Are you really that mad about a peaceful protest?

“Tear gas them all.”

“Black Lives Matter is all about finding excuses to murder cops.”

“That whole group is made up of rotten apples. Well, that and whiny asses.”

“If you don’t want to get shot by the police, stay out of trouble you idiots!!”

These are just a small sampling of responses to last night’s Black Lives Matter protest in Portland that have shown up on social media this morning.

There have been plenty of people showing their support for the protest, for sure, but the predominant theme is reflected in the selected comments above, and I just don’t get it.

(Jake Bleiberg | BDN)

(Jake Bleiberg | BDN)

Why does it bother so many people that a small group of peaceful protesters stood out on sleepy old Commercial Street in the middle of the night?

To be clear, I support the Black Lives Matter movement, but it’s my opinion that the protest was poorly thought out. Both the location and time of day were clumsy choices for a cause that carries so much weight in spirit and merit.

Standing and chanting in an area filled with drunk people doesn’t make much sense to me.

In contrast, the protest march that was held in December 2014 had a much stronger, more positive impact because not only was the participating crowd much larger, but the protest itself was done in a way that caused people to reflect and take note of the power of the moment.

Black Lives Matter march in Portland in December 2014. Photo- Chris Shorr, BDN.

Black Lives Matter march in Portland in December 2014. Photo- Chris Shorr, BDN.

Last night’s protest didn’t accomplish that.

It did make headlines though, and the reaction to the images and reports in the news is what really confounds me.

Why are people so mad about such a small, inconsequential protest?

After all, the protesters didn’t get tear gassed, but they did get arrested by the Portland PD, they have bail money to pay, and court appearances to make- so they are being punished for their willful actions, is that not enough?

A protester is led away by police. (Jake Bleiberg | BDN)

A protester is led away by police. (Jake Bleiberg | BDN)

Maybe the anger being spewed on social media and online comments sections doesn’t have so much to do with the protest itself. Maybe it has to do with the exact innate and systematic racism that the Black Lives Matter movement is trying to call attention to. Maybe it has to do with the inability of white people to admit that white privilege does exist- even in Maine.

Whatever the underlying reasons may be, though, one thing seems apparent- if you’re someone who has taken to social media to rant and rave about how terrible it is to hold a peaceful protest in the middle of the night on a quiet street in a small town, then maybe it isn’t the Black Lives Matter movement that you’re so upset with.

Maybe you just need a cause to be angry about.

Maybe you’re just a whiny ass.

Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.