’t fight fire with fire, and you can’t react to state-sanctioned murder by looting a Target. That’s just not fair. Remember, if you’re thinking of protesting, think this first: No justice? Try peace!