The Difference Between a Protest And a Riot

This past week has been devasting for the families of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott. Their lives were taken recently with no explanation or justification by police officers. So far this year, 173 African-Americans have died by police shootings. With the recent deaths of Crutcher and Scott, protest became riots in a matter of seconds in the streets of Charlotte last week. Recently the mayor of North Carolina had declared a state of emergency when several "protesters" were becoming aggressive and violent. While others claim being violent makes the message clearer for officials, this causes the situation to backfire and creates more violence. Some confuse the actual meaning of a protest and create riots; however, the media calls it a violent protest . While doing a protest doesn't 100% stop these incidents , it makes the message powerful and less violent than it needs to be.

According to the Oxford dictionary, A protest is 1) a strong complaint expressing disagreement, disapproval or opposition to something or 2) An organized public demonstration expressing strong objection to an official policy or course of action. If you Google the term violent protest you won't find any direct definition and the reason for that is because a protest isn't violent. A protest occurs in many ways such as a sit-in, march, rally, boycott, hunger strike and etc; none of those protests don't involve any violent act.

Violent acts occurring during a protest is a riot. The correct and proper definition of a riot according to the Oxford dictionary is a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd. That's what happened last week in Charlotte when a group of rioters disturbed the protest and started destroying business property, looting business inventory, destruction in the city, arrest and caused a civilian death. The purpose of a protest isn't an act of violence or crime. Doing such actions provokes more violence and unfair deaths for others.

The media has to redefine the word protest. Not in the term how it's been going around in social media, tv and articles. People need to know the difference and how it can affect everyone. A "violent protest" doesn't help to justify the real problem of police officers not being prosecuted correctly and of them receiving a "free pass to jail" every time they kill an innocent person. Nevertheless, a correct non-violent protest won't be a solution to racism or injustice, however, it can create peace and hopefully a change of mind for others who think negatively of people of color. This odyssey article goes out to the families of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott, may the find grief and peace in this difficult time.

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