Protests become widespread, gain negative attention after violence occurs

Sophomore Alexia Lanier protests in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) walk-out against Trump on Nov. 15.

Alexia Lanier

Sophomore Alexia Lanier protests in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) walk-out against Trump on Nov. 15.

Anika Mereddy , assistant news editor

Throughout history, human beings have held protests to stand up for their beliefs. Black Lives Matter and Love Trumps Hate protests have become commonplace in society, as have other examples of individuals assembling together to make their voices heard. According to one study by the website Social Watch, there have recently been 302 registered events throughout the country aimed at gaining or defending rights, including ethnic rights, labor rights, women’s rights, First Amendment rights, religious issues, LGBT rights, immigrants’ rights and prisoners’ rights.  

“I think that the best part of our country is the freedom to be able to have opinions and be able to express them,” junior Jennifer Cheung said. “I think that’s what keeps democracy alive, and protests start with this idea of civil change, voicing your opinion.”

However, some protests that start off peacefully escalate into violence, thus threatening the safety of protesters and pedestrians alike.

According to The Washington Post, over 200 people were arrested during the Baltimore riots after the death of Freddie Gray.

“[When] people go to protests, they expect some results to root from it, but usually nothing happens because no one really notices or cares. So they begin acting out a little more because they’re trying to get something to happen,” sophomore Asha Maran said. “It’s either that or the police come and in the process of attempting to de-escalate the situation, it gets out of hand, thus starting a riot.”

Some believe that police officers are too brutal with protesters by using pepper spray and other forms of defense, sometimes resulting in protesters using violence as well. This practice has resulted in even more protests to fight against the issue of police brutality. Colin Kaepernick choosing to kneel during the national anthem was a protest aimed to raise awareness about many issues in America, such as police brutality and race relations.

“With Colin Kaepernick, I think it could make change because it makes people more aware of what he is doing,” junior Joseph Szczur said.  

However, not all protests have been as peaceful as Kaepernick’s. Some have ended in violence, resulting in people getting arrested and harmed.  

Protests are meant to gain attention, to turn heads and to promote change. However, the protesters do not control media coverage, and the media has been accused of misrepresenting many recent protests throughout the country.

“I think media is made in a way to grasp for your attention, so I think that there is also a certain degree of caution that we need to take with only relying on news and media sources,” Cheung said. “It does seem like many of the protests we see, on our Facebook feed or on our televisions, are violent, but I have full faith that there are protests out there that are civil and that there is change that happens behind behind closed doors, not always broadcasted.”

Regardless of what they are fighting for, many peaceful protesters have received criticism because of the negative media coverage of the events.

Some mainstream media networks have used the Portland riot example to generalize the Anti-Trump protests that have occurred throughout the nation since the election. Though the Portland riot ended in violence, the majority of the Love Trumps Hate protests have been peaceful.

“Nothing will ever change my opinion [about speaking out for my rights]. I will always [protest],” junior Oubay Al-Ghafari said. “But some people come up to me and [say], ‘Oh, you are a terrorist’ and ‘This is going to do nothing.’ And they just stereotype, shouting out random things that they think will break me down, but it’s not going to do much [to me].”

Many view protests as either a waste of time or an inconvenience. However, there have been protests that have not blocked traffic and have not resulted in violence, but still received attention from the media and the people.

The right to assemble and petition the government is a form of expression used to voice one’s opinion and to bring attention to pertinent issues. Many believe protesting is an indisputable right that should be used to enact changes to society.

“We have that right and we should be able to use it,” Al-Ghafari said. “For the people who are negative about protesting, they don’t understand the real point of it, and I think that the point of it is to be able to stand up for our rights and our opinions.”