“Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.” - MLK
It seems like every time we hear a protest going on, the internet is abuzz with trolls shouting “Quit wasting your time… Just stop it. Get a job… This will accomplish nothing.” The theme is that protests don’t really accomplish anything, are really fronted by billionaires, and are populated by hippies who contribute nothing to society and can’t deal with the truth.
Just last week, Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump suggested that the Trump protesters were just whining and crying over grievances that were “so pre-election.” There have also been accusations that the protests are professionally backed and funded organizations sponsored by George Soros.
Back in March, Trump also denounced protesters alluding to the need for harsher consequences when dealing with protesting, because “part of the reason it takes so long is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore,” adding, "They contribute nothing. Nothing.”
But what happens when protesting actually works?
On Sunday, after months of grueling protesting, and a number of clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement, the country woke up to news that the easement needed to finish the Dakota Access oil pipeline had been denied by the federal government. Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy stated in a release that after “discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do."
The protest – which consisted of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, other Native American organizations, politicians, and environmental groups – had achieved a historic victory against the Fortune 500 natural gas and propane company, Energy Transfer Partners, after resisting extreme weather conditions, pepper spray showers, guard dog attacks, and the alleged use of concussion grenades by law enforcement.
In short, the scene Sunday may have been more reminiscent of a Rocky movie, rather than modern America.
This is a huge victory for the right to peacefully assemble, and regardless of ideology should make us realize that sometimes it does take a little bit of organizing, and going out to the streets to fight for what we want. While protesting and civil disobedience have been one of the prime energizers for change in this country, it is now viewed by some people as outdated model in the political/social process of our country.
Regarding Standing Rock and the North Dakota pipeline, the battle was won, but the struggle continues. A spokesman for the Trump transition team said, “With regard to the Dakota Access Pipeline, that’s something that we support construction of and we’ll review the full situation when we’re in the White House and make the appropriate determination at that time.”