Ten days ago, on May 25, George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis Police officers. This has been a watershed event, rocking the country to its core and even the world. Peaceful protests here and intentionally continue to this day. There has been considerable rioting as well in cities big and small. I wrote last weekend about the danger rioting poses to this movement for justice. Today I want to talk about its opposite: the beauty and power of mass protest.
On Sunday, May 31, a veritable sea of people marched across the Hennepin Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis demanding “No Bail!” for Derek Chauvin, the police officer who pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The huge crowd was a breathtaking sight, a stunning example of the immense power people can have in peaceful mass demonstration. There is no way these marchers can be maligned as “THUGS.” There’s no way they can be easily dismissed or discounted, especially if this form mass protest is emulated across the land.
This is how political space is staked out, defended and expanded.
The anti-Vietnam War movement showed the power of determined, organized, sustained and peaceful mass protest. It took years, but national marches of a half million or more, combined with relentless local actions, shifted public opinion against the war and forced the United States government to finally back down. It worked then and it can work now.
These news reports provide a glimpse of the May 31st protest.
Critical to winning the fight against racism and police violence is joint action in solidarity with any and all allies, here and internationally. Mass peaceful protest invites more participation — more mass!
CNN has reported protests in Britain, Germany, France, Denmark, Italy, Syria, Brazil, Mexico, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Poland and Australia. Wikipedia lists protests in Auckland, Barcelona, Berlin, Brisbane, Calgary, Copenhagen, Dublin, Lagos, Liberia, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe, London, Montreal, Paris, Perth, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Vancouver, Athens and Thessaloniki. ABC News has reported a candlelight vigil in Iran.
This is the strength and impact of peaceful mass action.
Title image: Public Domain by Matthew T. Rader. [License]
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