Protests, social movements, and riots have been methods for people not in power to project their voice and opinion. Although not all of these events yield positive results, people continue to find ways to gather in numbers in order to make a change in society. One of the biggest current issues is police brutality against blacks. According to Bert Useem, breakdown theory explains the forms of the collective actions in riots and rebellious civil violence. The two types of collective action are routine and non-routine. Routine collective actions follow established patterns of organization in structural societies. This typically consists of groups of people who bind together in order to non-violently protest their opinions and desire for change. Non-routine includes violent acts seen in riots or lynch mobs. These may still be organized, but the behavior is unacceptable and harmful to the community.
In a society where racism, poverty, discrimination, and several other social issues exist, there will be those who yearn to see a change and are determined to take action in making a positive impact on society. Routine collective action is clearly the most efficient and non-harmful way to voice the people’s opinions. When it is nonviolent through petitions, campaigns or other social movements, it promotes a specific goal with good intentions. Although both routine and non-routine collective actions may be organized, routine is more structured with definite tasks and clear-cut objectives. It is also not meant to be harmful, but beneficial for the betterment of society.
In reference to the Baltimore riots, Freddie Gray was severely injured while in Baltimore police custody and resulted in his death. Instead of taking a stand by peaceful protest, Baltimore broke out in riots. It is understandable how angered and disappointed people would be with our police force, especially due to other instances of white police brutality against blacks. However, do the riots change what happened? Do they assist in correcting this poor act of our law enforcement? If anything, rioting only increases the racial tension and is a step toward repeating the negative parts of history. Police officials continue to risk their lives to bring the riots to a halt and innocent people and their businesses or homes suffer as a result. After the rioting, Baltimore was left with major destruction to the city and neighborhoods and the initial issue still exists. Non-routine collective action includes irrational chaotic violence and it is never the answer to resolving these occurrences. Not only does it fail to make a positive impact on the community, but it delivers a major setback to the city.
Any time the people need to make a stand for what is right, our historical civil rights movement leaders would encourage routine collective action to make a change. Even if it may not persuade the people in power to consider modification to the system, it is always more promising than non-routine collective action.