I understand why protests get violent and peace turns to riot. Anybody who’s ever had a relationship with an oppressive or abusive person can understand the logic behind it. If you’ve never experienced it, here is my best explanatory breakdown, modeled from my own experience:
First Round: I started by trying to talk to him. Express some issues that were bothering me, that felt unfair, or that hurt me. He didn’t listen. He didn’t find it important. He argued with me and blew me off. A week later, he continued to do the same things. I tried talking to him several more times- same results. And the thing that was bothering me continued to hurt me.
Second Round: After awhile of this happening, our arguments got me crying. My voice got louder and shriller. My hands shook with adrenaline. I thought up some creative ideas for compromise if he would hear them. I tried again. He didn’t like this new version of me, so he pushed back harder. He called me more names and said harsher words. He made me feel stupid, crazy, less-than. He put up a stronger fight. He talked over me. He told me he wouldn’t hear me until I lowered my volume. It was as if the problem wasn’t what I was saying, but the fact that I was using my voice at all. I tried this method several times as the issues continued to occur, too. But he still didn’t listen. And I still continued to get hurt by the things I was trying to improve in the first place.
Third Round: The next time he did it, we took up a battle. I cried and I shouted. I screamed, and I resorted to calling him names back. I employed every tactic I had. I wanted one freaking minute to have a chance to BREATHE and demand respect! It made no difference, he was prepared to meet me with more violence and opposition. I wanted so badly to punch him in the face. But I couldn’t. Because I knew if I did, he would punch me back harder. And you know what he’d say? He’d say “see, this is what you get. I told you you were crazy. I told you this was your fault”.
I tried everything up to the point of punching him in the face. He still would not listen or allow me to have respect and equal ground to speak from. He still avoided changing the thing that hurt me in the first place. I still continued to suffer. The sad fact is, it is very rare that an oppressed or controlled person gains enough power to get out of a position of oppression by themselves.
Now, imagine that an entire system is the abusive partner.
The thing that I’ve learned, is that oppressive people love peaceful protest. Because it’s easier to ignore a peaceful voice, than an angry one. It’s easier to find a counter argument to a peaceful debate, than to an all-out brawl. And that’s what they want to do: ignore and counter argue. The harsh truth is, those people that demand you to behave “civilly” weren’t ever planning on hearing you anyway. You’re just making it more difficult for them to go about their plan of forgetting about your issues. So yes, go ahead. Make them uncomfortable. If they’re not going to hear you, let them be annoyed and inconvenienced by what you have to say and how you need to say it. It is a damned privilege to get to judge and be annoyed by the complaints of others; rather than experience the suffering yourself.