6 thoughts on “Protests and the Political Importance of Public Places

  1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

    Great post. One of my biggest concerns with HF322 is that this proposal effectively transfers sentencing decisions to police. That’s because the police are choosing how much to react (I mean overreact, of course) to these events.

    The classic “Welcome to Mall of America” photo with the line of baton-wielding police comes to mind. Those are the protests where police shut down MOA shops that didn’t want to be shut down.

    The police often deploy their force in a way that is pre-emptively disruptive and costly. It introduces severe conflicts of interest and other grave concerns about ceding power from courts of law to enforcers of law.

  2. cobo Rodreges

    The problem with many large scale protests is how counter productive they are.

    Large profile protests are very unpalatable to people who are in the middle or undecided on the issue at hand, and more angry it is the more likely it will push people against the interest of the protest than win their hearts. Plus it also seems to further galvanize the opposition.

    I’ve talked to a lot of different kinds of people and I think the way the national black lives matter protests plaid out contributed a huge part towards the outcome of the last election.

    I don’t think blocking off roads and disrupting lives is a productive way to win people over.

    Maybe HF322 will help save good causes from them selves.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      With all due respect, I don’t think you have any idea what works with respect to protest and what doesn’t. Progress comes from motivating those who care, not from swaying those who are indifferent.

      People who say they are in the middle or undecided, but were moved away because they couldn’t bear the inconvenience weren’t really in the middle or undecided.

      Anyone who’s outraged by a slowed commute but not innocent unarmed people dying at the hands of the police is probably not someone who can be won over.

    2. Hannah PritchardHannah Pritchard Post author

      From MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963: “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

      What is your suggestion for “good causes” to do? What does “winning people over” without inconveniencing them in the slightest do to advance a cause?

    3. Rosa

      The thing is, we all have a constitutional right to political speech. So it doesn’t really matter if you think it’s a good idea for other people to protest – it’s their constitutional right, and they get to exercise it. A law like this will fail once people take it to court, but it will have already stifled public speech by raising its costs a lot.

  3. Alex

    Great post. The nature of public space and how it is used is an extremely important part of the conversation about land use and transportation.

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