Senseless pain, senseless rioting

Stuart Kusdono, Asst. Opinion Editor

It is easy to vilify the police over an unjust action, to start a demonstration over a perceived act of police racism. And yes, these demonstrations can be effective, impactful even—if done right. Yet the public has been too sensitive, too reactive, over the recent police shootings.

Is this to say that police shootings are to be condoned? To be justified? Far from it. Such shootings are illegal in almost all circumstances and may place the officer in a criminal investigation. In most scenarios, an officer shoots at a suspect who attempts to run away after being told to stop. It is absurd, however, that the punishment of running away from a police should be death, intentional or not. In fact, it is debatable whether running way from the police should even be considered a crime.

In cases when  an officer fires at an unarmed, fleeing person (especially one who is African American), public anger is reasonable and  to be expected. However, there are many times when  this anger goes out of proportion, where the public deliberately chooses to be angry for the sake of rioting.

For example, in cases where the fleeing man poses a threat to public safety, it is justifiable for the police to use deadly force against said man. Take the Milwaukee shooting of 23 year-old Sylville Smith, an armed man who refused to put down his gun as he attempted to run away instead. The public was quick to blame the police for another case of “racial inequities,” and hours after the shooting, protesters were already rioting on the streets.

Police cars and businesses were burned. A gas station was torched, nearly harming three people who were present there. Multiple stores were looted. An Asian reporter, mistaken as white, was attacked.

And for what was this senseless anarchy? As Scott Erickson of the Daily Signal pointed out, there was no focus to the riots, no reason—just pure disregard for the law. The public was too quick to act and judge, only hearing the news of an officer shooting an African American without knowing any context or information about the shooting itself.

And even if the public did have a legitimate reason (or debatable one at least) to riot—such  as the case with the Ferguson shooting, where the shooting was largely unjustifiable—the  amount of damage caused by the riots do not justify that reason. What the public doesn’t realize is that by going overboard and displaying senseless violence, communities are torn apart. Relations between the police officers and locals are shattered. Ultimately, nothing progressive or beneficial is achieved.