I have been musingTM for some time that what we need is a new way to protest. One of the problems, I think, is the fact that is so much easier to arrange a mass protest now than it used to be - with email, text messages, posts on internet boards, etc., it is just easier to arrange large groups of people in one place. Consequently, any one protest doesn't seem as meaningful any more. The March on Washington for example had 250,000 people, and was HUGE by the standards of the time. Now, in the age of Million Man Marches, etc, that number seems smaller.
Similarly, with the abilty to generate auto-emails, blast faxes, etc., a technological protest to a Representative or Senator's office is just as likely to be ignored.
This is why this article from the Boston Phoenix caught my attention. A group of anti-war protesters in Maine have met with what seems to be quite a bit of success using an old form of protest: essentially, the sit down strike.
In December 2004, 13 anti-war activists gathered in Senator Susan Collins’s office in Portland, Maine. They read the names of American soldiers who had died in the Iraq war, as well as an equal number of Iraqi civilians who had died. They occupied Collins’s office for roughly four hours and, before leaving, they asked the senator to hold a "town meeting" to discuss the war with her constituents.
Gagnon based FVP on the 1930s General Motors sit-down strikes conducted by United Auto Workers in Flint, Michigan. That movement is recognized in activist circles as one of the most important labor strikes in American history, because it was the first time workers seized control of a building from the inside, rather that simply picketing on the outside. The Flint strikes also influenced the civil disobedience used by various protesters in the ’50s and ’60s. Maine’s FVP organizers understand that it belongs to a long, effective tradition of protest.
If they don’t get a commitment to a town meeting, or a reasonable promise of one, they make phone calls, send letters, and write e-mails, several times a month, over and over and over, repeating the request. They apply frequent, pointed pressure.
Spring 2006: Guest Bloggers!
Rishi | Scott | Emily
Echan | Robert | ToastyKen