• Matthew Lee 8th Townsend Jr. High

Can Aggressive BLM Protests be Justified?

The United States was formed on July 4, 1776 as an escape from Britain control. It was founded on the basis of freedom of speech, religion, and fair treatment for all people. Unfortunately, labor was needed and African leaders were willing to sell their people. This led to slavery, which eventually led to protests and, finally, the abolishment of slavery. However, slavery has left lasting effects on the United States, one of them being racism, or “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group” as Webster Dictionary defines the term. Unfortunately, it has been left untreated for far too long. In fact, 2020 has presented various problems and difficulties, but one positive outcome of this year has been the “Black Lives Matter'' movement. These BLM riots have been approached in various methods. Peaceful protests and violent riots have both been attempted. While these riots have been more successful than their peaceful counterpart, they cause more unneeded damage and overall displeasure among bystanders. BLM riots cannot be justified because they cause extensive and expensive collateral damage, put the health of others at risk, and employ fear-mongering and hate comments. 

Riots have a history of causing damage to private property, as people want to exercise their anger out of themselves but they do not want to damage their own property. A videotaped scuffle between police officers and Rodney King in April and May in 1992 caused nearly $1.5 billion dollars in damages from riots alone, however most of the damage was confined to Los Angeles. In comparison, BLM protests have caused over 50 businesses and properties to be raided in Pittsburgh, Downtown Seattle, Downtown Chicago, and Madison, Wisconsin, causing over $500M in damages and another $1B in insurance claims. While some damages can be paid for by insurance, many damages are not. For example, insurance does not cover theft damages, looting being quite common in riots like the BLM riots. These damages can ruin properties or cause the failure of a bystanding business. These riots have promoted and normalized theft of businesses and private properties to prove a point.

In any other circumstance, immediate action should be taken for the BLM protests. However, when COVID-19 continues to threaten the United States and wildfires burn down millions of acres of land, gathering into huge crowds to protest is incredibly dangerous and unreasonable. These riots can also give people a sense of security. Social media influencers have recently been throwing huge parties, possibly because they believe their parties would not be a problem compared to these riots. Jake and Logan Paul, two social media star brothers, held a party with over 100 friends and other celebrities. He televised the gathering on his Instagram story, showing his house packed full of mask-less people refusing to social-distance. Popular prank channel known as the “NELK” brothers threw a public party near ISU at Ames, Iowa. Hundreds of students from ISU attended the party mask-less. These influencers have defended themselves and each other, claiming that their gatherings were “smaller,” “insignificant,” and “safe and secure”(NELK). BLM protests have given a sense of security to other citizens.

Protests and riots caused by the BLM movement have devolved from peacefully protesting and walking down streets in huge crowds to destroying cities and robbing buildings clean with no repercussions. While there is no doubt that these protests have had positive influences on America, the violence and hate that erupts from these riots can do more damage than good. An article written on USAToday.com writes about the negative effects this can have on protesters, naming the article “Riots; the violence is turning many away from supporting BLM”(Robbins). Whether the violence starts from protesters attacking properties and police, or police attacking peaceful protesters, it never has positive outcomes. The article writes “Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times by police. The mayhem followed a familiar pattern, with daytime protests devolving into night-time looting and arson”(Robbins). Neither Jacob Blake nor the police can be blamed, for Blake was breaking the law so the police fired, though they should have arrested him instead. The result of this scuffle was that Blake was paralyzed, the police officers involved were investigated and fired, and anger against police officers rose. Another incident happened just a few weeks ago, where an unidentified man ran up to a police car and shot two

police officers unprovoked. The police officers were taken to a hospital, fighting for their lives. Though it is hard to believe, BLM protesters gathered around the hospital chanting “WE HOPE THEY DIE,” “LET THEM DIE,” and obscenities. They even tried to rush into the hospital, though their reason is unknown because they were stopped. 

BLM protests have had amazing changes in the treatment of colored people and the power of police officers in the United States. While the BLM initiative is an important milestone in human history, the health of the citizens of the United States should be first. Though BLM protests should continue after COVID-19 and fire season passes to continue to fight for equal rights, they should not be approached the same way they have been. Violent and destructive BLM riots have caused unneeded collateral damage against innocent bystanders and business owners. They have caused an even larger divide between police officers and other citizens of the United States. These BLM protests seem to prioritize attacking and spreading hate against police officers instead of helping giving colored people equal rights.

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