The need to protest has increasingly risen over the past few decades. Activism has mushroomed in all parts of the world, concerning a wide range of issues. Many people are discontent with the growing trend of globalization associated with the corporate world and governments. Activists and extremists have taken to the streets of numerous cities to let their voices be heard. The growing trend points toward violent protest and the desire to destroy property for the cause. Protest groups hail the destruction of private property as a tool to raise awareness and punish those who they believe commit injustices. The destruction of property as a necessary element in the struggle for social, political, and economic justice is unacceptable and works to further discredit the protestors and cause.
The destruction of property to bring attention to a cause does not excuse the actions of the protestors. Although there may be injustice being done by an institution it does not allow groups to act illegally. The injustices being done by a group or institution does not merit the need for further violence and harm. Advancements are made through negotiations and other forms of protest rather than the destruction of property. The right to protest is one that is a basic human right; however, the right to protest does not allow for the destruction of property. As Martin Luther King Jr. states in Letters from Birmingham City Jail, I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends (King 197). Arguments because destruction of property brings awareness to the protest s cause are not defensible and merely trite excuses for illegal behavior. The need for destruction only brings forth flaws in the movements. Noreena Hertz states, Like many others who have come to think of themselves as part of this movement because we share its concerns, I am left questioning the way forward (Hertz B01). The need to destroy in order to make progress is absurd and outdated.
Many protest blocs use violence as a means of providing attention and bring sympathy towards the cause of the protestors. These blocs feel that violence towards private property is a means of tearing down the establishment. They believe that the common man can relate to their problems and will provide support for the protestors. The protestors feel that destruction of private property as a means of revenge towards those responsible for injustices around the world. This argument is neither compelling nor defensible. Committing acts of violence against persons or property is not the way to bring about social change. Martin Luther King Jr. never advocated violence towards the purveyors of injustice. Instead, King believed in nonviolent direct action as a tool to advance the cause. In Letter from Birmingham City Jail, King states, Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue I have earnestly opposed violent tension (King 193). Those who believe that violent action is necessary to bring forth changes in social, political, and economical injustices are not advocating negotiations but further alienating the persons and actions they are protesting. Protestors justify their violent acts with the belief that violence is the only way to gain attention. Many protestors reject the traditional means of voting and petition and use demonstrations to grab the attention of corporations and governments. Nonviolent protest is a right but violent protest breaks the law and incites riots. Through the article I m On Their Side, To a Point by Noreena Hertz, one can see the attitude of the protestors. Many believe that breaking down fences and breaking property is not an act of violence. Protestors believe that their actions are defensible, when in fact they are illegal and immoral.
The violent actions of protestors in the struggle for political, social, and economic justice further discredit them and their cause. With violent protest, the protesters themselves are part of the problem, perhaps the key problem. It is they who have the energy and passion that comes from moral outrage, to come long distances at major expense to protest and draw attention to the poor, the sick, and the environment. With global attention focused on them, the protestors choose to burn businesses and tear down fences. The activist s protests are empty of thought, seeing only the surface and not the substance. Governments and corporations discredit violent protestors by labeling them immoral and only impeding the political process. People who choose to protest by destroying private and public property only strengthen the government position and excuse repression. With destruction of property, the protestors also help to condemn themselves in the eyes of the general public. People will not support a cause that represents the behavior of criminals and immoral persons. The press, government, and many people are quick to judge the violent actions of protestors and hold a negative view towards the extremist protest blocs. In the minds of people, the violent protestors are labeled hooligans, anarchists, and extremists. Even by liberal U.S. standards, the violent blocs are thought of as unnecessary and an inhibitory obstruction to the political process. The protestors may be fighting for a just cause, but the negative view that people hold against these destructive protestors discredits their cause greatly. Dr. King advocated nonviolent tension because it opened up the door to negotiation. He condemned destructive protest because it was not constructive and created a rift between groups (King 193). Therefore, the destruction of property in the struggle for social, political, and economic justice further discredits the movement as a whole, even if the ideas behind the movement are positive.
The destruction of property in protest has no merit because the protestors destroy property that is not related to the injustice they are fighting. As Noreena Hertz states, If political institutions are failing, it is on those institutions that the protestors should focus their anger. Violent activist blocs tend to focus their anger on anything and everything that is near the protest site, including cars and shops. Their acts of violence are nothing but riots and felonies without true merit. Many of the protestors are out to create anarchy without really thinking about the damage they are causing. Civil disobedience and other forms of protest are just as effective, if not more. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not advocate defying the law, but rather challenging the unjust laws. Dr. King stated that those who defy the law, must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty (King 195). The anarchists who destroy property do not do so and face the consequences, instead they run and cause harm to others. The protestors at recent conventions around the world have shown that destruction of private property only brings about unnecessary costs and does not seem to cause any social, political, or economic changes.
Protests of governments and groups have been around for much of mankind s history. However, there is a new violent and destructive trend of protest. Many new extremist groups advocate the destruction of private property as an acceptable and necessary element in the struggle for social, political and economic justice. These new extremist groups defy the nonviolent civil disobedience attitude set forth by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The destructive path set at the protests is without merit, indefensible, and causes more harm than good. The violent attitudes of protestors only brings about negative press and less support from the public. Instead of destroying random private property, the groups should focus their attention on the unjust laws that need to be protested and the institutions that provide those laws. If protest needs to go beyond words, civil disobedience provides drama without violence. Civil disobedience can clog the jails and immobilize government.