71 people were arrested in the streets of Cleveland on Sunday, as protestors grew increasingly violent. Protestors were expressing their anger over the acquittal of Officer Michael Brelo, who fired 15 shots into the windshield of a car with two black suspects inside it while standing on the hood. One of the people inside the car, Malissa Williams, was thought by police to have had a gun on her, as they were involved in a car chase. At the end, what were thought to be gunshots coming from inside the car were actually police gunshots. It is no surprise that this shooting resulted in a ruling by the U.S. Department of Justice that Cleveland police have “engaged in a pattern and practice of excessive use of force and violations of people's civil rights,” according to the same AP article linked above.
At the start, protestors of this act were encouraged to continue, so long as they remained peaceful. Inevitably, they grew violent, even attacking innocent bystanders in their demonstrations of anger.
This is just another example of the seemingly endless cycle of police brutality and citizen violence in response. The question is when authorities will do something to correct these unfair and excessively violent practices, and when the citizens of Cleveland will stop senselessly attacking each other.
Change needs to happen at an administrative and policy level, and perhaps the police training process needs to be given a second look. In the meantime, citizens are growing restless and will undoubtedly continue to take out their anger on whatever they can get their hands on. While peaceful protesting doesn’t seem to be working, that is still no excuse for violence.
Even Lebron James appealed to the protestors this morning, saying “Violence is not the answer, and it’s all about trying to find a solution for good or for bad.” James is asking for a pivot of the attention onto basketball, and for the rioters to redirect their passion toward the Cavaliers. While this is a heartfelt sentiment, the protestors have a lot on their minds other than basketball. However, his central message is a good one.