Riots: The Worst Way for American Reform


I watched the news in disbelief in the days following the murder of George Floyd, another unarmed, African-American murdered in cold blood in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As I saw the subtle shift from peaceful protests to raging riots, I shook my head and wondered, “How did we get here again?” 

In the words of the esteemed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “A riot is the language of the unheard.” This famous quote has made its rounds on social media lately and people are using it to justify the latest cycle of rioting.

I agree with Dr. King’s claim he repeatedly made from 1966 until his untimely death. Blacks are one of the largest minorities that are continuously unheard, ignored and oppressed by a system that was supposedly created to be equal. 

Time and time again we have witnessed the “equal” system fail us and set us back economically, socially and politically. I understand why Blacks flood the streets to cry out for justice when one of our own is slain. The heartbreak and agony brought to the Black community after these incidents only adds on to the many years of trauma. 

I felt my blood boil and tears rush to my eyes as I watched for eight minutes and 46 seconds as George Floyd’s soul exited his body. For an instant, I imagined myself or someone I loved in that same situation: crying out for life. I felt extreme anguish and helplessness which was a feeling I have felt too often; it almost felt like déjà vu. 

When these events occur, we are fully protected and allowed by our First Amendment right to assemble for protest and ask for justice peacefully, but we do not have the right to riot. 

Rioting is not effective. It becomes a chaotic mess that displays messages of anarchy and dissent. There are those who want to live out their purge like fantasies and those who are actually fighting for change. Towns and cities are left in ruins and the citizens are left to pay and clean up after the damage is done. 

No reparations have come from burning down a building and they never will. Almost a century later, we continue to have conversations about rioting and its effect on bettering the racial climate in America. We keep running into the same issue over and over. 

These riots and anger are nothing new. We are witnessing history repeat itself. After the brutal beating of Rodney King by LAPD circulated in 1992, Los Angeles, California was ablaze for days after the officers were acquitted. We have seen the same destruction ravage Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 after the Michael Brown shooting and now in 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and around the country.  

If anything, riots make it harder to decipher what we really need and want. Nine times out of 10, when rioters are running rampant in the streets, it dominates the news cycles and overshadows real efforts of change. 

Instead of focusing on police reform and systemic racism, we must focus on stopping people from destroying communities which is counterproductive. The police must focus on destruction, when their minds should be on reform. Demonstrators are shouting “defund the police,” while police are trying to repair the damage and work to restore peace within our communities. 

A rampage may seem like the only way to gain attention from the media and get the conversation started about change, but it’s wrong. It only gives politicians more to discuss and take a stance on to aid them in the upcoming election. 

Right now, a majority of right-wing politicians are taking the position of “law and order” and blaming the left for disenteers burning down cities, while the left is hesitant to address the violence. No fruitful conversations on how to move forward are happening between politicians, leaving America in the same racist predicament it has been in for centuries.  

America is stuck in a holding pattern that has been evident from the Los Angeles riots to those that we are seeing today. Honestly, if we take a look back not much has changed since then and not much will if Americans keep turning to mayhem and riots to combat racism.