Riots are an acceptable form of civil disobedience because they punish bad behavior that started unrest, thus decreasing the amount of actions that cause these riots. This paper on why riots are an acceptable form civil disobedience will be focusing on two important riots that played a large role in American history. These are the Ferguson riots that occurred on August 9, 2014 and the Los Angeles riots in 1992 that occurred from April to May. Throughout America’s history riots have been a crucial way for citizens express civil disobedience. Riots punish bad behavior and prove a point that peaceful protests cannot convey. Riots can come in many forms and are classified as a violent disturbance of peace by a crowd of people.
Riots are often very dangerous and the cause tons of property damage, such as arson and looting. They can be over any conflict that brings a group of people together against misconduct. Riots and civil unrest are both disturbances, which in the case of the Ferguson and Los Angeles riots turned into violent protests. Even though some people may say riots are destructive to public property and show the real protest, they punish the misconduct that started said unrest in the first place. Riots are an acceptable form of civil disobedience because they prove points and decrease misconduct in America. The first of two riots this paper will be focusing on is the Ferguson unrest on August 9, 2014 caused by the death of Michael Brown after he was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson. Officer Wilson first made contact with Michael Brown saturday, August 9th 2014, and told Brown not walk J walk in the street, soon after this incident Wilson noticed that Brown was a suspect in a case regarding stolen cigarettes from a local convenience store earlier that day. Wilson then attempted to stop Brown, resulting in both Brown and Wilson getting into physical altercation around Officer Wilson’s patrol car.
Wilson then opened fire from his vehicle at Brown, as he began to turn around and run away as Wilson fired more shots at Brown. Wilson said these actions were out of fear that Brown was charging towards him. Citizens in the local communities felt that these actions against Brown taken by Wilson because of Browns race, thus causing many citizens in Ferguson to join together to fight for what they believed was justice. Citizens of Missouri started riots in protest of Brown’s death that included acts of looting, destruction of property, violence, arson, and shootings. More than 300 people of the public were arrested during the riots, 16 were injured including 6 police officers, and one person was reported dead in result. The second riot this paper will be focusing on is the Los Angeles unrest in 1992, which caused an outbreak of riots across Los Angeles.
During this time many violent acts, and civil disturbances were committed similar to the ones that took place during the Ferguson riot. The Los Angeles unrest took from April to May, the riots started in South Central Los Angeles because of a trial where 4 police officers used excessive force in the videotaped beating and arrest of Rodney King. The footage of Kings beating by the 4 police officers while King was still lying on the ground seemingly defenseless soon was brought into the media and activists attention. This was used as a huge protest point for those activists in Los Angeles and all around America at the time. During the weeks after King’s beating surfaced to the public’s eyes, the media coverage across America was very extensive, leaving no stone unturned. Shortly after this widespread coverage of the beating spread like a wildfire, looting, assault, arson, and killings occurred across Los Angeles. Experts say that the property damage caused by the riots was well over one billion dollars. The state was then restored back to order after the California Army, National Guard, the 7th Infantry Division, and the 1st Marine Division were sent in to put a end to the unrest.
After the riots came to an stop, 63 people in total were killed, 2,383 people were injured, and more than 12,000 were arrested in result of on man’s unjust beating bringing a community together. The Ferguson and Los Angeles riots took place over 20 years apart, but still shared the same powerful message against police brutality. Riots send a strong message that peaceful protest cannot when a group or minority of people are being oppressed. Riots have been dated back to the start of America’s history as a form of displaying civil disobedience. One riot that is important to America’s history and shares the same strong message as the Ferguson and Los Angeles riots is the Boston Tea Party.
This riot was a political protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773. The unrest began in protest of the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, the Native Americans, destroyed entire shipments of East India Company tea. They even boarded the ships in protest proceeding to throw the tea into Boston Harbor. The British government responded harshly to the Native Americans actions by turning the events that took place into the American Revolution.
The Tea Party then became one the most memorable riots in American history. Protests such as the Tea Party, Ferguson and Los Angeles riots proved a strong message by punishing misconduct, thus decreasing the amount of actions that cause these riotsEven though some people may say the Ferguson and Los Angeles riots are not a acceptable form of civil disobedience because they both caused over one billion dollars in damage. The two riots against police brutality also decreased the use of both deadly force and firearms in cases such as Michael Brown and Rodney King’s death in America. Riots are not always the best form of civil distance, however they are usually caused by real injustices in the world. Thousands of people from all different walks of life don’t one day decide to protest in the streets of Los Angeles and Ferguson for no good reason. This has been true throughout America’s history dating back to the American Revolution, and is still true in modern times. Riots are most commonly used as responses by groups of people who feel they have no other way to find justice. Rioting can only become reduced when the government provides better access to justice for everyone in America.
Indeed, while some people may say riots are destructive and violent they punish the bad behavior in America. Although rioting, and the very hefty costs that come with it can deliver huge benefits by punishing thus bad behavior and in result reducing the amount of misconduct in America. This doesn’t mean it always makes sense to riot over all misconduct. People need to keep in mind that enforcing and imposing criminal sanctions is very costly. However rioting is an acceptable form of civil disobedience when the economical costs of rioting measured in terms of how much stuff is destroyed during the riot are lower than the benefits of punishing bad police behavior, thus they reduced the amount of misconduct in America.