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Ross: Violence during protests sends message of fear, not hope

A peaceful protest in Seattle on Saturday gave way to fires and destruction. (KIRO Radio, Hanna Scott)

I spent the weekend watching cities, including my own, get trashed during protests against police violence.

And at last night’s protest in Seattle, I heard a debate break out among the demonstrators.

A woman with a bullhorn was trying to get people to obey the curfew.

“We’ve been protesting a long time — we want to show we’re not violent,” she said.

But for a moment it looked like the crowd might turn on her:

“Do not go home! If they shoot, we fight back,” a protester countered.

In the end they left relatively peacefully. There wasn’t much more to loot anyway.

I saw a sign that said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

But the message it sends to people watching at home is that we need more cops, even if some of them turn out to be bad.

The one happy moment was when volunteers showed up Sunday morning to clean up from the looting the night before.

And I thought – imagine if instead of providing cover for looters, the protesters had come downtown carrying brooms and scrubbers along with their signs, and scrubbed the city clean. As an act of civic pride but also as a metaphor.

People might see that and feel that the world is not such a dangerous place after all. But when people are afraid, they tend to vote for law and order because they’re seeing what happens without it.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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