It’s not an uncommon sight for Portland, Maine to be full of activity on a Friday night. There are a lot of places to visit and sights to see, and everyone likes to enjoy themselves. What isn’t entirely common however, is the sight of people blocking traffic and preventing innocent people from going about their business. This is what Portland looked like this past Friday night.
The subject of the protest was the recent shootings of innocent blacks by police across America. This is a valid thing to be upset about. While not representative of the entire police force across America, there are legitimate concerns about the power of bad cops everywhere and how they get away with disgracing the uniform.
So how do we respond to that?
There are ways to achieve goals in society. Whereas members of the original Civil Rights Movement like Martin Luther King Jr. preached peace, new leaders seem to support disruption and chaos that could easily descend into chaos. Prominent examples of this include the Ferguson riots, where people took out their anger and frustration on innocent people. Business owners who had nothing to do with the perceived injustice had their businesses vandalized and destroyed. Innocent people had their lives endangered and the behavior spread like a plague throughout the city.
Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent leaders for change in history would be ashamed of these people. Is this what the Portland protesters want?
It doesn’t matter if the Portland protesters wanted violence or not, because their escalation of tensions could have made it that way. They refused to meet with the Portland Police Department to discuss their plans as to ensure everyone could have a productive night. These protesters could have gotten their message across without looking like immature children throwing a tantrum.
For their part, Portland Police Department acted respectfully and didn’t resort to more aggressive tactics like other police departments may have. But there are laws to be enforced and these people clearly had no interest in following them. Portland Police was patient and allowed the protest to carry on for some time, which is a lot to ask for given it is a busy Friday night in Maine’s largest city.
In the end, the only ones who look bad are the ones who seek the change. Whatever their message is that Portland evening or any other time or place, it should be respectfully presented. The people are more likely to listen to the leaders of a cause, consider their message, and give a more thoughtful response if it is presented respectfully. But if disruptions occur like Friday night, the people aren’t going to care about the message. Their focus will be on the tactics, which will serve as a distraction from the message.
A lot of people criticize Governor Paul LePage across Maine not so much for his message, but his tactics. He can be vulgar towards his opponents and is allegedly disruptive by obstructing the processes of government. Even if some may be likely to consider his message at times, they’re less likely to because their focus will be on his tactics. Governor LePage can be his own worst enemy serving as a distraction from his own message.
Is this what Portland protesters want? Think about it.