Baltimore: was it the “riot” decision?

No matter how you look at it the events surrounding the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray, they are unfortunate and troubling. The pain and anger that many Baltimore residents were feeling Monday is understandable and protests are a logical response to what many perceived as police brutality. The problem is what took place in Baltimore was not a protest. It was a violent riot that resulted in wide spread destruction and chaos.

The family of Gray asked the citizens of Baltimore to refrain from protesting on the day of Gray’s funeral. Instead, by 3:30 p.m. protestors and police began to confront each other. This confrontation quickly escalated into a costly riot that dragged on well into the night resulting in the looting and destruction of many local businesses and obliteration of private property.

The day before there were several peaceful protests across the city of Baltimore following the wake service held for Gray. What changed from Sunday to Monday? Why did these protestors decide that rioting was a logical solution to Baltimore’s problems? Did destroying parts of their city solve the problems for the citizens of Baltimore?

Race relations are a growing issue in our nation today and rightly so. In the 1960s during the civil rights movement there were two prominent schools of thought. There were those that fought for civil rights using violence, and there were others that perused the same goal peacefully. In the end, the peaceful solution is what got the results that brought the end of segregation and gave rights to those that had none for so long.

In the same way that peaceful protests were the solution to the inequality that plagued this nation before the civil rights movement, I feel that peaceful protests will lead to justice for those who feel persecuted by law enforcement.

In this day and age where social media and the 24-hour news cycle spread news faster than ever, why is it that protestors feel that destruction and violence will bring the change that is so desperately needed?

I think Gandhi said it best when he said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” He was able to lead India through peaceful reforms without violence. The people of Baltimore should have looked to the great leaders of the past for inspiration before rushing to the streets and turning to violence.

Justice needs to be served and reform is needed, but the destruction of property and clashing with police is not the answer. The only result is the destruction and further division of an already grieving community. Worse while endangering the lives of others.


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