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Peaceful protests; sparking change around the world

by The Stylus
Thu, Feb 6th 2020 04:00 pm
Protests have been around for centuries to bring people with the same ideologies together to voice their opinions but in the modern day not everyone
needs to be present. Photo Credit: Collin Krassowski/ Editorial Cartoonist
Protests have been around for centuries to bring people with the same ideologies together to voice their opinions but in the modern day not everyone needs to be present. Photo Credit: Collin Krassowski/ Editorial Cartoonist

Around the world people look to change the opinions of others to match their own views, and in order to persuade others to join them in their thoughts there must be a movement of some kind. A movement doesn’t have to be an act of violence, it can be anything. 

People can choose from a variety of options to get their voice heard; they can form groups with people who share the same opinions, many of which come in the form of a protest or demonstration. It is common at universities to hold protests in some form. 

Protests provide an outlet for the emotions people may be feeling, and it provides a group of people who feel the same — it shows that they are not alone in their feelings. In an age of social media, it is easier for people to connect, and it plays a large role in different movements like Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and Climate Strike. 

With the exception of the protest in Hong Kong, many of the more modern protests are in the form of peaceful demonstrations. The College at Brockport has many demonstrations on campus, and we at The Stylus fully support students’ right to exercise the First Amendment. 

The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” 

As citizens of the United States, we are allowed to assemble to voice our grievances. In numbers we have strength, and when we come together to fight for a cause it can be changed, but it can also be ignored. 

There are problems that come with being ignored. Like in Hong Kong, a once peaceful protest can turn violent at any point — it’s up to both sides to determine the outcome. If one side becomes violent, there is a choice to be made; retaliate with the same violence or take the high-road and continue to keep the peace. 

Brockport made use of peaceful protest when former Chief Diversity Officer Cephas Archie, Ph.D., was released from his position. Students gathered to collectively voice their concerns and ask for some truth behind the situation. The students also took to social media to share personal anecdotes of how Archie had changed their lives for the better. 

Students utilized social media by live-streaming the protest and gained local news coverage. By using live-stream, people are able to connect with others across the globe. 

Unfortunately, not all protests produce this outcome, and that puts a damper on many protests throughout the world — to some it may seem hopeless. There is also a belief that protests do nothing in the long run and deem them unnecessary or a danger to those around them. 

This is not the case for many protests. In the long-run, there have been many changes in history due to protests and movements. The Women’s Movement was a big turning point in history where women were granted the rights of men. 

The Boston Tea Party is another example of a protest that caused no harm but was ultimately successful. It may have resulted in the American Revolution, but the protest itself was peaceful. A better example of peaceful protest with a good outcome is the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation. Though they did not get their full rights, they started a chain reaction for years to come. 

Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most well known speakers and activists. His “I Have a Dream” speech in 1993 was supported by over 200,000 people. They gathered in protest of racial inequalities that kept African Americans from having the same rights as white citizens. 

People all over the world utilize protests, demonstrations and movements to change how the world is. All forms of protest generate from one thought, one person, and become something bigger through time and action. 

If people stay silent, change will not be made, and if people believe in what they are protesting those words need to be heard. Fear, false beliefs and stigma should not restrict someone from fighting for what they believe in. 

We at The Stylus believe that everyone should have the right to express their concerns and exercise their First Amendment rights. The fundamental right to protest benefits everyone in an open and free society, regardless of belief or ideology. 

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
Staff Photographer

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