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< Back to question Is rioting ever justified? Show more Show less

Throughout the world, riots have erupted in reaction to injustice experienced by the population from those in power. Many are quick to suggest that the violent nature of the protest takes away from the cause. Others point to the real political change that arises from protesters' (and rioters') demands. But is rioting ever justified?

No, rioting is never justified Show more Show less

There is no situation in which rioting is justified, as rioting always takes away the moral high ground of the injustice of those rioting.
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Riots harm people and communities

Riots harm the livelihoods of the same people rioters and protesters advocate for.
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The Argument

Rioting is an irrational and unethical way of fighting injustice. Even if there is a genuine sense of anger in the hearts of many who participate in riots, the haphazard acts of violence, looting, and arson that characterize most riots are unjustifiable. These crimes seriously harm the communities in which they are committed. The unmethodical, wild nature of every riot fuels such crimes. In many of the riots that followed the murder of George Floyd, businesses were ruined, livelihoods were lost, and even some community centres were attacked.[1] Many Korean immigrants in Los Angeles were robbed and randomly shot at.[1] Many Somali immigrants who opened up new restaurants in Minneapolis lost them in one night.[2] Their businesses will most likely never reopen.[2] Such crimes generated by riots only bring harm to individuals and communities. They have nothing to do with bringing justice for those black men and women who were unjustly killed. Several long-term studies show what negative consequences riots can have on communities. In the 1960s, for example, American cities saw many fierce riots revolving around issues about race. An article measuring the riots' repercussions on the value of inner-city residential property shows that the riots lowered the median value of black-owned property between 1960 and 1970.[3]

Counter arguments

It is true that riots have negative consequences for the communities in which they take place, but they are still powerful means of drawing attention to the sorrow and rage felt by members of deprived communities. Riots can encourage real reform, and many have done so in the past.[4] When a community or people finally unleash the pent-up emotions and frustrations inside of them, the public and those in power are forced to institute real reforms to rectify whatever wrongs and injustices led to the civilians' outrage.[4] The civil disturbances in the 1960s resulted in the Kerner Commission, which examined the cause of the unrest and encouraged reforms in local police departments.[4] More minority police officers were hired, civilians could complain to review boards about cases where police officers used excessive force, and officers were obligated to live in the communities they policed.[4] Riots, with all the violence they inspire and harm they cause, tend to eventually bring communities some significant benefits. The disruption and destruction that takes place in such events is precisely what moves those in power to authorize real change.


Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Saturday, 12 Sep 2020 at 02:26 UTC

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