opinion   |   column

Don’t underestimate the power of protest



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Gavin Everett of the Bloomington Comission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs speaks at the #FamiliesBelongTogether rally Saturday morning outside the Monroe County Courthouse.   Matt Begala Buy Photos

I was walking through downtown Bloomington on Saturday and saw a small protest happening outside of the Monroe County Correctional Center. It was apparently a follow-up to the much larger one organized by the Monroe County Democratic Party outside of the county’s courthouse earlier that morning. 

According to those who attended the first rally, there was an attendance of nearly 300 people and a lineup of speakers. 

They were rallying to talk about and show their disaffection with the Immigration Customs Enforcement. 

People of all ages held signs, chanted in unison and listened intently to what the speakers said. 

In the evening they were beating on drums, pans and other objects to gather attention from people passing by. They hung one banner with the slogan "Melt ICE" and another asking passersby to honk their cars if they agreed with the cause. I was rather surprised at how many cars honked in the short amount of time I was near the rally, which got me thinking of why more people did not attend. 

Maybe they just did a poor job of getting the word out, but ultimately I think people need to take better advantage of these sorts of rallies.

Admittedly, I have never truly attended a rally. I do not affiliate myself with the Democratic Party, however, I did learn quite a lot from seeing these rallies unfold this weekend. 

Protests, marches and rallies are fundamental to the foundation of this country, and they should be given more credit. More people should make it a point to attend a rally if they believe it represents a cause with which they agree.

These types of events can be an excellent use of civil disobedience and one of the most direct ways to voice the opinion of the public.

Even the morning rally with nearly 300 attendees is surprising to me — I would expect more people to attend something of that sort in the city of Bloomington, an overwhelmingly Democratic city. 

Protests and rallies are perfect opportunities to spark debate instead of being left in a state of ‘dead dogma,’ quietly listening to our representatives and government officials. If you disagree with something our government is doing, then speak up about it. There is great power in numbers and, by joining protests and rallies, you can help create a change.

Sometimes they make direct change. For instance in 1989 the Conservative government of the United Kingdom realized its desire for a flat-rate poll tax in Britain. Afterward people protested and refused to pay the tax, and almost immediately, the government abolished the tax, giving the people what they wanted.

Similarly, protests are exactly what has brought the largest changes to society — most notably the expansion of civil rights over the course of all of American history. 

This is not to say that protests always work or always work quickly, but they’re a way to make change in one way or another. 

Rallies like this are not even solely for speaking our opinion to our representatives, but to also show each other that we are not alone — that there are plenty of other people out there who share the same views as you do.

Go to rallies and protests that have purposes with which you agree to show yourself how accompanied you are in your beliefs. Similarly, if you already feel rather accompanied, then attend to show others that they’re not alone. 

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