So for those asking the question, “Are riots/protests really effective?” There’s some research from Omar Wasow, an associate professor at Princeton, that takes a look at Black protests in the 1960s and its ability to move elites, shape public opinion, and voting. If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, here are some quick takeaways:
1. Violent tactics by the state or protesters operate as a double-edged sword. State repression subjugates activists but focuses media attention on the concerns of nonviolent protesters. While violent tactics by protestors are framed as a breach of law and order.
2. Black activists overcame structural biases, framed news, directed elite discourse, swayed public opinion & won at the ballot box. An “eye for an eye” in response to violent repression may be moral & just but this research suggests it may not be strategic, but it achieved its goal.
This time around, three main changes will enhance or detract from its effectiveness.
1. Fragmented media – People have more media channels that are skewed to their already existing notions of reality. (Facebook groups/ TL, twitter followers, more skewed tv media)
2. Decentralized first-hand reporting – Everyone with a camera provides a unique perspective which leads to a diversity of data points that can reinforce or detract from a multitude of narratives.
3. Rapid mobilization of protestors. Now more than ever, it’s easier to scale protests beyond a particular city, which can lead to a larger dichotomy between local, regional and national narratives.