Peaceful protests have historically been a successful tool to demonstrate against various injustices. Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Mother Teresa are all names that come to mind when visiting the subject. In an age where freedoms were not taken for granted, there are few things as awe-inspiring as an assembly of like-minded individuals peacefully exercising their first amendment right; but, what happens when they are no longer peaceful?
Protests have unfortunately become increasingly more violent, with many breaking out into riot. Beyond just destruction of property, protesters have brutally assaulted other citizens, law enforcement, and even politicians. In fact, according to ABC News, “more than 160 people” were arrested following 2017’s multiday protest in St. Louis over the acquittal of a former police officer. What first started as peaceful, quickly became chaos and additional security precautions were inevitably required.
Maintaining the balance between liberty and security is perhaps, one of the most difficult challenges any lawmaker must face. New security proposals are introduced daily and while from the best of intentions, they must be weighed to ensure our existing civil liberties are not trampled.
The thing many are quick to forget though: we already have a system in place to prosecute those guilty of crime. We also have a system to reasonably decide whether any proposal should become law. Personally, I believe we need less knee-jerk politics and allow the system to work. That way, those who choose to responsibly exercise their first amendment right, can do so without fear of impediment.
What we’re seeing is an increase in those who want government intervention to solve the problem. The real question is, why have protests become such an avenue for violence?