Protests can help or hurt the cause


EICs Izzy Cavazzoni and Courtney Kushnir look back on their time with The Inkblot.

We’ve all seen it: “Keep your tiny hands off our rights.” “Free Melania.” “This baby would make a better President.” These phrases have adorned signs and Twitter feeds nationwide following the announcement of the 45th president-elect of the United States: Donald J. Trump.

Since Nov. 9, #NotMyPresident has taken over city streets. The recent protests in at least 10 cities regarding Trump have exhibited the incredible power of free speech.

The Inkblot advocates for the First Amendment, but without leadership, unity and a clear message, anti-Trump rallies will fizzle out just as the Occupy Wall Street movement has.

Like the anti-Trump rallies, Occupy Wall Street has a solid cause: fight against the 1 percent. Yet the movement’s Achilles heel is its leaderless (and leader-full) mentality. To fight the man, Occupy Wall Street stands without a face of the campaign, which has particularly impacted its financial status since its start in September 2011.

When the protesters received funds, “there was no leadership on how to distribute the money,” according to International Business Times (IBT). Schisms between the different sectors of the movement then developed.

Like Occupy Wall Street, the anti-Trump movement itself lacks a Martin Luther King. There is no face of the campaign or even an official campaign name itself. There is no one leader that thousands would come to hear speak, as they did 53 years ago at the March on Washington.

Every protest needs a strong leader just like our nation needs a strong president.

Aside from lacking a leader, the anti-Trump rallies lack a country-wide unity, another downfall of Occupy Wall Street. In its heyday, the Wall Street protests were too centered in NYC at Zuccotti Park. The movement had a small national presence.

That crusade was based on the idea of residing in the business district and holding rallies there, but in cities like Boston and San Francisco, the “occupying” turned into simply camping out, according to press reports.

Likewise, from city to city, each anti-Trump protest has a different mentality and agenda. While New York protesters hold hands in solidarity outside Trump Tower, Portland opts for violent riots. Some want a recount and others just want Trump to listen to their fears for the next four years. Without clearly vocalizing exactly what the entire movement wants, it is unlikely Trump or the government will ever bend an ear.

A successful protest needs leadership and unity, but it also needs passionate and informed participants who all want to be there. The Huffington Post said Occupy Wall Street protesters acquired the reputation of “drifters, vagrants and freeloaders rather than committed protesters.”  

Anti-Trump rallies are heading down the same road and are seeing a rise in uninformed and uninvolved “protesters” joining the cause for kicks. Portland Patch reported that of the “112 people arrested…only 73 were registered to vote in Oregon and, of those, only 34 actually cast a ballot.”

If the anti-Trump protesters want to make change, then listen up. Your support base is enormous: in one day alone, a protest in Los Angeles amassed upwards of 8,000 citizens, according to press reports. So wise up, and use your protesters wisely. Find your leader. Standardize your message. Keep waving your flags – or burning them – as long as your protesters are in for the long haul.