I've been disappointed at the mischaracterization of the nature and power of nonviolent activism in the context of the Baltimore riots. Nonviolence is not the mayor and police commissioner calling for calm. They're part of the problem. Nonviolence isn't a television writer asking for peace without any solutions.
Nonviolence has become watered down. We now think of marches and protests, speeches and slogan. The sit-ins were a form of nonviolence action. Freedom rides were a nonviolent action. The Salt March was a nonviolent action. In each, people violated an unjust law in a nonviolent fashion in order to change their condition.
The anger in Baltimore is genuine and justified. Just as it was for black people living in the Jim Crow South. Just as it was for Indians living under British colonialism. But a false dichotomy has been created: either we're violent or we're passive.
We need nonviolent direct action in Baltimore to address the issue of police brutality. The police are a violent, bigoted, and corrupt institution with no accountability. They need to be held accountable. Rotating groups of citizens should follow police officers, record their movements, and interfere to protect victims of their brutality.
Rioting is a sign of despair. We are so angry that we destroy our own communities. Our passion needs to be directed. We want to change things, but we crave the organization, ideas, and discipline to do so.