On Friday, I slouched on to a bar stool at my town’s local burger hub and tuned in to Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington, D.C. Talk of others on stools around me, unsurprisingly, was commentary on the protests which equally enveloped the air along with the aroma of burger grease.
Nevertheless, what was unexpected was the graphic and disturbing video footage that soon followed on the TV screen. It showed protesters, or rather criminals, smashing storefronts and bus stops, hammering out windows of a limousine, even going as far as setting one ablaze and eventually assaulting police officers by catapulting rocks in their direction.
Despite such bursts of chaos exploding on 12th and K street, anti-Trump rallies also simultaneously congregated in other U.S. cities like New York, Seattle, Dallas, Chicago and Portland.
According to Seattle police, people launched bricks and an array of other miscellaneous items at officers during a demonstration at the University of Washington’s campus. One victim was even hospitalized at the Harborview Medical Center for a gunshot wound, and is currently in critical condition.
Defacing private property. Assaulting officers. Gun-shots. Clubs. Sticks. Throwing unknown liquids. Igniting vehicles.
What is this? A protest or warfare? Who are they? Protesters or criminals, or just plain pyromaniacs?
The events that occurred after Trump’s inauguration sounded a lot more like anarchy and a lot less like protests.
While the Bill of Rights ensures the right of assembly and free speech, it doesn’t ensure barbaric belligerence in the process.
In fact, things like clubs and sticks can be considered weaponry, and using them to harm another individual constitutes as assault with a weapon. These are not protests anymore. With one individual left wounded, the purpose of a protest is depleted and contradicted.
The outcome of this election has left many feeling angered and frustrated. Although those individuals are entitled to feel that way, they are not entitled to draw on their primal instincts and lash out in an animalistic tendency. That’s when boundaries are surpassed.
Luckily, peaceful protest is so much easier. Go make some signs. Conduct a peaceful sit-in. Protests of this sort have been conducted quite successfully by Americans throughout history. Extraordinary people like Martin Luther King, Jr. preached pacifism in the process.
The real paradox, however, isn’t how people are protesting, or the glorification by these same people of pacifists like King. It’s the philosophical plague that’s tarnishing the minds of these people. It’s flowing through their veins and coursing to all corners of the United States.
It wasn’t until the guy next to me at the bar pointed this out that I realized.
These are the same people who preach of intolerance. Lacy MacAuley, the Disrupt J20 organizer said, “Donald Trump represents a shift in our politics in a dangerous, harmful, exclusionary direction. We oppose those policies of hate.”
But isn’t waving weapons around, setting vehicles on fire or attacking officers equally as violent, aggressive and hateful, if not more? Actions like those really overshadow the message on display.
“We’re really trying to set a tone of resistance for the coming years,” said MacAuley.