Do Riots Work?

Justin King
March 24, 2015

(TFC) Ferguson, Missouri — After a cop killed an unarmed teenager, riots broke out. After the grand jury failed to indict the cop and the police tear gassed innocent protesters, riots broke out. Now that the tear gas and smoke has cleared, Americans are coming to a shocking conclusion: the riots worked.

In scores of cities across the country the same scenario has played out: a cop kills an unarmed person in a blatantly unjustified shooting, the officer says the magic words of “I feared for my life,” and he gets away with murder. Possibly the most interesting thing is that Mike Brown’s death, while unjustified, was probably the most excused by the media. His death was the only one that wasn’t completely in vain. Why? Because the citizens of the community rioted.

In Beavercreek, Ohio a young man was gunned down by cops inside a Wal-Mart while committing no crime whatsoever. The officer was completely exonerated despite a video clearly depicting an unjustified shooting and months of protests. The police chief promised to resign, and then changed his mind once the heat died down. Would a riot have changed this? Is violence the only effective way to send a message in America? Many now say, “Yes.” To quote an activist involved with protesting both events,

Ferguson in flames.
Ferguson in flames.

“It’s speaking to the government in the only language they understand: force.”

Since the outbreak of violence in Ferguson, civil rights leaders and politicians from every level of government have advocated peace. Americans are now asking why they should employ peaceful tactics while the government does not, and noticing that those peaceful tactics have yet to make the people safe from police abuse.

The government has trained people to believe peaceful protesting works. The government-run media holds Martin Luther King, Jr. above all others in the discussion of the American civil rights movement.  Of course, decades later the American people have found out that the decision to propose the Civil Rights Act was not because of the eloquent words of the Reverend.  Instead, it has been revealed that the legislation was proposed because federal authorities were concerned with people going cop hunting. It’s contrary to everything you’ve been told in your history books, but there’s no need to take a book’s word for it. Declassified tapes show that the Birmingham riot was the reason for Civil Rights Act. Robert Kennedy said,

“The Negro Reverend Walker…he said that the Negroes, when dark comes tonight, they’re going to start going after the policemen – headhunting – trying to shoot to kill policemen. He says it’s completely out of hand….you could trigger off a good deal of violence around the country now, with Negroes saying they’ve been abused for all these years and they’re going to follow the ideas of the Black Muslims now…If they feel on the other hand that the federal government is their friend, that it’s intervening for them, that it’s going to work for them, then it will head some of that off. I think that’s the strongest argument for doing something…”

President Kennedy replied,

“First we have to have law and order, so the Negro’s not running all over the city… If the [local Birmingham desegregation] agreement blows up, the other remedy we have under that condition is to send legislation [The Civil Rights Act] up to congress this week as our response…As a means of providing relief we have to have legislation.”

Violence, not extremely eloquent speeches, is what finally produced meaningful legislation.

The other example held up by the media is Ghandi in India. The independence movement in India came into its own around 1800. Ghandi’s passive message began being heard in 1920. Independence wasn’t granted until almost thirty years later in 1947. Another movement sprang up alongside Ghandi’s peaceful movement.  It was called the QUIT India Movement. Ghandi endorsed the movement that carried out bombings and ambushes. Just five short years before the British granted independence, the Indian National Army began waging an amateurish hit a run campaign.

Just like in the case of the American civil rights movement, a charismatic man preaching nonviolence brought the movement together, but it was acts of violence that finally achieved victory.

Nelson Mandela began using nonviolence, but it didn’t work. When widespread violence sprang up against the Apartheid government, suddenly laws were changed.

The killer may have gone free in Ferguson, but the effects of the rioting brought about federal probes. The investigation led to officers being fired, others resigning, the police chief resigning along with the city manager and a municipal judge, and the admission that the Ferguson Police Department engaged in a blatant pattern of racism. There is current pressure on the Mayor of the city to resign, though he is attempting to state that he shouldn’t be held responsible. Those are just the immediate effects inside the city of Ferguson.

Across the country politicians and police chiefs are paying attention and realize that if they stand in the way of justice when an officer kills an unarmed person, they will pay the price. They will lose their position and their pension, but only if a riot occurs.

The very harsh reality of the government only responding to violence has been noticed by many. The country stands in room filled with gunpowder that could ignite an open insurrection, and the police departments are in the room waving a lit match at the people.

So those that condemned the rioting as the pointless destruction of people’s own neighborhoods owe the rioters an apology. The activists and protesters in Ferguson may have struck the first real blow against the government in the war against the police state.

This article originally appeared on and was used with permission.

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