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A protest (also called a remonstrance, remonstration or demonstration) is an expression of bearing witness on behalf of an express cause by words or actions with regard to particular events, policies or situations. Protests can take many different forms, from individual statements to mass demonstrations. Protesters may organize a protest as a way of publicly making their opinions heard in an attempt to influence public opinion or government policy, or they may undertake direct action in an attempt to directly enact desired changes themselves.Where protests are part of a systematic and peaceful nonviolent campaign to achieve a particular objective, and involve the use of pressure as well as persuasion, they go beyond mere protest and may be better described as cases of civil resistance or nonviolent resistance.
Public opinion consists of the desires, wants, and thinking of the majority of the people; it is the collective opinion of the people of a society or state on an issue or problem.
Direct action originated as a political activist term for economical and political acts in which the actors use their power to directly reach certain goals of interest, in contrast to those actions that appeal to others by, for instance, revealing an existing problem, highlighting an alternative, or demonstrating a possible solution. Both direct action and actions appealing to others can include nonviolent and violent activities which target persons, groups, or property deemed offensive to the action participants. Examples of nonviolent direct action can include (obstructing) sit-ins, strikes, workplace occupations, street blockades or hacktivism, while violent direct action may include political violence or assaults. Tactics such as sabotage and property destruction are sometimes considered violent. By contrast, electoral politics, diplomacy, negotiation, protests and arbitration are not usually described as direct action, as they are politically mediated. Non-violent actions are sometimes a form of civil disobedience, and may involve a degree of intentional law-breaking where persons place themselves in arrestable situations in order to make a political statement but other actions may not violate criminal law.
Civil resistance is political action that relies on the use of nonviolent resistance by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and coercion: it can involve systematic attempts to undermine the adversary's sources of power, both domestic and international. Forms of action have included demonstrations, vigils and petitions; strikes, go-slows, boycotts and emigration movements; and sit-ins, occupations, and the creation of parallel institutions of government. Civil resistance movements' motivations for avoiding violence are generally related to context, including a society's values and its experience of war and violence, rather than to any absolute ethical principle. Cases of civil resistance can be found throughout history and in many modern struggles, against both tyrannical rulers and democratically elected governments. The phenomenon of civil resistance is often associated with the advancement of democracy.
Various forms of self-expression and protest are sometimes restricted by governmental policy (such as the requirement of protest permits),economic circumstances, religious orthodoxy, social structures, or media monopoly. One state reaction to protests is the use of riot police. Observers have noted an increased militarization of protest policing, with police deploying armored vehicles and snipers against the protesters. When such restrictions occur, protests may assume the form of open civil disobedience, more subtle forms of resistance against the restrictions, or may spill over into other areas such as culture and emigration.
A protest permit or parade permit is permission granted by a governmental agency for a demonstration to be held in a particular venue at a particular time. Failing to obtain a permit may lead to charges of parading without a permit. The requirement of a permit is sometimes denounced as an infringement of free speech, as permits are denied on spurious grounds or protestors are corralled into free speech zones. Permits are sometimes denied on grounds that the protest will create a security risk. There seems to be evidence that the available venues for protests are shrinking in number; that citizens have experienced increasing difficulty in gaining unrestricted access to them; and that such venues are no longer where most people typically congregate in large numbers. In Washington, DC, the National Park Service Police, U.S. Capitol Police, and Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia have an elaborate permitting system. Many famous people such as Martin Luther King, Jr. have been arrested for protesting without a permit.
Riot police are police who are organized, deployed, trained or equipped to confront crowds, protests or riots.
Militarization of police refers to the use of military equipment and tactics by law enforcement officers. This includes the use of armored personnel carriers, assault rifles, submachine guns, flashbang grenades, grenade launchers, sniper rifles, and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams. The militarization of law enforcement is also associated with intelligence agency-style information gathering aimed at the public and political activists, and a more aggressive style of law enforcement. Criminal justice professor Peter Kraska has defined militarization of police as "the process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model."
A protest itself may at times be the subject of a counter-protest. In such a case, counter-protesters demonstrate their support for the person, policy, action, etc. that is the subject of the original protest. In some cases, these protesters can violently clash.
A counter-protest is a protest action which takes place within the proximity of an ideologically opposite protest. The purposes of counter-protests can range from merely voicing opposition to the objective of the other protest to actively drawing attention from nearby media outlets away from the other protest toward the counter-protestors' cause to actively seeking to disrupt the other protest by conflict of a non-violent or violent nature.
Unaddressed protests may grow and widen into civil resistance, dissent, activism, riots, insurgency, revolts, and political and/or social revolution. Some examples of protests include:
An insurgency is a rebellion against authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents. An insurgency can be fought via counter-insurgency warfare, and may also be opposed by measures to protect the population, and by political and economic actions of various kinds aimed at undermining the insurgents' claims against the incumbent regime. As a concept, insurgency's nature is ambiguous.
The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America. They defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) in alliance with France and others.
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
Anarchism in the United States began in the mid-19th century and started to grow in influence as it entered the American labor movements, growing an anarcho-communist current as well as gaining notoriety for violent propaganda by the deed and campaigning for diverse social reforms in the early 20th century. In the post-World War II era, anarchism regained influence through new developments such as anarcho-pacifism, anarcho-capitalism, the American New Left and the counterculture of the 1960s. In contemporary times, anarchism in the United States influenced and became influenced and renewed by developments both inside and outside the worldwide anarchist movement such as platformism, insurrectionary anarchism, the new social movements and the alterglobalization movements.
A protest can take many forms.The Dynamics of Collective Action project and the Global Nonviolent Action Database are two of the leading data collection efforts attempting to capture protest events. The Dynamics of Collective Action project considers the repertoire of protest tactics (and their definitions) to include:
The Global Nonviolent Action database uses Gene Sharp's classification of 198 methods of nonviolent action. There is considerable overlap with the Dynamics of Collective Action repertoire, although the GNA repertoire includes more specific tactics. Together, the two projects help define tactics available to protesters and document instances of their use.
Abhishek Tiwari (8-B) and Lori Hallhave devised a typology of six broad activity categories of the protest activities described in the Dynamics of Collective Action project.
Some forms of direct action listed in this article are also public demonstrations or rallies.
Written evidence of political or economic power, or democratic justification may also be a way of protesting.
Any protest could be civil disobedience if a "ruling authority" says so, but the following are usually civil disobedience demonstrations:
During a sporting event, under certain circumstances, one side may choose to play a game "under protest", usually when they feel the rules are not being correctly applied. The event continues as normal, and the events causing the protest are reviewed after the fact. If the protest is held to be valid, then the results of the event are changed. Each sport has different rules for protests.
Blogging and social networking have become effective tools to register protest and grievances. Protests can express views, news and use viral networking to reach out to thousands of people. With protests on the rise from the election season of 2016 going into 2017, protesters became aware that using their social media during protest could make them an easier target for government surveillance.
A study of 342 US protests covered by The New York Times newspaper from 1962 to 1990 showed that such public activities usually affected the company's publicly traded stock price. The most intriguing aspect of the study's findings revealed that the amount of media coverage the event received was of the most importance to this study. Stock prices fell an average of one-tenth of a percent for every paragraph printed about the event.
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal of a citizen to obey certain laws, demands, orders or commands of a government or occupying international power. Civil disobedience is sometimes defined as having to be nonviolent to be called civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is sometimes, therefore, equated with nonviolent resistance.
A black bloc is a name given to groups of protesters who wear black clothing, scarves, sunglasses, ski masks, motorcycle helmets with padding, or other face-concealing and face-protecting items. The clothing is used to conceal wearers' identities and hinder criminal prosecution by making it difficult to distinguish between participants. It is also used to protect their faces and eyes from pepper spray, which is used by law enforcement during protests or civil unrest. The tactic allows the group to appear as one large unified mass. Black bloc participants are often associated with anarchism, anti-globalization movement or antifascism.
A social movement is a type of group action. Social movements can be defined as "organizational structures and strategies that may empower oppressed populations to mount effective challenges and resist the more powerful and advantaged elites". They are large, sometimes informal, groupings of individuals or organizations which focus on specific political or social issues. In other words, they carry out, resist, or undo a social change. They provide a way of social change from the bottom within nations.
Civil disorder, also known as civil disturbance or civil unrest, is an activity arising from a mass act of civil disobedience in which the participants become hostile toward authority, and authorities incur difficulties in maintaining public safety and order, over the disorderly crowd. It is, in any form, prejudicial to public law and order.
The Salt March, also known as the Dandi March and the Dandi Satyagraha, was an act of nonviolent civil disobedience in colonial India led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to produce salt from the seawater in the coastal village of Dandi, as was the practice of the local populace until British officials introduced taxation on salt production, deemed their sea-salt reclamation activities illegal, and then repeatedly used force to stop it. The 24-day march lasted from 12 March 1930 to 6 April 1930 as a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly. It gained worldwide attention which gave impetus to the Indian independence movement and started the nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement. Mahatma Gandhi started this march with 78 of his trusted volunteers. Walking ten miles a day for 24 days, the march spanned over 240 miles.
A nonviolent revolution is a revolution using mostly campaigns with civil resistance, including various forms of nonviolent protest, to bring about the departure of governments seen as entrenched and authoritarian. While many campaigns of civil resistance are intended for much more limited goals than revolution, generally a nonviolent revolution is characterized by simultaneous advocacy of democracy, human rights, and national independence in the country concerned. In some cases a campaign of civil resistance with a revolutionary purpose may be able to bring about the defeat of a dictatorial regime only if it obtains a degree of support from the armed forces, or at least their benevolent neutrality.
Contentious politics is the use of disruptive techniques to make a political point, or to change government policy. Examples of such techniques are actions that disturb the normal activities of society such as demonstrations, general strike action, riot, terrorism, civil disobedience, and even revolution or insurrection. Social movements often engage in contentious politics. The concept distinguishes these forms of contention from the everyday acts of resistance explored by James C. Scott, interstate warfare, and forms of contention employed entirely within institutional settings, such as elections or sports. Historical sociologist Charles Tilly defines contentious politics as "interactions in which actors make claims bearing on someone else's interest, in which governments appear either as targets, initiators of claims, or third parties."
Hartal, also bandh, is a term in many South Asian languages for a strike action and was used first during the Indian Independence Movement. A hartal is a mass protest, often involving a total shutdown of workplaces, offices, shops, and courts of law, and a form of civil disobedience similar to a labour strike. In addition to being a general strike, it involves the voluntary closing of schools and places of business. It is a mode of appealing to the sympathies of a government to reverse an unpopular or unacceptable decision. A hartal is often used for political reasons, for example by an opposition political party protesting against a governmental policy or action.
The Honeywell Project was a peace group based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States that existed from the late 1960s until around 1990. During its existence, the organization waged a campaign to convince the board and executives of the Honeywell Corporation to convert their weapons manufacturing business to peaceful production.
A demonstration is action by a mass group or collection of groups of people in favor of a political or other cause or people partaking in a protest against a cause of concern; it often consists of walking in a mass march formation and either beginning with or meeting at a designated endpoint, or rally, to hear speakers. Compare mass meeting.
As an act of protest, occupation is a strategy often used by social movements and other forms of collective social action in order to take and hold public and symbolic spaces, buildings, critical infrastructure such as entrances to train stations, shopping centers, university buildings, squares, and parks. Opposed to a military occupation which attempts to subdue a conquered country, a protest occupation is a means to resist the status quo and advocate a change in public policy. Occupation attempts to use space as an instrument in order to achieve political and economic change, and to construct counter-spaces in which protesters express their desire to participate in the production and re-imagination of urban space. Often, this is connected to the right to the city, which is the right to inhabit and be in the city as well as to redefine the city in ways that challenge the demands of capitalist accumulation. That is to make public spaces more valuable to the citizens in contrast to favoring the interests of corporate and financial capital.
Nonviolent resistance is the practice of achieving goals such as social change through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, satyagraha, or other methods, while being nonviolent. This type of action highlights the desires of an individual or group that feels that something needs to change to improve the current condition of the resisting person or group. It is largely but wrongly taken as synonymous with civil resistance. Each of these terms—nonviolent resistance and civil resistance—has different connotations and commitments.
The Berkeley protests were a series of events at the University of California, Berkeley, and Berkeley, California, in the 1960s. Many of these protests were a small part of the larger Free Speech Movement, which had national implications and constituted the onset of the counterculture era. These protests were headed under the informal leadership of students Mario Savio, Jack Weinberg, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and others.
James Peck was an American activist who practiced nonviolent resistance during World War II and in the Civil Rights Movement. He is the only person who participated in both the Journey of Reconciliation (1947) and the first Freedom Ride of 1961, and has been called a white civil rights hero. Peck advocated nonviolent civil disobedience throughout his life, and was arrested more than 60 times between the 1930s and 1980s.
Repertoire of contention refers, in social movement theory, to the set of various protest-related tools and actions available to a movement or related organization in a given time frame.
Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in social, political, economic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society. Forms of activism range from mandate building in the community, petitioning elected officials, running or contributing to a political campaign, preferential patronage of businesses, and demonstrative forms of activism like rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, or hunger strikes.
Stellan Vinthagen is a professor of sociology, a scholar-activist, and the Inaugural Endowed Chair in the Study of Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Resistance at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he directs the Resistance Studies Initiative. He is also Co-Leader of the Resistance Studies Group at University of Gothenburg and co-founder of the Resistance Studies Network, as well as Editor of the Journal of Resistance Studies, and a Council Member of War Resisters International (WRI), and academic advisor to the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC). His research is focused on resistance, power, social movements, nonviolent action, conflict transformation and social change. He has since 1980 been an educator, organizer and activist in several countries, and has participated in more than 30 nonviolent civil disobedience actions, for which he has served in total more than one year in prison.
Diversity of tactics is a phenomenon wherein a social movement makes periodic use of force for disruptive or defensive purposes, stepping beyond the limits of nonviolence, but also stopping short of total militarization. It also refers to the theory which asserts this to be the most effective strategy of civil disobedience for social change. Diversity of tactics may promote nonviolent tactics, or armed resistance, or a range of methods in between, depending on the level of repression the political movement is facing. It sometimes claims to advocate for "forms of resistance that maximize respect for life".
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