Demonstrations, Protests, Marches
Demonstrations, protests, marches. Those three words have been on my mind since August 9, 2014 when Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. I admit that I have not yet gotten over Juror B37 in George Zimmerman’s case referring to peaceful protests as “riots.”
Times have changed, and most people may not know or remember why there is a difference in the words.
The citizens of Ferguson, Missouri were protesting and demonstrating. They were protesting because the name of the police officer had not been released and that he was not arrested. However, they were also demonstrating. They demonstrated against police harassment, injustice, and a system that oppresses, denies, and violates, their civil rights. They were demonstrating against the system that Darren Wilson freely used to take the life of an unarmed 18-year old and protesting because the system appears to be protecting Wilson.
What happened next is that law enforcement turned protests and demonstrations into marches. If the people did not want to do anything other than march, they were arrested. This week, live stream has consisted of watching reporters watch reporters until marchers came in the area where reporters were sequestered. In my opinion, that is not freedom and it certainly isn’t freedom of speech and right to assemble.
In the 1960’s, there were marches. People gathered at one location, marched to a designation, then stood or sat listening to a speaker address them. Sometimes there were numerous speakers. When that was over, people disbursed. In Ferguson, the Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies would not allow the people to stop marching. That automatically prevents anyone from taking on a position of addressing the people. Reporters had nothing to report other than chants instead of speeches; chants instead of poetry; chants instead of prayers. Heaven forbid if there should be another Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X in Ferguson, MO to be captured on film by the media while addressing the people.
Just like George Zimmerman profiled Trayvon Martin as a group of guys committing crime, law enforcement in Ferguson profiled every citizen in the street and their backyards as trouble-makers because of the actions of several. It speaks volumes, saying that all are responsible for some and, all will be punished for the illegal actions of a few.
In the 1960’s when people marched together to a meeting point, it was called the “Civil Rights’ Movement.” The people of Ferguson, speaking of how their civil rights are violated by the Ferguson police department, are called “protesters.” Hence, I suppose that once there is law on the books, and that law violated, to speak out against the violations is to “protest,” — but the powers that be in Ferguson, MO made the people march instead.