Problems with Protests: Running Riots

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”An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.” These words seem to be above reproach. There certainly isn´t a valid arguement that can be given to take away the validity of this statement. It´s simply true. But what happens when your cause to fight the injustices of the world becomes itself an injustice? This is the case in Santiago, Chile, as men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds have filled the streets on more than one occassion to protest the inequality of education here in Chile. From their perspective education should be free. Education should not be a means to continually stratify a society by social class. Education should be a tool that strengthens the entirety of the country, from every class, from every sector, and from every age. I personally agree with them. And there is indeed an injustice taking place here that deserves and requires the attention of the government. But at what cost to the very people that this cause seeks to elevate.

The day was mostly like any other. The day before we had been told not to come to school because there was a protest. In the weeks to come this phrase would become all too familiar to our eager to learn ears. I hadn´t seen much out of place on this walk to school so far, but that was before I meandered onto campus. Broken glass littered the sidewalks and streets. Signs were destroyed. What must have been a barrage of stones decimated the glass lining the staircase of the library. This was the end result of yesterday´s protests. In order to propagate free education, they´d destroyed a school.

The University of Andres Bello was not the only place to suffer casualties. Public transportation stations and small businesses also were vandalized. Business owners wept that morning when viewing the destruction of their property, wondering how their loss was somehow involved in the protests. The answer is, it wasn´t. When asked why the destruction, the answer of those involved was ”the attention.” It´s easy to ignore a peaceful protest. It would be much harder for government officials to disregard devastating amounts of damage throughout the city. 

Not everyone that is invested in the education protests belongs to this radical group of criminals. The demonstrations themselves were most likely meant to be peaceful forms of protest. But what has spawned from these demonstrations thus far has been only destruction. Sadly, these protests aren´t going anywhere. Neither are the rioters. And it´s only a matter of time until the next time we the students of Andres Bello and across the city of Santiago miss another day of our education. And it will be due to protests supposedly fighting for that very subject.