When are Riots Okay?

I suspect we will have a difficult week ahead of us. As most of you know, on Wednesday there will be more military personnel in our nation’s capital than in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Not only that, but most of our state capitals are fortified as well. That is the sad state of affairs America is in right now.

Given the circumstances, questions are flying rampantly. Who are they protecting against? What is the military’s mission? Where is President Trump? What should we think about what we see in our country today?

Those questions don’t seem to have immediate answers, and there are lots of ideas (some informed, some misinformed, and some who think they are informed) afloat, and for most of us, time will tell what is really going on in the US government right now.

However, I have a different question: When is it okay to riot?

Think about our Constitution for a moment. Have you ever read it? If not, I highly recommend it! It is not that long, and it makes clear how our government is to function. You can find it here. Hopefully you took government or civics in school and remember that the Constitution provides for three branches of government, each described in the first three articles of the Constitution.

  • Article 1: Legislative powers – this is the Senate and the House of Representatives. Their job is to create legislation and pass laws.
  • Article 2: Executive power – this is the President and his administration. Their job is to govern according to the laws of the land.
  • Article 3: Judicial power – this is the Supreme Court and lower court systems throughout the US. Their job is to rule in matters of dispute, making judgment about how the law is applied.

Now, to the question of rioting…

Throughout the summer, we watched in horror as mobs rioted in the streets of major cities such as NYC, Seattle, Portland and other places. To answer the question above, it is NEVER okay to riot. Our Constitution provides for peaceful ways to make our voices heard, including the ballot box. True, when the ballot box is hijacked, tensions raise. But I dare say tensions were raised well before the 2020 elections, but nothing justifies riots. However, here is an interesting take on riots that ensued.

In May, angry mobs rioted outside the White House in the wake of the George Floyd incident. Lafayette Square, just north of the White House, was filled with violence and, as it approached the White House, rioting was significant enough that President Trump was evacuated to a safe room beneath the White House. In was wrong and all rioters should face prosecution, despite their political preferences or leanings. However, Washington DC city officials defended their right to “protest” and did nothing to stop it. President Trump called in the National Guard to restore order.

Not much of a peep from Congress (House and Senate). Apparently is is okay for rioters to tear up a federal park, burn things, clash with Capitol police and threaten the White House…the Executive branch of government.

Later in the summer, reckless, senseless riots went on for weeks in major cities, and specifically in Portland, rioters attempted to burn down a Federal Courthouse. Again, it was wrong and rioters should face prosecution, despite their political beliefs. Ultimately, though, it took the President’s ordering of National Guard troops to Portland to protect federal property.

Again, no leadership from city and state officials, who believed it was okay to attack and riot around the Judicial branch of the US government. Likewise, not much of a peep from Congress.

It must be okay to riot against the Executive and Judicial branches of government. However…

On January 6, 2021, a riot broke out in the US Capitol Building. I say again: It was wrong and those involved should be fully prosecuted…regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum. It was atrocious that our elected leaders had to be taken to safety. The action at the Capitol that day is to be condemned in every possible way.

However, Capitol Police and others made repeated attempts to get Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House) to call in National Guard troops ahead of that day, as intel indicated potential problems as lawmakers met to count Electoral votes. As Speaker, Pelosi has full authority and full responsibility to do what is necessary to protect members of the House. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has the same authority and responsibility to protect the Senate. Neither heeded the advice of law enforcement and the Capitol was breached.

Suddenly, a president was then impeached in a matter of hours. No testimony, no evidence (other than debate that took place on the floor of the House). Despite very little action taken when our Executive and Judicial branches were attacked by rioters, apparently an attack on our Legislative branch warrants impeachment of a president. BTW – Trump stepped up to call in the National Guard in previous incidents. Pelosi and McConnell both refused to call them in when they were briefed ahead of time on possible violent protests at the Capitol. By all indications, that intel never reached the president…yet blame was projected.

Based on the actions and responses to elected officials, riots appear to have been accepted when they were targeted at the Judicial and Executive branches. But the Legislative branched moved quickly to impeach when the attack was directed at them.

There are just too many improprieties to believe everything is on the up and up in Washington DC and in our state capitals. Indeed, we may see the outworking of evil in the days ahead. Christian friends, we must pray for our nation and our leaders, and we must fix our eyes on the Lord. Our Savior does not live in the White House, on Capitol Hill or in the Supreme Court. He lives in heaven and is coming again soon to take us to be with Him there. Trust in Him and Him alone in these difficult days!

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