A riot is never a good response

There is no doubt that in far too many cases, police officers across the country have been brutal, especially against members of minority communities. It is easy to understand why, in the wake of several deaths of black men at the hands of police officers, people feel a great need to express their deep frustration.

But to riot, as people did in Baltimore last week, to loot and destroy local businesses, to injure more than a dozen police officers, is idiotic and, really, counter productive.

If police are too brutal in a community, how will rioting, looting, and attacking police officers convince them to act in more reasonable fashion? It seems to us that, at least during a riot, police officers might react, if not brutally, at least aggressively if for no other reason than to protect themselves and fellow officers. It’s common sense.

But common sense goes out the window when the opportunity to riot – and especially to loot – takes center stage.

That racial prejudice exists in America is a given. That some – we believe a relative handful – white police officers see their uniform as an excuse to wield power is a given.

But so is the overall negative effect of lawlessness such as that demonstrated in Baltimore last week. The more respected and sensible members of the African-American community in that city condemned it, as well they should.

Those who rioted – those criminals – should heed the words of The Rev. Jamal Bryant who, as he was leaving the funeral of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore man who died of a spinal cord injury while in police custody. Rev. Bryant, seeing what was happening in the streets, said, according to The New York Times:

“This is not what the family asked for, today of all days. For us to come out of the burial and walk into this is absolutely inexcusable.”

Amen to that.