The recent misconduct and blatant negligence from both police officers and a select few members of the Black Lives Matter movement has been wholly disheartening. It is important to realize that neither group is represented entirely on the actions of a few. However, violence has erupted on both ends. The manner in which certain individuals chose to voice their discontent is severely misaligned with two leaders who arguably set the precedent against unjust racial laws: Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln advised against citizens violently taking matters into their own hands. He characterized this as mob law — calling it a small evil with dangerous consequences. Lincoln made a plea to American citizens, that if they are true lovers of liberty, they should support the Constitution and laws of the government. The grievances of the systematic problems in the policing and judicial systems were expressed resembling exactly what Lincoln warned against.
While the ideals about the injustice may have compared to Lincoln’s views that there are bad laws, the manner in which recent riots took place defied Lincoln’s ideals on how to actively change them. Should the rioters have waited, taken action through the government and let the judicial system run its course prior to the violent outbreak, there is the possibility that they would have been happy with the results. The riots along with reasonable protests sparked a nationwide awareness the apparent problem of police brutality and discrimination, but it also distracted and destroyed the credibility of the movement. Protesters are now thought of as irrational, impulsive, and their actions in any case were neither, necessary, justifiable, nor excusable — as Lincoln would put it.
Martin Luther King was one of the biggest proponents of nonviolent civil movements. There is a stark contrast between some of the methods of the Black Lives Matter movement and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Civil Rights Movement. This contrast lies not only in the violence aspect, but also in the methodology in which King believed a civil movement must be based on. While the ideals of the protester are akin to Martin Luther King’s perception of injustice, their kind of civil disobedience in the form of violent protests was significantly different from the peaceful approach King was an advocate of. Had the protesters followed Martin Luther King’s tactic of “defying the law … openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty,” they could be an extremely credible group with the power to sway the ideals of an entire nation. Protests did in fact create nationwide awareness and recognition of the problem at hand, something that King was also a proponent of, however the manner in which they chose to do it was severely out of line with the methods and ideals Martin Luther King worked so diligently to advocate.
It boils down to a group of people who were passionate about change, but were ill-equipped with the knowledge, understanding and actions that men such as Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln demonstrated. These two men set the precedent for civil movements in the African American community that very well could be a continuation for change in the present day.
We need change. It is evident that we need it now. The senseless loss of life has to stop. Unfortunately, the Black Lives Matter movement has been tarnished by the violent acts of few. Skeptical people focus only on the negatives that have com e from this, and it is of the utmost importance that we as a society can convince these skeptics that there is a problem. Black lives do matter and we need to do everything possible in order to make everyone buy into it.