Violent protests lead to unwanted outcomes

Demonstration tactics, from Trump rallies to board meetings

While civil disobedience has been on the rise due to political disagreements and school mismanagement, protesters lose their narrative when civility collapses.

The Viewpoints editorial staff believes in free speech and standing up for individual rights, but we also believe people should follow the laws and policies in place, challenge them, but do so in a non-violent manner when protesting.

Choosing to knowingly or unknowingly disregard the laws and policies in place may not only hurt protesters but also their cause.

Understanding where people should draw the line between violence and non-violence is key to getting their voices heard and their points addressed.

The Costa Mesa protests against Donald Trump for example, where demonstrators were shown on TV vandalizing police cars, widely changed the narrative on why the protesters were there in the first place. The protesters either did not know their rights and laws or did not abide by them, resulting in 17 arrests.

Many people felt that type of behavior kept them from siding with the protesters, while others said it led them to want to vote for Trump.

Twenty-two percent of Florida’s Republican voters said that after the unrest at Trump’s Chicago rally, they’re more likely to support him, in a Monmouth University survey released on March 14.

Likewise, some undecided voters have also said that the violence at rallies has led them to side with Trump.

By making the protests about violence, the demonstrators who were there to give their opinions on why Trump should not be the next president of the United States were largely misinterpreted.

Tensions may rise, causing protesters to make bad decisions, as seen at the protests at the University of Missouri when Melissa Click, associate professor of communications, was a participant at protests against blatant racism on campus.

While her participation in the protests is admirable, Click acted out of character for a communications professor when she pushed away a student journalist, who was recording the rally, from a public area where he was legally allowed to be, going as far as to call for some “muscle” to remove the journalist from the protest area.

Although she apologized for her actions, it detracted from purpose of the protests.

On the other hand, the non-violent actions of the university’s football players, who made a decision not to play, and graduate student, Jonathan Butler, who stopped eating in protest, generated the outcome protesters wanted.

This semester at Riverside City College we’ve seen a rise in student demonstrations because of the controversial hiring of District Compliance Officer Lorraine Jones, who is the target of a lawsuit alleging her mishandling of a reported rape at another college.

Despite the sensitive subject matter and tightly wound emotions surrounding the case and a call for the compliance officer’s dismissal, student protestors have remained fairly calm, even when it seemed they might not.

The protesters at RCC followed most of the Board policies that the college has in place and looked for the most effective way to protest the hiring of the compliance officer. They abided by the college’s free speech areas and attended Board meetings that allow for public comments.

At the April 5 Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees meeting the alleged victim of the rape spoke out against the compliance officer.

When her time was limited to five minutes the protesters seemed on the verge of dissent. However, they remained calm and kept their temperaments under control.

Ultimately, the members of the Board sympathized with the demonstrators and extended the accuser’s speaking time.

By complying with the Board policies and staying fairly calm at the Board meeting they were able to get their message across.

In order to make your voice heard, it is important to speak out, but protesters should aim for a non-violent approach and know the laws in the area of the protest to prevent their message from being overtaken by violence.

Similarly, some Republicans protested Trump when it was announced Ted Cruz had dropped out of the race. They emphasized their point by burning their Republican voter registration IDs, posting it online and using the media to share their message.

Although some people may consider not speaking to the media because they believe that their message will be inaccurately portrayed, the media is there to tell the facts and can be beneficial to getting your view across.

While the First Amendment protects free speech, the government is allowed to regulate the time, place and manner of a demonstration in accordance to Supreme Court precedent.

Taking advantage of RCC’s free speech areas like the recent protesters did is one way to get recognized.

People who have an opinion they wish to express can also write a letter to the editor to the college’s newspaper or even the city’s newspaper.