When does violence and breaking the law pay off?
Sounds like a strange, perhaps even inappropriate question. But if you're one of the thousands of occupiers taking part in anti-Wall Street Occupy protests across the nation, you might have trouble answering it.
In Minnesota, things have stayed pretty quiet on the Occupy front, as demonstrators continue to peacefully send their message in Hennepin County. There have been only a few arrests - a result of a group of protestors pitching some tents. Pretty mellow stuff compared to what is going on in other parts of the county.
In California, an Iraq War veteran was seriously injured in a clash with police; he suffered a fractured skull. Last Tuesday riot police fired tear gas and bean-bag shots at protestors after they tried to reconvene in a public park. In Colorado, 20 protestors were arrested Saturday after a clash between demonstrators and police turned violent. Police said the crowd became "unruly" sometime during the interaction. In all, 20 were arrested. Two weeks ago, two dozen were arrested after a similar standoff in Denver.
"The problem isn't with the police. It's with the people who tell the police what to do, and that's the politicians," one Denver protestor said.
Protest organizers decry violence, and are keeping their fingers crossed that it doesn't distract the public from the message they are trying to send about economic equality in the United States. But are we really surprised to see violence sprout up during this movement?
We shouldn't be.
This is what happens when people try to send a message. The problem comes when a select number of anarchists go too far. A bigger problem arises when the time comes that protestors see acts of violence as the best way to draw attention to themselves. Some might think their voices aren't being heard and take on an actions-speak-louder-than-words stance. Bad move.
We support the committed protestors in their quest to send a message to corporate America, which may or may not be listening, but we don't condone any acts of violence or anything considered a criminal act. If protestors start to believe that's what it will take to convey their feelings about this country they need to re-evaluate their game plan.
Ultimately, if violent outbursts continue, these protesters will, right or wrong, more than likely wear out their welcome in some cities across the country. And the more that happens, the better the chance this grass-roots movement, supported mostly by well-meaning, civil citizens, will fizzle and fade away. It's up to the protestors to stay committed to peaceful demonstrations and not let things get further out of hand.