This morning I listened to the encomiums of Rep. John Lewis on CBS’s Sunday Morning. Although I remember the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s vividly, they made an interesting contrast with today’s protests, cf. for example, this report by Alice Yin from the Chicago Tribune:
At least 1,000 people swarmed the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park on Friday evening in a failed attempt to topple it after a march turned tense and chaotic when some people began throwing fireworks and cans at the police, who in turn struck members of the crowd with batons.
Following a rally in support of Black and Indigenous people, hundreds of protesters marched south on Columbus Drive shortly after 7 p.m. Then a person shouted that some Chicago police units, whom they had been trying to separate the crowd from by using bike-wielding citizen “marshals,” had left to protect the statue of the controversial historical figure.
Protests in which cans, bottles, or explosives are used and in which people are destroying or attempting to destroy property including public property are not non-violent. The moment the first rock is thrown or when people start actively rather than passively resisting police a threshold has been crossed. Those who set out to protest non-violently have been coopted into a riot. The media is dissimulating when they characterize a protest in which some of those protesting are non-violent but some are violent as non-violent and they are dishonoring the non-violent protesters of the civil rights era. They are on the wrong side.