The Curious Case of Joseph Kent: Is Peaceful Protest Really the Solution?

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Twitter user @POPSspotsports has come forward with some interesting pictures and recollections from his encounter with Baltimore activist Joseph Kent last night. This young man was not only peaceful, he was assisting police and also acted as a mediator between them and the protesters. This is someone who was clearly not anti-police, not a ‘thug’, not provocative, not inciting riots, etc.

But you certainly couldn’t tell that by the way he was handled by the National Guardsmen, who tossed him inside a humvee and hauled him off with no explanation. Even if one poses the argument that he should not have been out past curfew, does this act of peaceful civil disobedience warrant that type of treatment? What if he stayed out to assist the police in getting protesters off the streets to avoid further conflict? That doesn’t seem too far-fetched based on what we heard him saying in the video, as well as what we know from these tweets a person who had interacted with him shortly before his arrest sent out. Could it be that he was targeted by law enforcement?

 Furthermore, what good is the right to protest if those whom you are protesting against control how you do it? The act of protesting is supposed to an organic display of passion, not a granted privilege. How can you continue to criticize protesters for not being peaceful when violence is constantly being imposed on them? Have we all forgotten it has been acts of violence that have spurred these protests for decades? And finally, what happens when your token peacemaking protester is treated no different than a violent one? Can we really say for certain that this is the best solution to bring about change?

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