Riots: The new (ab)normal

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 at 2:25 PM

Once again, we hear on the news of a riot.

After St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was recently found not guilty of murdering Anthony Lamar Smith back in 2011, a three day riot commenced.

It started out on Sept. 15 as a protest of injustice for a man whom they believed was maliciously murdered by said officer. The protest quickly turned into a destructive riot. According to CNN, police officers were attacked and vehicles were vandalized.

Plenty of demonstrators broke away from the peaceful protest at nightfall for more lawless activities. More than 80 people were arrested, according to NPR, for looting, vandalizing and assaulting officers with rocks and chemicals.

Rioters have been a problem in past protests before as well. Georgia Tech held a protest for a student who was killed by a police officer. The student was allegedly suicidal, holding out some sort of multipurpose tool and yelling “shoot me.” Some demonstrators turned to violence, according to AJC, as rioters set a police car ablaze.

When people come together to protest injustice, they are trying to show that they care and are not in approval of the current way things are; however, when people who were protesting begin rioting, the reasons for protesting become blurred and misconstrued, leaving many to turn their focus from the problem at hand to the problem of the riots.

If you fight violence with violence, you prove you’re no better than the people you oppose. If you truly want to get something done, then peaceful protest and spreading awareness is the answer. There will always be those who try to take advantage of a tragedy for personal gain, but that shouldn’t keep people from trying to expose the injustices seen every day in our cities and country.

There is no doubt that Stockley should be held accountable, but that can’t be done when cop cars are on fire and protesters are in cuffs. No one wants to listen to the people who were seen assaulting an officer.

Stand up for what you believe in, but do it in a healthy and legal manner; otherwise, you’ll just have more of the same.

On Wednesday, Sept. 20, according to the Huffington Post, police suppressed a peaceful demonstration saying it was unlawful. Police ordered the protesters to evacuate the area, while later police in riot gear shut down the demonstration.

It seems even when the protests are peaceful and lawful, protesters are still treated with caution. This could be due to earlier actions taken by rioters, however; those who wish to protest are within their right and should not be shut down because of actions taken by others.

There seem to be extremes on the side of civilians and police when it comes to protests. Police are scared of protesters becoming violent, and shut down peaceful protests, while protesters are angry and go on riots. Neither is an acceptable action. 

Steven Tagliente can be reached at 

Tags: voices, opinon

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