Trayvon. Zimmerman. Racism. Guns. Justice.

Ever since Saturday’s verdict of “not guilty”, there have been countless discussions surrounding the Trayvon court case in our household, at the church I am attending, during Monday’s program day, and even at my work sites at First Place for Youth and Project Re-Connect here in Oakland. Issues of racism and racial profiling, gun control and 2nd amendment rights, and the criminal justice system as a whole continue to be brought up and discussed. Our household has a wide range of different opinions in regards to these topics, but nevertheless we have been and are able to have good, peaceful, and constructive dialogues.

As you may be well aware of, thanks to the media presence here in Oakland, there has been a whole slew of demonstrations and protests throughout the city. Across the nation, thousands of people have gathered over the past four days to express their dissatisfaction with the outcome of the Zimmerman case. A majority have joined the marches and assemblies in peaceful solidarity to remind the nation of the social injustices that still exist in our nation today.

On the other hand, there are a select few who would rather express their disappointment and outrage by destroying a menswear retailer…

… a mobile phone retailer…

… a bank branch…

… and even the non-profit youth media outlet, Youth Radio.

Click here to watch the CBS5/KPIX report on Youth Radio.

©2013 CBS Local Media

It angers me that some people would see a peaceful demonstration through the downtown streets of Oakland as an opportunity to damage, steal, and incite violence. Hearing stories of a waiter being brutally attacked by a hammer-wielding maniac while trying to protect the restaurant and bar at which she works makes me sick. Watching a video of a CBS2/KCAL9 reporter and cameraman from L.A. being attacked by two thugs who are seen scampering away infuriates me, especially as a filmmaker and an avid photojournalist.

These individuals need to realize that when they do things like this, it only hurts the cause that everyone is fighting for. The media gets distracted from the main issue because people fighting, lighting things on fire, and destroying property is more interesting than an old court case. The police end up intervening, causing even more criminal injustices. And through it all, they end up losing support for the greater cause because who would want to join the side that seems to have caused thousands of dollars of damage and injured countless people (when in reality it is the actions of few).

These people need to learn from our damn history. The greatest changes in our nation’s history (in terms of fixing social injustices) did not occur through the destruction of buildings or through violence inflicted upon others; it was achieved through nonviolent organizations of passionate individuals who spoke up about the injustices to our leaders and to the nation.

— Jimmy Tran

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