Sustained Action: Key in Protesting
Demonstrations and marches have been erupting around the world since President Donald Trump secured the Electoral College victory. The various protests have tackled issues ranging from Trump’s presidential win, to his inauguration, his executive orders, and his promise to “build a wall.”
Jan. 21 saw 5 million people worldwide simultaneously coming together in different cities for The Women’s March movement. Protesters flooded airports, such as the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, in resistance against the detainment of refugees and the executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Last week, 20,000 people marched on Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City to defy the treatment of immigrants by the current administration and the promised wall at the border.
Some protests, like those against Trump’s Inauguration, were never going to enact real change since they could not prevent the president-elect from taking office, while other movements, like the airport demonstrations against Trump’s immigration order, demanded feasible results. Regardless, both of these acts of defiance against the government demonstrate the people’s right to protest, which in and of itself accomplishes the task of sending a message to authority.
However, sending a message to authority is only the mere foundation of protesting. Columbia University professor Dana Fisher expressed what she considered to be key components of a good protest, “There needs to be a representation of the population that's willing to sacrifice their time…people coming out on more than one day…sustained action. You need people to go home and continue to show their dissatisfaction. They need to make it clear they're not going to take it anymore. They need to show politicians that change is required." Demonstrations like those at the airport happened for several days while the Women’s March incited sister protests worldwide. Protests no longer need a specific day like the inauguration or when a controversial executive action is taken; people are willing to take their issues to the streets on any given day. This persistency from protesters across various cities taking action within days of one another ensures that no protest exists as a singular act that could be easily forgotten. Instead, there seems to be “sustained action,” a piling up of protests in which people who want to speak out and be heard on the streets are now becoming a ubiquitous force.
Protesters demand attention and citizens are forced to watch as their voices take over news stations, social media platforms, and everyday conversation. The unity and fierce momentum within all of the different protests allows them to come together as a collective fight against a common denominator: the current political administration. At each demonstration, protesters are individually fighting for a number of different causes, and yet they stand or march together in solidarity against something (or someone) they perceive as a common enemy. This power from the people, manifested in their protests, has been going on for months since Trump became the president-elect, speaking to Fisher’s point about “sustained action”.