Tragedy and protest turn violent

Martin Jaakola

A wave of protests turned into violent riots on Monday after the funeral for Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old Baltimore man who died after a violent arrest. 
 
Various reports from Baltimore said rioters were throwing rocks and bricks at police officers, smashing cars and committing other violent acts. 
 
This situation has become all too common over the past year, a depressing mark on recent history. Several violent clashes between the police and black men have led to increased public scrutiny of violent arrest tactics and other types of police brutality.
 
Gray, who likely died in part from the results of a “rough ride” in a police car after he was arrested and injured, is sadly yet another in a long line of victims whose deaths now make up a disturbing trend. 
 
However, the violent protests following these tragic deaths do nothing but bring negativity to a valuable cause fighting against problematic police work.
 
I can’t pretend to know what the communities that deal with racial bias from the police are going through. As a white person living in Minneapolis, I know that if I have encounters with the police, I wouldn’t have to deal with violence even if I were arrested. 
 
However, this problematic inequality does not excuse the actions of a few individuals who — whether through frustration, desperation or opportunism — continue disrupting peaceful protests and productive community efforts that are trying to address these problems. 
 
I don’t have a perfect solution for this situation. But it is time for a national dialogue to start. Everyone — no matter their race — should be able to discuss this issue freely and work toward a solution. As I watch the violence continue on live streams of the streets of Baltimore, I wonder: How will this change anything?