Violent Protests: The New Epidemic

By , Wilmington , MA

Shootings. Tear gas, shattered windows, and plastered graffiti around the world. It is these behaviors that ignite and fuel protests, but are any of them necessary? Throughout the years, violence has been both a source and a method of protesting, one that appears in the news almost daily. Increasing in popularity, it’s becoming all too regular and needs to be stopped. ‘Peaceful’ protests observe a more impactful outcome, and hold the potential for a more powerful outcome than those that are violent. Respect is integral to the routine of our daily lives, however, it is neglected when passionate topics are involved. If peaceful actions are taken, versus destructive (such as fatal shootings, and to even ‘black lives matter’ beliefs, the nation will be able to operate more efficiently and be able to inflict a greater amount of positive change.

 

Because of civilians choosing to protest destructively, the number of these rallies are increasing exponentially. In the past 7 years, the amount of protests that have occurred have out-numbered the riots of the 1970's, and are on the fast track to reaching those of even the 1960’s civil rights movements, before the decade is finished. In the recent term of president Barack Obama, there were a reported 14 incidents of civil unrest, including violent shootings and protests as repercussions from those occurrences. From 2009-2016, civil rights and racial causes were to blame for 14 dangerous events, most ending in injury or even in some cases death. Within such a short period of time, simple unjust causes inspired mass violence, which only increased the threats.

 

In events such as the Smith Shooting in Milwaukee in August 2016, a black male Sayville Smith was shot and killed by a black police officer. It is speculated that the man have been threatening the officer with a firearm, although the case remained unclear. For the following two days, protesters acted violently and ignited private businesses, property, and cars. Demonstrators also vandalized police property, throwing bricks through car windshields. In another instance, Freddie Gray was found dead from spinal injuries in a police van after being arrested for carrying a switchblade. Despite any evidence proving this, protesters believed that his death was caused by police brutality, and retaliated, burning down a Baltimore CVS and participating in other violent rallies. What these protests have in common is that, after the original incidents, civilians found the need to take justice into their own hands using violence to inflict ‘justice’. In an especially tragic event, the Fort Hood military base in Killeen, TX experienced not one, but two shootings (2009/14). In the first shooting, army major Nidal Hasan fatally wounded 13 people and injured 30 others, being called ‘the worst mass shooting on an American military base’. In the second Fort Hood shooting of 2014, army specialist Ivan Lopez opened fire on several locations of the Fort Hood base, killing himself and four others, injuring 14. Although Lopez was motivated by depression and PTSD from his time in the forces, he was inspired by the original actions of major Hasan. This violence only worsens the experience, and creates a domino effect of disaster, knocking once incident into another.

 

The most destructive consequence of violent protesting is inefficiency, which delays progress in government and any changes being made to better communities. Violent protests, while drawing attention to valuable causes, have no positive towards making changes, and are counter effective when changes are being made. In an inspiring TED talk, best friends Caitlin Quattromani and Lauren Arledge talk about how, despite their political views, they still remain friends and have even bonded over those violent events such as the Smith Shooting in Milwaukee in August 2016, a black male Sayville Smith was shot and killed by a black police officer. It is speculated that the man have been threatening the officer with a firearm, although the case remained unclear. For the following two days, protesters acted violently and ignited private businesses, property, and cars. Demonstrators also vandalized police property, throwing bricks through car windshields. In another instance, Freddie Gray was found dead from spinal injuries in a police van after being arrested for carrying a switchblade. Despite any evidence proving this, protesters believed that his death was caused by police brutality, and retaliated, burning down a Baltimore CVS and participating in other violent rallies. What these protests have in common is that, after the original incidents, civilians found the need to take justice into their own hands using violence to inflict ‘justice’. In an especially tragic event, the Fort Hood military base in Killeen, TX experienced not one, but two shootings (2009/14). In the first shooting, army major Nidal Hasan fatally wounded 13 people and injured 30 others, being called ‘the worst mass shooting on an American military base’. In the second Fort Hood shooting of 2014, army specialist Ivan Lopez opened fire on several locations of the Fort Hood base, killing himself and four others, injuring 14. Although Lopez was motivated by depression and PTSD from his time in the forces, he was inspired by the original actions of major Hasan. This violence only worsens the experience, and creates a domino effect of disaster, knocking once incident into another.

 

The most destructive consequence of violent protesting is inefficiency, which delays progress in government and any changes being made to better communities. Violent protests, while drawing attention to valuable causes, have no positive towards making changes, and are counter effective when changes are being made. In an inspiring TED talk, best friends Caitlin Quattromani and Lauren Arledge talk about how, despite their political views, they still remain friends and have even bonded over those views. Caitlin, a conservative, and Lauran, a democrat, both engaged in heated political discussions during the 2016 presidential election. The pair learned that instead of debating their conflicting opinions, they could use dialogue to communicate their beliefs peacefully. The statistics that they present during their talk were shocking: 40% of relationships were disrupted by opposing political views during the election. Another protesting pacifist, Erica Chenoweth, attempts to spread the message that non-violent protests are the most effective demonstrations. A former believer of violent protest, Chenoweth believed that this was the most efficient way to reach change. During her time as a PhD student studying political science, she was writing a dissertation on how violence is used to create political change in foreign countries. It was not until she saw a pattern within her data that her opinion began to change. In a charge ranging from 1940-2006, the success of nonviolent campaigns has increased over time, and that trend is only growing. She says, "[Peaceful protesting] has been increasing over time so that in the last 50 years, nonviolent campaigns are becoming increasingly successful and common". She also discovered that if only 3.5% of the population rose up against its government per say, they could inflict change. Since the end of the Cold War, every campaign that has exceeded that percentage has been a non-violent one, and those campaigns are on average four times larger than aggressive demonstrations. These campaigns have inspired real impacts, and Dr. Chenowith hopes to instill these values in her audience, promoting peaceful advocacy in order to shape a positive future.

 

The most destructive consequence of violent protesting is inefficiency, which delays progress in government and any changes being made to better communities. Violent protests, while drawing attention to valuable causes, have no positive towards making changes, and are counter effective when changes are being made. In an inspiring TED talk, best friends Caitlin Quattromani and Lauren Arledge talk about how, despite their political views, they still remain friends and have even bonded over those views. Caitlin, a conservative, and Lauran, a democrat, both engaged in heated political discussions during the 2016 presidential election. The pair learned that instead of debating their conflicting opinions, they could use dialogue to communicate their beliefs peacefully. The statistics that they present during their talk were shocking: 40% of relationships were disrupted by opposing political views during the election. Another protesting pacifist, Erica Chenoweth, attempts to spread the message that non-violent protests are the most effective demonstrations. A former believer of violent protest, Chenoweth believed that this was the most efficient way to reach change. During her time as a PhD student studying political science, she was writing a dissertation on how violence is used to create political change in foreign countries. It was not until she saw a pattern within her data that her opinion began to change. In a charge ranging from 1940-2006, the success of nonviolent campaigns has increased over time, and that trend is only growing. She also discovered that if only 3.5% of the population rose up against its government per say, they could inflict change. Since the end of the Cold War, every campaign that has exceeded that percentage has been a non-violent one, and those campaigns are on average four times larger than aggressive demonstrations. These campaigns have inspired real impacts, and Dr. Chenoweth hopes to instill these values in her audience, promoting peaceful advocacy in order to shape a positive future.






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