The first amendment of the United States Constitution gives all American’s “….the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” It’s one of our greatest ideals and a major reason why the country was founded. That being said, violent protests and rioting are not a part of this amendment, and are a bad look for any group of people looking to peacefully protest a cause.
Being a part of a violent protest can not only lead to possible felony charges, it can have a lasting effect on any job searches, as well as a permanent mark on your criminal record.
A reason why violent protests and rioting are frowned upon is that the groups of people going to protests looking to cause trouble and anarchy cast a terrible shadow on peaceful causes. These groups don’t care about what the protest is, or the people trying to make a difference, they just want to cause destruction and chaos.
This is what the media focuses on, and why a peaceful protest can be viewed as “anarchy in the streets” and “mass chaos and unlawfulness.” The images of cars burning and windows being broken are flashed across television and social media, and then the original peaceful message is forgotten in the smokes and flames of whatever destruction and damage that happened.
Violent protests and rioting are also a bad idea because they can lead to a multitude of arrestable offenses. SB1142 was just brought to the Arizona state senate, and passed just a week ago, now bringing it to the Arizona state House. This now means that if it passes, you can be arrested for being in a peaceful protest and violence or rioting breaks out. You may not be anywhere near where it’s happening or have anything to do with it, but SB1142 would mean that you can be arrested and charged with anything from assault to criminal damage. This would go on your criminal record and hinder your ability to be hired by a job, among other things.
This all being said, peacefully protesting is one of the great things about living in America. Being able to use your voice and the will of people for a cause is incredibly powerful. The important thing is making sure it stays peaceful, so that you won’t have to deal with the dangerous consequences of violent protests and rioting.