Burnet News Club: Does protest work?
Host: Hello and welcome to our podcast on ‘Does protest work’? With me today I have two guests with different perspectives on protests.
Host: Protests are when people complain or object to an idea, act or way of doing things. They do this through different types of events – examples of these are boycotts, riots, marching, silent protests, strikes, virtual activism and civil disobedience.
Host: Protests are important because they inspire change to make the world a better place. Without people speaking up and acting, everything would stay the same, being controlled by the same, important people. Protests give people a voice and are an important part of democracy.
Host: So, let’s start with a question to get the discussion going. Guest 1, can you give us an example of where you feel protesting has worked please?
Guest 1: I think Black Lives Matter protest is a great example of when a protest is effective. It brought together people from all over the world to object to the treatment of black people after George Floyd was killed by the police in the US. The BLM movement that followed has got everyone’s attention, with huge support in multiple countries, massive levels of media attention, plus it is still going on with footballers taking a knee before kick-off.
Host: And Guest 2, perhaps you can share an example of when protests haven’t been effective.
Guest 2: Of course, some protests don’t work as well. The recent political protests in Belarus haven’t brought about change. You could even argue, that despite the protests, the authorities have cracked down even harder on people to suppress people – making it worse than before, with change less likely now.
Host: Thanks, and Guest 1, what are some of the important elements that you feel are needed to help make a protest work?
Guest 1: Well, I think that the size of the protest is crucial, so the more people the better. Where the protest takes place is important to – if it is just in one country, it would be less effective than if it was a global movement. And media coverage is an important factor too that helps to raise awareness and focus attention on what is happening.
Host: And, Guest 2, what type of protest do you think is least successful?
Guest 2: I feel that any sort of violence makes a protest have less chance of being successful. It grabs headlines for the wrong sort of reasons, and people will become less supportive of a movement – so violence can serve to divide a protest slowing it down or limiting the number of people who support it. As Guest 1 has already said, more people and wider reach are factors that make a protest work – whereas violence works against that.
Host: Great, thanks to you both for sharing your perspectives. I think we can see that protests both work and don’t work. At times, they can be highly effective at prompting change, especially when certain factors like size and location are in their favour; but on the other hand, there are times when certain types of protest don’t work.
Host: Thanks for listening everyone. See you next time!