Opinion: Political Violence Should Be Condemned On Both Sides
Just weeks ago, a mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol building to protest the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. Five people died during the events of the riot, four Trump protesters and one police officer.
Months earlier, sparked by the killing of George Floyd, activists gathered for more than 7,750 different demonstrations, according to an AP News article, to protest racial inequality and police brutality against African Americans. Looters and arsonists caused between $1-2 billion in damages to businesses, towns and public monuments. At least nine people died during the protests, eight were black people directly involved in the demonstrations and one police officer.
Both events involve tragic stories of American political passion turned violent, resulting in death and a divided nation. Regardless of personal persuasion or circumstance, political violence should be condemned, as it has no place in the United States.
Peaceful protests are a cornerstone of the American political spirit. From the conception of the early United States government, citizens have the right to protest political and governmental issues that concern them. The key to this right is the word “peaceful.”
The Black Lives Matter movement had every right to protest unjust African American deaths. In fact, 93% of BLM protests that took place in 2020 were peaceful. The ones that did turn violent, however, should have been condemned by all sides of the political aisle. The violence that took place in these instances was blatantly wrong and misdirected the greater cause of the protest.
The sizable quantity of violent protests is alarming, and the media and Democratic Party failed to condemn the violent protests that took place during the BLM movement. A prime example of this failure was a CNN on-air headline that read “Fiery but mostly peaceful protests after police shooting” where in the background piles of cars were lit ablaze. “Mostly peaceful” is not a strong condemnation of actual violence, but frankly a typical politically vague statement.
Fast-forward to the Capitol riot, where most were justifiably quick to condemn the horrific attack. The Capitol building had not been breached since 1814 during the War of 1812, when British troops lit fire to the building. Interfering in the democratic process of an in-session Congress is a horrifying and obviously treasonous act that must be condemned as such.
Democrats and the mainstream media quickly and clearly condemned the violence that erupted on the Capitol despite remaining silent and complacent to the several months of flames and destruction to which they called “peaceful protests.” The mainstream media and the political left were right in condemning the truly egregious riot, but they were not right in sitting complicitly while the destruction and violence that they labeled “peaceful protests” commenced mere months ago.
Both Republicans and Democrats must accept responsibility for political violence instead of playing the blame game, which just worsens political tensions and weaponizes unrest.
Political violence has now become a political weapon rather than an blatantly deplorable problem. People have lost their businesses, property, safety, and even their lives due to political unrest. Politicizing appalling outcomes to protests and political violence only contributes to a more divided America. Valid peaceful protests should be acknowledged and encouraged, but violence should be condemned by all political parties regardless of the responsible side.
Keaton Browder is an Opinion Writer. View his LinkedIn profile here.