To Be Heard

The importance of protests in the US

Haley Elder, Entertainment Editor

Stand up! Fight back!” echos throughout the crowd. People of different genders, different ages, different backgrounds, different religions come together at the same place with the same goal—to be heard. No matter the cause, many protests tend to be organized in similar ways.
Over the past few months, massive protests have broken out across the nation aiming to protect, support, and reveal injustices. However, many question the importance of protesting and whether protesting is effective or not.

Although there have been many protests recently, it seems as though they have been ignored, making it reasonable for one to question how effective protests can be. It is important to understand the goal of protests. It is also important to understand that protests are a large part of what makes America great. Without protests, Americans would not have a way to voice their opinion or make a change.
Historically, peaceful protests have brought about positive, progressive change in our nation. Dating back from Martin Luther King Jr. to recent anti-immigration ban protests, they have been a way for a groups to come together, to speak out on injustices, and to present their own way of standing up and fighting back. Protests employ an important role in civil, economical, political, and cultural aspects of society.

When thousands of people come together, great change is expected to follow. Protests are meant to show opinions, fears, and hopes. Typically, protests are acknowledged and accommodated.

The United States Congress is a third of the three branches of the federal government. It is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Nebraska has two senators and three representatives. As citizens, it is important to direct representatives how to properly represent citizens. An effective way of doing so is protesting.

Protests can be both effective or completely dismissed. This was seen with the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline crosses through both the Standing Rock Indians’ burial ground and water supply, both of which are sacred to them. Originally, Former President Barack Obama dismissed the pipeline after the tribe and others protested against it. However, with a new President in office, the protesters’ wishes have been ignored and their land is once again being tarnished at our expense with the pipeline back on track.

Though this may have seemed like a failure, it does not mean the protest did not count for anything. The protesters were originally heard and accommodated, our government valued their opinion, and they made a difference. However, the more recent rejection of their hopes goes to show how protesters are not as respected as they used to be. Now, protests are considered an inconvenience, a disruption, and even a threat.

Aside from projection, protests also offer connection. In organized protests, take Omaha’s “Women’s March” for example, there is a group working behind the scenes to bring people together. Prior to the actual march, a Facebook page for the protest was formed, which allowed thousands to come together and share their ideas online. During the protest, individuals were surrounded by others who were fighting for the same thing. Within a group of like-minded people relationships are formed. After the Women’s March, people gathered at the Centurylink Center where the organizers set up speakers. Here, people were given the opportunity to ask questions, converse, and connect with one another.

This is an important aspect of protesting for many reasons. It allows for people to come together and support each other in a time of need. This connection helps activist groups, like Planned Parenthood, gain support. But above all, it shows people that their ideas are both heard and agreed with.

Protests are important because they allow people to safely state what they believe. They allow for progression and unity. The question is not “Why are protests important?” because there are a plethora of reasons why fighting for a common goal with a like-minded group is important. Rather, the question is “Why are protests ignored, or becoming ineffective?” The answer to that lies within our government.

No matter the cause, protests have been and will continue to be a way to bring about change. We live in a country by the people and for the people, so it makes sense that effective protests bring together like-minded people rallied behind similar ideologies, cultures, and beliefs, in order to precipitate change.