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A Riot, A Protest, Are They The Same?
Posted by Trevor Roberts on Aug 22, 2014 - 2:40:23 AM

UNITED STATES—By now, we are all aware of the violence that is taking place in Ferguson, Missouri after an unarmed teen was killed by police. The images depicted on television and in the media are quite alarming, but it raises an even larger question as to why people riot to begin with.


In most cases it’s in response to something not happening as planned, but in most cases riots takes place because of a perceived injustice. A bigger question to ask is rather there are similarities between a riot and a protest or are they the same?


A protest typically involves a group of people who congregate in a public location to voice their concerns about a particular issue. With most protests, signs and chants are used to fight against or for a particular cause. In my lifetime, I have very rarely seen a protest get violent, but I am aware of such tactics taking place in the 1950s and 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement. This is a prime example of when non-violent protests by participants became violent.


A riot involves violent activity and antagonism towards those who feel they have been wronged or served an injustice. What is currently transpiring in Missouri at this moment is a combination of a riot and a protest. Participants are aiming for the non-violent route, but unfortunately there are participants engaging in violent behavior.  A riot involves an alarming amount of participants in my opinion and poses a significant threat to injury. In some instances looting transpires, items are thrown and police are forced to use tear gas or threats of arrest to maintain the peace. 


A protest can easily turn into a riot because a few bad apples.
I think the big question I’m trying to wrap my mind around is rather a protest can be held without spilling over into a riot at some point. Its not that it’s impossible, but it’s apparent there are a few bad apples looking for an excuse to physically attack someone else or to engage in stupid behavior.


I recall during my college days at Michigan State University where protests would happen every so often, but they were just that a protest. Signs were held, chants were made and violence was never taken. I would argue authorities arresting people because they voiced their concern irked me slightly. The scary factor was we had a slew of riots on campus for no reason at all. Guess what was at the root of most of the riots? Sports and alcohol!


Yep, people weren’t rioting because of some injustice; they were doing so out of complete stupidity. Our basketball team is knocked out of the March Madness or even worse we win the championship. Who in the world burns furniture, flips over couches and destroys property just to do it. Idiots do. Are you seeing my point? Rioting does NOT SOLVE THINGS, it only creates more problems.


It is not an easy decision for someone to peacefully protests when objects are being thrown at them or they are physically being attacked by authorities (I can only imagine what African-Americans and others experienced during the Civil Rights Movement). Thankfully, those days are behind us, but non-violence is the key to getting a reaction out of people. When a person fails to respond the way someone expects them to respond, it leaves them speechless. They wanted a reaction, they were unable to obtain and because of that it frustrates them more in an attempt to get a reaction.


This is a declaration to end rioting as it solves no problem; it just ignites a bigger one. A peaceful protest and a continued protest to fight for justice or against an injustice is the only way to implement change. Violence against violence only creates war. When it comes to war, things never end well, rather you win or lose.


Cliffside Malibu




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