A Look at The Productive But Non Violent Way of Picketing

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Words: 1577 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Dec 12, 2018

Words: 1577|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Dec 12, 2018

There has been a great deal of controversy over which protest strategies are the most successful in creating change. While many think that violent protests are the most successful as they garner more attention in the media due to their violent nature, nonviolent and peaceful civil resistance is more successful. Although media attention is key to accelerating a campaign, peaceful protests still receive a great deal of media attention. Civil resistance occurs when a group of people use nonviolent resistance to protest an idea, law, government, or action. Peaceful protesting, such as hunger strikes, sit ins, marches, and civil resistance have been proven to be the most successful form of protest. Nonviolent civil resistance is the most successful form of protesting to create change because it cannot be repressed easily by government force, it is inclusive, and it has higher success rates in creating change compared to violent protests. Peaceful protests like the Kent State Vietnam protest had the potential to be very effective if it were not for violent government response and the Arab Spring uprising did become more powerful because of violent government response. Many successful campaigns and movements such as the Haitian Rebellion and the Montgomery Bus Boycott were both successful protests that lead to social and political change for many Afro-Haitians and African Americans. The effectiveness of nonviolent civil resistance can be seen in these cases.

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Throughout history, there have been many occasions of the government using violence as a means to attain a certain goal. Whether it be in a war or in the streets to silence the masses, governments have killed and injured thousands and thousands of nonviolent protesters. While it works at the time, violent suppression of nonviolent campaign by the government is not effective as it often backfires. This is illustrated in the Kent State University shooting of 1970 and the Arab Spring uprising. On May 4, 1970 at Kent State University in Ohio, around 2,000 students gathered to peacefully protest The United States of America’s participation in the Vietnam War. National Guard troops fired at the protesters, killing 4 and injuring 9. The government of the United States received a lot of backlash because of this and their repression of the Kent State protest and the murder of innocent and unarmed students led to student strikes, the closing of more than 450 campuses nationwide, mass demonstrations and riots around the country. While it is not often that government officials violently respond to peaceful protests, it does occasionally happen and very rarely do citizens turn a blind eye to it. It is a lot more controversial for government officials to violently repress a peaceful protest than a violent protest. It is understandable for government officials to try to put an end to a violent protest as it poses a threat to the safety of innocent civilians, however, peaceful protests do not pose a threat to anyone’s safety as there is no violence being used towards anyone or anything.

Another significant example of a government experiencing backfire after repressing nonviolent protesters is the Arab Spring. While citizens were successfully able to overthrow Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak through protesting, the citizens of Syria were not as successful. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad responded to the peaceful protest by murdering and incarcerating demonstrators. The repression of Syrian demonstrators by the Syrian government has not put their movement to an end, but rather it has strengthened and intensified it (Chenoweth, 2011). This intensification of a nonviolent campaign backfires on the government as they did not reach their goal, which was to repress the citizens and hold them back from spreading knowledge to create change. While one could argue that nonviolent protest is effective as government repression is rarely successful and almost always backfires on the government, it is also effective due to its strong capability of gaining participants.

Many could argue that without the participation of people within a protest or movement, there is no protest or movement. This is true as when it comes to a protest or movement, the quantity of campaign participation is crucial in determining its outcome (Weinstein, 2007). Chenoweth and Stephan looked at participation in violent and nonviolent campaigns. The data showed that the average nonviolent campaign had about 200,000 participants whereas the average violent campaign had around 5,000 participants (Chenoweth & Stephan, 2013: 32-33). This means that for every violent campaign participant, there would be forty nonviolent campaign participants. Campaigns require many participants for their knowledge, resources, and their drive to support the resistance and recruit more support. There are many reasons behind why nonviolent protests garner more support than violent protests, but it all boils down to risk. When it comes to violent protest, one may ask: does the end justify the means? Is using violence and putting oneself at risk in getting into trouble with the law or getting hurt worth the cause? While some may say yes, most would say no. This is why violent protests often do not have as many participants as non violent protests (Denardo, 2016: 58). Another reason why nonviolent protests have more participants than violent protests are [1] because of the physical demands of violent campaigns. Oftentimes, joining a violent campaign requires physical abilities such as endurance, agility, isolation from society, and potentially, willingness to use a gun (Chenoweth & Stephan, 2013: 35). Not everyone has those abilities, wants to have those abilities, or has time to gain those abilities. It requires less physical ability to participate in a nonviolent protest than a violent protest which makes it feasible for people in demographics who would not generally participate in a protest if it were violent, such as, women and elderly people (Chenoweth & Stephan, 2013: 35). Other groups that may choose to participate in a nonviolent campaign before a violent campaign include: people with disabilities, youth, and parents and their children as they are more accessible and require less physical effort. Nonviolent protest is effective when there are many participants and they have higher success rates than violent protests

All campaigns have one thing in common: a goal. More often than not, their goal is to have some sort of change. Popular types of change include political, economical, social, and environmental change. Nonviolent campaigns have a higher success rates in creating change compared to violent protests. The number of participants in a campaign increases the likelihood of success (Howes, 2013:434). Because nonviolent campaigns have on average, forty times more participants than violent campaigns (Chenoweth & Stephan, 2013: 32-33), nonviolent campaigns have a greater probability of being more successful than violent campaigns. Many successful nonviolent campaigns illustrate why nonviolence works to create change. One of the most successful nonviolent campaigns to date is the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804). This slave rebellion was the only successful one in America’s history and arguably led to the abolition of slavery (Blackmon, 2008). Not only were the slaves successful in gaining their freedom but, they also found the sovereign state of Haiti and became America’s second independent state (Taber, 2015). Another successful nonviolent protest is the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56). The civil rights movement in the 1950s led to the overthrow of the racist Jim Crow laws which deprived African Americans of many liberties that white Americans had. Montgomery’s African American population refused to use public transportation to draw attention to the racial segregation and inequality they were facing. The boycotts ended with the Alabama court ruling racial segregation as unlawful (Morris, 2015). These examples of nonviolent protests succeeding to create social change, illustrate how effective nonviolent protest has been in the past. To this day, nonviolent protest is still effective. Many movements such as the Occupy movement and the Women’s March are all examples of effective nonviolent campaigns. They have both garnered much support due to their legitimate views and nonviolent nature. Coupled with not being easily repressed by government force and being inclusive, nonviolent civil disobedience is the most successful protest strategy.

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In the debate over which protest tactics are the most effective, it boils down to nonviolent and violent protesting. While violent protest gets a considerable amount of media attention, it is usually because violence makes for sensational headlines and media stories, which gets views and ratings. Nonviolent protest still gets a lot of media attention which helps in mobilizing participants. Nonviolent civil resistance occurs when a group of people use nonviolent resistance to protest an idea, law, government, or action. Nonviolent civil resistance is the most successful form of protesting to create change because it cannot be repressed easily by government force, it is inclusive, and it has higher success rates in creating change compared to violent protests. Nonviolent resistance has been effective since the 1800s slave rebellion and it has created social change for many groups seeking change and continues to do so today. Nonviolent movements such as the Occupy movement and the Women’s March have gained a lot of support from many people in different demographics. Tese movements are very inclusive and seek to include people of all genders, races, religions, and sexes. Their inclusiveness and strong legitimate views reflect why they gain such great support. Within a constantly changing world, there are always new issues coming up[2] and there is always a seek for social, economical political, and most recently, environmental change. Nonviolent civil disobedience will forever serve as the most effective protest tactic in terms of creating a change.

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A Look at the Productive But Non Violent Way of Picketing. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from
“A Look at the Productive But Non Violent Way of Picketing.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018,
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