Question of the Day: What is “legitimate protest”?


Of all the unwarranted destruction in Baltimore, the burning of Police cars falls into a minor grey area IMHO.

This post is completely off topic with regards to knives, but there have been two knife-related angles to the Freddie Gray death-in-custody that we have previously covered. First is the fact that the only crime he was committing was the carrying of an “illegal” knife. I also used the scumbag who stabbed the firehose as an angle to cover the riots last night.

I have been reading a lot about the events that are unfolding, and I am repulsed by the violence. But the Libertarian in me also recognizes that there are many folks who feel like the peaceful marches and non-violent protests are not bringing about the necessary changes.

This leads folks to escalate. Some escalation, like the “Black Brunch” protests where people “occupy” restaurants and disrupt Sunday brunch, is at least keeping in the spirit of non-violent disruption even if I feel it is misplaced. Civil disobedience requires one to be willing to accept the consequences, and if someone gets arrested for trespassing that is fine by me. I make my family brunch at home, so this doesn’t affect me much. So I watch with mild amusement. That being said, if I am having a plate of huevos rancheros and someone tries to throw my “white privilege” in my face, someone is likely to get throat-punched.

That brings me to the subject of violence. I want to start by saying that I categorically condemn the looting and burning of places of business. It is completely counter-productive, and hardens people who are sympathetic to the cause, myself included, against that which you are purporting to support.

So why my statement on the burning of police cars in the caption of the photo? I feel that there is a slight grey-area here. If the target of your rage, valid or not, is the State, then the destruction of State property seems to be a target of at least minor validity.

Our country was founded on revolution. The God-given right to possess the tools for violent action as a defense against oppressive government is enshrined in our founding documents. It is a fact that our Founding Fathers attacked the agents of the Crown. When they rose up, there were many who felt it unwise and imprudent. The King was bad, but so is attacking his men.

While I do not think that we are anywhere near that point today, and that any violence directed towards the police to “avenge” Freddie Gray is completely unwarranted, I am left wondering what is “legitimate” violent protest, if there even is such a thing. Certainly not looting private businesses, and definitely not vigilante justice against the Law Enforcement community.

I suppose there is an intermediate step that is between peaceful marching and armed insurrection. I am just not exactly sure what that line is. If someone lashes out against the State, I am not sure it is always unwarranted, however, if that is the course one chooses they must be prepared for the consequences. If that consequence is at this point a less than gentle arrest, I am probably ok with it given the circumstances.

I hope my readers forgive the somewhat disjointed and perhaps contradictory views on this. I hope that Robert and Dan don’t think I have completely left the Resevation with this post. I just feel like a ping pong ball, bouncing between my disdain for the actions of the Baltimore PD (read here for more on the BPD’s “Rough Rides” where they intentionally use violent maneuvers too toss an unrestrained passenger around in the back of a Police van.), and my disdain for those who are rioting, burning and looting places of business. The Police are the line between Civilization and Anarchy, and in this case, it is time for civilization to beat back the barbarians.



  1. jans says:

    Excellent food for thought.

  2. The problem with the looting and rioting, in Baltimore as in Ferguson is that they are destroying their neighbors property and businesses. As you said, the police cars and whatnot make sense….I wouldn’t do it, but it makes sense. But once you start looting business and throwing trash cans at civilians you are protesting, your an attacking force that has lost credibility.

  3. cmeat says:

    i think it’s all legitimate as a form of protest goes as is putting it down by whatever means necessary; destruction as part of creation.
    not too productive though. forty years from now it may still look like chicago’s west side, stilled scarred from the king riots.

    1. Roger says:

      You don’t know Baltimore. West Baltimore *still* hasn’t been completely rebuilt since the 1968 riots. It’s not because of a lack of investment, we had one of the most steadily increasing real estate markets in America. It’s because a whole section of the city has been forgotten and abused by government agents.

      Police stood, in full riot gear, outside of a public school which had a scheduled peaceful protest(a school walk out reminiscent of the Vietnam walk outs). When the protest walked out of the school, as was planned and sanctioned by officials, the police immediately ordered the MINORS to disperse. Where do you go when the Police have you ‘kettled'(as the police call it)? Then shortly after the walk out they shut down all public and school transportation in the area. When the rest of school not involved in the walk out were allowed to leave, they ran into a crowd of under 18-year olds who physically could not go anywhere while the police ordered them to leave. I’ve read multiple accounts from teachers and protesters that confirm that line of events but haven’t seen it anywhere in the media.

      They wanted a riot. They caused a riot. They did it so they could bust heads and “establish order” without worrying about the public relations behind police brutality. Police are no longer the guarantors of safety or order and I honestly struggle to believe that they ever were such a thing.

      This is what happens when you have generations growing up under the gun of a “war” being waged down the street from where they live. This is what happens when police aggressively confront every free citizen that challenges their right to kill, torture, and maim without consequences.

      This is why I own guns. Because the government doesn’t treat everyone fairly and the free citizen needs as much as they can get.

  4. Spencer says:

    Regardless of one’s perspective on what troubles our nation, lots of people in the good ol’ USA are fed up with the elites who have disenfranchised and impoverished them. America may in for a long, hot summer and not just because of climate change.

  5. Sam L. says:

    The mayor is black. I read elsewhere that the police chief and most police are black. Seems to be a blue state/blue city problem.

  6. David says:


    I feel ya. Don’t back-pedal so much. There is an area where less than full on revolution is justified. Hello Battle of Athens, TN. One must also realize that resistance movements often turn into revolutions at the hands of a draconian state.
    Revolutions do not happen over night. There is often an intermediate step of arming up and defensive skirmishes.

    However, well-though-out attacks against enemy targets w/ PR representatives that articulate reasons for the violence is miles away from what we have here. This is just mob rage.

    * Like many issues this has a strong economic component. If Maryland & Baltimore did not have so much money from taxes then Freddie Gray probably would not have been arrested. A poor monarchy can often offer more freedom than a wealthy

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Question of the Day: What is “legitimate protest”?

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