Protests Cause Americans to Take Notice

Protests Cause Americans to Take NoticeProtests Cause Americans to Take Notice

The most dramatic development in the United States in recent months was the sustained nationwide protests against two related events: the deaths of several African-American men and teenagers at the hands of police, and the decisions by the judicial system not to prosecute anyone for the deaths, Agence Global reported.

Local protests across the country have gone on in different forms for several months now, and many ethnicities have participated in the movement that broadly marches under the banners of “Ferguson Action,” “Don’t Shoot!,” “Black Lives Matter,” and other coordinating groups.

The names of dead African-Americans like Michael Brown and Eric Garner resonated across a country that was not witnessing only a spontaneous expression of anger, vulnerability and self-assertion by African-Americans who feel that they are unfairly monitored, targeted, detained, frisked, arrested and occasionally killed by predominantly White police forces.

 Fear Persists

This situation touches the fears of many more Americans, who see what appeared to them as a dysfunctional or prejudiced judicial system that allowed deaths of young Black men at the hands of police to pass without any judicial proceedings to discover if the police were acting illegally, unprofessionally or unethically. The status quo seemed to endanger young black men in the first instance, but many other Americans sense they would be losers also if they, too, do not enjoy the safeguards of the rule of law and an equitable justice system.

  Disrupting Normal Life

Community-based, locally-organized and largely spontaneous protest movements used street demonstrations and other non-violent actions to disrupt normal life in order to bring attention to the issues at hand. There are qualitative differences in the current protests from previous ones. They had learned from the short-lived Occupy Wall Street protests of two years ago that they had to prepare ahead of time in order to be able to maintain longer and more effective protests.

The tactic of peaceful marches that sought to disrupt normal life — like briefly closing the Brooklyn Bridge in New York or the metropolitan transport system in San Francisco — seeks to disrupt “business as usual” for people far away from the deaths of young Blacks, so that they “feel the pain and trauma,” and grasp that a crisis is happening in the lives of Black people that cannot continue.

 Again and Again

Among activists the emphasis was on non-violent civil action and street protests, how to act when confronted by police, what information to gather when arrested, and how to communicate with others. The training reflected the point that some activists mentioned, about working hard to make it safe and sustainable for protestors to make their point in the streets, and then to move beyond street action for national political, judicial and policing changes. Only such structural changes can fix the deeper endemic problems of poverty, education, unofficial segregation, a prison culture and others that allow the state to use violence against Black bodies, they said. The recent deaths will happen again and again if nothing is done, they argued.