“Riots are the language of the unheard,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. So when Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish invoked MLK when he called for people to resist rioting in response to the grand jury decision over the Tamir Rice killing, and Governor John Kasich warned against acting in anger and frustration, they were not acting in line with MLK’s teachings. They were overlooking a good portion of his philosophy for change.
MLK did not advocate for peaceful protest. He used peaceful protest as a tactic against violence toward black people and for equal representation in law and politics, so that we would be able to convict our killers. King advocated for voting rights, because when one isn’t registered to vote, they cannot sit on juries, like the Cuyahoga County grand jury which decided not to indict the cop who killed Rice. While the racial makeup of this grand jury has not yet been released, juries across the US are overwhelmingly white because blacks are systematically excluded. Authorities have used poll taxes, logically impossible literacy tests, violence, and intimidation to prevent blacks from even registering to vote.