Ferguson: Peaceful Protests vs. Chaotic Riots

Written by Wes Annac, The Culture of Awareness

As most of you probably know by now, the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown (Darren Wilson) won’t face any charges, and this has obviously sparked passionate protests, rioting, etc. It’s Tuesday morning as I write this (the morning after the verdict was announced) and depending on who you listen to, things either seem optimistic or awful.

We’ve heard about some of the destructive things rioters have done, like setting fire to shops and even private residences. There’s a store in West Florissant my wife and I like to go to with family, and it’s reportedly been burned.

If you watch certain live feeds of the protests in certain parts of the area, however, a different picture emerges from the chaotic destruction most of us expected. It depends on where you look, and while we don’t want to ignore or deny the really bad things that are happening, it helps to see that it isn’t all bad.

Yes, police have and will probably continue to aggressively respond to peaceful protests and violent rioting. Rioting’s taking place on a large scale, which is expected in cases like this but doesn’t take the sting out of the situation.

In some live feeds, however, you’ll also notice peaceful, somewhat organized and powerful protests. People are singing; chanting mantras that are related to taking back our rights and refusing to be controlled by the people in power any longer.

Watching certain areas experience protest, I almost wish I was there, contributing to the fray. You wouldn’t see me rioting or looting – I’d be with the peaceful protesters, using protest to reclaim our rights in a world where you have to do big things to get the attention of the people in power.

I think it’s great to see people empowering themselves on such a large scale in Ferguson, and while I don’t stand by the violent rioters, I definitely stand by the protesters who are asserting their rights and showing the authorities that law enforcement doesn’t have the power they’ve convinced themselves they have.

The people have more power than we realize, but for centuries, we’ve given it away to external authority figures who’ve steadily yet surely taken away our rights. Beyond a peaceful assertion of these rights, what we need in Ferguson (and everywhere else) is love.

The protesters will help their cause if they remember to incorporate love into what they’re doing, and if rioters could do this, they might join the protesters instead of embracing anarchy, which’ll always keep us from achieving our goals.

Instead of destruction and divisiveness, let’s embrace love and a peaceful reclaiming of the equality we’ve been denied for too long. We don’t want to let the powers get away with their continued crimes against humanity, but we want to revolt in a way that keeps the importance of peace in mind.

Burning and looting won’t solve anything. They’re necessary in a sense so we can get the attention of the people in power, but we feed those people by enabling them to push a greater military presence on us when we act out or descend into violence.

We do need social action, because a lot of things about this whole situation can make you want to shake your head. When an unarmed teenager’s fatally wounded by a police officer (regardless of their race), and the officer gets away with it, there’s clearly something wrong with our justice system.

I think Darren Wilson should’ve been punished in some way for his mistake, but I know the situation’s more complicated than people usually portray it.

‘An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind’, to quote Gandhi, but this was a serious crime and something should be done about it. I don’t think the officer should just be able to walk away, but unfortunately, I (and plenty of others) actually expected him to.

We know we face a corrupt system that serves the people who enforce its laws over the people it oppresses, but we’ll only make the situation worse if we burn and loot.

Michael Brown’s family even requested that no violence, rioting, etc. take place after the verdict was announced, and yet, people who claim to be fighting for them have directly disobeyed their request. That alone shows you that some people are using this event as an excuse to do whatever they want, and there’s been a lot of anarchy so far.

We don’t need anarchy to achieve justice. We need the peaceful protesters who are out in Ferguson making their voices heard, shutting down roads with sit-ins, and doing everything else that proves that the people, not the authorizes, have the power.

The authorities were originally meant to protect and serve the people, and this has long been replaced with some sort of personal creed to hurt, oppress and jail people who fit into a certain category. No more. It’s time to take a stand against the people who’ll continue to oppress us until we do something about it, but we have to arise in as loving and peaceful of a way as we can.

I’m sure some people out there think a loving, peaceful revolution is naïve, but I think it’s inevitable. We just have to be willing not to embrace violence when we face a clear injustice, and we need to raise awareness of every corrupt aspect of life in the US (and the rest of the world).

Like plenty of people have said, unarmed teenagers of every race are shot by discriminating cops of every race every day, but we don’t hear as much about them as we’ve heard about Michael Brown. In Cleveland, a 12 year old kid was recently fatally shot by a cop for brandishing a bb gun that looked real.

The examples are endless, and we need to raise awareness about everything that’s being done by the corrupt powers and their law enforcement agencies that are clear violations of our rights. Some people don’t think rights mean much in this day and age, but their significance is determined by the extent to which we’re willing to fight for them.

We only have rights if we’re willing to defend them, and if we aren’t, they aren’t really rights – they’re illusions that our governments convince us we have (while subsequently violating them) to keep us passive. Only if we defend our rights can they actually exist.

I don’t think rioting and looting are best ways to fight for them, because they don’t send the right message. What kind of message do we want to send the people in power or the people who are held up in their homes hoping that the violence and turmoil don’t reach them?

The people in Ferguson who are in their homes afraid of what’ll happen could join a peaceful protest movement that’s happening right in their neighborhood if they weren’t so afraid of the rioting and looting. We could get everyone in on the protests, but as always, a few bad eggs have made it nearly impossible for others to want to participate.

If I haven’t stressed this enough, however, the situation isn’t all bad. In fact, some of the protests I’ve seen have been quite progressive and uniting, despite the aggravating responses on the part of the police forces. There was one instance where protesters were chanting Bob Marley’s ‘Get Up, Stand Up’, which was great to see.

Something revolutionary is happening in Ferguson right now, and it’s both heartwarming and disheartening, depending on where we look. Good and bad things are happening there, and anyone who lives close to the area and isn’t afraid of being a part of the turmoil can contribute and increase the positivity and unity that’s starting to form.

The more people who peacefully protest (as opposed to violently riot), the better, and I think Ferguson is the shakeup this country’s needed for a long time. We’ll have to get through some dark days before we can find the light at the end of the tunnel, but it isn’t all darkness and devastation in Ferguson.

A lot of destruction is happening there, but even though I don’t agree with the rioting, I think it all represents the crumbling of the old paradigm, which has to happen before we can greet the new.

I don’t like it any more than the rest of you, but it’s all necessary on one level or another. I think the violence can only be sustained for so long before it gives way to peaceful protests, and hopefully, the rioters and looters will see the light and start working toward the cause of bringing national attention to oppression and police corruption.

Rioting won’t get the job done – a peaceful yet assertive reclaiming of our rights will.

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The Culture of Awareness features daily spiritual and alternative news, as well as articles I’ve written and more. Its purpose is to awaken and uplift by providing material that’s spiritually inspired and/or related to the fall of the planetary elite and our entrance into a positive future.


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