The right to riot: is violence justified?

Nicole Aimone and Emily Lepkowski

Not to Riot

The negative culture against law enforcement and the criticised ‘unnecessary’ brutality by police has become a common event in our country.

Especially this past summer, with a skyrocket of officer-involved shootings followed by an uproar of unrest.

Not to say that police brutality is the only cause of riots, but it certainly has been a focal point.

Protesting used to be a way for people to show their activism and try to make a difference to demonstrate something people either don’t feel is important, are not interested in or are doing for all the wrong reasons.

As more police incidents from Charlotte and Tulsa spurred rioting this past week, I thought back to a little over a month ago when Milwaukee, my home city, fell victim to violent protests.

I went up north with my family for the weekend, where I was disconnected from the Wi-Fi.

I remember returning to the city and seeing everyone’s messages on social media reaching out for those in Milwaukee to be safe. I recall also seeing the opposite side on social media, where people were encouraging others to take part in violence.

After an officer-involved shooting, a gas station was set on fire. Police were deployed in riot gear. Looting, gunshots and vandalism destroyed communities and businesses. Curfews were imposed.

Not only was this terrifying to see in Milwaukee, but it was flatout sad.

It was sad to see people ruining their own homes, and to see a familiar face of a young man I know be arrested for being part in the violent night.

If people can’t protest in a peaceful manner, they should not do it at all.

What contribution do people think they are making when they choose to go out and ruin local businesses and commit crimes because of anger over
a situation?

What happened to saying a prayer, spreading words of kindness or volunteering your time to causes?

We don’t need people showing they are angry by throwing bricks at their fellow citizens and injuring others.

If people are angry to the point that they are prompted to go out and cause such damage, they have a much larger problem.

Stand up for your community and peers. Be a role model for your neighbors, kids and other cities in the United States dealing with pain after a tough event.

In addition to a more peaceful approach, there needs to be a bigger emphasis for law enforcement to find and charge those involved in rioting.

The biggest problem of all is that people go free without a punishment. This happens because the truth is, they are probably unaffected by their actions. In their eyes, they proved their point.

— Emily Lepkowski, News Editor

To Riot

It seems as if we are hearing about  another raging protest or riot in another town broken by some sort of tragedy or injustice every time we change the
TV station.

We see footage of people in these towns, often rampaging through the streets, being loud and outrageous, and we get scared. Whether we live in the middle of the riot or not, we all fear that this could happen in our own town. However, riots and their participants are nothing to be afraid of.

These large scale protests can often be loud and outrageous, however all of the roaring that is coming from these people is all for a purpose.

It is for the purpose of fighting for what they believe in, fighting for something or someone they believe has been wronged. They are simply standing up for what they believe is right, and they are trying to have justice given to the situation.

If you think about it, our wonderful country, in its infancy, turned to rioting to fight for the justice and fairness our founding inhabitants believed they deserved from England.

We have been told the story of the Boston Tea Party since we were young, where the settlers of early America threw a boatful of British tea into Boston harbor in protest of the high taxes the English monarchy imposed on the settlers.

The actions of these early Americans are something that we as citizens pride ourselves with today. Americans took matters into their own hands when the monarchy continued to tax. They took their own justice back from their monarchy by rioting for what they believed in.

What rioters are doing today is absolutely no different. They are fighting to take back justice and rights that they believe have been stripped away.

These people we see on TV now riot because they believe that is the only way they can be heard and make a difference. The injustices that have been handed to them continue to happen no matter how often they beg for them to stop, so they take to rioting to get the attention they need to fight for their beliefs.

Modern day riots may not be as simple as turning a body of water into a large cup of tea, but they are just as pungent with the sense that rioters are fighting against something or someone.

Today, high taxes are not what the rioters are fighting for. The bigger issue we see in society involves police brutality and the lack of reform that has been made as people continue to die and police officers are not receiving punishment for the killings of many people. The people are rioting to get the police officers punished and justice given to those who deserve it.

These riots are seemingly less scary when we understand that everyone has something they believe in and others often refuse to listen. When we understand that these riots’ purpose is to gain necessary attention to a problem that no one is paying attention to, they become something we can relate to, something that we can help with. Riots are not something that we should be afraid of or so harshly against. 

— Nicole Aimone, Assistant News Editor