Whether or not a protest is “peaceful” is decided by the state, not the protestors.
There’s a reason the Women’s March wasn’t considered a riot, and it has everything to do with white privilege and nothing to do with how “well behaved” we were. Police show up to peaceful BLM protests already in riot gear all the time.
“The abuser’s problem is not that he responds inappropriately to conflict. His abusiveness is operating prior to the conflict: it usually creates the conflict, and it determines the shape the conflict takes.”
― Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
I’m so happy that Bernie Sanders is speaking up about this. I’m happy he is on our side. And yes, there are a lot of us that voted against “Donald” and if we fight together we CAN become his worst nightmare.
This is what’s happening in my country, Catalonia, right now.
Catalonia has been occupied by Spain for 300 years. Our language has been banned, our traditions too, even our traditional dances. Imagine how it is to be beaten up if you’re heard at school speaking a word of your mother tongue.
Since the ending of the fascist dictatorship of Spain (~1975) our traditions and our language are legal again, Catalan is even co-official in our land. But the feeling of catalanophobia still stands strong in Spain, and Catalonia is economically discriminated (pays more taxes to Spain and receives way less than the other communities, etc).
The Catalan government proposed to do a referendum to see if the Catalan people want to be independent (that year, and the 2 years before it, we had done peaceful protests with between 1.5 million and 2 million people asking for independence). But Spanish government, knowing “yes to independence” was going to win, said it was illegal. Then the Catalan government said it wan’t going to be a referendum, just an enquiry (the legal difference is that in a referendum, the winning resut must be followed, and an enquiry is just to have an idea of what people want). Spain still said no.
But we did it. Yes to independence got 81% of votes. So now Spain is forcing our political dirigents, elected democratically by the Catalan people, to go to trials just for letting us vote.
Today was the first trial, and more than 50,000 people showed up to show their support to President Mas, and the other political charges elected, Joana Ortega and Irene Rigau. And this was during laboral hours, imagine if it had happenned when we weren’t at work/school!
some quick handy advice from someone who has been on the Front Lines when a peaceful protest has turned violent:
milk is really good for soothing pepper spray. water is more convenient but if possible rinse with milk to ease the stinging. keep your eyes closed though, as it’s not quite water, and be sure to rinse it all off properly because no one wants spoiled milk on their face
there are always “easy” targets in groups that police/aggressors will go for. close ranks around them and make sure they’re in the middle of the group. if you’re white, keep a barrier between the police/aggressors and poc, for example.
lining up and linking arms is actually an incredibly strong barrier. if everyone is doing it it’s very difficult to break through. double for multiple layers of people doing this.
know your exit routes. if you need to get out fast (and you might) know where you’re going and have multiple routes if you can. never run alone; it’s always best to have at least two other people running the same route.
change of clothes in your bag man. new t-shirt, a hoodie, a different jacket, anything to alter your appearance. even changing the colour you’re wearing could throw police off, especially if they’re looking for dozens of people.
always know the number of people in your group and have a safe place to fall back on after you’ve escaped. headcount. raise the alarm if someone isn’t there or can’t be contacted.
even minor head injuries from thrown projectiles can be serious. if you can, get it checked out.
and saving the most important til last:
water cannons/fire hoses are not a ‘soft’ option.it’s high pressure water that can blast off skin, break bones, throw you clean across a road, and even kill. I have seen someone get hit by a water cannon and die. the force of the water threw him down so hard his neck was snapped. if they bring out the water, get out of its range.