After the Eagles won their first Super Bowl in franchise history on Feb. 4, overjoyed fans flooded the city’s streets.
It wasn’t long before this celebration turned into chaos. Though tens of thousands of fans destroyed public and private property, climbed light poles and even looted a gas station, only four people were arrested that night, according to the Inquirer.
Meanwhile, during the Super Bowl game in Minneapolis, 17 peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters were detained “largely without incident,” according to the Huffington Post.
Protesters should not be detained while peacefully supporting their causes. It’s time for law enforcement to start showing respect to these protesters and their constitutional right to assemble and stand up for what they believe in.
“Who do the police serve and protect?” said Jason Del Gandio, a communication and social influences professor who studies the theory and practice of social justice, with a focus on activism, social movements and political protest. “Is it all Americans or only some Americans?”
It’s unfortunate that law enforcement hasn’t treated protesters with the same respect and understanding that fans were shown after the Super Bowl win, especially given the larger impact and importance of protest.
The Black Lives Matter movement was organized in order to fight against systematic oppression by police against people of color, but specifically African-Americans. Members of the movement have protested at many other events, like a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia during the summer.
Though this is a notable cause, I think protesters — especially when they are calling out authorities for what they see as problematic practices — tend to be demonized by our society.
“Protests seek the challenge of the status quo of society,” Del Gandio said. “Conversely, the police are there to serve and protect the status quo, so inherently it sets up an antagonistic relationship.”
This is not the first time Black Lives Matter protesters have been persecuted. One weekend in August 2016, more than 300 people were arrested in several cities after two Black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, were shot and killed by police, according to CNN.
Something to consider is that fans were rioting because of a sports team, while Black Lives Matter protesters march and chant against police brutality. It seems unfair that the people fighting against human rights violations are detained, while football fans can get away with destroying public property without any repercussion.
Some of the embarrassing ways Eagles fans chose to celebrate the team’s win at its victory parade on Feb. 8 included trying to tip over cars and climbing on police horses. The behavior that Eagles fans exhibited while celebrating all had one thing in common: it was destructive, disturbed the peace and was pointless — the antithesis of what led the BLM activists to be arrested in Minneapolis.
Zoya-Jade Lewin, a sophomore business administration major, said she thinks the police didn’t seem aggressive when she joined the crowd storming Broad Street after the Eagles’ Super Bowl win.
“It’s rioting but it’s…positive energy,” Lewin said. “Nobody’s trying to be hurtful or dangerous.”
While I understand that Philadelphia police officers were celebrating the team’s victory too, they can’t excuse reckless civilian behavior.
It’s a simple fact that supervision was used in one case, while force was used in others. I think this speaks volumes for our society and what we deem important. And this must change in order for all Americans to be protected equally.
It is up to us to demand change. We should support movements like Black Lives Matter and speak out when we see them receiving unjust treatment from law enforcement.