is a form of nonviolent
action by groups of people in favor of
a political or other cause, normally consisting of walking in a
march and a meeting (rally) to hear speakers. Actions such as
blockades and sit-ins
may also be referred to
The term has been in use since the mid-19th century, as was the
term 'monster meeting', which was coined initially with reference
to the huge assemblies of protesters inspired by Daniel O'Connell
in Ireland. Demonstrations
are a form of activism
, usually taking the
form of a public gathering of people in a rally or walking in a
march. At times, more interventionist actions such as blockades and
sit-ins have been referred to as demonstrations. Thus, the opinion
to be significant by gathering in a crowd
associated with that opinion.
Demonstrations can be used to show a viewpoint (either positive or
negative) regarding a public issue, especially relating to a
or social injustice
. A demonstration is
usually considered more successful if more people participate.
Topics of demonstrations often deal with political
There are many types of demonstrations, including a variety of
elements. These may include:
- Marches, in which a parade of people
proceeds from one location to another.
- Rallies, in which people gather to listen to speakers or
- Picketing, in which people
surround an area.
- Sit-ins, in which demonstrators occupy an
area, sometimes for a stated period of time and sometimes
indefinitely, until they feel their issue has been addressed, or
they are otherwise convinced or forced to leave.
Demonstrations are sometimes spontaneous gatherings, but are also
utilized as a tactical choice by movements. They are one tactic
available to proponents of strategic nonviolence
. Demonstrations are generally staged
in public, but private demonstrations are certainly possible,
especially if the demonstrators wish to influence the opinions of a
small or very specific group of people. Demonstrations are usually
physical gatherings, but virtual or online
demonstrations are certainly possible.
Sometimes, particularly with controversial issues, groups of people
opposed to the aims of a demonstration may themselves launch a
counter-demonstration with the aim of opposing the demonstrators
and presenting their view. Clashes between demonstrators and
counter-demonstrators may turn violent.
are demonstrations which are organized by a
government. The Islamic Republic of Iran, the People's Republic of China, Republic of
Cuba, and the Soviet Union among other nations, have had government-organized
Times and locations
Sometimes the date or location chosen for the demonstration is of
historical or cultural significance, such as the anniversary
of some event that is relevant to
the topic of the demonstration.
Locations are also frequently chosen because of some relevance to
the issue at hand. For example, if a demonstration is targeted at
issues relating to foreign nation
demonstration may take place at a location associated with that
nation, such as an embassy
of the nation in
Nonviolence or violence
Protest marches and demonstrations are seen to be a common nonviolent
tactic. Some demonstrations and
however can turn, at least
partially, into riots
or mob violence
against objects such as automobiles
, bystanders and the police
. Police and military authorities often use
weapons, such as tasers
, rubber bullets
, and tear gas
demonstrators in these situations. Sometimes violent situations are
caused by the preemptive or offensive use of these weapons which
can provoke, destabilize, or escalate a conflict.
Law by country
Under the Serious Organised
Crime and Police Act 2005
and the Terrorism Act 2006
, there are areas
designated as 'protected sites' where people are not allowed to go.
Previously, these were military bases and
nuclear power stations, but the law is changing to include other,
generally political areas, such as Downing Street, the Palace of Westminster, and the headquarters of MI5 and MI6.
to these areas
could not be arrested if they had not committed another crime and
agreed to be escorted out, but this will change following
amendments to the law.
groups fear the powers
could hinder peaceful protest. Nick Clegg, the
Liberal Democrat home affairs
spokesman, said: "I am not aware of vast troops of trespassers
wanting to invade MI5 or MI6, still less running the gauntlet of
security checks in Whitehall and Westminster to make a point.
sledgehammer to crack a nut." Liberty
, the civil liberties
pressure group, said the
measure was "excessive".
Amendment of the United States Constitution
peaceful demonstrations and the freedom of assembly
as part of a measure
to facilitate the redress of such grievances. "Amendment I:
Congress shall make no law ... abridging ... the right of the
people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a
redress of grievances."
trend in the United
States has been the implementation of "free speech zones," or fenced-in areas
which are often far-removed from the event which is being
protested; critics of free-speech zones argue that they go against
the First Amendment of the United States Constitution by
their very nature, and that they lessen the impact the
demonstration might otherwise have had.
In many areas it is
required to get permission from the government to hold a
- Oxford English Dictionary
- Analysis: Iran Sends Terror-Group Supporters To
Arafat's Funeral Procession "...state-organized
- Why Washington and Tehran are headed for a
showdown The Hedge Fund Journal 16 April
- Global News, No. GL99-072 China News
Digest June 3, 1989
- Cubans ponder life without Fidel The Washington
Times 2 August 2006
- "Democracy in the Former Soviet Union:
1991-2004" Power and Interest News Report 28 December
- Morris, Steven, " New powers against trespassers at key sites",
Guardian, 24 March 2007. Retrieved on 23 June 2007.
- Brown, Colin, " No-go Britain: Royal Family and ministers protected from
protesters by new laws", The Independent, 4 June 2007.
Retrieved on 23 June 2007.
- NARA | The National Archives Experience