Why Protests Work But Riots Don’t

Why Protests Work But Riots Don't

(HorizonPost.com) – There can be little doubt that 2020 has been the most tumultuous year in recent memory. Not only has COVID-19 brought large parts of the world to a standstill, but the death of George Floyd in May also sparked months-long riots and protests. This, in turn, provoked widespread debate about the treatment of minorities in America as well as whether the more extreme forms of civil disobedience we’ve seen lately have any place in our society.

In spite of the progress we’ve made since the middle of the 20th Century, race relations remain a difficult issue to face in America today. The African-American community, in particular, point to statistics on police violence, educational attainment, and wealth inequality as evidence of systemic discrimination. While there may be a worthwhile conversation to be had, here, it’s becoming increasingly clear that rioting is the wrong approach.

A Look at History

History proves that peaceful protest is one of the most effective tools for bringing about social change. We need only look at Martin Luther King Jr.’s bus boycott or Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt March for evidence of that. This kind of demonstration grabs attention from both governments and ordinary citizens, forcing them to consider the problem at hand.

Rioting and looting, on the other hand, have no redeeming qualities. These activities damage public amenities and private businesses, causing more social issues than they could ever hope to resolve.

Present Day Protests

If you’re in any doubt about this, consider the state of America at the moment. Relations between police and protesters in Chicago have deteriorated so badly that they were forced to place the city under partial lockdown. In Portland, rioters are actively coordinating attacks against law enforcement officers. And these are not isolated incidents.

It appears safe to say that this type of protesting has nothing to do with promoting racial harmony — and everything to do with mindless anarchy.

Recent issues with rioting are not limited to the United States. Political disputes between Hong Kong and China also turned ugly this year. HK protesters took to the streets by the thousands, actively committing acts of violence against police. They also laid waste to public areas.

As the video below outlines, however, this approach is not unlikely to be as effective as a peaceful civil disobedience strategy.

So, what’s the real answer? We need to make an effort to remove violent protests from the race relations debate. Rather than leading to harmony between different communities, it will only sow further discord. If protesters truly want to forge peaceful and productive relationships between Americans of every background, they need to do so peacefully.

Copyright 2020, HorizonPost.com