To be a protester, you admit that you agree with the way the system is currently running. You get your license and block a few highways, wave your signs and go home. Maybe you get really antsy and squat on some nice park for a few months; really determined to make people in power change their ways. But soon enough the riot gear comes out and the State tests just how serious you are about changing things. Most go home at this point. Maybe what you were protesting about wasn’t such a serious issue after all. Just like Occupy Wall Street, your mission fails and you all pack up and go home. Sorry, you were unable to garner enough support from your fellow citizens; try again next time.
But rioters are different. They want to demolish the state. If they agreed with the laws and the political system they lived within, they would be ‘peaceful’ protestors. But instead they choose to break stuff because protests aren’t enough in their eyes. Riots fail because they are do not garner enough support from the surrounding citizens. They are unable to convince more people to join in the looting/demolishing of the state. But to be fair, this is pretty tough to do, but when it happens, man change happens quickly. It took Egypt 2 weeks and 3 days to remove its sitting president.
So the question I always ask myself, do our rioters truly hate the system enough to die in the streets? To demolish their community? To charge a police line in riot gear? And most importantly, do they care enough about this issue to sacrifice their own lives by throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at people with automatic weapons.
Most of the time, the answer to that last question is a resounding “Hell no.” But everynow and then something happens that just really pisses everyone off. Or, to put it bluntly, a series of events happen to get a lot of media attention and people get furious about it. These emotions build upon decades of true or imagined discrimination, injustice, and general ill will.
Enter Trevon Martin, Michael Brown, and of course Freddie Gray in Baltimore. The killing of Trevon didn’t trigger any riots, but the intense media attention acted as a catalyst for racial anger across the United States. Each successive injustice done to another person of color acted as more fuel to the riot fire. To be truthful, most racism injustices are ambiguous enough that it’s hard to get to riled up over. But once in a blue moon we get a couple which are particularly difficult to hide from.
So, inevitably we get our two matches for our fire. Michael Brown shot dead on August 2014, and Freddie Gray died in custody, April 2015. A lot of people really love to sink their teeth into the details of these cases.
Were the cops justified? Did these kids encourage the police to treat them so harshly? Was the trial just? What do their parents have to say about all this???
If you ask these questions you are burying yourself in pointless rabble; save hours of your life watching MSNBC or FOX, it is all irrelevant. Go outside and stare at a tree, it would be more productive than analyzing these cases. Because friends, the fact that they’ve made it this far in our modern intrusive media machine probably means either the State is completely in the wrong OR there is a reasonable chance they still screwed up big time.
So now we’re rioting again. A bunch of people pick up some pitch forks, topple some cars, and start destroying shit. What will the world’s most powerful military State do, in the face of such ‘senseless’ violence against its orderly rules? It’ll stomp on it, obviously. It always has, and it always will. States exist for this sole purpose; to crush opposition with a monopoly of force.
The Brown riots (in Feurgeson 2014) had two waves, one right after the death (August 9 – 25) then another after our justice system decided the cop was justified in the shooting (November 24 – December 4). Cue the National Guard, a few bottles of tear gas, some arrests, some broken bones, all the rioters go home. They never saw the ‘upswell’ of the silent majority. They failed in their mission. Better luck next time. So this story shouldn’t be surprising in Baltimore. Some people protest, other people riot. The riots get a little crazy, so we call in the National Guard again. People don’t feel like throwing rocks at people with automatic weapons so they go home and once more our silent majority stay silent.
They never took to the streets to take up this noble cause of eradicating the state. Shoot. Better luck next time. Maybe some commenters of this blog can correct me, but I have yet to see a case in the US where race riots were actually successful. The civil rights movement was a protest, sure they were treated as rioters to people who wanted to crush them with force; but facts remain facts, they were largely peaceful and operated within… most of the laws we have. Additionally the civil rights movement has simple, understandable goals. These proposed goals were easy to meld into public policy on paper, so it’s easy to get behind.
These riots will never succeed because people don’t care about racial injustice enough to start burning down city blocks. Let’s get honest, our silent majority is mainly white. And if you can’t even convince the silent majority of african americans to take up arms against the State, you might as well just go home early. America doesn’t have a radicalized left wing who can capitalize on these incidents. People don’t see burning down the state as a solution to racism or racial injustice. So why would they risk their lives to fight for it via rioting? Maybe a protest would be more beneficial, given that you actually have some policy demands to protest for. But until we see that rather than some ambiguous “Justice for X!” or “Stop racism now!” you will continue to fail; because you aren’t proposing any solutions worth dieing for.