“What is it that America has failed to hear?”
During this BLM movement, every person has their own right to express their thoughts through their actions, and it is up to them to make their decisions for what they think is best.
by Sindu Vipparthy
The murder of George Floyd, a black man who was unfairly condemned for a suspected minor forgery crime by a Minnesotan police officer, has ignited outrage in people all over the world. The international community has blasted the American government—specifically its police force—for its unjust hate crimes towards multiple African Americans throughout history.
People all over the world are passionate about fighting against the long-standing issue of racism towards the black community, actively attending protests, donating, spreading information through social media, and signing various petitions. However, some individuals are choosing to divert from peaceful protesting, deeming that more active and violent protests are the only solution for recurrent injustices towards the black community.
Here’s where the trilemma is presented: are riots inflicting more damage and creating chaos within the community, or can they be justified for the sake of change, or is there a neutral perspective?
The “riots are dangerous and immoral” perspective:
Fires burning across cities. Smashed storefront windows. Stores left bare from unjustified looting. These are all the effects of riots and looting, an unexpected diversion from peaceful BLM protests. Even though most of these protests began peacefully, the interactions between protestors and police have escalated dangerously fast. To combat the protestors, police officers are using pepper spray, projectiles, and tear gas, which they claim to be harmless but severely injure hundreds of people. These tools are not meant to harm any individuals, but the police’s frequent mishandling of combat devices is leading to thousands of injured peaceful protestors and millions enraged.
Amid all the riots, some individuals are using them as a distraction to loot stores. Even if some looters try to justify their actions, most of them are wholly unrelated to the movement while simultaneously disgracing the protestors' reputations across the world. In the end, everyone is affected by the looting, even fellow African Americans.
As for the future, stated by an article by the Hill, cities that are dealing with riots at the moment are more likely to face "bad outcomes" like increased homicide rates, economic devastation, and the domination of political hardliners.
The "riots are a messy part of the evolution of society" perspective:
Riots are leading to a lot of unrequited damage across the entire country, while injuring hundreds of people. However, some might say that this is all needed for our society to realize its faults and take chances to fix them.
In a perfect world, we would have no riots because social and racial justice would be valued. Social problems would be solved in a peaceful and legal manner. Yet, we live in an imperfect world where innocent people are killed without justification, while the ones responsible are set free, unharmed. Because we live in this imperfect world, we have protested as a reaction towards these recurring injustices. But, as our society makes the same mistake over and over again, some choose not to protest peacefully; they decide to leave an unforgettable impact all for change.
Despite all the casualties and injuries resulting from them, violent riots throughout history have proven to be effective. This idea was expressed during the infamous Stamp Act riots and the Boston Tea Party. Through a few violent protests, the American citizens rattled the British, stating that Britain had no power over the Americans. And guess what? Now we have our own country.
The Neutral Perspective:
"I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?" - Martin Luther King
Like MLK stated, all the riots that are happening at this moment didn't “develop out of thin air.” They all came from 600 years of racial injustices that have been repeatedly committed towards the black community. They came from the racism African Americans still face to this day. These certain conditions that are undermining these individuals in society are objects of focus, ones that need immediate acknowledgment and action. They need to be condemned as much as the violent riots themselves. However, in the end, King states that riots are a negative outcome of the neglect.
The diversity among humankind causes each person to have their own experiences regarding certain situations. In this BLM movement, every person has their own way to express their thoughts through their actions, and it is up to them to make their decisions for what they think is best. It is not for other people to judge because you don’t know what they feel. You don’t know what it is like to be in their shoes.