Social Question

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

If your protest is permitted by the people you're protesting against, is it still effective?

Asked by JeanPaulSartre (5779points) July 13th, 2010

For example, if you’re protesting in an organized fashion against police brutality, and the police are escorting your protest, isn’t that allowing your protest to be co-opted by the very people you’re protesting?

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28 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Not necessarily. FOr one thing, the amount of people that turn out for your protest says something.

For another, your protest could attract media attention.

It might cause the people you are protesting to sit down and talk with the protesters.

sleepdoc's avatar

Isn’t that the nature of the US? People are allowed to having opposing viewpoints. Sometimes that means that the one view point has to temporarily suspend other things it does to all the others to have the oppotunity to express themselves. Although with your example, I think that just because there is a bad incident with one police officer and suspect doesn’t mean that the police in general are bad. Now if you asked the person who committed the offense to provide security that would be a bit different.

dynamicduo's avatar

I would say the protest is more effective because the police, while (likely) disagreeing with your protesting issue, are defending your right to protest peacefully. I feel that a protest’s effectiveness relies on its ability to stay calm and rational in the face of extreme emotions in order to raise awareness and deliver their message – if the protest was attacked (or if members of the protest were easily provoked to violence) and dispersed the amount of awareness would not be as high and thus the protest would be less effective.

BoBo1946's avatar

Yes, there will be a message for everyone involved!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Every protest has to be accompanied by police presence because that’s how ‘protests’ are done in the US but when it’s for trans rights (which is the most recent example of what you’re talking about), it is definitely co-opted, in my opinion.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@dynamicduo I don’t think the police are there to protect protesters really. I’m there with 100 of my close friends. They’re protecting everyone else and making sure it doesn’t turn riotous. But riots are SO much more effective historically (eg Stonewall, The Detroit Riots/race riots.) Who cares if you’re standing around (or marching) in an orderly fashion?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre Not to mention the self-satisfied expression on their mugs.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir “Ah, you’re protesting, but we’ve got you boxed in. Neener.”

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

…and even if you’re being civilly disobedient, you still need to be disobedient.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m not sure your example holds. First of all, the police do what they are told, for the most part. In protesting police brutality, you are really protesting against the police management.

Obviously, the police who commit the brutality could be in your escort. Who knows what their mission really is, but individually they might have strong personal responses to the protest, and they might even be tempted to act out or actually act out their hostility to the protesters. In what way is the protest being co-opted in such a situation or, indeed, in the situation you present?

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@wundayatta In my example – or most any protest – the police act as a barrier between the protest and reality. So reality can chose to safely ignore the protest, and the protest exists solely in the safe bubble. In the example it may be less so because the police may act out against the protesters and then it would become effective. Otherwise they’re just being policed.

perspicacious's avatar

Sure, it can be. Your message is as much to the public as to the targeted entity.

dynamicduo's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre You raise interesting points. I have to admit I probably don’t have as enlightened a viewpoint on protesting because I view it as ineffective and have chosen to take myself out of political and social situations as much as I can due to the corruptness of it all. Here in Canada there has been some uproar over the heightened police brutality at the recent G20 summit in Toronto, amazingly enough which dealt with them arresting over 400 people. There have been protests of the treatment of those protesters here on Parliament Hill. The Toronto police tried to convince the public on how right they were by having a press conference in which they showcased many fake roleplaying weapon props confiscated from an individual who didn’t even attend the G20 protests.

I agree, riots are more effective. If it ever got to a point where our civil liberties were being seriously jeopardized, I would turn to rioting. As I see it now, regular protests do very little to cause any change to happen, thus I don’t participate. That said, peaceful protests do raise awareness of their issue and also send the message that protests are NOT all violent all the time, and that people can make their opposing viewpoint heard without threat of imminent violence simply for expressing them.

BoBo1946's avatar

if the police take it out on the protestors, with all the cell phones, etc. to record the situation in today’s World, it would be for the best interest of the police to just do their jobs and leave their feelings out the situation. Most police are professional and do the right thing. Only a few give the police a bad name, like most everything!

At the end of the day, everyone learns something from a protest regardless of the circumstances involved.

wundayatta's avatar

Well, it all depends on your objective. If you are seeking to bring positive attention to your issue, I think the police are helping you. If you seek to create confrontation and violence, then they hurt you, but I, for one, am glad they are there. They also may be protecting you from becoming martyrs for whatever cause you are pushing.

I believe the most effective use of protests is to show that people care and that the organizers can get those people out on the streets to protest. I believe it is in the best interest of protesters to show themselves to be reasonable people. That will gain more friends than any other approach. But that’s just me.

jfos's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre Do you think a peaceful protest would be more effective if the bubble were too big to be surrounded by cops?

Luckily the US doesn’t have the Basij problem that Iran does…

tinyfaery's avatar

The 1992 Rodney King riots in L.A. did nothing but destroy the most impoverished neighborhoods and put the city on lock- down. The police officers who beat Rodney King were still acquitted and absolutely nothing changed.

I don’t think protesting does a damn thing, either. Chanting and walking and listening to speeches will never change a thing.

ETpro's avatar

The right of the people to peaceably assemble and protest their grievances with the government is enshrined in the Constitution. And it has worked time and again. The union movement started with protest. Women’s rights to vote, both prohibition and the end to it all came from our right to protest.

The fact that you are protesting against the police notwithstanding, the government has a very legitimate need to keep protests orderly. Your movement just needs to get creative and find ways to ensure your peaceful message ends up coming through the police presence surrounding your group.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

There are certainly effective non-violent protests, but they will still involve a degree of illegality. That’s the key to civil disobedience.

@dynamicduo To my point, in the States I had no idea about the protests or arrests at the G20. I suppose mostly because it’s not surprising, and probably they just didn’t make enough noise to penetrate the media morass of the US.

@wundayatta I think bringing positive attention to your cause is great. You should get together and raise money for a local charity and make sure the media knows all about it. Marching and chanting while completely protected and defended against probably doesn’t get positive attention. People either ignore it, already agree, or are annoyed by the alteration to their daily grind/restriction of movement. Alternatively – a group of cyclists could, without police protection, move as a group blocking traffic with their numbers as a protest about bike lanes being closed – effective, no one gets hurt… but if police block off streets, the message is completely lost.

@tinyfaery I agree somewhat – but we remember the Rodney King riots. We remember those officers, and what they did. That they got off just shows that the powers that be are corrupt. Other race riots have been more effective in other ways.

@ETpro The union, women’s rights, and anti-prohibition movements were catalyzed by riots, deaths and acts of terrorism. I’m not saying all these things had to be violet, but illegal (at the time) things had to happen for these things to come about. Women had to fight tooth and nail and were arrested. In many ways seeing women imprisoned over these rights is what finally got them rolling in the right direction. I agree totally on getting creative, but to act within the laws to change them isn’t likely to work.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Public protests can raise public awareness of issues. It doe not always happen when the media miss the point and focus on irrelevancies.

ETpro's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre The violence against Union activists was largely carried out by big business. See the Coal Wars of West Virginia. Similar scenes, often with Pinkerton Agency thugs carrying out the violence, were common throughout the country. Some was also the work of local police beholden to the corporations and the wealth they brought into the community. I am not saying union organizers never resorted to violence, but much of what they were charged with was bogus, as in getting beaten to a pulp by a hired company mercenary who didn’t sustain a scratch, and being charged by police with assault.

Violence against women’s suffrage protesters was almost totally the work of men, government and law enforcement‘s_suffrage#United_States all acting to preserve misogyny.

Regarding the push to repeal prohibition, I have never seen lots of file footage of the marches, and never have I seen any footage of violent protests nor can I find any searching with Google or Bing. If you can provide proof there were widespread violent protests, I will look at it.

But given you have blamed the victims in the case on unions and women’s rights, I will want good solid proof indicting the anti-prohibition movement or will assume you just made that part up as you did the other two.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@ETpro Oh! Don’t misunderstand – I’m not blaming the victims – I’m saying there was violence and that catalyzed the organized protests. I agree completely that the violence was mainly one sided and against the discriminated group. In the case of prohibition, the violence was gang related.

ETpro's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre Mu apologies for any misunderstanding. I am glad we got that clear. I can totally understand why the black-market gangs and rum runners hated the idea of repealing prohibition. If we were to get serious about repealing marijuana prohibition in the USA I have no doubd Mexican drug cartels would raise hell at every rally.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@ETpro Certainly. And that might show regular folks exactly why it’s a good idea to repeal.

anartist's avatar

ask the American Nazi party. or whatever they are called.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

“The American way of dealing with dissent and with protest is certainly more advanced” (than that of the Soviet Union) “why imprison dissidents when you can just let them shout into the wind to their heart’s content?”
– Dimitri Orlov, Russian emigree

mattbrowne's avatar

Aggressive atheists do permit my protest which is effective up to a point. Everyone realizes there are different ways to interpret the universe.

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