The use of protests as a form of civil disobedience has been around since human civilization began. Protests have always been a key part of the history of our country, and they continue to be integral in modern-day life. They are used for many different reasons: to demonstrate against injustices, voice opinions on controversial topics, or stand up for what you believe in.
Protests are often seen as one of the most powerful forms of nonviolent activism because they create an emotional response from those who see them. Whether it is anger or sadness at the injustice being done or joy at seeing people come together for something worth fighting for, these emotions can push people into taking action themselves and creating change when no other avenue seems possible. However, there are some risks to consider when participating in or even organizing a protest, and they should be considered before throwing yourself headfirst into the fray.
The Biggest Risk- Public Perception
There is always risk involved when it comes to civil disobedience, but being aware of your surroundings can greatly minimize those risks. When organizing a protest, you need to know what will draw people in and get them interested, but you also have to be aware that some things may not suit the general public. Picketing or other acts of non-violent civil disobedience are great ways to keep attention on a cause, but you want to make sure that whatever you’re protesting is going to improve the lives of those who see it happen. Otherwise, protests might start looking more like an inconvenience to those who have things to do.
Suppose someone is blocking your path or making you late because they are protesting for a cause that doesn’t really affect your life; it can make you angry, and rightly so. You don’t want people taking away from the message of the protest by reacting this way. Therefore if you’re going to convince people at large that what you’re fighting for is as important as you think it is, then you need to make sure it’s easily relatable and not something that will just be seen as an inconvenience.
The Risk Involved in Arrests/Confinement
Continuing with the idea of public perception, there are risks involved if your efforts become too forceful. While many forms of civil disobedience carry the risk of arrest, many people decide that this risk is worth taking if it means they are sending a message to an unresponsive government. Getting arrested and facing time in jail may be a deterrent for some, but these risks can become even greater when the authorities get involved. Confining protestors to certain areas or corralling them onto busses has happened multiple times during protests such as Occupy Wall Street and the 2014 Ferguson Riots.
People have made their opinions very clear on how they feel about these tactics saying that “you do not need a license to peacefully assemble” and “a bus is not a freedom cage.” As much as demonstrations make you feel passionate and emotionally charged, there comes a moment where it’s important to stop and realize why you’re protesting in the first place. Is it because you feel passionate about your freedoms being taken away? Or is it because you want to stand up for something that will actually help people and improve their lives?
Whether or not there is a risk of arrest, confinement, injury, etc., realizing what your protest stands for and why you are taking these actions can make all the difference when deciding if they are worth carrying out.
The Risk Involved in Getting Others Involved
Once you’ve decided on taking a certain course of action, other risks begin to rise as more people get involved. There always needs to be an organizer at the helm of larger protests, but often this becomes dangerous when emotions are high, and tempers are flaring. As the organizer, it’s your job to maintain control over the situation, and knowing where you’re going is a great place to start. There should be clear rules concerning behavior during the protest, whether that means using certain chants, staying on one side of the street or another, moving onto private property, etc. If there are no written rules for everyone involved, they should be followed strictly by all those present.
There are many ways to sway public opinion, but one thing remains true. If people feel like you are doing something without them, they can become furious, even more so than when someone tells them what action needs to be taken instead of taking it themselves. In times of crisis, people tend to look for leadership, and anyone who organizes a protest should be prepared to take on that responsibility.
The Risk Involved in Being Disliked by Others for Taking Action
Once you’re involved in a protest, it’s important to realize that just because your opinion differs from someone else doesn’t mean they don’t agree with you or recognize the issue at hand. As long as there is an open dialogue being had, this can help change those who feel differently. Still, if you become dismissive of another group’s ideas simply because they don’t align directly with yours, then your protests will never have their desired effect. How can we ever expect a consensus to come about by closing ourselves off and not hearing others out? This separates a protest involving only one person standing in front of an establishment for hours on end from a protest that actually works.
African American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)
While the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, are very different, the people involved came together to speak out against police brutality towards African Americans. Before these events took place, many were unaware that there was such a large movement, but once it hit the news, everyone wanted to know more about what was going on. This was when “social media” played its biggest role yet, as many outlets reported on tweets and Instagram posts directly from those who felt their voices weren’t being heard. The issue became immediately apparent thanks to interviews with protestors who shared why they decided to participate in demonstrations against police violence.
The protests are still going on to this day, but police brutality is becoming more and more relevant as time goes on. One can see how not every protest will be taken seriously by everyone simply because there are so many factors involved. Still, those who stand up for a cause must do their best to present it in a way that makes sense and resonates with as many people as possible. While the outcome sometimes can’t be predicted, the most important thing is knowing why you’re protesting in the first place.
If your reason isn’t good enough or if it doesn’t touch anyone else’s lives, then what exactly would be the point? Conclusion This is why communication plays such a huge role when finding out what other people think and helping them understand why you feel the way you do. Not every protest will immediately affect those involved, much less everyone else around the world, but as long as it’s done for all the right reasons, there can be a silver lining at the end of the day.
More Recent Notable protest examples
These protests were a place for people to come together and speak out against what they believed was not right. They were gatherings where people could stand up for their rights and speak, whether in the form of a march or through public speaking. They allowed citizens to make a change by ensuring that the world knew about what they felt was wrong. They also provided hope; no one person can bring down an entire government by themselves, but if thousands of people come together and create a movement, there is a stronger possibility that something will be done about it. No protest is ever quiet – they are always loud because everyone has something to say, and these protests allow them to voice their opinions. Protests give strength to those who want change. They have been a significant part of history, and they will continue to be.
-The protest in Ukraine for equality and human rights, which is also a part of the “Euromaidan” movement
–Occupy Wall Street protests against greed and inequality in America
-Arab Spring protests, which brought down governments in countries like Tunisia and Egypt
-Riots/protests in the UK in August 2011 after the police shot and killed Mark Duggan
-Protests against the shooting of Trayvon Martin for wearing a hoodie, carrying Skittles, and being an African American
1) The Occupy movements were created due to unfairness within society regarding money. 20 people own half of the world’s wealth. This is because they are constantly taking money from those who do not have much; “In 1996, a World Bank estimate showed that 70 percent of the world lives on less than $10 a day… Today, it has risen to 80 percent.” (The Guardian). The Occupy movement protests these acts and wants people to realize that everyone deserves equal rights and opportunities.
2) The Arab Spring was created due to political unrest in Middle Eastern countries where there were constant killings, unfair elections/elections with only one candidate running for a position of power, corruption in government officials, and lack of basic human rights. These protestors wanted an end to violence and cruelty committed by the governments.
3) During the August 2011 riots in the UK, Mark Duggan was shot by police. This sparked outrage and violence in London because people believed that this killing was not justified. People were protesting due to the lack of action taken against the officer who killed him. There has been no word on whether or not they have caught him yet, which is what caused the large protests all over London and other cities.
4) The Trayvon Martin case started with a simple story about walking home wearing a hoodie, carrying skittles, and being an African American male. George Zimmerman decided he looked suspicious and followed him until a confrontation happened where he said that Trayvon attacked him, so he proceeded to “defend himself.” Later it was discovered that Trayvon had been shot at point-blank range by George. Trayvon’s parents then took on the case and protested that their son was murdered.
5) The protests in Ukraine are a part of the “Euromaidan” movement, where people are protesting against President Viktor Yanukovych and want him to step down from his position as president. He wants to make a deal with Russia over violence in eastern Ukraine instead of making a trade agreement with the European Union like they originally did. In November 2013, he also tried to pass a law that would imprison activists for up to five years if they participated in unauthorized demonstrations similar to Occupy Wall Street protests. (BBC News). Ukrainians disagree with this law and have been protesting ever since it was brought up to prevent it from passing. One of their signs is “Євромайдан, або прощання України” which means “Euromaidan, or farewell Ukraine.”
Protests are a form of creative expression that can take many shapes. They might be as simple as a few people holding signs in the rain, or they may involve elaborate demonstrations with hundreds of participants and hours of preparation. Regardless of the type, protests have been around for centuries and will likely continue to exist into the future.
Here are 5 more examples:
– In 1787, John Adams attended an anti-slavery meeting at which he was elected moderator;
– On July 4th, 1827, African Americans marched on Congress demanding their rights under slavery laws;
– The first protest ever recorded took place in ancient Egypt when Pharaoh Khufu’s chief minister Hemon led workers out on strike against low wages;
– During World War I, Russian women took to the streets demanding an end to the conflict;
– Women’s suffragists in England protested on their ‘Black Friday’ in 1913.
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