Watching the protests and riots across our country I’ve been reminded of witnessing something similar in 1999. I was in Seattle to cover a WTO meeting and wound up covering a takeover of the city. I remember walking the streets with tear gas in the air and seeing vandalism all around me. I saw how organized the protesters were and how even then they had the ability to communicate with each other and mobilize to take over streets and sections of the city.
I also remember talking with some of the protesters who admitted they were from other parts of the country and didn’t even know what the WTO was. It felt like I was in another country. Fast forward to today and we are seeing the same things taking place all across our nation. I certainly support people’s rights to peacefully protest especially when a terrible injustice has been committed. However, there is no excuse for looting and vandalism or for it to be allowed.
Trying to justify one bad act because of another bad act will seldom if ever, lead to anything good. You can be for fair treatment of all people and still support the arrest and prosecution of looters and rioters at the same time. The two shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. Sadly instead of looking at these issues through the lens of human compassion, many in our society look at them through the lens of politics. Why should we believe either political party has the answer? These issues have been around since our country was founded and both parties have had their opportunities to address them and both have failed.
Change will only come from people caring and doing the right things. No doubt there have been terrible mistakes made by some police officers. However, that doesn’t mean all cops are bad. We too often paint groups of people with a broad brush. Farmers know this all too well. When a few bad actors do something such as abuse animals then all livestock producers are unfairly suspected of doing the same. None of us want to be defined by the wrong actions of others in our profession. We should not blame the majority because of the actions of a few which applies to protesters as well.
There is a big difference between protesters and rioters. A lot of bad things are being allowed to happen in the name of a good cause. We have to be able to separate the good from the bad. Destroying people’s businesses and stealing will not solve our problems nor will turning a blind eye to it and allowing it to happen. That’s been the problem all along. We have ignored and allowed social injustice to take place and once again as a society we are paying the price. Hopefully, we will finally learn from past mistakes and stop trying to address bad actions with more bad actions. If not history will keep repeating itself.