KEY COMPONENTS OF SUCCESSFUL SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

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"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Protesting Wall Street Without Permission!



Wall Street Demonstrations Test Police Trained for Bigger Threats
September 26, 2011
When groups have permits, “the department is pretty accommodating when it comes to street marches,” said Christopher T. Dunn, associate legal director for the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“If you have a permit, the police will accommodate for things like diverting traffic,” Mr. Browne [police spokesman] said. “If you take a street for a parade or protest without a permit, you are subject to arrest.” 

The organizers of this protest DID NOT get a permit.  During the march, the police decided that the protesters had interrupted traffic enough and started to contain people and arrest those who didn't move fast enough.  Three women were pepper sprayed and this was captured on video from several angles.

....Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr., chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, said that in the video clips he had seen, the use of pepper spray “didn’t look good,” although Mr. Vallone cautioned that he wanted to know if any interactions had occurred between the officers and the women in the minutes before pepper spray was used. 
“If no prior verbal command was given and disobeyed, then the use of spray in that instance is completely inappropriate,” Mr. Vallone said. On Monday, several Web sites identified the supervising officer who used the pepper spray as Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, a longtime commander in Manhattan. Like a number of other officers, Inspector Bologna is a defendant in lawsuits claiming wrongful arrests at protests staged during the Republican National Convention in 2004..

It seems to me that asking permission to march or protest in some instances has taken the teeth out of the bite of nonviolent resistance (NVR).  My understanding from listening to Civil Rights veterans like Bruce Hartford, is that NVR should be designed and implemented to
  1. dramatize an injustice
  2. build community and/or
  3. attain the sympathy of a wider audience
One of the interesting by-products of this march in NYC was that it did what many of the actions during the Civil Rights acts did.  It dramatized the injustice of the system by provoking the police to act in a way that very briefly revealed their capacity to use force arbitrarily.  This happened because the activists gave notice of their march or sit-in BUT HAD NOT ASKED PERMISSION and remained nonviolent when the police or thugs attacked them.

But was this march part of a larger strategy? If not, it doesn't seem likely to create a movement. A March is not a Movement.

The reason NOT to get a permit to march, picket or sit-in (kneel-in, pray-in, lie-in, piss-in et al) is because you want to get arrested and or beaten.  Jail-no-Bail was a tactic during the Civil Rights Movement used to dramatize the injustice of the law--e.g., segregation-- being broken (as well as to impose economic pressure (having the state house and feed a huge number of protesters).  In Nashville (1960), the well dressed college students who were beaten and then arrested outraged the middle class black onlookers.  These bystanders were provoked by what they saw to join in a boycott of downtown stores.  The sit-ins launched a movement, allowed the protests to grow and escalate over time.  I am wondering how these protesters have planned or are planning how to escalate and grow from this opportunity of "police misconduct."

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