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G20 riots go too far, demonstations turn violent

The United States is not the only country that has been affected by the recent economic downturn. Though we may sometimes get caught up in our Carnegie Mellon bubble and forget this fact, people in London certainly have not, as demonstrators took to the streets to show their anger toward the financial world during the Group of 20, or G20, summit meeting last week.

The G20 is a group of leaders from 19 nations with both industrialized and developing economies who gather to discuss important issues in the global economy.
While we realize that people are upset about the state of the economy right now (who isn’t?), we do not believe that the protestors went about expressing their anger in the right way.

The point of a protest is to make others aware of your feelings and to show that there is something that needs to be changed. It seems pointless to demonstrate against the economy when it is no secret what people’s opinions are, especially when the group that you are protesting against is the group that is attempting to fix the problem. Regardless of whether or not the demonstrators were protesting against the leaders in attendance at G20, or they were rallying in support of what they were trying to fix, they only succeeded in adding to the pressure of an already tense situation.

There is some merit in protesting even when one’s feelings are already well-known — demonstrating is a way to feel like one is doing something for his/her case — if one is doing it peacefully, that is. This was not the case, however, during the G20 summit in London.

Bankers in London were warned of possible danger beforehand and were given a number of recommendations to help keep them safe — dress down, don’t leave the office early for meetings, and use public transportation if possible. Police were not unaware of the possibilities either — 37,000 police officers were placed on standby.

And apparently, the caution was not unwarranted. The Daily Mail reported that rioters attacked the police on duty with missiles and also broke into the Royal Bank of Scotland, ripped out computers, and threw them at the officers. One man died in the chaos, and the demonstrators continued to harass the police by throwing bottles at them as they attempted to save the man’s life. In addition, more than 100 people have been arrested as a result of their involvement in the riots.

The rioters in London went too far. It is one thing to protest to make your beliefs known, but to harm others in the process — and especially to hinder the police from saving a man’s life — is crossing the line. There is rarely a situation that calls for physical violence to let your views be known.