Protesting does not equate to violence 

Hailey Griffin , Arts Editor

The entire country has been experiencing an array of protests meant to spark a peaceful debate about how to dismantle systemic racism and combat police brutality within American society.   

However, several instances have caused these peaceful protests to become violent, resulting in rioting and looting of surrounding businesses. Instances of rioting and looting have created a platform for those who don’t truly understand the BLM movement to intertwine the occurrence of protests and the occurrence of violence.  

Those who tend to relate protests and protestors to violence must understand a couple of things. 

 First, the majority of protest organizers do not develop a plan to incite violence. On the contrary, most protest organizers prefer to keep protests peacefuland they make sure to relay that to fellow protestors. We have seen both in Madison and around the rest of the country that when violence breaks out at protests, it is due to interference instigated by the police, the National Guard, or federal agents on the scene.  

Second, protestors who are dedicated to the BLM movement will not have violence at the forefront of their thoughts. Their main goals are to spread awareness about racial injustice in America, to educate others about systemic racism, to encourage citizens to join the fight against systemic racism, to call for police reform, to call for police to be held accountable for their actions, and to reconstruct the way that the criminal justice system operates. Those who genuinely care about racial justice will not want to take attention away from the reason behind the protests by inciting violence and riots. 

Third, even when riots do break out at protests, you cannot simply deny or refuse to acknowledge the reasoning behind why a large group of people would express their anger through violence. People of color in this country have been oppressed and brutalized for centuries. When they experience that type of pain firsthand, and continually watch other members of their community experience the same type of pain, they become rightfully angry. When they continue to see a lack of accountability and morality in both their federal government and their local police department, they become overcome with frustration. 

If you’ve never been able to trust or feel trusted by your authority figures, then perhaps you might feel like rioting or looting a store will repay the years of anguish that you’ve experienced as a person of color in America. I’m not implying that rioting or looting is the right course of action to further the BLM movement. I’m saying that when rioting and looting do occur, you must understand the mindset and the experiences of the people involved.   

Sometimes white allies have been known to incite riots, which is frowned upon by those who are dedicated to the BLM movement. Even if allies are the ones to spark riot behavior, the brunt of subsequent police intervention will fall upon people of color. So, if you’re a white ally and you encourage riots at protests, reevaluate why you showed up in the first place. Allies are supposed to use their white privilege to protect people of color, not to provoke police interference upon them.  

Those who choose to turn a blind eye to the agenda of genuine, dedicated protestors and simply label them as violent people should take a step back. Evaluate what has taken place in communities across the country. Educate yourself about the history of systemic racism and police brutality. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, “How does my privilege affect my views?”