Do Riots Work?

Riot policemen clash with students during a protest against the suspension of the signal of private RCTV broadcast network in Caracas on January 25, 2010. RCTV had not broadcasted the compulsory transmission of President Chavez on Friday and Saturday. AFP PHOTO/Juan BARRETO (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

In a report by The Anti-Media, the question as to whether or not riots have worked is asked, and it would seem the answer is, ‘yes’.




Looking at the events in Ferguson as an example—while to many it was a case of injustice, the events following Michael Brown’s death, including the riots, brought an awareness to the nation and gave viewers across the globe a first-hand glimpse of how the U.S. treats its own citizens.


Law enforcement officers watch on during a protest on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri on August 18, 2014. Police fired tear gas in another night of unrest in a Missouri town where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, just hours after President Barack Obama called for calm. AFP PHOTO / Michael B. ThomasMichael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images
Law enforcement officers watch on during a protest on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri on August 18, 2014. Police fired tear gas in another night of unrest in a Missouri town, where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, just hours after President Barack Obama called for calm. AFP PHOTO / Michael B. ThomasMichael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images


Since then, numerous reports of police murdering innocent civilians  have surfaced across the country, and in almost every case, the story is identical—an officer kills an unarmed citizen in a blatantly unjustified shooting, and then claims he “feared for his life.”

An example of a situation that might have benefited from rioting would be the Beavercreek, Ohio shooting of John Crawford III, who was shot and killed by police for committing no crime at all. The officer has been exonerated despite there being a video which clearly shows the shooting was unjustified; also, the police chief who had previously promised to resign, decided to remain at his post after the situation cooled down. While Beavercreek residents are still searching for justice in this matter, many think a riot might have changed the original outcome.

According to an activist that was present at both events:

“It’s speaking to the government in the only language they understand: force.”

Peaceful approaches have been taken since the events in Ferguson. Civil rights leaders and politicians alike have advocated for peace, however, as the reports of police brutality and murder pour in, it would seem peaceful tactics simply aren’t working. While mistakes have been made by all sides along the way, police aggression only seems to be worsening.

The government has, for quite some time, led the people to believe that peaceful protest is the answer, often citing the methods of Martin Luther King, Jr. during the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. However, the fact is, peaceful protests didn’t often work for King, and he knew this.
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For example, the Birmingham Campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, was one of the bold decisions made by Martin Luther King. He knew there was more than a fair chance it would end in violence at the hands of the police, and in fact, this is exactly what happened.




Many black schoolchildren were assaulted with nightsticks, high-pressure fire hoses, and attack dogs. All of this was televised and ultimately caused a wave of revulsion around the world. While the events in Birmingham later led President Kennedy to endorse the movement’s goals and triggered the decision to propose the Civil Rights Act, this wasn’t due to peaceful protests or the words of Martin Luther King, instead, the change was made from fear of black civilian retaliation and rioting.

American writer and historian, Timothy B. Tyson, wrote:

“The violence threatened to mar SCLCs victory but also helped cement White House support for civil rights. It was one of the enduring ironies of the civil rights movement that the threat of violence was so critical to the success of nonviolence.”

Offered as support are the declassified recordings of a May 12th, 1963 White House meeting:

Robert Kennedy: The Negro Reverend Walker… he said that the Negroes, when dark comes tonight, they’re going to start going after the policemen—headhunting—trying to shoot to kill policemen. He says it’s completely out of hand… you could trigger off a good deal of violence around the country now, with Negroes saying they’ve been abused for all these years and they’re going to follow the ideas of the Black Muslims now… If they feel on the other hand that the federal government is their friend, that it’s intervening for them, that it’s going to work for them, then it will head some of that off. I think that’s the strongest argument for doing something…

President Kennedy: First we have to have law and order, so the Negro’s not running all over the city… If the [local Birmingham desegregation] agreement blows up, the other remedy we have under that condition is to send legislation up to congress this week as our response… As a means of providing relief we have to have legislation.




As those at the Anti-Media point out, in the end, it was violence that produced results, not eloquent speeches. While we may like to believe that we are beyond such measures in our modern age, our parents and grandparents thought the same thing when the Civil Rights Movement began. Much of the violence displayed at the hands of the police was just as shocking then as it is now.

Yet another example of peaceful protest that the media likes to refer to is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known to his followers as Mahatma Gandhi, or “the great-souled one.” Disappointed by the failure of the Versailles peace conference to apply the principle of self-determination to the colonial world, Mahatma Gandhi became the leader of the nonviolent movement for the independence of India. While his message of peace was first heard in 1920, it wasn’t until 1947 that independence was finally granted.




In 1942, the Quit India Movement, also known as the India August Movement, was established by Gandhi, and although the violence that eventually struck around the country was sporadic and small-scale, the movement was known to carry out bombings and ambushes. This can also be seen within the American Civil Rights Movement in later years, it took a “charismatic man preaching nonviolence” to bring the movement together, “but it was acts of violence that finally achieved victory.”

While Michael Brown’s murderer has gone free, the effects of the rioting spurred federal investigations into the practices of law enforcement in the area. This ultimately resulted in officers being fired and others handing in their resignation, including the police chief, the city manager, and a municipal judge. Ferguson mayor, James Knowles III, is currently being pressured to resign as well, though he claims he shouldn’t be held responsible because he only earns $350 a month before taxes. A petition has been created to have Knowles removed from his position.

“Across the country politicians and police chiefs are paying attention and realize that if they stand in the way of justice when an officer kills an unarmed person, they will pay the price. They will lose their position and their pension, but only if a riot occurs.”

Time and time again, it would seem that the only way to spur government into any sort of action, is to take to the streets in rage. It’s almost as if the government is unable to tell whether or not its people are discontent until the situation is nearly out of hand. In the meantime, all the pretty little speeches asking for peace, justice, and equality are shrugged off as minor grievances.

The violence between the police and civilians can no longer be ignored, and as of now, there are many who believe it will take only a spark to ignite an open insurrection.

“So those that condemned the rioting as the pointless destruction of people’s own neighborhoods owe the rioters an apology. The activists and protesters in Ferguson may have struck the first real blow against the government in the war against the police state.”

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  1. Do not fall in media jeoprdization of people’s protests.
    Media intetionally replaced the word DEMONSTRATION with the word
    Riot incorporates aggresivness and justifies in advance any measure from authorities. Demonstration does not.

  2. Hi Anonymous. Huge fan. Y’all are about the only people I see actually fighting back. We need more groups like you. However, by this point, I’m sure you are well aware that you are very outgunned. The protests,riots, and sabotage do work, bit there is also another way we can fight. One where we won’t be outgunned. I would really like to discuss this matter with you. Please reply.

  3. Hmm.. it depends. In my country if a popular big political leader support the strikes will be successful ( in the sense of solutions ). Else just the armed police force or para military stops it successfully depending on scale of it. For ex. There was a strike here for rape case . At that time opp party was needed to be breaked down. So the big leaders supported strikes to create tensions which would help break down ruling party. And now many rapes happen even strikes but no news. Every thing is controlled. Media is totally controlled via Judiciary and false Power to harass them.


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