Violence may well not be the answer but unfortunately it has always proven to be the outcome. Because violence motivates towards the solution.
Without violence in all its different manifestations, the oppressed simply would not be oppressed. Physically and mentally oppressing a community requires violent penetration of the personal and public sphere of the oppressed by the oppressor. This is what we are witnessing in Baltimore. The unrelenting pressures on the private sphere, of racism, meager social-economic conditions and the excesses this leads to, has in turn created a confrontational situation with the government in the public sphere. A situation where, for a black person, an encounter with an officer of the law can lead to death by the slightest of occurrences.
There are several ways in which violence can manifest when it comes to bringing about change. The change however isn’t necessarily for the better. With these displays of violence accompanying protests we can observe how a constant threat of unprovoked escalation creates a highly combustible landscape where any ‘incident’ can be a flaming torch. This time the beating and sub-sequential death of Freddie Gray was that torch. Thing is, there comes a point where the necessity of violently compelling change is perceived as inevitable. The consequences won’t matter anymore to the protesters. Only changing what is. The violence that ensues will, for the better or for the worse, bring that change. Best case scenario: this motivates governments as well as citizens and others towards direct and lasting improvements. Worst case scenario: this leads to more repression and further escalation of violence. But as for many things, destruction of the old must precede construction of the new.
Another display of civil disobedience, the one we see championed by the authorities, is the non-violent protest. This method is only effective after the oppressed have endured lengthy and vastly disproportional acts of violence being brought to bear upon them. They must endure this violence, suffer publicly and beg for consideration whilst being trampled. Without this degradement insufficient pressure will be generated from private citizens, societal organizations or the international community to affect change. Any short term interventions that might be possible won’t be addressed, only talk of swift deescalation and pledges for eventual improvements on the long run will be heard. Injustices persist this way and tensions simmer in the background until this, again, inevitably erupts to the surface in anarchistic violence
Only when there has been enough violence to disrupt the system to a point it can no longer endure or afford it, interests will be such that compromise is possible. A compromise that will only last as long as it’s satisfactory. Oppressor and oppressed will face off again and the only question will be how much violence will it take this time to nudge the oppressor just that little bit further towards equality amongst men, and women.