Riots – Refutation

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.





Riots – Affirmative Argument

While Dr. Martin Luther King never advocated for violent and destructive behavior, he did state that it would be morally irresponsible to condemn riots without, at the same time, condemning the “contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society.”

There were a massive wave of race riots that swept the cities in 1960s black America. From 1964 to 1971, there were over 750 riots around the country. Compared to the courteous and well-behaved forms of peaceful protest typical of the earlier civil rights generation, the 1960’s riots saw a sea of change that had been an extreme overdue response to the injustices that black America had endured for so long.

In August 1965, the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California broke out in fire and vandal. The Watts riots commenced when a when white police officers stopped an intoxicated black man, 21-year-old Marquette Frye, on a highway in South Central Los Angeles. As an altercation broke out involving the police, Frye and Frye’s two family members – the situation quickly turned violent. Allegedly, the officers had struck Marquette Frye’s mother, Rena Price, who was also pregnant at the time along with Frye for resisting arrest. As the crowd started protesting, the altercation quickly grew into a five-day racial riot with nearly 4,000 were arrests. Many cherish the memory as the moment when the militant became mainstream in a “fed-up” black America, replacing the nonviolent, gradualist efforts of old-guard civil rights leaders. The Watts riot indeed shaped modern black American history more decisively than ever before, bringing light to racial oppression of blacks by police officers.

The famous “LA Riots” or “Rodney King Riots”, erupted after the acquittal of four Los Angeles police officers in the beating of Rodney King on April 29, 1992. The riots were the first in history to be captured completely by the media on a national level. In the six days of outcry, the riots shed light on police abuse, poverty, lack of economic opportunity, and a sense of disenfranchisement among African-Americans in the United States. Afterward, the LAPD and city of Los Angeles made significant alterations in response to the African American’s objections. More minorities were encouraged and accepted to join the police force and Daryl Gates, LAPD police chief, took institutional blame for the incident and resigned. The police officers were then retried by the U.S. Department of Justice, and two of the four were found guilty of violating King’s civil rights and sentenced to prison.

The Ferguson riots rose from the shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer Darren Wilson in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. In Ferguson, where there was already substantial tensions between police and minorities, the shooting brought national attention to the injustices, subconscious biases and racial profiling conducted by police. The unrest sparked a vigorous debate about the relationship between law enforcement and African American equality. It also brought light on aggressive policing tactics and over-militarization of civilian police in America. As a result of the events in Ferguson, President Obama ordered a review of the distribution of military hardware and equipment supplied to state and local police. Additionally, Justice Sonia Sotomayor cited the Department of Justice’s “Ferguson Report” extensively in the 2016 Fourth-Amendment case Utah v. Strieff as evidence of systemic racial bias in police practice.

Riots are a tool that protesters use to show how dissatisfied they are with the current system.

As Dr. King stated, “rioting is the language of the unheard.” Rebellion as performance, with no plan of action behind it is used as political activism by victims of injustices. In a society where everyone seems to look the other way, the oppressed often feel that this use of behavioral rebellion is their only option. Riots are useful in helping push the truths of racial injustice further into the national conversation which is usually ignored. The fact that this tactic is still used in modern America shows how the social divide is still extremely prevalent and remains a crucial problem for minorities. The riots are not just an excuse to loot and destroy but a desperate result of a long pattern of police abuse, harassment and violence toward the African-American community in the context of systemic class inequality, custodial citizenship and mass incarceration.


An interesting correlation of prominent race riots in the U.S.:


Pre-Election Results: What Did The Riots Look Like?

In my (Kali) own home county, riots ensued throughout the town of Costa Mesa, which neighbors my hometown of Newport Beach, on April 26th. Although I was not there in person, I witnessed these riots via numerous videos, texts, Snapchat stories, and pictures my friends at home had sent me. It was violent and it was not peaceful. It made me wonder, how can such a hate-filled riot occur? Only when a person filled with hate is truly feared of holding power. What does this say about us?

Students protest Trump’s presidency

“At Berkeley High School, about 1,500 students — half the entire student body — walked out of class after first period began at 8 a.m., Berkeley Unified School District officials said.”  -

Many millennials are upset over the results of this election, and are taking it into their own hands to make a stand.

President-elect is… Donald Trump. What does this mean for us??

Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States no less than 24 hours ago. The Black Lives Matter movement has yet to publish a statement on this historic event. BLM activists are shocked. After having an African American family run this country for the past 8 years, America has just made a complete 180 in the eyes of this movement. What do you think a Trump presidency means for this movement? What types of riots and protests do you think will ensue?

Police Brutality – Affirmation


Over the last few years, turmoil was erupted in the United States over the deaths of various unarmed African Americans who died at the hands of police. Ferguson, Tulsa, Baltimore and multiple other cities across the country has sparked a national debate over how much racial bias skews law enforcement behavior, even subconsciously. Although not all police encounters turn violent, it is sure to say that race has increasingly become a deciding factor in how officers will treat members of the community.

Routine traffic stops more frequently led to searches, arrests and the opening of a trapdoor into the criminal justice system that can have a lifelong impact, especially for those who lack economic or social resources in order to protect or defend themselves from racial discrimination and prejudice.

Empirical evidence confirms the existence of racial profiling on America’s roadways. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that for the year 2005, the most recent data available, “police actions taken during a traffic stop were not uniform across racial and ethnic categories.” “Black drivers (4.5%) were twice as likely as White drivers (2.1%) to be arrested during a traffic stop. By analyzing data from 4.5 million traffic stops in 100 North Carolina cities, Stanford researchers have found that police in that state are more likely to search black and Hispanic motorists, using a lower threshold of suspicion, than when they stop white or Asian drivers.

According to findings by a Guardian study that recorded a final tally of 1,134 deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers this year, young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers in 2015.


Police brutality against blacks started being in the media more following the shooting of Michael Brown, by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9, 2014. This resulted in nationwide protests against the tendency of law enforcement to be overly aggressive when dealing with black men. This is how the Black Lives Matter movement gained traction. Through this movement, it has been shown that police are arresting and killing black men at a much higher rate than any other racial groups.

Overall in 2015, black people were killed at twice the rate of white, Hispanic and native Americans. About 25% of the African Americans killed were unarmed, compared with 17% of white people. This disparity has narrowed since the database was first published on 1 June, at which point black people killed were found to be twice as likely to not have a weapon.

Law enforcement was only charged with 18 crimes of 2015’s deadly incidents – 10 shootings, four deadly vehicle crashes and four deaths in custody.

Minority groups are much more likely to be arrested, shot and killed by police than other racial groups. Racial profiling is a large problem in law enforcement because there are biases and stereotypes towards black males. Police officers are often quicker to shoot an unarmed black man than an unarmed white man due to embedded cultural stereotypes. It is clear that African Americans are victimized by police in the United States more than any other ethnic group of citizens.