Hundreds of Arizona citizens gathered this past weekend to protest and mock the Muslim community and teachings in front of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix. Protesters claimed they made the event in retaliation to the shooting at the recent Muhammad drawing contest held May 3 in Garland,Texas. This wasn’t a typical protest, however, as participants were alerted to bring firearms as a precaution. This left many questioning: Had the religions and races of those carry weapons been any different, would the same soft treatment have been given?
Police responded to the event, which bikers planned, to ensure the protest remained nonviolent. Protesters called for peace in America yet brought deadly weapons to force the message. Despite the anti-Islam protesters’ verbal harassment with violent implications, police made no arrests.
Protesters in cities such as Ferguson and Baltimore were treated much more violently despite the absence of firearms among participants, unlike in Phoenix. In Baltimore, hundreds of protesters were detained and given excessive bail with at least 49 children among those arrested. While the media framed all of Baltimore as chaotic and unruly, several protests were peaceful, yet they met with stronger opposition from police than those who accused members of their community of colluding with foreign terrorists, such as ISIS.
Most Baltimore protesters arguably had a more proximate crisis, but the anti-Muslim bikers posed a greater threat to others than those being threatened despite lack of cause. The disparate treatment between the Phoenix and Baltimore protesters’ groups didn’t correspond with the level of danger present. Somehow, a black child protesting community injustice is more threatening than an armed biker at a hate rally.
While officers may not think of these actions as discriminatory, in the simplest form, they are. Too often, those belonging to dominant groups get protection or benefit of the doubt while others are framed as dangerous. Even on college campuses, as seen most recently at University of Virginia, Muslim students and students of color receive excessive punishment and negative treatment from law enforcement. Those harrassed in Phoenix deserved heavy police protection from gunmen, but police did not break up the arms-carrying protesters.
This event only showcases one of many instances of police injustice and unequal treatment rampant in America. Discrimination comes in many forms, law enforcement activity being the most discussed currently. All Americans, regardless of race, religion, gender, class or a number of other factors, deserve the same protection and punishment for their actions. As progressive as this nation becomes, more emphasis should be placed on overall equality.
Griffin is a journalism freshman from Houston. Follow Griffin on Twitter @JazmynAlynn.