Why riot? Local psychologist, sociologist weigh in

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The death of Freddie Gray, 25, has spurred a turn of events in Baltimore.

Gray was arrested by Baltimore Police Department, and allegedly suffered spinal injuries following his arrest and was not immediately medically treated.

Gray’s family say he died from those injuries, and some say the police-involved death has been linked to recent protests and riots.

2 NEWS spoke both a Dayton psychologist and a sociologist to answer the question many have asked: “Why riot?”

Both Dr. Michael Williams and Dr. Ruth Thompson-Miller say the actions are inexcusable, but that they’re an accumulation of things.

They also believe there are a lot of underlying factors that cause this outcry in the city.

“Maybe they see it as their way of getting some power for themselves,” Thompson-Miller suggested.

Dr. Ruth Thompson-Miller is a sociologist, one who studies social behavior and its origins.

The University of Dayton professor tells 2 NEWS that the media often focuses on just riots without a deeper look.

And she cautions that if you don’t examine the root cause of these riots, then it’s impossible to understand why they’re happening.

“You know, back in the day during segregation older folks had a lot more patience for, you know, change,” she explained. “But, I think these young folks that don’t have jobs, who live in poverty, who, you know, are seeing these young men and women get shot and nothing being done– I can see the frustration, you know, I can see the frustration.”

Psychologist Michael Williams adds his own take to why people riot.

“Well, I think on a very emotional level it is retribution,” Dr. Williams described. “It is getting a little back in a very basic and fundamental sense that is material. I think it all figures into what is unfortunately the selfish motivation of many people that are going to take advantage of the institution to get something for myself, but I do think that many people in their minds justify it as payback.”

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