Arthur Christopher Schaper
Civil Disobedience is one thing. If a protester wants to air his grievances against the state or the system, and put himself in the inconvenient position of getting fines, arrested, or punished, fine. He absorbs the costs of rebelling against what he believes to be the latent injustice.
Civil unrest is something different, in which disgruntled activists feel justified making other people’s lives inconvenient. You can speak your mind, Billy Joel once crooned, but not on my time, or my dime, I might add. The latter describes the nationwide racial protests which erupted after the Ferguson, Missouri Grand Jury announced its verdict. Following an intensive review of the evidence, the panel declined indict Ferguson Darren Wilson for a crime after he shot a young African-American male, Michael Brown.
Failing to distinguish between speaking their mind versus causing others’ to lose theirs, engaged (or bored and unemployed) activists upset with the Ferguson decision not only shouted in the streets, but rioted against law-abiding citizens and businesses innocent of any crimes. Destroying rather than rallying the public square, the latest miasma of misdirected outrage and frustration merely exposes the unjustified anger toward the final decisions.
There was not enough evidence to establish probable cause to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson. Blacks and whites, men and women on that grand jury rendered this decision. Would the protestors like to upend the entire rule of law simply because they do not like the outcome?
Nevertheless, black racial agitators like “Reverends” Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Islamist Louis Farakhan announced not just their anger out the outcome, but their determination for violence and uproar to demand justice for Michael Brown, as similar protests emerged following the acquittal of Florida resident George Zimmerman following the death of Trayvon Martin.
One particular example of unjust protest for unjustified outrage rolled along the country’s interstate highways.
WPRI reported on the staged protests blocking traffic in and out of Providence:
What started as a peaceful protest through the streets of Providence quickly turned dangerous as 100 to 150 demonstrators jumped the fence near the highway and planted themselves near Exit 20.
The key word is “quickly”, even as President Obama was pleading with the American public to protest peacefully, and exhorting the police to maintain and respect these protests. The fact remains that Ferguson protests could never remain peaceful, because the rebellious individuals in these demonstrations are aggravating about a non-issue. Michael Brown was a thug who attacked a police officer, and he justifiably defended himself, and a court of law found in his favor. Rather than demonstrating against one outcome, these grievances are acting out a mythical outrage, that all black youths are targeted by white police officers, and they cops get away with it. When they look at the stats, the alarming number of blacks killing other blacks should motivate them to turn on the community agitators who enable this intra-ethnic destruction.
Indeed, there can be no peace without justice, but the Ferguson protests are unjustified to begin with. Should be surprised that actions are not peaceable?
Still, civil disobedience remains an option for those who perceive an unjust system carrying out an unfair outcome. Yet law-abiding citizens do not deserve to be harmed in the process. They have rights, too, and their necessary responsibilities take precedence.
The Providence protest wandered onto I-95, disrupting traffic:
The crowd of about 400 joined together at Central High School and made their way through the city to the Public Safety Complex. Col. O’Donnell said a number of police officers were keeping an eye on the crowd during the rally, but the situation quickly got out of control once people started taking to the highway.
The group called ‘End Police Brutality PVD’ organized the protest, and got the word out via text, email, and social media.
Law enforcement had to create paths around the highway for rescue vehicles to transport patients. How does endangering the lives of innocent victims promote any dialogue on ending police brutality? Fortunately, the state police intervened.
On the West Side of the continent, similar protests blocked California’s I-5, and commuters were forced to stop and wait for police to break up the crowd. One irate driver, Tyree Landrum, took matters into his own hands, jumping out and seizing the bullhorn from one protestor, and staged his own one-man counter-protest:
Hey, I feel you; we ain't got no justice either. I got to go to Ross right now, homie. If I don't get there, I'm going to get fired. I've got six f****** kids to feed, homie … m*****f****** get shot every f****** day. Deal with it the right way, not like this.
“Deal with it the right away”: that’s the message this country needs to hear in this country, from coast to coast. Not violating other people’s rights in the name of racial grievance.
While Rhode Island drivers didn’t jump out of their cars to protest, the unjust Providentials were arrested and will face charges. As for the California protestors, they will not face charges.
At least there is some justice and peace somewhere.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.
Twitter -- @ArthurCSchaper