Type: Definition Essays
Sample donated: Ken Brewer
Last updated: December 28, 2019
This essay will attempt to criticallyanalyse the controversies of a protest and a riot. It will do this bydiscussing of previous case studies and argue whether it is justifiable or not.According to the criminal legal definition a riot is a disobedient practicethat includes 3 or more people inflicting harm and violence in public spaces.On the other hand, a protest is justified as an expression of a disproval of anact. Such protest comes in different forms; it can be practiced by marching asa group or inflicting harm on one-self.A riot is an illegal practice whereasa protest isn’t. It can be argued to whether that really matters as they areboth expressing their oppression against the political system of some kind.Additionally, the media also has a great influence in this topic as they canproduce story’s that are exaggerated to the real life context.
For example, themedia representing rioters as protesters, this can lead to public outrage as itcan symbolise the authority abusing their powers as a sign of oppression. Precarious life relates to the idea ofan individual enduring suffering as a means of living. It is often demonstratedin extreme practices within the contexts of protests and in some cases in riotstoo (Horowitz 2002). The act of these extreme measures is perceived to showfrustration within a person (Dorling 2010). For instance, the hunger strikeswithin detainees in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
The condemnation of thisis the outcome of the living conditions and the denial of a lawyer.Such practices are used as a means tocommunicate their anger towards authorities that refuse to compromise; it isused to influence political decisions (Annas 2006). It also used to gain’social support’ (Woutersa and Walgravea2017: 362). Additionally, detainees who engage in hunger strikes are explainedby the fact they feel they are not being recognised and hence results in theminflicting harm on themselves.
Although this would be recognised by authoritiesas an emergency crisis it wouldn’t change anything except for the fact theyhave to be force fed by physicians. Therefore, this can lead to ethicaldilemmas being raised as this goes against their will that impose many moral questionsto their justification. However, the system has a ‘duty of care’ to provide forall detainees.Similarly, detention camps of asylumseekers have been a highly political agenda as many applications have beendenied. This resulted in the case of the Nauru Regional Processing Centre where4 offenders had been participating in the hunger strike. They commented that noone regarded their problem.
Therefore,as a way of denoting their anger, they would also sew their lips and eyes fromthe idea of ‘speak no evil’ and ‘see no evil’. This is a way to demonstratetheir precarious life. Moreover, this symbolizes attention drawing as a way topublicize their maltreatment; and reflects that people are not listening tothem.
So, it is their way to highlight their desperation and hopelessness andtheir bare life produced by sovereign power. Although the sovereign power recognises thevalue of the Human Rights Act (1998) and the importance of equal opportunities’it does not apply the same justice towards refugees (Farmer and Sen 2009). Onthe other hand, it can be argued that refugees do not lawfully have access toanother country so therefore their liberty is suspended. Precarious life can also manifest inriots too. Where people actively get together to stand for something they arepassionate about. However, riots are often violent, so kettling is emphasisedin order to control the crowd. Riots show it can be more harm done than good,especially if one’s life is at potential risk. Violent practices are ofteninfluenced by the system failing or by any unjust decisions made by those inpositions of power, confrontation is very common within participants and thepolice.
This can lead to arrests being made or in extreme cases fightsoccurring. The case of Ian Tomlinson sparkedcontroversy concerning the crown prosecution service as the police officer whohad struck Ian Tomlinson was not prosecuted. The Metropolitan service deniedany contact with the victim; they suggested protesters had tried to attackpolice officers as they attempted to provide medical attention. It was laterfound that this was inaccurate after a video emerged of Ian Tomlinson beingstruck by a Territorial Support Group officer. He had also not taken part inthe protest. The scandal resulted in official enquiries into public orderpolicing in London, moreover, this raised questions about the integrity ofpolicing. The media described the protesters as’the problem’ in the London G20 Summit. However, after the video emerged themedia dramatically changed the atmosphere of the case.
It resulted in focusingon ‘police violence’ rather than ‘protester violence’. This was reinforced bythe use of technology which empowered the public to publicize ‘real time’information which challenges the official version of events. Therefore, thisallowed the media to shift the focus on the institutional failure instead. Thisillustrates the changing relations between the media and the police. TheCriminal Justice Act 2003 requires punishment to either, reform, deter,rehabilitate, and reduce crime and make reparation by offenders. For example,the 2011 riots had led rioters to harsher prison sentences as deterrence and expressingpublic displeasure.
A case of a UK rioter has been given a highlydisproportionate sentence of 16 months for pinching 2 scoops of ice-cream (TheTelegraph 2011). It is criticised that this method does not prevent reoffendingso this can lead to questions to why impose a severe sentence? However, fromfigures nearly 44.7% of offenders reoffend in the first year in April 2014 toMarch 2015 (Gov.uk 2017) which shows prison sentences won’t be effective. A community based punishment wouldseem suitable and cost effective when dealing with rioters. Moreover, it willnot give pressure to the prison system. It can also be criticised that theharsher sentences are not fair and doesn’t represent the criminal justicesystem based on equality which imposes questions to the justification theyimpose on offenders as some rioter’s especially young people have never beenconvicted. Therefore, young people may feel their criminal background willaffect them in the future in terms of their employment thus can lead them to bedeviant and engage in criminal activity rather than education.
Moreover, thiscan lead rioters feeling more frustrated as they are not being heard which canimpose future violence in the future if the system is prosecuting rioters inharsher sentences. It can be questioned whether that will deter offender orexpress even ore anger to commit in violence. It is important that a sense ofrecognition is being given to them as a way to show they are not feelingexcluded. The research on public opinion has shown the public are willing toconsider alternatives for less serious offences. The dirty protest is whereby anoffender covers their cell wall with their own excrement and blood.To conclude, riot and protest is aform of resistance as it is acting in opposition to government policy which ishaving a negative impact on their lives as it is failing to uphold theirnon-democratic values and beliefs.
It is a form of resistance as those inauthorities are not addressing their current policies and thus results inrioters not tolerating changes not being implemented. Moreover, those inauthority use their power to abuse the democratic rights and beliefs of otherswhich sparks outrage among individuals leading to a riot. Anarchy is a drivingforce for riots it is a state of being without a government and authority.
However,it does not encourage violence for a political change. Although it promotesfreedom some violence is used controversially by some anarchist to attempt todestroy the system of government. Both protest and riot express the idea ofprecarious life, the need for stability.
However, taking extreme practices forexpressing a person’s can sometimes lead to adverse consequences.It is appropriate to say that riotsshould be discouraged for the safety of the public and themselves, therefore aform of protest would be a suitable alternative to express ones unsatisfactoryfeeling towards the political system. However, it can be argued that a riot is a’strongly sensed feeling of protest’ (Wada and Davies: 1957: 864) which can beused to justify their actions. For example, the objection they disagree withcan outweigh the violence committed in a riot. A rioter can feel a sense of’relief’ or an act of revenge to the difficulties they have faced. Although ariot can express ones ‘freedom’ it is still an illegal act and disturbs thepeace of the public, therefore a riot denied or at least a last resort in somecases. Additionally, it is a nuisance to the society. If a riot happensfrequently or if it was to become legal then society would not function as ‘normal’.
When an individual participates in ariot they can perhaps lose their identity which can make them loose theirindividual responsibility and at the same time gain a sense of power whichsuggests a release in tension in the expression of feelings he shares withothers which an individual cannot do alone. A protest allows the opportunity to beflexible in terms of people expressing themselves within the law. However,protests can be shown in different ways as mentioned in the introduction whichcan be seen as ethically wrong such as harming oneself. Moreover, this showsboth riot and protest occupy ambiguous legal statuses.