The inconvenient thing about a successful protest is that it sort of needs to make things inconvenient. This does not seem to sit well with people who do not know or care about why people are protesting. As demonstrated by the outrage that ran rampant in Boston on Thursday Morning, this is a problem. As an ongoing effort to bring awareness to the #BlackLivesMatter movement protestors chained themselves to metal barrels and blocked sections of I-93 during rush hour traffic. In a city where people regularly want to hurt people due to excessive traffic already it should be no surprise that MA commuters comforted themselves about their hardships with words of encouragement like “these assholes aren’t going to win over anyone this way” and “they should be run over”.
I admit that if I was stuck in traffic going into Boston because of this I would be pissed too. But I’m not sure that I would be justified. Is my being on time to work really more important than social injustice? Apparently other people feel yes, yes it is. Even those that detest going to those very jobs were furious, tweeting, texting, and posting (illegally I might add) about how they couldn’t get to work because of these lawbreakers. That just blows my mind. We fucking Complain about having to going to work AND we complain about not being able to go to work. Go figure. A year from now who will we empathize with more, the friend who was late TWO HOURS to work once, or the person who’s family member was killed because we don’t care that some cops are more criminal than hero. Of course, the argument that blocking emergency vehicles and hospital workers from getting where they needed to go was infinitely more valid. If someone, black (or white or whatever) dies because you’re trying to inform the world that #blacklivesmatter obviously a new strategy is probably needed. But what?
If the goal of your protest is to make sure that people pay attention, then causing a serious disruption in everyone’s daily routine is a success. If your protest is you and a few others standing alone with cardboard signs in an empty parking lot and the only one who notices you is the car that drove by not sure if you were protesting or selling lemonade, I’m thinking it’s safe to say that’s a failure. Yes, there are examples falling in between causing highway shutdowns and twiddling your thumbs on the side of a dirt road. My problem is with the attitude that people have around here (and probably everywhere) that whatever issue being protested doesn’t matter if it doesn’t directly affect our everyday lives. If your local grocery store is going to change to new management that will charge you 60 extra cents per pound for pork chops, you’re damn right that you’re going to stand with Market Basket. You get in the way of everyone who tries to purchase groceries from the evil Arthur S. Demoulas, but if you’re a white suburban masshole, what do you know about racial profiling? How much do you really care about inequality in the criminal justice system? Sure doesn’t seem important to my budget, let’s disparage these people who are getting in our way and making us confront these hard to tackle issues. Now did I tell you how much I had to pay for green beans at Stop N Shop?
In all honesty I was happy just like everyone else that they brought back Artie T and that Market Basket won the fight. It’s rare that you feel people can rally around a good cause and fight against corruption, injustice, frankly people just being dicks. But for people like my mother, who are Market Basket loyalists to the bone, and who have no concept of how things are in any other part of the state let alone country, protesters can quickly become the enemy just as quickly as they became a symbol of pride. On New Year’s Eve, for instance, I was told to watch out for protesters and how it was a shame that they had to get in the way of everyone having a good time. Yes, the real tragedy here is that people who are getting the shaft by the justice system are standing in the way of other people who want to get absolutely wasted because, woo wee another 365 days of ignorance in the books. Happy Year! The dangerous people are the protestors in the mind of my mother and her sheltered brethren, not the drunks who are going to ring in 2015 with a smatterings of DUIs. (To be fair I stayed in this year and my only irresponsible actions while drinking were trying to dance around a crowded one bedroom apartment).
This same attitude was prevalent during the Occupy Boston rallies. Why are these people getting in the way? Someone should tell them to get a job. Well, if they were able to get jobs easier, they would but… and there are rich people who don’t have jobs either that are actually making lots of money from Wall Street, and, ah…never mind. If you don’t understand why a group is protesting then you’re likely going to be mad at any problems they create while protesting, blame them for their own plight, and wish that you didn’t need to hear about their issues. But if it’s something that YOU care about, and not just have an interest in, but something you are truly passionate about, then how are you going to get others to take notice without causing a scene?
Would you want to be told that you should only be allowed protest if you’re not going to make any waves? In my (what’s the antonym for) humble opinion, people are only protesting because they feel that no one is listening to them via other channels, and making it public, in a very public place is an attempt for someone to finally take notice. Asking why people can’t just protest out of the way where no one is affected is not only dumb, but insulting. As a wise man (jackass friend) recently tweeted at me “If a protest is held in a forest with no one around does it create any change?” My only hope for Boston (admittedly because I’m not sure I’ll still live here when it matters) is that they do secure their Olympic bid. Then we can have protestors blocking traffic so that they can stop an event from happening because of all the traffic that it will cause.