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These are not “Riots”

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I’m pretty annoyed with people saying “the protests have violence and looting so they’re riots and the authorities are justified in wanting to shut them down.”

First of all, the fact that some asshats do bad stuff doesn’t mean that’s what the protest is about, it delegitimizes the protest, which is frustrating, but still, the vast majority of protestors are protesting peacefully.

Secondly, the protests are about centuries of injustice, enslavement, incarceration, police brutality and the violence minorities in the US are subjected to every day, and have been subjected to throughout the entire history of the country. They are about people who can’t feel safe in their homes, in their homeland, because one of the greatest threats to them are the authorities and their representatives who have sworn to serve and protect yet murder people in the streets – that someone breaks into a Starbucks or flips a police-car is peanuts by comparison.

Thirdly, the authorities are never justified in being violent, neither against their own people who speak up nor against journalists and reporters as we have seen many examples of. Deploying police and the national guard is effectively a means of repression, in clear breach of the 1st amendment of the US constitution (still doubt Trump has read it, but you can look it up).

Fourthly, it is known and documented that white supremacist and members of the far-right have joined the protests undercover in order to escalate violence and delegitimize the protests.

So if you choose to follow the line of the authorities, the line of white supremacists and those who choose to call these protests “riots” in an effort to delegitimize those protesting for their rights to live, to breathe, to be free – then you stand on the side of the oppressors, the side of the far-right – if so; you are on the wrong side of history.

  • Bjørn Ihler is the founding Editor in Chief of Activism Academy and co-founder of The Khalifa-Ihler Institute, the organization behind the academy. Ihler has a long track record as a contributor to multiple international publications and is a well renowned activist working among others with the Kofi Annan Foundation to counter violent extremism.