Protests, Good, Or Bad?

The use of protests as a form of civil disobedience has been around since human civilization began. Protests have always been a vital part of the history of our country, and they continue to be integral in modern-day life. They are used for many reasons: to demonstrate against injustices, voice opinions on controversial topics, or stand up for your beliefs.

Protests are often seen as one of the most potent forms of nonviolent activism because they create an emotional response from those who see them. However, there are some risks to consider when participating in or even organizing a protest, and they should be regarded before throwing yourself headfirst into the fray.

The Negatives of Protesting

Public Backlash

There is always risk involved in civil disobedience, but being aware of your surroundings can significantly 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 nonviolent civil disobedience are great ways to keep attention on a cause. Still, you want to ensure that whatever you’re protesting will improve the lives of those who see it happen. Otherwise, protests might start looking more like inconveniencing those with things to do.

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.


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 more remarkable when the authorities get involved. Confining protestors to certain areas or corralling them onto buses 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 essential to stop and realize why you’re protesting in the first place.

Losing Control

Once you’ve decided on a particular course of action, other risks increase 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 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.

Being Disliked

Once you’re involved in a protest, it’s essential 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 an open dialogue is 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, 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 before an establishment for hours from a rally that works.

Advantages of Protesting

Building Awareness

While the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, are very different, the people involved came together to speak out against police brutality toward African Americans. Before these events took place, many were unaware of such a significant movement, but once it hit the news, everyone wanted to know more about what was happening. This was when “social media” played its most prominent role yet, as many outlets directly reported on tweets and Instagram posts from those who felt their voices weren’t being heard.

Good Karma

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 rally will be taken seriously simply because so many factors are 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.

Improved Communication

If your reason isn’t good enough or if it doesn’t touch anyone else’s lives, then what exactly would be the point? This is why communication plays a considerable 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.

Famous Protests Worldwide

These protests allowed people to come together and speak out against what they believed was incorrect. They also provided hope; no one person can bring down an entire government alone, but if thousands of people come together and create a movement, there is a more substantial possibility that something will be done about it. Protests give strength to those who want change. They have been a significant part of history and will continue to be.

The Occupy movements were created due to unfairness within society regarding money. Twenty 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.

The Arab Spring was created due to political unrest in Middle Eastern countries. There were constant killings, unfair elections/elections with only one candidate running for a position of power, corruption in government officials, and a lack of fundamental human rights.

These protestors wanted an end to violence and cruelty committed by the governments.

Police shot Mark Duggan. This sparked outrage and violence in London because people believed this killing was unjustified. People protested due to the lack of action against the officer who killed him.

There has been no word on whether or not they have caught him yet, which caused large protests all over London and other cities.

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.

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 deal with Russia over violence in eastern Ukraine instead of making a trade agreement with the European Union as they initially 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.


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 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.

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