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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.