A steep decline in peaceful protests

Baltimore residents gather in support of Freddie Gray.


Baltimore residents gather in support of Freddie Gray.

With police brutality being a frequent topic among headlines, there was no surprise when news broke out that Freddie Gray, an African-American man, had died after being arrested by Baltimore police.

The 25-year-old male was chased by police officers on April 12 and was reported to have suffered from severe spinal injuries resulting in his death. Gray died on Sunday, April 19, exactly a week after his arrest, with a broken vertebra.

In conclusion, six Baltimore officers have been charged and were held responsible for Gray’s death. The residents of Baltimore protested and rioted in response to their crimes, connecting the case to several other cases across the nation that have arisen due to police racism and brutality.

The friends and family of Gray experienced relief and expressed their gratitude for Marilyn Mosby, the state attorney who prosecuted these officers.

For the past year, several cases similar to Gray’s have arose, angering the American public. Unfortunately, many of those cases did not end well. Justice was not served and the families of those victims did not receive closure.

Through the use of social media, news coverage and all sorts of mass media, the country has expressed its immense disapproval of the police department nationwide.

The anger-filled citizens are outraged with yet another case involving the death of an African-American man at the hands of police officers. The people are tired of having history repeat itself and are consistently voicing their opinions on these issues.

However, several of these Americans have taken it into their own hands to make a statement through the use of violence. Protesters have brought havoc into the city by setting the town’s streets on fire and raiding local stores, damaging tons of property in the process. But the question is, is violence all that necessary?

There is an innumerable amount of alternatives one can take in order to have their voice heard without the use of violence. It is a civil responsibility as an American citizen to contact state representatives in order to express any ideas and concerns. Likewise, through the first amendment, the freedom to protest is protected under non-violent conditions.

Following the death of Gray, citizens had gathered in the streets of Baltimore to protest against police misconduct. Comparable to the similar situation in Ferguson, the peaceful demonstrations also evolved into riots, adding to the year’s list of protests gone wrong.

Several dozens of protesters were arrested while a number of officers were injured. As a result, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the mayor of Baltimore, enforced a city-wide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. that lasted for almost a week.

Despite her orders, many defiant protesters continued to fill the streets, forcing police forces to stay out in order to clear the crowds.

It seems as though the violence and public disturbance is leading nowhere. The cycle continues with another man being killed, and police officers being publicly scrutinized.

Yet, no official reform is being made in attempts to fix the problem. The previous riots in Ferguson and most recent ones in Baltimore are only inflicting fear among the people.

But why do the protesters continue to turn to violence? The public seems to believe that creating chaos and rebelling will change public policy. They feel that by constantly appearing in the news, the government will take action and fix the problem for them.

Contrary to the popular belief, that is not how the government works. As a democracy, the people define the government and public policy is a result of our own efforts.

Seeing as how the protests and riots following the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Gray, are for the most part ineffective, the people should be finding inspiration in highly recognized leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.

In the mid-20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. fought for the civil rights of African-Americans by leading mass marches and held speeches, all of which were peaceful. He garnered supporters from all around the nation and as a result, changed history for the best.

With these ideals, the citizens of the 21st century should follow in Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps. Without hard work and dedication, there will continue to be racial discrimination against African-Americans in the police force.

The people must come together in an organized manner in order to be taken seriously. If we continue to raid the streets in the midst of all the anger, the government will view us immature children. Acting like a spoiled child that could not get the latest iPad will lead us nowhere.

The goal should be to eliminate the stereotype of African-Americans across the nation. The first step begins with the people themselves. The public must first change their own viewpoints and put an end to their own ignorance.

The racial stigma must be defeated before any proper change can be instituted. They must stop viewing African-Americans as a threat to the community. Of course, racial discrimination will never be 100 percent eliminated, but we must put continued efforts into striving towards that goal.

In the Annandale community, we are lucky enough to have an immense amount of diversity. This makes it easy for us to meet and socialize with people of all races. Unfortunately, the majority of residents in the United States do not have that privilege.

The U.S. is filled with pockets of racism, and there are many places where people grow up in a homogeneous environment and never get the multicultural education that we do.

Until the entire nation is as diverse as the AHS community, racial discrimination will proceed to live on. To end this injustice, the country must be willing to accept all people of different backgrounds until there is fair treatment and equality for all.

The fight for civil rights will continue to plague this nation until we the people remove racial descrimination throughout all of our communities.

The solution begins with this generation. An end to police misconduct will only occur once Americans change their mindsets. Otherwise, these ineffective riots will not cease. Together, we must unite as a nation to make this country fair and just for all.