The Layman's Guide to the Difference Between a Riot and a Protest

Narratives! Gotta have them if you’re the media, an activist, or a politician.

As it happens, black riots are useful to all three. The media has something amazing to cover that garners views and clicks, the activist has a new talking point about the plight of X,Y, and even Z, and the politicians can do all sorts of stuff like pander for votes, legislation, or money. In short, a black riot is a cash cow that all three can point to and yell “see what we’ve been saying?!”


But a black riot can be just as much a problem for these three as it can be useful. Trying to paint the black community is an angelic light is very hard when some of its members continuously go out with the intent to harm, and destroy. Especially the kind you saw last night in Charlotte when person was shot and critically injured, a reporter was attacked, a white man chased into a parking garage where he was robbed of his pants and kicked as he pleaded for mercy, and a photographer whom they attempted to burn alive.

It got so bad that Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency, and called in the National Guard. This is really bad for the narrative, as no one wants to sympathize with people who want to burn people alive, and destroy property. So the media, politicians, and activists have to change up the language in order to make a riot seem like a legitimate call for real reform, and a highlight the victimhood of the black community despite the fact that rioters are clearly predatory.

So they call them “protests.”

It’s perfect! It paints the evil being done as a reaction to injustice. It goes from being an offensive measure to a defensive one! It paints all the chaos with a brush of purpose and intent for a better tomorrow! It turns the protestors from violent idiots to brave agents of change, defending those who have been oppressed for too long!


Narrative secured! All the destruction, violence, and chaos is now justified, and maybe even promoted as a good thing in some circles!

But it’s not a protest, and they know it. We know they know it because whenever someone actually does protest without resorting to violence – like Colin Kaepernick – they continuously highlight the fact that it’s “peaceful.” They parade it around the media, cover it endlessly in every show that can, write about it poetically in editorials, and give nods to it during presidential speeches. In truth, Kaepernick’s actions were a legitimate protest. A stupid one, but an actual protest nonetheless. Nobody got hurt, he represented his cause, and at the end of the day people started talking.

The difference is that protestors disrupt the social scene to make a point. This usually comes with demonstrations such as sit-ins, marches, speeches, or actions that go against the norm to get attention. It’s been a solid way to get your point across for ages, and it’s often resulted in some serious change for the better. This was perfectly exhibited in figures such like Martin Luther King Jr.

Riots, however, are destruction for destructions sake. Violence because you can. Chaos because it’s fun. The goal of a riot is to engage in aggression for no other reason than to assert dominance, and feel like the guy in charge for a bit. You don’t really need much of a reason, and the reason given isn’t anything you may actually care about. You just want to destroy. Nothing good comes from it. Lives are ruined, and sometimes lost. Women are raped, businesses wrecked, and fear permeates the area. Good people have to wonder if they’ll make it home that night in one piece, if at all.


So that’s the difference, and why the media refuses to see said difference. They need these riots to fit into a narrative so desperately that they’re willing to blatantly lie about what they are to your face in order to push on with whatever they need you to go along with.



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