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Ferguson protests needs leadership and communication

Violent protests like those against the Michael Brown grand jury ruling delegitimize the cause, rather than support it. | creativecommons.flickr

 

Arson. Looting. Vandalism. The recent grand jury decision to not to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown triggered an array of protest that affects citizens in our country, whether they want involvement or not. Business owners do not want their merchandise stolen and their property damaged in the name of change and frankly, the nature of progress does not warrant destruction in order to move forward. A route of setting stores on fire and stealing merchandise from local businesses easily uproots a person’s livelihood.

Daily broadcast coverage of marches and protests across the country remind people of the L.A. riots and the civil rights era movements. When looking back on these two movements we need to determine what worked and what did not. Overall, it becomes easy to identify forms of protest that spurred progress and kept citizens safe.

The issue at hand demands discussion. However, the methods of communication we see in Ferguson and on the 110 Freeway in downtown L.A. seem more destructive than intended to produce change. It appears impossible to hold a dialogue with a person bent on screaming at the police with clenched fists. Violent protests end up dragging a cause down rather than progressing change. Instead of presenting a cool-headed case that brings awareness to police brutality, the Ferguson protesters start to lose their credibility by acting in a way that misrepresents the people of their city and destroys their community rather than reforming it.  

The violence and damage they cause ultimately undermines the original message they intend to send. However, part of the problem seems to stem from the lack of clear leadership to spearhead the action. What is the difference between these riots and the civil rights movement? A unified voice that gave purpose and direction to the screaming, anger and hurt that is wrapped up in the protests. The Ferguson protests need another Martin Luther King Jr. to unite the protesters away from violence and towards effective communication.

The unified voice, purpose and mission differentiates a protest from an anarchist mob. Communication proves vital to change and violence crushes the opportunity for communication. Yes, a man running and stealing a reporter’s phone grabs attention, gluing eyes to screens and ears to speakers, but the whole point of the violence cannot be effectively communicated.

What is needed to unite the protesters, join the individual voices together so the message conveyed will pierce through corruption and layers of red tape to bring change? The simple answer is order and leadership. Without those key pieces, this debate will prove no more than a media blitz of angry protesters instead of a national event destined to bring about change.

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. jerry lewis

    This piece is tone deaf and bereft of historical facts about white racism..you are racists pretending that you would hear. December 4, 2014

  2. Anonymous

    You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.

    I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season."

    Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

    (Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail) December 4, 2014

  3. Alain D.

    This is truly insensitive and biased-illustrative of the reason why we need real "communication and leadership" This article reveals a lack of understanding and seemingly Grace. It also fails to point out the messages that have actually been communicated before and after the verdict. Terrible journalism. December 4, 2014

  4. Curious

    All above,

    In such a heated discussion there are bound to be calls of racism, insensitivity and bias. You all claim this article is filled with that, but I am genuinely curious what about the article is racist and insensitive. I'm not arguing it's not any of these things, but it completely discredits your claims when you declare "truths" about the article without backing it.

    Just looking for some explanation. December 4, 2014

  5. jerry lewis

    Amazing Grace implies that Newton converted to evangelical Christianity and, as a result, became an abolitionist. This actually is not true. While both are true — eventually — the one was not caused by the other. Newton, in fact, was a slaver. His job was to sail slaves to the Americas where they were sold. Newton continued to do this well after his so-called conversion. Newton became an evangelical in 1748. He continued selling slaves until he retired from the sea in 1754 because he wanted to become an Anglican priest. Newton was quite happy to use violence against slaves and used torture to wring confessions from those he thought guilty of planning their own freedom.

    A third of a century after his retirement as captain of slave ships Newton came out in support of abolitionism. So, if his conversion to evangelicalism made him an abolitionist, it took almost four decades to do so.

    Newton wrote that after his conversion he just never gave a thought to the morality of slavery. He said he never thought of it and that not a single friend, evangelical or not, thought it wrong to enslave people. He considered his job as slaver “the line of life which Divine Providence had allotted to me.”

    We like to tell ourselves that Newton became an abolitionist because he converted to Christianity, but it would be more accurate to say that he eventually became an abolitionist despite his conversion. Amazing Grace implies that Newton converted to evangelical Christianity and, as a result, became an abolitionist. This actually is not true. While both are true — eventually — the one was not caused by the other. Newton, in fact, was a slaver. His job was to sail slaves to the Americas where they were sold. Newton continued to do this well after his so-called conversion. Newton became an evangelical in 1748. He continued selling slaves until he retired from the sea in 1754 because he wanted to become an Anglican priest. Newton was quite happy to use violence against slaves and used torture to wring confessions from those he thought guilty of planning their own freedom.

    A third of a century after his retirement as captain of slave ships Newton came out in support of abolitionism. So, if his conversion to evangelicalism made him an abolitionist, it took almost four decades to do so.

    Newton wrote that after his conversion he just never gave a thought to the morality of slavery. He said he never thought of it and that not a single friend, evangelical or not, thought it wrong to enslave people. He considered his job as slaver “the line of life which Divine Providence had allotted to me.”

    We like to tell ourselves that Newton became an abolitionist because he converted to Christianity, but it would be more accurate to say that he eventually became an abolitionist despite his conversion.

    patheos December 6, 2014

  6. Brian Ritzi

    I think using the word delegitimize is really dangerous. To say that a poor reaction to a problem delegitimizes the complaint is to deny that there was really a problem. Denying that there is a problem is denying the voices of thousands and thousands of our brothers and sisters who insist that there is. Denying that there is a problem is being complicit in a racist and oppressive system.

    Condemn riots, sure, but take a second to stop and think why this would cause such intense feelings, why it would cause lead a group of people to think that their only solution to the problem is to be as loud as possible. It may be that that's partly because people on the outside are so unwilling to listen. December 7, 2014

  7. jerry lewis

    Ritzy, Gosh--so well said. December 8, 2014

  8. Klu Klux Klan

    What a beautifully written argument! December 8, 2014

  9. Brandon

    This article is a beautiful illustration of just how ignorant the chimes staff is. The mere fact that the article is written solely as a critique of the protests shows complete insensitivity toward the situation. Is the chimes really more worried about property damage and angry mobs than the huge injustices that have been committed? December 8, 2014

  10. Anoymous

    No injustices have been committed... December 9, 2014

  11. come on, chimes staff, i know you're better than t

    Except for the night of the indictment for the cop who murdered Eric Garner there have been very few reports of violence. There have been (overwhelmingly peaceful) protests going on for over 125 days, and yet a few isolated cases of violence are what you choose to hone in on. also, how do you expect for change to come about if you don't want people to express their first amendment right to assembly? December 11, 2014

  12. Brandon

    No injustices? You're either a troll or just as blatantly ignorant as the rest of Biola.

    Cops are literally getting away with murder and you say no injustices have been committed... shame on you, shame on the chimes. December 13, 2014

  13. Jason Brown

    This is a deplorable first response to the situation in Ferguson. We must listen first, speak second-- especially those of us who are able to judge from afar, from a place of privilege. December 15, 2014

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