Successful Protests

Watching Lewisburg’s Occupy Wall Street protests this weekend I couldn’t help but compare it other recent protests that I’ve witnessed.  Last Fall in London I got a front row seat to watch the British university students protest the increases in university fees – they literally marched down the street in front of my window.  Traditionally British universities were free to students who were accepted but recently Parliament passed legislation that allowed universities to charge fees (tuition).  As an American who is used to this, particularly a Bucknellian who pays over $50,000 a year, I thought they were overreacting.  The fees were in the ballpark of like £6,000 a year to attend Oxford.  Despite my misgivings, the protests actually started gaining momentum, until they turned violent.

In more than one instance, what were supposed to be peaceful rallies turned into angry mobs.  They looted, attacked police vehicles, and even attacked Prince Charles and his wife.  The violence was initiated by a small group of anarchists who weren’t even students. But once they provided a spark, the huge crowds of protesters fell victim to the mob mentality and all hell broke loose.  Dozens of people were arrested and the legitimacy of the protest was compromised effectively ending any hope they had of getting the university fees revoked.

As of now, I haven’t heard of any of the Occupy Wall Street protests getting violent.  This is a relief because history has shown that nothing ends a protest more quickly than outbursts of violence eroding a movement’s credibility.  As long as the Occupy Wall Street movement remains peaceful and focused, it may well achieve some financial reforms, particularly if it continues to grow at its current rate.

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6 Responses to Successful Protests

  1. jwhite17 says:

    The problem that I have with the current protests is that they are unfocused, and the protesters motives are too diffuse to create any real change. I don’t feel that being nonviolent should be the metric by which we measure whether or not a protest is effectual, rather whether or not the protests bring about any change. As it stands, I don’t think that any substantial reforms will come from these protests. This isn’t to say that the movement doesn’t have the potential to bring about change, but there needs to be a change in their methods if they want to bring about reform.

  2. ChrisB says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Violence Not only turns potential sympathetic people away but also gives governments a legitimate excuse to go in and shut down a protest, with force if necessary. I think a good example of non-violent protests that had a huge impact on our society is the Civil Rights movement. Leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. urged non-violent protests as a way to get their message across. Nothing looks worse to the public than a police officer dragging or beating a passive protestor who isn’t even fighting back.

  3. meganm423 says:

    I agree that protests should never turn violent, but my understanding is that there has been some outbursts of violence regarding the OWS movement. I believe some outburts occurred between police and protesters when protesters were getting too rough with them. I do think this is a small sect of a predominately peaceful group of people. Let’s just hope as the movement grows and if they are not seeing the outcome they are hoping for they do not result to violence out of frustration.

  4. katiebaum13 says:

    I agree with all that has been said so far. The main weakness that the OWS movement has is the lack of focus and a common belief in which they are trying to fight for. Every protester has their own agenda with a different situation, and they are not coming together to protest a common belief. I feel that unless the movement becomes more focused and have a common objective, I feel that the movement will not be able to make any changed that will make an impact.

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