Why We Protest

Written by: Brynne E. Hardman
Grand Strand Action Together

September 26, 2021

According to Webster’s Dictionary, “protest” is something said or done that shows disagreement with or disapproval of something. There are many people today who don’t understand why we protest to make change. I am here to give you some background on the amazing outcomes of protesting in the past and why we still protest today.

Protesting has been a part of this world for a long period of time. We can date all the way back to the Boston Tea Party on December 16th, 1773. You may have learned about this protest in your history class. The Boston Tea Party was an act of rebellion by the American colonists against the British. The American colonists were unfairly taxed by the British. What did they do may you ask? They protested. There were 60 men who disguised themselves as Native Americans and threw 342 chests (92,000 pounds) of tea in the Boston Harbor. The British punished these men, but you know what that led to? The First Continental Congress in 1774 and this led to the American Revolution. The American Revolution ended in 1783 when the British acknowledged the colonists’ independence.

In the 60’s, the New York Police Department harassed people in gay bars quite often. One morning, police officers raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich village and the members of the LGBTQ+ community had enough of the harassment and discrimination. They decided to do something about it. Protests began that morning and continued for 6 days. This led to inspiration for the LGBTQ+ community and their brave actions still affect us to this day. Previous to the Stonewall Riots, there were no legal protections for the LGBTQ community. Actually, being gay was listed as a mental illness in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual until 1952. Sadly, this does not surprise me. Since the ‘90s, the Supreme Court has established lots of landmarks that have put protections in place for and removed discriminatory laws against the LGBTQ community.

Now let’s move on to recent times; In May of 2021, there was a man named George Floyd who was killed by a police officer. If you haven’t heard his name or his story, you have been living under a rock. His murder sparked the largest racial justice movement since the Civil Rights Movement. On May 25, police officers in Minneapolis arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after an employee from a convenience store called 911 and told the police that George Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene. George Floyd pinned to the ground and not showing signs of life. There was video evidence of this situation. This tragedy sparked a movement like you would never imagine. There have been nonstop protests about police brutality and these protests have opened the eyes of the world.

These are just a few protests that influenced our world today and protests will always be a part of how we make change in this cruel world. When you are one little person in a population of 7.9 billion people, it can be difficult to wrap your head around the change that can be made from a sign stating how the world should be. Now let me get back to the point. So what’s the point?

Raise Awareness

The first step in making change is forcing people to turn and look. By protesting, you automatically are drawing attention to your issue and what you want to be changed. Think about it; if you saw a group of people with signs of what they believe in, would you read it? Most likely, you would. It’s hard to not look at something you aren’t familiar with.

The More, The Merrier!

Which would be better for this world; one person being kind or every single person? It would be better if everyone was kind, right? Just like with protesting. Hundreds of people standing up for what they believe in is better than just one. More change is made when there are more people doing all they can to change the world. Strength comes in numbers.
Holds Accountability

With most protests, there is someone with more power who made a bad decision or a group of people that are being selfish. When holding accountability for those who are in power, it creates a space for those in power to acknowledge the decisions they make.

Start the Debate

It is difficult to change if there is not a debate because there is always someone with opposing beliefs as you.

Creates Community

It’s always nice to know that you are not alone in your beliefs and it’s actually empowering to surround yourself with like-minded individuals. If you go to a protest you can discuss the best ways to make change and just spread love.
Promotes a Democratic System
According to Webster’s Dictionary, a democratic system of government is a form of government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodic free elections. I would like to highlight something very important in this definition; “supreme power is vested in the people”. Let me emphasize that for you. “SUPREME POWER IS INVESTED IN THE PEOPLE”. Protesting is a prime example of protesting. When we protest, we exercise our right as people in a democracy.

What should be gathered from all this information? If you want to make change, protest. Standing up for what you believe in is something that you are taught when you were a little kid. Protests should be about the greater good, justice, and equality. Believe that you, a little speck in this ginormous world CAN make a difference.

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