This afternoon, the New York Times reported on the protests on the parade route President Donald Trump was going to proceed on this afternoon.
They threw rocks and bricks at the police. They smashed car windows. They lit trash cans on fire. Officers held riot shields and used other “nonlethal crowd-control tools” against the many protesters to prevent them from advancing. The Times wrote that earlier in the day, protesters smashed glass fronts of a Bank of America and a Starbucks as well. At least 95 people were arrested, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
During his inauguration speech today, Trump stated something very grim about the state of America today.
“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he said.
Although Trump was referring to the economic disparity, failing of education systems, and problems with drugs and crime, the violent anti-Trump protests also contribute to the negativity conservatives and Trump followers often cite when they think about liberals in America. They view violent protesters as illegitimately as Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) views Trump’s presidency. It continues the narrative of a divided America. The protesters are condemned. The left is condemned. No progress is made.
Political scientist Erica Chenoweth gave a talk at TEDxBoulder Sept. 21, 2013 that empirically proves the efficacy of nonviolent over violent action.
At her talk, she mentioned how she attended a workshop held by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. She cited the types of readings they covered there.
“The authors described civil resistance as an active form of conflict where unarmed civilians used tactics like protests, demonstrations, strikes, boycotts, and many other forms of mass noncooperation to confront oppression. They brought up cases like Serbia, where a nonviolent revolution toppled Slobodan Milosevic—the butcher of the Balkans—in October of 2000, or the Philippines where the People Power movement ousted Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.”
Chenoweth used to believe that violence is the best way to usurp a dictator, as history is rife with coups, rebellions, civil wars and violent protests like the one seen in Washington D.C. today. However, after she collected data on all major nonviolent and violent campaigns and actions to overthrow governments or fight for territorial liberation since the beginning of the 20th century, she found how much more effective nonviolence is.
The charts she assembled from her research illustrate how nonviolence carries success at a rate nearly double that of violent campaigns:
Take this into consideration with protest in the future. Protesting comes in many forms. The ones at D.C. today and the other violent ones we’ve been seeing since Trump has gained footing during his campaign, are the ones that will do more harm than good.
Even Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) stands against these types of protests.
“Any person who is a Bernie Sanders supporter, please, do not in any way, shape or form engage in violence,” he said.
After recently celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it is important to continue supporting him beyond the holiday by remembering methods of peaceful resistance in opposing Trump’s unpopular and potentially harmful platforms. Through organization, grassroots efforts, rallying, writing letters to congressmen and flooding their phones with phone calls, your actions will do more to combat policies you disagree with than violent action will ever accomplish.
You can also take a more underground approach to protest by volunteering. Support organizations and groups that will be most vulnerable under a Trump administration. Volunteer at Planned Parenthood. Donate to a food shelter. Serve your local communities. Resist through positive reinforcement and action.
I leave you with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote that resonates with the direction in which unhappy and afraid Americans need to move in as they move against the new president these next few years:
“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”