Are there guides on ending a protest? (for the protesters)
October 30, 2014 7:51 PM   Subscribe

I was talking about the HK protests recently, and it seems like, much like Occupy/other movements, that there's not much expectation or plan for an endgame, at least in public discussion.

The police and authorities hope that, if they wait long enough, the protesters will just evaporate eventually. I know there are books on protesting; are there any guides on protest endgames, from anyone with practical experience ending such things? I'm a total neophyte in this area so entry-level stuff would be interesting to me as well.
posted by Make Way for Ducklings! to Society & Culture (1 answer total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hi, I'll jump in here and take a stab at this. I might be meandering around your specific question a bit, but I was thinking about your question in terms of:

*what happens after the active protest?
*what do the protestors do next?
*how and when does policy change in reaction/relatioon to a protest movement?
*how do government or other officials respond?

I can't think of a specific book offhand about protest-dissolution, but what came to mind foremost was conflict negotiation-and-resolution. I'm going to use mostly Occupy examples since that's what I'm more familiar with. Here's just one example of how students involved with Occupy SLU at St. Louis university worked with administrative officials to draft terms for the peaceful ending of their protest, which included negotiations with other alliance/coalition organizations in the larger community. This HuffPo article discusses the dissolution and aftershocks of Zuccotti Park in NYC. Getting back to the negotiation angle, the Taksim Gezi Park protestors in Turkey met with Prime Minister Erdogan, but of course, it seemed to reinforce Erdogan's desires to double-down on anti-resistance tactics. There have been ongoing aftershock protests well into 2014 after the initial massive protests over planned redevelopment of Gezi Park; it's an ongoing larger social conversation and shifting form of negotiation with the sitting government and associated institutions of authority, I'd say. We're seeing the same effect happening with the Ferguson protests over the killing of Michael Brown; protests continue to be staged, the entire nation is discussing the ongoing broader social implications of Brown's death and of the protests, etc.

Some additional keywords you could use to find reference texts might be: conflict negotiation, conflict resolution, protest, power, change, social movements, civil resistance, for starters.

There's a book being published next month called Contemporary Protest and the Legacy of Dissent that might be a good place for learning more about protest strategy. Lastly, this 2011 Time article mentions a book called When Protest Makes Policy, and the article makes this comment:
“Protests are successful when they generate attention or influence the political agenda,” Weldon says as the movement has already spread across over 70 U.S. cities. “Occupy Wall Street protesters want attention to an issue, not policy. Their power lies in their ability to talk about a solution, forcing elected officials, political candidates and business leaders to respond to the protesters.”
After the Occupy and Gezi protests, I started doing research and read a lot of first-person accounts from various activists, professional and citizen journalists, community organizers, etc. who were on the ground before, during, and after the protests. That helped me understand the process from start-to-finish much better, as a latecomer to Occupy, but with friends who were involved in it. A lot of the former Occupiers I know moved on to more "traditional," if you will, forms of organizing for change by continuing with the citizen journalism type stuff, getting involved with and/or founding non-profits who are doing the daily work of community change, joining or forming coalition groups, starting specific campaigns based on identified local objectives that came out of the Occupy general assemblies, etc.

I hope this helps a little, and maybe some more knowledgeable Mefites will chime in and add to this.
posted by cardinality at 11:22 AM on November 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

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