I support peaceful protest. This society needs positive change, and the vast majority of protesters have been peaceful.
But recently, some protests in Portland and Seattle have been turning violent, and frankly, I suspect both sides have contributed to this state of affairs. Trump’s sending federal agents to these cities against local authorities’ wishes in addition to questionable and inappropriate actions by some of these agents have clearly increased tensions. Trump’s calling protesters “terrorists” despite the fact that the vast majority are peaceful and following their Constitutional right to free speech is outrageously and sickeningly out of line. Part of why he is saying these types of things may be because of getting worried about the potential of losing the upcoming reelection, so he is preying on his followers’ fears, insecurities, anxieties, and prejudices to try to unite his base behind him. Trump could also be using the situation as an excuse to attempt to increase his own power if he can get away with it.
By far, the majority of protesters are peaceful wanting badly needed change, but a small number of agitators have been doing things like throwing flaming garbage and lit fireworks at authorities and official buildings. No matter what the authorities may or may not do, these agitators must stop because violence is wrong. It turns off potential allies who are desperately needed to create change. This behavior also falls right into what Trump wants to see because he can use it as an excuse to send more federal agents, attempt to expand his own authority, and to instill more fear and insecurity into the minds of his followers.
Studies have shown that well organized, nonviolent campaigns are much more effective than violent ones. Peaceful campaigns can gain sympathy and support from a significantly larger portion of the population, and this is what is needed to create and maintain long term positive change.
So it’s vitally important for all protesters to stay peaceful and nonviolent, no matter what happens. People who want positive change must demand peaceful methods and speak out against violence, including when caused by agitators on the protest side. Defending the agitators enables their bad behavior and thus hurts the cause.
On the protest side, the quest for positive change must be peaceful and nonviolent at all times, and while this may not always seem easy, it is best way and the right way.