Peaceful Protests are Necessary for Change

On Jan. 21, Donald Trump’s first day of office, over one million people participated in Women’s Marches in the U.S. and worldwide. People across the nation and world turned out to support not only women’s rights, but additional causes that might be affected by Trump’s presidency—ranging from racial and immigration issues to LGTBQIA rights.

District of Columbia’s rally alone attracted 500,000 protesters. Men and women alike, donning pink hats and picket signs, took to the streets for one of the largest demonstrations in the city’s history. Most impressive of all, zero arrests were made that day in Washington as the protest transpired.

The violence that occurred on Inauguration Day had the potential to overshadow everything that the disillusioned and frightened people in our country have been fighting for. On Inauguration Day, some protesters took to the streets armed with crowbars and whatever else they could find, and began destroying shops and business fronts. They threw objects at people and police officers and even burned trash and vehicles in the street. This eventually led to the arrest of about 230 people in Washington alone, causing an inordinate amount of dollars in damage.

Nigel Farage, a supporter of Trump and the former leader of the UK Independence Party retweeted a post that said: “Congrats to the rioters for destroying property, bringing nobody to your side and strengthening your opponents all in one shot. Bravo!”

Whether you agree with his political beliefs or not, he was right. People all over the country took to Twitter and other social media sites to call out protesters, calling their actions pathetic and criticizing them. Many asked how destroying local businesses and property would do anyone any good.

To successfully protest you must act with controlled purpose. Don’t get me wrongL it is appropriate to be angry when you are standing up for something that affects you, your friends and loved ones. If you’re angry, be angry!

Anger can be one of the most productive emotions you can experience if you channel it correctly. You don’t have to be crazed or violent, just focus on finding a way to use that energy to motivate yourself and inspire others.

“…not acting out with violence doesn’t mean you cannot protest. It’s not binary. It isn’t you organize or you don’t. It’s about organizing effectively,” said a guest speaker on NPR radio. [missing link]

The truth of the matter is, violent demonstrations don’t work. Violence gives people a reason to discredit your cause and the causes of others.

It gives your opponents the ability to call you out, labeling you unstable, or even extremist.

It undermines whatever you’re working toward.

I’d like to make myself clear and point out that this isn’t an attempt to shame one side or the other. Whatever your political affiliation is, it should be universally understood that this isn’t the way to go about protesting.

If you really believe in something, and you want to make a change, go out and make yourself active in the political community. It’s easier than you think and if we all took it seriously, we’d get so much more done. Regardless of what you believe in or what you stand for, and regardless of whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or third party; if you decide to go out and demonstrate for what you think is right, do it responsibly.

Joe Grist is an English sophomore
Original article posted via Texas State's The University Star.

Published in the Opinions section on Feb 11, 2017. 

Illustration by Juan Carlos Campos
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