Riots, Martin Luther King Jr described it as “the voice of the unheard”. American history books classify some riots as historic moments of rebellion and patriotism, while others are moments of terror and divide. We celebrate the white men that threw tea into the river while berating black men that damage property after reports of police brutality. Not only do we classify them differently but we treat those involved differently. Members of the Boston Tea Party are heros while members of the Ferguson and Baltimore riots are thugs and criminals.
In a press conference during the Baltimore unrests of 2015 Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake claimed that “thugs” had been “tearing down businesses and tearing down and destroying property, things we know will impact our community for years”. The problem with her statement and the statement of many political leaders in times of unrest, due to racial issues, is the lack of acknowledgement for the power and positive outcomes rioters bring. The claim that the rioters are thugs is a racially charged term used to describe black men as angry criminals. Between the language within the press conference and the lack of acknowledgement towards the way riots in Ferguson aided in the knowledge of civil and racial inequalities within the community the mayor of Baltimore was not able to unify or uplift the people in her community.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake, like many people, minimized the feelings and the actions of the rioters as simply people who are damaging themselves without understanding the impact of their actions. Ferguson is a perfect example of how a riot can shed light to the issues facing people of color in a small town. The Ferguson unrests happened a year before the events in Baltimore, when a young black American boy named Mike Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darien Wilson.
Many Americans who take part in the coverage produced by media outlets have characterized the anger of black young people in Baltimore as a riot, branding them as being thugs or others who are just looking for trouble to cause. Some will not acknowledge that the angry and violent response against the repeated acts of police brutalities could be reasonable. Peaceful protests are a good way for people to express their opinions because through this people will be able to get their opinions heard without being seen as “thugs” or “trouble makers.” Many people have only seen the violent riots related to the police brutality in Baltimore because of the media coverage and how there is not as much coverage on peaceful protests.