I have seen riots and looting of all sorts during my many years of observation and participation in politics. I am not an expert in any sense of the word in how to deal with this human and many times inhuman process. I do feel that it is a product of the working man’s frustration in his lot in life and his inability to do much about it in the proper political process. Everyone wants to climb the ladder of success but there seems to be many broken rungs in that ladder that try to stymie the climb. Lack of money to influence representatives is one. The politicians accept money from the haves and attempt to do their bidding and they give lip service to the problems of the rest of us.
The only way the people can be heard is by popular demonstrations. That is a mature way of being heard by our leadership. The larger the demonstration, the more they notice. Ghandi in India knew this and Martin Luther King figured it out. It took a while but The crown gave freedom in India and Civil Rights became fashionable after a time here tho’ we still have a ways to go. When things get very local and the young get involved the shape of the demonstration may and usually will changes.
The dynamics of the crowds change after the government presence manifests itself. Most demonstrations are at or near government establishments because that is where the power is. Crowd control is there to protect the “taxpayers” interests.
My first up close up of the process was in Korea in 1954, along time ago. Our base of three hundred troops was a site for the Neutral nation Inspection Team which was made up of four European countries assigned to make sure the cease fire was properly observed. Our job was to protect them. The S. Korean Veterans wanted those Commies out of the country and sent 10,000 demonstrators to let their wishes be known. We spent a few days on the perimeter to make sure they could not get in. All was peaceful until a few of them rushed the main gate. Our Provost Marshall. Police chief, sent a few rounds at them , hit one and the potential riot was over thanks to the discipline in the demonstrators.
Korea and the Far East has a tradition of demonstrating against the government. It is a spring rite and is accepted by the government and rioting, though it happens is not usual. Points are made and hopefully actions are taken that solve the complains. When things get bad it is when the government starts pushing back.. The fight or flight instinct takes a grip on the people and that is when the fighters step up. A rock is thrown and a teargas canister is tossed back and it escalates form there. Soon cars are overturned and fires started and the next stage is looting. By that time a full scale battle is on and charges and counter charges ensue. Sooner or later the body count starts and if some force doesn’t intervene a minor revolution is the next step.
The Occupy strategy of the past couple of years did not erupt as they could have. The organizers were strong and no riots were evident to me. Even tho the government used pepper spray and other tactics on the people the people did not fight back. Some times passive resistance is very effective as Gandi and King showed. In cases of riots, usually unwise and immature people start the physical stuff and use it as an excuse to loot.
There is a long list of types of demonstration used to call attention to our representatives when things are not fair. The March on Washington, Marches on the capitals, Marches on the mayor and on and on. They usually result in attention being payed to them and maybe a positive result through legislation, eventually. Then there are the rallies decrying injustice, Ferguson, Watts, and that sort, usually entailing civil rights and so on. They are proper and well run until the rowdies jump in. Usually that happens after dark or after Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton ramp up the rhetoric. I find it interesting that there was no riot after OJ Simpson was found innocent of killing white people.
The worst of the riots in my estimation are the “Riots of Champions” These are famous in white Europe, Latin America and the United States. These idiot stimulated messes are started and pushed by our young leaders of tomorrow. College age people who start out celebrating a big win by our team. Fires, wrecked cars and injured police and participants fueled by beer and drugs are damaged and injured. That game was of world shattering importance.What a waste.
Tell me how to instill courage and mature sense of values in these people and we could stop some of this nonsense.