St. Lucy's Priory High School

Opinion: Public dissent should only ever be non-violent

cnn12 Opinion: Public dissent should only ever be non violent
Protestors cheer for women and human rights at the Women’s March in Chicago, Illinois. (John Gress / Getty Images)

In the news, recently, there has been unprecedented amounts of protesting against the president and for the president through both violent and non-violent means. However, no matter how just the cause, violent protesting should never be tolerated.

No cause ever justifies the use of physical force against another person or damage to property. Protesting should only be verbal and peaceful.

It is a tragedy when demonstrations turn violent, which was the case in Charlottesville, Va. in August. On Aug. 12, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan staged a large rally to “take America back” and clashed with counter protesters. Americans have the right to peacefully assemble, but when a side promotes violence or hate towards others, they are being un-American.

Members of both groups traded blows and hurtled bottles of chemical irritants at each other. This led to police breaking up the rally, but clashes continued on side streets.

It was on one of these side streets where a man named Alex Fields drove a car into a crowd of counter protestors killing a woman named Heather Heyer, and injuring 19 others. Fields was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. This heinous act of violence is what happens when people abuse their right to free speech.

This act of violence was the result of ideals held by right-wing extremists, but violent acts have also been recorded at protests involving left-wing extremists. One such event was a “Rally Against Hate” gathering in Berkeley. No party is more innocent or guilty than the other, both sides share blame in violent clashes.

The event involved thousands of protesters rallying against hate, bigotry, and President Trump. The peaceful event quickly turned violent with fights breaking out and pepper spray and smoke bombs being used.

The violence was begun by black clad anti-fascist protesters who chased and beat up Trump supporters who had scheduled and then canceled their “Anti-Marxist Rally.”  Police, and at times counter protestors, stepped in to halt the violence and escort the victims away. Even if a cause is just, such as fighting against hate and racism, the use of violence to stand for those ideals, is abhorrent.

These clashes occurred despite widespread calls from activists and elected officials for peaceful civil disobedience. Thirteen people were arrested for charges ranging from assault with a deadly weapon to obstructing a police officer. When one perpetuates violent acts their constitutional rights will not protect them, they face justified punishment.

Unfortunately, truly peaceful acts are few and far between. The last truly peaceful publicized rally was the Women’s March in Washington D.C. in January. This march had over 500,000 women in attendance to protest President Trump’s treatment of women.

This march yielded no arrests, and approximately three million women participated nationally. This event proves that violence is not required to make a point and take a stand for what you believe in.

–Lily Ramirez


  • Reply Douglas Campbell October 30, 2017 at 6:28 am

    Perhaps the genesis of the Charlottesville protests will educate. On the night before the protests turned violent, the right wingers — the KKK, the Nazis, the white nationalist — held a march through the University of Virginia. They carried tiki torches to light the way. During this march, no property was destroyed — no windows were broken, no cars were torched, no trash was strewn, no feces were deposited, no graffiti was drawn. With regard to violence, no opponents were assaulted with bike locks or anything else for that matter, no police assaulted or taunted. By every indication, the march was peaceful.

    On the next day, Antifa showed up, the violent shock troops of the left whose acts you would marginalize by claiming that the violence originates from the right. Fights all over the place, people’s property taken and burned. People sprayed with flame throwers constructed of paint cans. Mace and pepper gas floating in the air. Marching people you would call “white nationalists” — some carrying guns — chased away and their car windows broken; none of these men fired a single shot in return for the damage to their property. In the end, it took one crazed right-wing individual to exceed the violence started by the left.

    So, as you think about the genesis of violence — it certainly lies with those who would deny freedom of speech to others, whether it’s Antifa or a crazed right winger with a car. It lies with the professor at fresno state who ordered his class to erase from the sidewalks other students’ rightful speech. It lies with those students at Berkeley who think that it is ok to perform violence on those they consider fascist — because the mere existance of these “fascist” opponents is a call to call for violence. They believe that they are preventing the rise of a new Nazism, whereas in reality they are everything of the Nazis that they detest — they would use the heckler’s veto to deny the free exchange of ideas, they would use violence to drive their opponents from the street. These people have far more in common with those who performed the Kristallnicht than any of their adversaries.

    Note that the violence of Charlottesville was orchestrated by the city leaders. They did not want the KKK, the Nazis, the “white nationalist” to demonstrate at the park, and so they ordered the police to stand down — to not interfere with attacks from Antifa. Indeed, that is what UC Berkeley did on its night of violence — deliberately refused to right wing people the protection of the law. Well, in both cases, the situation rebounded badly on the civic leaders, and so now the police presence is overwhelming at these protests — as it should have been and as it should be. There is now zero tolerance for sticks, cans of spray paint, pepper spray, and face masks — the latter being the tool must used by those who would commit anonymous violence, because it prevents their identification by the authorities.

    Now, on to the Woman’s Convention. Would you say that such a march was of the left? If the right wing is so intent on violence, why did they not disrupt these marches? What is different is that few on the right want to deny the left their say — but they do want to dispute what they say. Note that Bernie Sanders was slated to be the keynote speaker for the Women’s Convention, but they rescinded the invitation because — Bernie is a man. That act shows that a meeting and march dedicated to eliminating sexism is just about as sexist as can be.

    We of the right have a standard way of dealing with the left — we just don’t show up. We may kvitch about them, but we will not deny them their venues. I just wish they’d give us the same courtesy. After all, we don’t threaten to bomb parades which allow Democrats to march as a party, like the left does. Just debate us in the forum — don’t try to drive us from it.


  • Reply NayLahKnee October 30, 2017 at 10:38 am

    If you are going to report on things like this, get facts from several sources….


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