So now the latest from the Ferguson/NYC incidents is protest groups entering what they define as “white spaces” (fancy upscale Manhattan restaurants during brunch) and reading off the names of black people killed by cops.
So where can we expect to see protests next?
Mumford & Sons concerts?
I fail to see how annoying people who have nothing to do with causing or fixing your problems brings you any closer to solving them.
But they have a lot to do with causing (or rather, enabling) and fixing the problem. If all of those people were just as eager to end the injustice as the black people you’re talking about, the problems would be fixed.
Some Americans are being killed in disproportionate numbers by the police. All Americans should care about this. Many turn a blind eye, because the effects on their own circle are negligible or even advantageous. The protesters want the wilfull blindness to stop. Seems reasonable to me.
Now, Critical Mass bike rides—there’s a protest that just annoys people, and does more harm than good.
They’re probably going to find more people already sympathetic to their cause in “fancy upscale Manhattan restaurants” than in Sean O’Malley’s Irish Pub. It’s the working class whites they need to convince, not the wealthy elites.
Politicians are too deferential to the police in failing to institute modest reform measures–such as independent prosecutors, body cameras, and reform of civil asset forfeiture. Part of the reason they are so deferential is that they don’t pay any political cost for it among most white people, even when the police are out of control. Therefore, raising awareness of police abuse among the brunch crowd is perfectly rational.
Now, maybe this kind of disruptive performance art isn’t very effective at raising awareness. But it’s not obvious to me that it’s not, especially if the real goal is sustaining the national dialogue on the subject, in the media and elsewhere.
Raising awareness is good. Being an ass all over town seems counter-productive. I think the critical mass example is apt - every single person I know think those guys are assholes. Their message if any has long been lost. Maybe next time people demonstrating about police injustice can start a war with Iraq.
I doubt that anyone’s opinion on police reform or auto/bike policy is affected by how impolite or inconvenient protestors on those subjects are. But action on police reform (and any other policy) is more likely when there is public attention on the issue.
Maybe a hundred brunchers will go home irked, but thousands more will encounter the statistics in that Yahoo article for the first time because of this. Worth the tradeoff? I don’t know for sure, but again I don’t think it’s obvious.
Then the upscale diners should point this out in a friendly manner, and offer to join the protest. I really don’t think being less a part of the problem than someone else excuses you from having to deal with it.
Anyway, irking rich folks / trolling is probably the best way to get that all-important media attention, which seems to be the only real catalyst for change these days.
I do think people’s opinions are influenced by the character of how the protests are conducted. I’d be surprised if you really thought the delivery of the message doesn’t influence its reception. I suppose it’s the same with any demonstration aimed at raising awareness. Each needs to be evaluated on its own. I’d say disrupting unrelated activities in this fashion is counterproductive.
I don’t doubt that people get angry about being stuck in traffic or having their brunch disrupted. I just doubt that it affects their views or actions as to the underlying issues.
I don’t have any coherent theory or data here, though. Have your personal views on an underlying issue ever changed because of the degree to which a protest was inconvenient? I’d be surprised if your answer was yes. And if your answer is no, what do you think makes you different?
RE: Critical Mass - I fucking hate those guys. It makes me hate all cyclists. I know it’s irrational but I don’t care. Fuck them and their share the road bullshit.
My personal views have changed regarding the issue of gay rights. Growing up in the SF Bay Area, early on my primary exposure to gay culture was pride marches. These were more in your face overt displays of varying levels of offensive behavior. Think ass-less chaps and gratuitous displays of affection. Consequently my view was pretty negative. Over time, exposure to less fringe folks and more ordinary people living their lives changed that perception and I am an ardent supporter of equality of all folks.
If all you see are people being asshats I think it’s likely to associate the message with that behavior.
Are you kidding me? Maybe you never followed the CM rides, especially in San Francisco, but people were furious about this. Keep in mind that this was a monthly event, not a one-off thing. They would do it Friday late afternoon when everyone was trying to get home for the weekend. And something similar happened when AIDS activists tried to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge.
Now, the disrupted brunch thing, I agree on. I doubt it’s going to create many, if any, opponents due to the tactics alone. And maybe the publicity the generate will be worth it.