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Civil Disobedience Martin Luther King David Thoreau La Riot

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Civil Disobedience

On April 29, 1992, the City of Los Angeles was surrounded in a riot in response to the "not guilty" verdicts in the trial of four white Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers accused of unlawfully beating Rodney King. Six days later, when the fires were finally extinguished and the smoke had cleared, "estimates of the material damage done vary between about $800 million and $1 billion, 54 people had been killed, more than 2000 injured, in excess of 800 structures were burned, and about 10,000 people were arrested."(Khalifah 89) The 1992 riots in the City of Los Angeles were arguably the most devastating civil disturbance in the history of the United States.

Anyone can say that a law is unfair and unjust. However, who is really willing to accept the consequences for going against this law? Is breaking this law really worth the punishment? The government is the one to decide whether a law is reasonable, but what if a member of the public believes that a law is not? Should he rebel against this law? Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. answered yes to this question and believed that one should speak out against an injustice. They both believed that government had many flaws. They shared many beliefs in the same subjects concerning Civil Disobedience but had many different views on how the government should work and how the citizen should be treated by society.

Civil disobedience can turn into civil disturbance. When a white truck driver, Reginald Denny, was dragged from his vehicle and severely beaten by an angry mob. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Thoreau believed that one should act out against an unjust law by means of peaceful protest. Therefore both King and Thoreau would not support the rebels' violent behavior of the LA riots. If one is going to openly express his ideas of disagreeing with an unjust law, he must be willing to accept the consequences. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Thoreau demonstrated this acceptance of consequences by going to jail without repercussion. This shows that they truly believed in the eradication of such a law that forces them to do something that they do not want to do. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for gathering with others to protest peacefully, which the police claimed was unlawful, because they were parading without a permit. Martin Luther King Jr. peacefully went to the county jail and served his time. Thoreau was arrested for not paying a tax, a tax that put a fee on voting. Thoreau also peacefully served his time. Both men knew the consequences for their actions yet went along and committed the crime. Their crimes were not vengeful or harmful against a living soul. While LA Riot often been characterized as a race riot, involving mass law-breaking, including looting and arson. "The riot was as much about empty bellies and broken hearts as it was about police batons and Rodney King."(97 Davis)

However, their crimes were statements stating that the government cannot make anyone goes against his or her beliefs. Martin Luther King and Henry David Thoreau both believed that one should stand up for what he believes in, as wells as accepting the consequences for his actions. Even though they also had different views about what makes law just or unjust. First of all, "Martin Luther King believed that a law that is just should be square with the moral law or the law of God."(____) This basically means a law should pertain to the Ten Commandments according to the bible. He also thought "an unjust law was one that was inflicted on to a minority who did not even have the right to vote for this law in the first place."(____) Thoreau is basically rallying for the absence of government in the lives of the citizens. He believed that everyone should govern himself. He also believed that "no one should have to ride on the shoulders of the government, but instead rely on himself."(____) He thought people should treat other people the way they wanted



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