Violence in Baltimore is harming innocent people, not helping

Police stand in formation as a curfew approaches, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Baltimore, a day after unrest that occurred following Freddie Gray’s funeral. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Baltimore is in the process of recovering from riots that plagued the streets beginning on Monday. The nation’s attention turned to the city over a week ago when peaceful protests began after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old who died on April 19 due to severe spinal injuries sustained while in police custody.

On Monday, riots broke out after Gray’s funeral. Rioters, some armed with crow bars, threw rocks at police, destroyed police cars and smashed store windows. During the riots, businesses were looted, a CVS pharmacy was set on fire and protestors slashed fire hoses to prevent fire fighters from extinguishing the fires they started. According to an article by Time, over 200 people were arrested, and over 20 police officered were injured.

The protests began as a rally against police racism and brutality. An investigation is underway into Gray’s arrest, while six officers related to the case are suspended with pay. The results of this investigation are important, but with either outcome, there is an evident problem of racism and abuse of power in the police force. The majority of police offices are fair; however, due to the minority that constitute the problem, the whole system needs to be addressed.

The protests began with the goal of confronting these matters, and the riots continued with it in mind. However, the difference between peaceful protests and chaotic riots is immense. Peaceful protests highlight the matter at hand, while violence distracts from the cause and instigates more problems.

The violent protests have harmed many innocent people. Businesses now have to cope with robbery and vandalism, people’s homes have been damaged and schools had to close for a day because the streets were too dangerous. The original goals of the protest were to support victims, but the outburst of violence has victimized innocent people.

The destruction of the city is using a lot of Baltimore’s resources and thus harming each citizen. City property like fire hoses and police cars will need to be replaced. Thousands of officers and National Guard soldiers have been called to protect the city, and they will need to be paid. This protest will cost the city thousands of dollars that could have been allocated to improving the city. In that way, the violence has victimized all Baltimore citizens.

The violence and destruction draws the attention away from the purpose of the protests. Baltimore protests currently are associated with violence and chaos, but that is not the complete story about the protests. Before the violence erupted, over 10,000 protesters were gathered peacefully in downtown Baltimore.

Even during the violence, some protesters stood arm and arm against the destruction that was occurring around them. NBC reports that the family of Freddie Gray is appalled that the protests for him have descended into violence. This displays how the violence warps the meaning of the movement. A large aspect of protest is the publicity they gain from the media. Even though the violence has gained the protests a lot of publicity, it is not helping the cause because the media is discussing the amount of destruction instead of the subject being protested.

Riots make the situation seem like there are only two sides: the rioters and the police. Police and government are not inherently prejudice, and a lot of police are against discrimination just as much as the public. The public, the government and the police need to cooperate to address the problem of racism and abuse of power within the system. With flowing communication between these systems, targeting the problems and finding solutions will be more effective.

Protests are important tactics to utilize when there is injustice in society. They have effectively been used before, and society is better off because of them. However, nothing good can result from massive violent outbreaks. Citizens in Baltimore should continue the protests peacefully if they want to carry on shedding light on the problems of racism and power abuse in the police force.