Protesting and Its Evolution: Past Reflections

By Nicholas Perugini, Trending Writer

The United States is a nation that was founded on protest and open civil discourse. From the protests in Boston in the late 1700s, to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, to last year’s Women’s March in Washington DC, open protest has helped transform our nation’s history. Protest not only changed the history of America, but the entire world. It was the protest of the peasants that led to the start of the French Revolution. Eastern Europeans protesting for liberty and the end of communist rule allowed for the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Even recently in 2011 with Arab Spring, protests in the Middle East have changed the governments of Libya, Egypt, and Tunsia.

Throughout history, people have protested for many things like peace, better living conditions, and liberty. Today, people are still searching for those goals. The current protests in Iran and Venezuela are proof that people will continue to take to the streets for reasons they believe in. The reasons for protest have not changed, but the way people organize and protest has evolved.

With the invention of social media and the internet, ideas can spread at faster rates than ever before. There is website that is planning to organize hundreds of protests across the nation if President Donald Trump ends the Special Console investigating his campaign. If the President does end the special investigation, the website plans to mobilize thousands of people in less than 24 hours. This type of planning and speed was unheard of 50 years ago. The famous Selma protest march took over a week to organize and plan. Protesters needed days to organize a successful protest, because if not, things could turn violent.

An unorganized protest, no matter the cause can lead to chaos. An example of this is the Haymarket square riot in Chicago during the 1880s. What started out as a peaceful workers’ strike for better working hours turned deadly when an anarchist threw a bomb at police. The resulting violence left seven police officers killed and at least four civilians dead. While the intention of the workers was reasonable, the poor planning of the protest turned into a disaster.

Today, modern day protesters can avoid this with the use of Social Media. In Tunisia and Egypt, large numbers of citizens were able to meet up at locations with a plan. A much clearer message of the protest can be sent to the world with little confusion. The more organized a protest, the less likely violence will happen.

Large, well-organized protests have the ability to change world history. The past 200 years of history have been shaped by citizens taking to the streets to express opinions. Today, with the help of the internet, protests can become larger and thus have an even larger impact on world affairs.

 

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 13th print edition.

Contact Nicholas at

nicholas.perugini@student.shu.edu

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