After Women’s March, what will 2018 protests look like?
The right to protest in public places is fundamental to who Americans are as a free and democratic people.
Protest in public spaces is one of the most important tools to ensure government accountability and to advance shared visions of a better society.
There have been some notable protests as of late — who can forget former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protests during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to bring attention to racial inequality and police brutality against minorities? The women’s convention in Detroit in October, and the more recent, wear-black protest at the Golden Globes and white rose protest at the Grammy Awards in support of those who have spoken out about sexual harassment and to challenge gender inequality.
Just weeks after the Women’s March, maybe you’re wondering what other protests of 2018 will look like?
“That’s something that I think about,” said Aram Han Sifuentes, the brain behind the Protest Banner Lending Library. “That’s the hard part about current times. I think it’s a tactic of this administration — pure confusion. Things that Trump and his administration are doing, it’s just so much to fight against. We’re trying to do it all, but it’s so much to respond to. It’s hard to prioritize.”
“It’s not just Trump anymore. We have a whole list of people who are attacking women in various ways,” said Women’s March Chicago organizer Jaquie Algee. “So when we talk about the #MeToos and the #TimeIsUps, we want to stand with women for whatever reason they don’t feel included and they feel disrespected. People have been protesting all year, and it doesn’t stop on Saturday.”
There’s no shortage of things to be angry about, said artist/activist Fawzia Mirza. If last year’s Women’s March opened a portal, she said — a portal to realizing that we can have more power if we empower one another and we see one another better and talk with one another — then this march/protest will serve as a way to rekindle the protester in you, no matter what issue you identify with.
“I think people crave community and crave to be heard and seeing that they’re not alone. ... That is something ongoing,” she said. “So why do people show up this year as opposed to last year? That evolves, and that’s essential to all of us growing.”
Growth within protests/movements is a possibility that some are looking forward to, including freelance photographer Alexander Gouletas, who has documented a number of protests throughout the years.
“Intersectionality was a big one at the Women’s March in D.C. last year. You would see protests of different-colored pussy hats within the larger march itself. More recently, we saw discussion within the #MeToo movement about consent, which is literally changing social mores. (Which) I think is a great example of discord as a tool for improvement,” he said. “I believe you’re going to see more instances of fashion as a form of protest, and it may be that those form more allegiance or separate factions.”
Regardless of the look of protests, they will continue, said Rachel Einwohner, a sociology professor at Purdue University — especially since 2018 is a midterm election year. She said knowing what expansion of the current forms of resistance will emerge will take a crystal ball, but for now at least, people in power are paying attention.
“I don’t know if they’re going to make policy the way that the protesters want, but there’s this momentum,” she said.
Black Lives Matter Chicago chapter co-founder Aislinn Pulley said the group’s concerns in 2018 include the fight to save public education and the Laquan McDonald case — the trial date has yet to be set. Laquan was a 17-year-old who was shot by a Chicago police officer 16 times in 2014. Three officers were indicted on felony charges for allegedly covering up the shooting death.
“The longer that we have to wait, the more angry I think people will get,” she said. “We’re still fighting for justice for people killed by police. ...”
A lot of the protests in 2018 for Black Lives Matter will depend on what happens, Pulley added.
In the meantime, Sifuentes continues to check out banners from her home and provide her online tutorial on how to make banners.
“We actually don’t have many that are Women’s March-specific, but people have been wanting to take whatever slogans. ... It’s about getting out there and doing what we can, at the end of the day,” she said.
While she may not know what protests will look like this year, she is looking forward to pacing herself.
“I get burned out too, but I think about it like a marathon and take the breaks I need to take,” Sifuentes said. “I realized I don’t have to go out to everything and make banners for everything. I try my best and do what I can, when I feel like I can do that.”