Black Lives Matter protesters found experienced allies in the streets of Philadelphia this Tuesday as Occupy protesters, climate change activists, and other disenfranchised liberals joined their march. Protesters worked together, taking turns chanting for one cause and then another, during the Democratic Convention week. According to The Washington Times, whites outnumbered black protesters at the BLM march as thousands of white activists found solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, celebrating its fifth birthday this month, is accessing results and seeking new innovative ideas that may eventually achieve their goals. While the group’s co-founders seek new methods, the Occupy organization members were out in force at the Democratic Convention with their elaborate presentations. Occupy activists worked hard to ensure a unified front among the protesters, embracing all other causes no matter how great or small with respect and solidarity.
Black Lives Matter recently suffered a tremendous blow to their organization when their peaceful protest was interrupted by gunfire in Dallas, taking the lives of five police officers. Occupy was also shaken by the atrocity and is seriously considering whether street protests are worth the risks. How effective is this mode of protest anyway?
The Occupy Wall Street co-founder, Micah White, had been weighing this question for many months, even before the Dallas shooting. Micah has written a book entitled, The End of Protest:A New Playbook for Revolution. Free downloads of the book are available. In a recent blog post on Occupy Wall Street, the activist expressed his doubts about the future of protests. As society has failed to change much in the past five years, White wonders how to make changes that matter.
“Who will march in the streets now that in the best of cases it achieves nothing and in the worst of cases it is used as a cover for lone-wolf terrorism? This is the end of protest. Either we gain sovereignty through an armed insurrection that devolves into martial law, or we gain sovereignty by building an electoral social movement capable of sweeping the people into power… nihilism or optimism. I’m on the side of optimism.”
Many Black Lives Matter protesters have embraced Jill Stein as their candidate as a result of meeting her and marching with her, according to The Washington Times. Jill marched with Black Lives Matter Tuesday night. She took the time to speak with protesters, showing concern for black issues that matter to the group.
Occupy Wall Street leadership is beginning to realize this struggle for economic and racial equality will not be resolved by a single election. One of Micah White’s book revelations includes a rather distressing epiphany.
“We must re-conceive protest in timescales of centuries, not days.”
Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, and hundreds of climate change organizations use massive street protests to gain attention, but is it effective? While Micah White is a bit disappointed with the results so far, Penn State recently entered a scholarly article from their psychology department that was far more optimistic about the results of protests.
“I believe that the peaceful protests are bringing meaning to their cause and getting the attention of lawmakers and people in charge. Every day I see more athletes and celebrities speaking up about various issues in regards to all the recent protests.”
Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street have a lot of work to do, but they have an advantage right now above most established movements and institutions. They have found unity among their peers. By combining efforts with other groups, working to raise awareness, and an effort to participate in the existing political system, they will continue to be a force to bring about change, even if it takes more time than previously estimated.
Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, along with many other traditional protest organizations, will continue to seek better lives for all of us, together.
[Photo by John Minchillo/AP Images]