Protests or Riots?

The word  “opportunist” should be thrown around more during times of protests. I think it is impossible to have a completely peaceful demonstration without a small group of people using whatever issue is being aired out in the streets as an opportunity to just wreak havoc, cause damage, and or steal and loot. It happens all the time. The Youstink movement warned that infiltrators would try and use this as an opportunity to not only break the law but discredit the movement. That is what has just recently happened at UC Berkeley. It happens whenever there is a protest and it seems to always turn the hate onto the protestors as if they are responsible for inciting it. Nonviolence just does not sell. You can bet news networks are praying for riots and looting because people want to see it and people want to talk about it. This way, they can avoid talking about the actual issues and use this until another “riot” to talk about like it’s some TV show. I don’t think we’ll ever see another big/important riot without some bad apples breaking off looking for an excuse to loot. How can the group organizers stop this before? They can’t and should not have to. Perhaps alert the majority of the peaceful protestors to move away from wherever these issues come up. Just distance themselves so that the looters can be isolated a bit. People just have it in their minds that all protests turn into LA Riot sort of situations when in fact its the opposite.

I don’t want to sound inflammatory myself but I would not be surprised if some of the tactics I’ve seen in the article like water cannons, tear gas, etc might be more prevalent as Trump is in office. The 13th film had a part where he talks about the “good ole’ days” where things like that were more common. And I bet he wishes he could immediately take it there.

2 thoughts on “Protests or Riots?

  1. I think your post reflects a very inherent problem with the act of protesting. There will always be people who take advantage of the situation, looting and wreaking havoc. And these violent portrayals always end up overshadowing the original intent of the peaceful protest in mainstream media. The images and videos of the few causing chaos are manipulated and used against the social movement. This makes me think of how important PR is as a factor. Although I tend to association PR with corporations or celebrities, PR is actually an extremely important facet in any line of work, especially social justice. In order for social movements to garner supporters and succeed, they must maintain a positive image. PR played a crucial role in the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks’ famous refusal to give up her seat was actually a planned event, rather than a spontaneous and bold act made by an ordinary civilian. As important as it is, however, I feel it does raise certain ethical issues concerning a social movement’s use of deceit as a tool of action.


  2. So, this actually makes me curious about the history of peaceful protest, because I definitely agree that looters take advantage if protests now but when I always thought of the two most famous peaceful protests I can think of, the American Civil Rights movement and the Indian independence movement, I never imagine there being the sort of scrimmage there is today. From what I had understood, it seemed more ordered. Of course, that line of thinking also raises the issue of the whole MLK versus Malcolm X rivalry, which I believe is a pretty good study in the effects of violent versus nonviolent protests. I don’t believe that violent protests ultimately get us anywhere. Not in a protest. A revolution is another thing – meaning a complete government upheaval – and that’s not what I’m addressing. I think that Malcolm X’s campaign and even the scattered looting we have today give enough evidence to conclude that violent protest does not accomplish effective social change. So even if peaceful protests seem ineffective because of the looting, we need to find a way to stop it. Returning to violence ourselves is not the answer.


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