Article By: Jaeden Callender
Over the past year, we have experienced countless protests concerning various political and social matters. Some of them, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, have been faced with unnecessary violence from law enforcement, despite the peaceful nature of most protesters.
Whilst other protests grew violent and law enforcement seems to almost encourage it in some cases, such as in the recent attack on the U.S. Capital building.
It is our constitutional right to peacefully protest, but in some cases of the BLM protests, protestors have been met with rubber bullets, tear gas, and more harsh and frankly violent responses from police, even though they have done nothing that violated the law.
On January 6, 2021, not even a week into 2021, President Trump posted on Twitter encouraging his followers to storm the U.S. Capitol, which of course, they did. There was a huge mob of angry Trump supporters violently trying to get into the Capitol but they were met with little to no law enforcement action.
There is a flaw in our justice system that must change. I believe the best way to handle peaceful protests is to treat them as they are supposed to according to the Constitution. It is our right to peacefully protest but it is not our right to violently protest. Violent protests should be handled in a way that de-escalates the situation first if possible.
I don’t blame police officers for protecting themselves when they need to, but oftentimes the situation doesn’t require violence to be dealt with. In the case that there is violence, I believe they should try to separate the rioters from the normal civilians because there have been countless cases of peaceful protesters being injured or even killed because the police thought they had been one of the protestors causing the violence. I’m sure it’s harder than it sounds to control a crowd, but I believe it’s better than inciting more violence right off the bat.
Hopefully, law enforcement will soon find a safe and fair way to handle protests, peaceful or not, and be able to de-escalate violence rather than incite it. They should know the rights of the citizens and enforce the actual law and not what they themselves believe it to be.