Is Violence the Answer?

August 9th is a date destined for the history books. That was the day a young black man named Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer by the name of Darren Wilson- for robbing a convenience store. The murder set off a maelstrom of protests in the town of Ferguson, Missouri (where the murder took place) and an outburst of awareness towards racism and police brutality. Wilson was taken to trial on charges of murder in the first degree and manslaughter, and on November 28th the grand jury did not indict him.

The decision of the grand jury to let Wilson walk free caused a torrent of anger and devastation. Issues of distrust in law enforcement and racism spurred a new wave of protests. Some were nonviolent like the one by the NAACP called “Journey of Justice” were protesters walked 120 miles from Ferguson to the governors residence in Jefferson City or hundreds of people of different race standing outside the police dept. linking arms. Others were unfortunately violent such as vandalizing buildings, damaging police cars, and even setting a church on fire.

While the aggression, distrust, and disappointment of the public are understandable, is violence really the answer? Let’s look back to Martin Luther King Jr. or even earlier to Gandhi. Gandhi literally freed a nation without condoning or demonstrating a single act of violence. Martin Luther King had the same goal as these protesters- standing up against racism and pushing for change- and he reached his goal, but he never asked his followers to use violence. Peaceful protests like marches, sit ins, and boycotts. They made a difference in the Civil Rights movement and made it into the history books. So, if Gandhi and MLK Jr. can pull it off why can we? Does violence really help or hurt?