How would you protest? Thoughts on Baltimore.

When I lived in Washington DC, I would frequent the National Mall. One afternoon, I saw a group of protestors for the treatment of the Falun Gong in China. They were doing slow motion exercise, in my mind, similar to Tai Chi. They didn’t say anything, just the movements and then they had a sign next to them.┬áThat was over 10 years ago and I still remember the Falun Gong. It created an awareness in me.

I lived right across the street from the Pentagon when 9/11 happened. I went to my fair share of candlelight vigils. I saw for a moment what a police state might be as military surrounded the roads in and out of my apartments and sharpshooters watched entrances. It created in me a feeling of being unsettled of having to watch over my shoulder.

I was in the belly of the underground metro stations with mobs of people trying to call loved ones, trying to get out of Washington DC, unsure if more planes were coming, with cell coverage blocked and train after train not running. Masses of people pushing their way up the still escalators and many people panicking and yelling. Complete chaos. It created in me a pure survivalist mode.

I have not been racially profiled, but I have been discriminated against because of my gender and my religion. I have been sneered at, spat at and looked down upon. These actions against me created an isolation in me and sometimes created a me/them attitude.

While I have not ever participated in a violent riot, I do agree in general terms with this statement:

“It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention.

And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.”–Martin Luther King Jr. (March 14, 1968)

Baltimore rioters turned violent Monday, looting a CVS on Pennsylvania Avenue before setting it on fire. Photo from

Baltimore rioters turned violent Monday, looting a CVS on Pennsylvania Avenue before setting it on fire. Photo from

People will be heard. Mob mentality is not something to be trifled with. When emotions build up over time, and many people become involved, expression seeks it’s own no matter the cost or logical reasoning. The hard part about Baltimore for me is while I am sure there is some racial profiling, while I am sure there is a some culture of violence, I am also sure that many of those suffering from the riots are innocent bystanders and small businesses – not all of them white. And while some people are trying to be heard they are hurting their community and others in the process.

Injustices against me? I am a writer and a gatherer. I write about them, sometimes for you, sometimes just for me. I gather people in with similar experiences and we work and talk, heal and learn to inform our emotions in different ways to gain perspectives. I raise awareness like the Falun Gong I once saw.

How do you deal with injustices against you, against your race, gender, family or religion? What are your thoughts on Baltimore?

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  1. says

    You really made me think about this. Thanks! Hmmm…well let’s say they are justified in their anger. Let’s just imagine for a moment that there is a great injustice towards them. How else could their voices be heard? Would anyone in the country listen if they went and had a town meeting? Would anyone listen outside of Maryland if they walked silently through the streets? They have been heard now loud and clear.

    It caused me to question how is a riot any different than war? Americans go and proudly kill other foreigners (even though the innocent die and communities are destroyed) all for the cause of freedom. They come back heroes and are lauded. Those in Baltimore are seen as violent and reprimanded. Martin Luther King may have a point. After being unheard for so long they resort to anger and lash out.

    Perhaps they could have been more creative with a protest but history is full of instances where men lashed out in violence because they would not be heard and that violence eventually led to freedom. It is scary and horrific to watch but I question whether all the criticism against them is wrong. If they are justified and right when and how will they find their justice, how will they get the nation to listen? There are tough questions.

    Before in my life I would immediately be aghast and say, “How dare they be violent? Problems can be solved peacefully!” Can they be? Can they all be? I am not taking sides but the questions about conflict resolution are deeper in my heart and mind.

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