After Donald Trump was elected President last Tuesday, hundreds of people took to the streets, protesting across different cities nationwide.
According to The Washington Post, more than 225 people have been arrested in various places. Protests started early Wednesday in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago followed by Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia, Richmond, and later Atlanta and Dallas.
Thousands of people have posted on social media that Trump is “not my president.”
While most gatherings are peaceful, some are violent. The New York Times reported demonstrators burned trash cans in Oakland, and one marcher was shot in Portland.
The tumultuous reactions of people across the country is representative of how divided the country is over the new presidential elect. While Trump overwhelmingly won the electoral vote, millions of Americans are unwilling to accept Trump in office.
Preparations are currently being made for a large demonstration called the Women’s March on Washington on January 21. The Facebook page has over 44,000 individuals going with hopes of shedding light on women’s issues, including sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace.
The outcries against America’s new President obviously will not prevent Trump from taking office, but the strong reactions from Americans across the country speaks to how normalized riots can be, even just by examining the history of rioting in America.
The States were founded on a riot: The Boston Tea Party was a movement started by Massachusetts colonists to protest the high tax on tea by the British. Riots are often reactions to social injustices like the 1967 Detroit Race Riot, a response to poor housing conditions for African-Americans and police brutality, and the Mount Pleasant riots in 1991, where the Latino community rioted in Washington, D.C. after a rookie police officer attempted to arrest a Salvadoran man for disorderly conduct.
The positive thing about protests is that they start the necessary conversations Americans need to have about political, racial, and societal injustices. The Stonewall Riots, which were protests against the police in Greenwich Village about LBGTQ equality, were a catalyst for the movement for LGBT rights. The first gay pride parade followed that November, and many advocacy groups were formed in response.
But while riots can produce desired results, they are not the most effective solutions, especially when they turn out to be violent. Two examples are the Kent State shootings in 1970 and the Los Angeles riots in 1992.
After the Kent State Riots, which were protests against America’s role in expanding the Vietnam War in Cambodia, four unarmed students were shot by the police.
The Los Angeles riots in 1992 happened after four police officers were acquitted of severely beating African-American taxi driver, Rodney King. The verdict outraged Los Angeles, resulting in angry crowds destroying over 1,000 buildings in the city and causing damages worth over a billion dollars. Unfortunately, South Los Angeles is still impoverished and rife with gang problems and police brutality.
Rioting might stir attention, but it also encourages excessive force and violence that can only aggravate tensions in cities.
These violent trends still continue today. According to CNN, demonstrators threw bottles and projectiles at police in Portland on Saturday, and two 18-year-old men were arrested and charged with attempted murder and unlawful use of a weapon.
It would be best for politicians, especially Trump to think about how to combat this violence and destruction by listening to angry Americans, rather than just condemning them.
But as the country transitions to a new era in American politics, let’s remember Martin Luther King Jr’s famous words: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Do you think these anti-Trump riots around the country are effective for starting conversation? Tweet @issabasco.