Activists blocking Tower Bridge – successful disruption or missing their point?

Yesterday, a group of activists blocked the road crossing Tower Bridge, halting traffic in England’s capital to protest air pollution. The blockade on Monday was only the first of several to come this week by “Stop Killing Londoners”. An interview showed people in London agreeing with the importance of the issue and supported the agenda of the group. “Stop Killing Londoners” certainly caught attention and caused disruption in the form of traffic jam in London. However, some have criticized the group for missing its point. Critics pointed out that causing traffic to stand still, the group might have caused even more pollution. Whether one agrees or not, this supports one important lesson to remember when planning nonviolent action, which is to be clear about your message and “evaluate how the methods you are considering relate to the goals of your overall movement or your campaign” (CANVAS Core Curriculum, p. 76). Read more about the blockade and some reactions here, and here. Photo: Stop Killing Londoners, via...

“March of the Mummies” – Halloween Protest for Parents’ Rights

On the 31st of October, Halloween is an occasion for many people around the world to dress up in costumes, eat candy and go to Halloween parties. For the organization “Pregnant then Screwed”, it was an occasion to organize the demonstration “March of the Mummies” to advocate for parent’s rights. The organization invites families to join their protest on Halloween, dress up as bandaged-wrapped mummies and make a statement for the rights of working mothers as well as fathers in several cities throughout the UK. “Pregnant then Screwed” offers a platform for those who have faced discrimination related to their pregnancy, offers help in various ways and stands up for the rights of (to be) mothers and fathers. Among other things, their specific demands address parental leave options and flexible working arrangements. We think, that their humorous approach of organizing a protest and making use of the popular day of Halloween to create awareness for their cause through the “March of the Mummies”, deserves some attention. To read more on challenges some women have faced and what “Pregnant Then Screwed” advocates for, you can read this blog article on the Guardian, or visit the March’s website. Photo: A poster advertising the March (via...

Weekly Report: 27 October, 2017

Photo: Rights activists gathered in Turkey before the trial of other activists (REUTERS/Osman Orsal) Zimbabwe After Zimbabwean President Mugabe’s appointment as a WHO goodwill ambassador for non-communicable diseases last week had caused national and international criticism, the organization’s director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus revoked the decision on Sunday. Reactions included surprise and disappointment, as critics stated that in contrary to Tedros’ statement on Zimbabwe prioritizing the issue of health in its policies, the country has faced a highly deteriorating health system. News24 also reported on Zimbabwe’s severe health situation and reactions after the WHO’s decision(s). The media outlet further wrote that Zimbabwe’s government declared Mugabe did not have notice of the appointment and would have declined anyway. At the same time, there have been reports about ongoing intimidation and violence, especially by Zanu PF supporters against those in favor of the MDC, during the Biomentric Voter Registration (BVR) that started earlier this month. The NGO Election Resource Center (ERC) called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to take actions against those parties and supporters hampering the process of registration in preparation for peaceful, free and fair election, wrote allAfrica on Wednesday. Late last week, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had taken further steps to form his alliance with five other opposition parties, announcing Welshman Ncube to be the new spokesperson. The alliance also established numerous natioal alliance committees, to create joint efforts especially for voter education and registration mobilization. Meanwhile, all Africa reported on MDC opposition spokesman Obert Gutu voicing his doubts about the ZEC’s capabilities and pointed out the likelihood of next year’s elections being rigged in favor of the...

Rome’s Trevi-fountain turns red – Graziano Cecchini’s vandalism art-protests

Late on Thursday, the water in Rome’s famous Trevi-fountain turned red. It wasn’t just a mistake which drew big crowds to one of the Italian capital’s best known tourist hotspots. Protesting against Rome’s “corruption and filth”, Italian activist Graziano Cecchini managed to climb onto the side of the fountain and pour the dye in. According to the Guardian, Cecchini said the protest was a “cry that Rome isn’t dead, that it’s alive and ready to return to be the capital of art, life and Renaissance.” The stunt performed at the fountain was not Cecchini’s first public performance. His first red Trevi-protest dates back to 2007. After the act was initially considered some kind of hooligan prank, Cecchini told the New York Times that “if it had been me, wink wink, I’d say that this had been a media-savvy operation in the face of a very gray society.” Early 2008, half a million multi-colored plastic balls bounced down Rome’s famed Spanish Steps, in another self-styled protests at on of the city’s landmarks. “Italians’ balls are broken,” was written on leaflets distributed at the time. Talking to Reuters, the Italian artist said his protest was “an artistic operation which shows, through art, the problems we have here in Italy”. This work reminds us of the power of ‘Guerilla-art‘, or artwork which has no external boundary between the image and the environment, as a form of protest. Cecchini’s protests, or works of art, have also been conceptualized under the name of ‘vandalism-art’, which makes us think about these performances: While acts of civil disobedience might include aspects with are technically a crime, should they be judged in the same...

The Post-Marches and -Rallies era: Trump protests get creative

In the era of social media and 24/7 news coverage, people tend to get creative. Almost a year after Donald Trump became the President of the United States of America, we have seen a unprecedented amount of anti-Trump protests, in the U.S. as well as in other parts of the world. The January 2017 Women’s March, (which was not exclusively but definitely) aimed at the Trump-administration, might have even been the largest protest in U.S. history. But marches and major rallies of the kind of proportions as the Women’s March are not an easy thing to pull off. How can the agitated individual, make his or her contribution? Although their impact might not be as big, many small, creative initiatives can be an outcome for those who are willing to act, now. Almost a year after Trump’s inauguration, the storm of ignorance and negativity has not stopped causing stupefaction yet. With ammunition provided to them by their own President on a daily basis, people get creative. A brief anthology: On October 6, a small group of protesters neared the Washington Monument. At a spot with a good sight line to the White House, they set up a 160-square-foot video screen, hooked it to a laptop and hit play. What ran on the screen for the next 12 hours was a relentless rewind of Donald Trump’s infamous “Access Hollywood” tape.” Three minutes of vulgar chatter by the U.S. President, (“Grab them by the p—y. You can do anything.”) looped over and over through the day, within view of that same guys new office. Dozens of onlookers posted their own videos of the video, a brainchild of protestgroup...