What is it?
Protests are public gatherings that show power and collective outrage.
People organise protests when they are frustrated with decisions that have been made for them, usually without them.
They can be incredibly inspiring as you feel part of a much bigger collective who are all acting together to make a noise about an issue and demand change.
There are many different types of protect including:
How do you do it?
A protest is called when there is a specific target, institution or person you would like to demand something from.
You might have a protest to demand a change of legislation or to call for the resignation of someone who has caused harm. There may have been something in the news about your issue that has caused anger and upset – a protest can be called to raise awareness of the issue and show the world that people care.
For example, in 2017 women were angry that, despite a history of alleged sexual violence, Trump was elected as the US President. They organised global protests to show the world that sexual violence is wrong. In 2015, people angry with the ineffectual response by European governments to the refugee crisis led to mass marches in cities across the region.
There are some things to consider before calling a protest:
- What is your demand and who are you asking?
- Why are you specifically calling this protest, and how do you connect to the groups that are directly affected?
- Is a protest legal in your country / city / town? Sometimes you may need to inform authorities or police to avoid risking arrest for organising it.
- How do you plan to protect people who may be disproportionately targeted by the police? Think about calling legal observers, like the Black & Green Cross in the UK.
- Who else is working on this issue? Have you considered reaching out to them to organise this protest together?
- Where do you want to hold the protest? If the land is privately owned its owners may be able to have protestors removed by police or security.
- Is the location, date and time of the protest accessible? Think about people living with disabilities, working people, single parents.
It is important to note that not everyone is treated the same way at protests due to their privilege or lack of it. Black people, people of colour, migrant people are more likely to be targeted by the police during protests. This can lead to distressing and life-changing consequences if they are arrested. So make sure you consider everyone’s safety when organising your protest.
Why and when should you use it?
Protest is a great tool to show our collective strength. You should use it once you have a clear demand for a specific target, and you are confident you can attract enough support for your issue.
Protests can also take place as a fast reaction to an event or a political decision that has provoked particular outrage. In this case, the preparation time is usually very short and organisers need to be well-connected and reactive.
Works best in combination with:
Lobby meetings which can be used to show you have tried different tactics to affect change, also press releases and community meetings can help you reach out to more people and plan your protest well.