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Think Out Loud

The Role of Protesting

Pete Springer/OPB

Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Wisconsin are areas around the world where masses of people have staged protests in recent weeks. Protests in Libya and Bahrain are gaining traction as thousands risk their lives to demand democracy and overturn dictatorial regimes. In the American Midwest, thousands of people in 10 states have participated in walk-outs or assembled at their government buildings, demonstrating support for labor unions and against potential threats to their unions’ ability to make bargaining agreements. 

Some Americans are drawing connections between these protests and showing support for protesters in the Midwest and worldwide. A coalition of progressive groups planned solidarity rallies with Wisconsin workers in all 50 state capitols for Saturday, Feb. 26. In Salem, hundreds of people demonstrated. Counter-demonstrations were planned in some states. 

It’s debatable how directly the protests abroad have influenced Americans to protest, but some say they are inspired by the changes they’ve seen in the Mideast brought by recent populist movements.

Have you participated in a protest? What would it take for you to publicly rally? What connections are you making between protests in Wisconsin and other parts of the world? What role do protests play in existing and emerging democracies?


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