There are lots of ways to say two wrongs don’t make a right, and it’s true, no matter how immediately gratifying an action may feel. But focusing on just one wrong when another wrong was committed is not a call for justice.
For the most part, Sunday’s protest was another peaceful event. The only acts of violence occurred when a small number of vehicles pushed their way through protestors who were blocking traffic, and the protestors who were hit busted windows on those vehicles.
Many of those watching the events unfold on the newspaper’s Facebook livestream demanded justice for the broken windows, but said nothing of the assault by the drivers of the vehicles.
Let’s circle back to why the protest happened in the first place. Protestors were angry that adult white men involved in an altercation with black teenagers were not arrested by police. Video shows one teenager getting the upper hand on the man, but it also shows the man landing several blows on the teen. When the video starts, the two are squaring off — in other words, the adult man willingly entered combat with a minor, who ultimately knocked him out with a body slam. When the teen retrieved his knife from the ground — where he had thrown it before the fight started — another man held him at gunpoint, and that’s according to police reports.
Protestors seeking justice for the teens first protested at the police department and later moved to the site of the assault.
Of course, protestors should have sought a permit to shut down a street, but the assault happened Saturday and the protest Sunday. City offices weren’t open, and there are no sidewalks along North Main Street where the fight happened. In order to protest at the site, protestors went to the only public forum available — the street. It’s an act of civil disobedience, and one that left drivers an option to take a one block detour on 1st Street NE.
Protestors who blocked the street can face charges of disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct, but that doesn’t give drivers the right to plow through the crowd. All drivers who did can be charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but that doesn’t give protestors the right to bust their windows. Protestors who did can be charged with criminal mischief.
Those who truly seek justice will ask for justice for all, not justice for some. After all, that’s the point of the protest.