Even when the person charged with upholding the Constitution says “it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters.”
Or when state legislators attempt to silence Americans through legislation that criminalizes free speech.
Or when law enforcement tries to intimidate peaceful protestors.
Or whenimmigrant activists are harassed or detainedfor supporting their families.
Or when women are arrestedfor standing up for their human rights.
Or when the government is caught spying on Black Lives Matters activists.
Or when whistleblowers are scapegoated.
Or when they disparage protesters as paid professionals.
A historic level of activism and protest has come to define this era. A recent survey found one in five Americans either protested in the streets or attended a political rally since early 2016, with 19 percent having never done so before. It is proving to be the ultimate disrupter in an age of disruption.
Americans turn to protest because it works. Whether fighting for civil rights, women’s suffrage, or to improve workplace conditions, America’s robust tradition of free speech and dissent offers a powerful retort to the forces trying to preserve the status quo. It serves as a democratic megaphone amplifying the voices that seek to upend existing policies and conditions that are inconsistent with our values.
Protest raises the political stakes for policymakers to make better decisions. That’s why thousands of students protesting gun violence walked out of schools, and teachers in West Virginia, Arizona, North Carolina, and Kentucky organized sick outs and strikesto demand a living wage.
It is why over two million people locked up in America’s prisons participated in what is being called the country’s largest prison strike. Prisoners pledged to conduct work stoppages, hunger strikes, and spending boycotts for nearly two weeks in the hopes of improving their living conditions. Early reports indicate that some prison systems responded by updating polices that have not changed in decades.
Americans of all backgrounds and political viewpoints agree that efforts to crackdown on protest, which is fundamental to our democracy, are a blatant assault on our way of life. Our right to protest is rooted in the First Amendment, which safeguards protest even when, and especially when, it disrupts tranquility and challenges the powerful’s grip on our country’s institutions. And it is under attack by forces that want to you to feel afraid, powerless and silent on issues that matter to you.
And it is why we must keep protesting.
Support an organization that has defended our right to protest for nearly six decades.