GS students react to Charlottesville riots

Brett Daniel

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The United States and civil unrest

In light of the recent riots in Charlottesville, Va., where three people were killed and dozens were injured, it is within reason to say that socio-political tensions in the United States have reached a climax, the likes of which the country has not witnessed in more than 20 years.

Since 2010, the U.S. has witnessed social and political demonstrations in Baltimore, Md. and Ferguson, Mo., as well as Washington, D.C. and Berkeley, Calif., all of which have resulted in rioting, looting or the damaging of businesses and public property.

It is undoubtedly a divisive time period in U.S. politics on both a national and global scale, and fortunately, American citizens are still allowed to publicly voice their opinion without fear of retribution from the government. Free speech and peaceful assembly, which the U.S. guarantees its citizens, are infringed upon daily by government forces in Russia, North Korea and Venezuela.

Whether or not the Charlottesville riots will necessitate any substantial political change comparable to previous uprisings remains to be seen. Civil transformation is inevitable when inflammatory rhetoric and demonstration infect a country, as the threads of society can only be tugged at by public turmoil for so long before snapping into revolution, or worse: decadence.

How GS students feel about the Charlottesville riots

The George-Anne interviewed several GS students on Monday about the uproar in Charlottesville. Undergraduates were asked about the riots, violence in America, race relations and where the U.S. must go from here.

Hannah Smith, junior interior design major and member of the American Society of Interior Designers, believes everyone is different and that people have to respect this simple fact.

“Everybody has opinions, and that’s what makes the world go ‘round,” Smith said. “We have to accept each other’s different beliefs and thoughts, regardless of what our thoughts are.”

Concerning Charlottesville specifically, Smith said the violence is “completely unnecessary.”

Tawana Morvan, junior biology major, thinks political violence should be avoided at all costs.

“It’s not worth it – whatever you’re protesting – if it ends in somebody losing their life,” Morvan said.

When asked about possible solutions to political violence in America, Morvan said there’s “miscommunication” between police, politicians and those who are fighting for a cause. She said representatives of political groups need to find common ground with authorities, adding that “just going out and demonstrating isn’t going to solve anything.”

Regarding the future of the United States and how it relates to race relations and political tension, Morvan said it doesn’t look promising.

“It’s a constant cycle,” Morvan said. “You hear about police shooting unarmed black people, Trump’s Muslim ban – I’m an immigrant myself. It just seems like there’s no end to it right now.”

Morvan continued, “We have stereotypes ingrained in our minds. We probably need to start thinking that everybody is American. It’s good to know what race you are, your ethnicity – but it shouldn’t be the sole factor in determining everything.”

Concerning Charlottesville, Benjamin Clifton, junior sports management major, supports the right to freedom of protest but wishes people wouldn’t use violence to get their point across.

“There is no need for violence like that,” Clifton said. “They have a right to protest, but not to take it as far as it has been taken.”

Clifton believes multiple parties are responsible for the violence in Charlottesville. His solution to the chaos is for people to sit and talk about their issues.

“They could try to figure out a way to quell the violence – and just vocalize their opinions in a manner that doesn’t involve people getting harmed,” he said.

Regarding race relations, Clifton feels they are getting worse. He thinks political parties should emphasize civil discussion instead of violence and “try to figure out a way to make peace with each other.”