Demonstrations and disruption

Demonstration in SheffieldWhen large numbers of people make the effort to attend a particular place to make their views on a political or social issue known, this can have a particularly striking impact. Demonstrations may be static or mobile in nature. Static demonstrations consist of a physical presence at a site of significance to the protest, including sit-ins, and blockades which obstruct site entrances or machinery. Examples include the protests by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the 1980s outside airbases where nuclear weapons were sited. Static demonstrations are often designed to disrupt the organization by preventing workers from entering premises, or going about their work, and are seen as a success if they result in financial losses to the target organization. Examples of mobile demonstrations or marches include protests against the War in Iraq or the go-slow convoys of lorries during the fuel price protests. These can also be forms of civil disobedience since they may invoke charges of trespass, obstruction of highways, and public nuisance. The more visually striking the demonstration, the more likely it is that the media will cover the story. For this reason, fancy dress and costume is often worn by activists; nudity has also been used as a protest tactic. Costume wearing often accompanied by music playing and activities like juggling, adds to a carnival atmosphere which is felt important to keep morale high on sometimes long marches or rallies. Chants will be heard and banners, flags and placards are often carried to reinforce the message. Most commonly a form of non-violent protest, demonstrations can turn violent and escalate into riots involving the police, or counter-demonstrators.

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