On Tuesday, May 24, Donald Trump visited Albuquerque, New Mexico for a political rally. Initially, the outside of the rally was home to peaceful protestors.
They remained peaceful until the rally-goers began to arrive, then quickly these protests erupted in violence when rioters began to jump on police cars, smash windows, and throw rocks at police horses. The protestors and rioters combined numbered over 600, and the police force called in state-wide reinforcements to swell the crowed.
When the Trump rally released, the violence erupted even further, and police responded by launching smoke into the crowed. By 11:30 p.m. the city and state police as well as the sheriff’s deputies were sitting around swapping stories as the rioters dispersed.
There has been an enormous amount of backlash surrounding the rioting in Albuquerque that night:
I can not sit here and try to defend my home state entirely; the violence was unnecessary. However it was propagated by a small number of people who are not representative of the entirety of my state.
It is at this time that it becomes necessary to highlight the difference between protestors and rioters.
A protest is defined as “the act of objecting or a gesture of disapproval <resigned in protest>; especially: a usually organized public demonstration of disapproval” by Merriam-Webster.
A riot is defined as “a violent public disorder; specifically : a tumultuous disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons assembled together and acting with a common intent” by the same source.
Many have attempted to lump any man, woman, or child who stood outside of the Trump rally on Tuesday evening as violent “thug” rioters. This has painted an extremely unfortunate picture of this city. What began as a peaceful (and let's be honest, justified) protest, erupted in violence catalyzed by a small group of the protestors.
In the above video, Tomi Lahren angrily discussed the actions of both the protestors and the rioters as violent and “thuggish.” She was adamantly offended by the Mexican flag, which was used by protestors in solidarity against Trump’s harsh (read: unreasonable) immigration policy. She stated the actions of the rioters (which were, yes, absolutely, 100% unreasonable and unfortunate) as though they were the actions of all of the protestors in attendance.
Here it must be noted that many of the original protestors left when the violence began. Similarly, many of the protestors who remained behind worked to create a wall between the rioters and the police. At one point, a police officer and a protestors entered into the mass of people and broke up a fight together.
Being anti-Trump is not the same as being pro-violent riots.
More and more, the violence that erupts at events overshadows the initial intent of the protests. The violence is problematic, absolutely. I am not attempting to shrink that fact. However, we can not barbarize protesting; it is an effective way to enact change.