Public protest is one way Americans face freedom. People engage in this time-honored method to call attention to a cause, advocate for change, criticize government policy, and gather with like-minded citizens. From small groups of picketers, to demonstrations at town hall meetings, to mass rallies, public protest is part of our civic lives as Americans.
Engaging in public protest carries risks, such as being publicly identified, which can cause tensions in a community, family, or at work, as well as the less subtle risk of violence. Throughout our nation’s history there are many examples of violence erupting during public demonstrations.
Public protest alone does not generally lead to immediate change. Activists must often dedicate years of repeated demonstrations coupled with other tactics to achieve their ends.