Agree to it or not, a riot is a form of protestation. It is not ideal, it is usually unnecessary, and spurred on by sudden onset of rage but it is a form of protest nonetheless. Some will argue it is a valid form of protest in certain circumstances such as when dealing with tyrants and a government willing to, at any cost stifle dissent.
We are not advocating for it or justifying it, jut pointing out that it is a form of protest, which brings me to the point I am trying to make. Just last week, the debate was raging on protests. In one of my comments on a thread generated about the validity/necessity of the “DafaDoy” protest, I stated that their needs to be a line drawn at some point, it cannot a free-for-all season of protests.
By uttering that statement I was tagged anti-democracy intolerant to dissent and tyrannical. I was told we can disagree with people’s reason for protesting but not their right to do so (as if I have any powers or influence to stifle anyone’s rights). All protest should be encouraged I was lectured, as therein lays citizens’ power to ensure democracy thrives. My point for bringing the “line in the sand” comment concerning protests is that anything can be taken overboard and so citizens should not be pushed to be extreme in the exercise of their rights simply because they have a right.
Fast forward to less than a week later, we have angry youths storming a police station demanding suspects be handed over to be murdered because that is their idea of justice. That act in itself is a protest and in case you are itching to say such hooliganism cannot be equated with genuine demands for reforms and constitutional order, let me stop you right there and say I am well aware of that.
No two protests are the same, but the emphasis here is the RIGHTS some of us are blindly willing to defend the exercise of. Anger is a perfectly human thing embedded in us all, our triggers may be different. Expression of anger and outrage as obtained in the Brikama scenario is a right all should be entitled to. The FORM we choose to express our anger and outrage becomes the issue of debate rather than the anger itself.
The youths in Brikama have every right to be angry and outraged as they did, but they have no right to obstruct justice or threaten law enforcement officers, that is anarchist. Their actions jeopardized general welfare and safety despite their outrage. So many things could have gone wrong in that scenario;
- The mob (angry crowd) could be much larger and more daring as to overwhelm the station and the officers posted there, forcefully dragged the suspects out and murder them as intended.
- The officers could have responded out of panic and fear for their lives and that of the citizens in their custody with force (claiming more lives potentially).
- That could further enrage the crowd and cultivate more sympathizers, reinforcements called in and the situation further escalates.
- The police could effect arrests to contain the tensions or use force either of which may not go down well with the swelling crowd considering the emotions.
So many different scenarios could have played out in that instance and it will be easy to say the police should be trained to de-escalate and contain the situation. True as that may be, the fact is that the protesters (rioters, mob, or whatever you want to call them) exceeded the limits of their rights in this case. And just as spontaneous as it was, so too could be the response.
They attempted to obstruct justice by demanding to sentence the suspects to murder without due process. They trespassed on a police installation and endangered lives, not to speak of being unruly and injurious to the establishment and other individuals.
Again, not to say their outrage was unjustified but it had to be contained within certain limits just like any other right. Calling for such containment is not the same as restricting rights or stifling dissent. We have a penchant for overdoing things and given the right environment we will, which is why calling for moderation and exercising it in any instance is crucial to an orderly society. The two extremes on both ends of order are tyranny (which we just experienced) and chaos, which is anarchist. We should be able to draw a line as to when the limits are stretched on either side.
The signs are there, that because of past ‘sins’ there is very little regard for law enforcement and we cannot afford that as a society.
Let us embrace due process and let the law take its course, as slow as that may be it is the only guarantor to true rule of law which is the hallmark of any democratic society.