Protesters who riot will cause more harm than good
A rioter, face covered, armed with bricks and a lighter, smashes a shop window, runs inside, proceeds to loot the building and finally lights it on fire. Recently, citizens across the nation have been gathering to protest institutionalized racism and police brutality, primarily against black people.
These protests for Black Lives Matter reignited with more vigor and outrage because of yet another death at the hands of racism and violence. George Floyd, a black man, was killed on May 25 by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who rested his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. While these protests began as peaceful acts of opposition, many of them quickly turned into violent riots.
Citizens of this country have a right to protest, especially if they are being actively oppressed, beaten and killed by those meant to protect us. The majority of this country does not and will not ever understand the suffering black citizens experience on a daily basis. But burning buildings, looting and rioting unprovoked by police is unacceptable and not the right way to fight against a racist system.
Violence will not end violence and causing chaos and destruction will invalidate any change that protestors want to bring to this nation. Burning down small businesses and homes will also affect people of color more than anyone else. Nearly 21% of black people are living in
poverty, and are therefore more likely to work minimum wage jobs. Furthermore, those who loot and destroy buildings may target black-owned businesses without even realizing it. On May 28, more than 160 buildings were looted, damaged or destroyed in Minneapolis alone.
“The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” said Tim Waltz, the governor of Minnesota, who activated the state’s national guard. “It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.”
Although these protests have come to be about more than just the killing of George Floyd, it is important to remember what sparked them. On June 1, George Floyd’s brother, Terrence Floyd, met protesters in Minneapolis. He urged protesters to continue to fight peacefully, and said that violence is “not going to bring my brother back at all.” By rioting and destroying buildings, people go against the direct wishes of the Floyd family.
While many people believe that looting is a legitimate form of protest, there are so many other ways to allow your voice to be heard. When people preach justice, yet destroy private property with no concern for others, it gives reason for others to belittle their cause.
“We are all angry. This hurts. But what are [protesters] changing by tearing up a city?” said Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta and a black woman. “[They have] lost all credibility now. This is not how we change America. This is not how we change the world.”
With violence, protesters are adding more fuel to the fire that is America’s prevalent racism. However tragic, the past cannot be undone and it is up to us to change the future and bring peace. We need to let our voices be heard, not loot and riot in George Floyd’s name.