Bitter news has shaken the world. An African-American man named George Floyd was killed by a white police officer, who refused to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck even after hearing his pleas that he could not breathe. Floyd was unarmed.
This racist and senseless murder has undoubtedly caused rampant outrage throughout America and the rest of the world. In America, this is evident with the widespread protesting that has taken place. Some are peaceful, as people march along the streets holding signs bearing powerful words against racism. Others are more aggressive, as police buildings are set on fire, and police cars are vandalized.
Despite the senseless racism behind the ruthless murder of George Floyd, violent protesting is not an effective way to achieve peace and equality as it only creates more disorder.
Violence Begets Violence
Violent protesting, or rioting, does not seem to be the strongest approach in achieving peace as it only creates more opportunity for violence. Some argue that this is effective due to the widespread media coverage that ensues from violent outbreaks. More media coverage can offer more awareness of what is happening. While that may be so, we mustn’t forget the dangerous cons of this type of protesting. It is very capable, and very likely, of putting innocent lives in danger.
Not all who participate in violent protests are for the cause at hand. Some take advantage of the opportunity to loot and cause chaos, therefore creating unnecessary violence which puts lives at risk.
When protesters set fire to police stations and vehicles, riot officers responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Both protesters and responding officers have been injured during protests, some even killed. This should serve as proof that violent protesting can put lives in danger, as it begets more violence.
Nonviolent protests are more effective in creating change as they can go on for a longer time. They are not broken up as easily as violent protests are. Not only that, but they are more inclusive. Women, children, and the elderly can participate. Even police officers themselves have joined such peaceful protests, wherein violent protests this was the opposite. Those who wish to protest, but are worried about exposing themselves to potential danger, are not hindered by this fear in nonviolent protesting, allowing them to join as well.
Furthermore, nonviolent protesters are more likely to attract sympathy from bystanders. Some argue that riots are not meant to attract sympathy, but rather, to express “how inadequate other efforts have been” to achieve peace. While the anger behind violent protesting is indeed understandable, allies are vital to successful protests for a strength in larger numbers and are more likely to be attracted to the cause through sympathy, rather than through witnessing committed violence.
With the larger number of people who can participate in nonviolent protesting, more voices will be heard about the matter at hand, thus, welcoming change.
The History And Success Of Nonviolent Protesting
When speaking of nonviolent protesting, it is important to acknowledge the achievements of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A strong leader and advocate for racial equality, he had the firm belief that nonviolent protesting was the most effective way to create change. During The Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, King led many nonviolent protests and delivered powerful speeches to make his voice, and the voices of others, heard.
King was met with violence several times during his journey. He was arrested, and his home was bombed. Nevertheless, he prevailed. He continued his nonviolent protests and advanced The Civil Rights Movement, proving the benefits of nonviolence as legislation against racism was ultimately passed.
King addressed the opposite side of the ordeal. He understood the anger behind violent protesting and acknowledged that it was a signal for change, stating that “riots are the language of the unheard“. However, he still believed that violent protesting was counterproductive. It signaled the need for change, yes, but it didn’t seem to be creating it, whereas nonviolent protesting did. This proves the success of nonviolent protesting from years ago.
Nonviolent Or Violent Protesting?
In conclusion, nonviolent protesting is the most effective strategy to utilize when change is needed. Although violent protesting can produce widespread media coverage at a quick rate to raise awareness, it puts lives in danger and creates more social disorder. Nonviolent protesting can go on for a longer time and is more inclusive, therefore creating a strength in large numbers. Evidence of its success is remembered in The Civil Rights Movement from years ago.
The anger behind violent protesting is understandable. Should we be angry with what has become of society today? Absolutely. But most importantly, we need to use that anger that we have, boiling inside of us and willing to come out, and turn it into something productive instead of counterproductive. We need to lead marches and other peaceful protests, write articles, make art; we need to fight for what we know is right, in the form of nonviolent protest.