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Using the Power of Protest to Propel Social Change

An online activist training will cover protesters' rights and the principles of nonviolent direct action. (Eden, Janine and Jim/Flickr)
An online activist training will cover protesters' rights and the principles of nonviolent direct action. (Eden, Janine and Jim/Flickr)
June 3, 2020

CINCINNATI -- The right to protest is powerful, and Ohioans fighting for social justice can learn how to ensure their voices are heard at an online event this evening.

According to Robin A. Wright at Cincinnati's Beloved Community Church, protests throughout history have been used as legitimate and meaningful passports to reform. She noted that this also is what led to charges being filed against the former Minneapolis police officer in the death of George Floyd.

"It wasn't because people got together and had a nice conversation around diversity and inclusion; it was because Minneapolis was on fire," she said. "Not that I'm saying, 'Go burn stuff down,' but it was the protest -- people saying, 'Enough is enough' -- that moved that district to act."

Wright and other community organizers are joining the ACLU of Ohio for an online event, "Gear Up for this Moment: Activist Day of Virtual Training." From 6 to 8 p.m. today, they plan to coach participants in strategies for peaceful, coordinated and strategic action.

Wright said there's a lot more to an effective protest than just gathering with signs. She'll discuss connecting action to larger strategies. This means how to decide on the messaging of a protest, the desired outcome, and a direct action.

"Is there a petition that you're trying to circulate, right during the protest, that people can tap into?" she said. "How do you connect the call to action and the focus, so that you're scheduling and structuring your protest to actually get at the goal?"

She said the training also will include information on how to keep protests as peaceful as possible.

"We're seeing reports all over the nation of people joining these peaceful protests and using it as a cover to create chaos, anarchy and destruction," she said. "And so, training people on what's called 'marshaling,' so that there's people who are helping to manage the group."

Other topics will include maintaining protesters' health and safety, protesters' rights and the principles of nonviolent direct action.

Event information is online at eventbrite.com.

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This story was produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH