Peaceful Protest

May 1, 2024 • Louie Mantia

“Peaceful protest” is a term for what governments consider a reasonable reaction from people as a response to when a government breaks public trust. What is and isn’t “peaceful” is at the state’s sole discretion, and it’s very flexible. Police (especially in the United States) can and will allow themselves to use force, and they don’t need approval from anyone.

Is there any honor in playing by their rules when they so comfortably do not?

I’m as tired hearing about keeping protests “peaceful” as I am hearing that voting will solve any of this. Don’t stress the importance of voting when the lesser of two evils supports an active genocide.

What Israel is doing to Palestinians is unforgivable. What Russia is doing to Ukrainians is unforgivable. Overturning Roe v. Wade is unforgivable. Violence against transgender people is unforgivable. Police brutality against people of color is unforgivable. Children being gunned down in schools is unforgivable.

These losses are a heavy price to pay for absolutely nothing in return. Our civility, tempered reactions, and pacifism are not rewarded with intervention or positive change of any kind. Our votes are not rewarded with anything.

Even with ceaseless “peaceful” protests, even if the lesser of two evils wins an election—Israel is not being stopped. Russia is not being stopped. As far as I know, there’s been no legislation passed to provide people the right to abortion. Trans people are still being harmed. Police are still killing Black people. Children are still being mass-murdered.

At what point does it seem that “peaceful protests” are not admirable, but—in fact—just the permissible reaction in a world of atrocities by those committing the atrocities?

We stop short of doing what’s necessary.

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