12 Tiny But Powerful Protests Proving You’re Never Too Small To Make A Difference
Imagine a demonstration. You probably imagine large groups of people with signs in their hands, walking from point A to point B. People have been taking to the streets to make their voices heard for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Nothing new there.
But if it feels like there are more protests than usual, that’s because there are. In fact, they have tripled in less than 15 years. We are in a historic era of protest.
But sometimes the protest takes a less conventional form than those massive crowds of citizens you imagined. Sometimes all it takes is a small group of people to have a massive impact. And sometimes it’s just one.
Greta Thunberg, whose rise from teenage solo activist to global climate leader is a legend, once said, “You’re never too small to make a difference.” We think these tiny but mighty demonstrations from recent history prove she was right.
1. Russian Presenter Storming TV News
Russian TV presenter Marina Ovsyannikova interrupted a live broadcast on Russian state television earlier this month to stage an anti-war protest following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
As the news anchor read about a Russia-Belarus encounter, TV producer Ovsyannikova who works at the station jumped up behind her holding up a sign that read, “NO WAR. Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They lie to you here.
Hijacking during Channel One’s main state television broadcast tonight – a woman with a No to War poster shouts to stop the war. Channel One has already “probed the incident regarding the stranger’s presence during the live broadcast”. pic.twitter.com/wHyV9lyHZe
— Mary Ilyushina (@maryilyushina) March 14, 2022
The sign was only filmed for a few seconds, but the impact was felt around the world, earning praise from world leaders including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, sparking calls for her to be nominated for an award Nobel Peace Prize.
A video was then posted on social media in which Ovsyannikova said she was ashamed to work for a channel that aired Russian propaganda.
As the war in Ukraine has escalated, so has the challenge in Russia, where police are cracking down, arresting thousands of people protesting the invasion.
2. Women dress up as bloody brides to protest Lebanon’s rape law
To protest a decades-old law that allowed rapists to run away without punishment if they married their victims, 12 Lebanese women, dressed as brides in white wedding dresses stained with fake blood and bandages over their eyes , knees and hands, stood in front of the government building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, in 2016.
The protest worked as the Lebanese parliament repealed the law a year later.
— Hasan Shaaban (@hasanshaaban) December 6, 2016
3. Pussy Riot storm a FIFA World Cup game in Russia
Punk performance band, Pussy Riot, are well known for their protests against human rights abuses in Russia. Whether it’s playing atop scaffolding in the Moscow metro in 2011, ripping up feather pillows and throwing the contents onto the track, or storming a World Cup match in Russia in 2018, they sure know how to get the world’s eyes on their cause. .
4. Greta is sitting in front of the Swedish Parliament
It’s a story so powerful it’s become a thing of folklore. In the summer of 2018, when Greta Thunberg was just 15 and in ninth grade, she staged a two-week strike outside Sweden’s parliament, demanding that her government cut emissions.
“Us kids don’t do what you tell us to do most of the time. We are like you. And since you adults don’t care about my future, neither do I. My name is Greta and I’m in ninth grade. And I’m on a school climate strike until election day. 1/3 https://t.co/LrRgTD2rmEpic.twitter.com/UQPFjzTjV2
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) August 20, 2021
She has since launched the international Fridays For Future movement, become a global climate leader, was named Time’s Person of the Year and has been nominated multiple times for the Nobel Peace Prize for activism. climatic. In 2020, 4 million people joined her in a strike in 161 countries – the biggest climate protest in history.
5. 4 men and a tent create the Aboriginal Tent Embassy
The year is 1972. Four young First Nations activists walk to the grass in front of Australia’s Parliament Hill in the middle of the night, open a parasol, plant it in the ground and sit down.
The next morning, their protest signs read: “Land ownership is not a lease”, “Why pay to use our own land? », « Which one do you choose ?? Land rights or bloodshed! and, most importantly, a handmade sign with the words “Indigenous Embassy”.
Aboriginal tent embassy – 50th anniversary. Established in 1972 on the grounds of Ngunnawal in Canberra, Old Parliament House. Considered the world’s longest protest for indigenous land rights.
“We are strangers in our own country.” Professor Gary Foley pic.twitter.com/m9jav9B7hz
—Barbara McGrady (@BarbsMac2144) January 25, 2022
They might not have known it at the time, but their act of protest would reverberate around the world for decades, shining a spotlight on a number of issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and launching global conversations about the legacy of colonization and dispossession, land rights, sovereignty and the Stolen Generation.
Today, 50 years later, the Aboriginal Embassy still stands there and remains a site of protest, making it one of the oldest continuous protests in the world.
6. Tuvalu’s minister addresses COP26 waist deep in water
You may not have heard of Tuvalu. The high-flying ministers at the UN Climate Conference COP26 probably didn’t pay much attention either. Until…the country’s foreign minister, Simon Kofe, recorded a speech for COP26 in November last year, standing waist-deep in seawater to stress how point his low-lying island nation is on the front lines of rising sea levels, and to protest the injustice of climate change affecting those who have contributed least to it.
7. Indigenous peoples of South Africa camp at the foot of a statue of Nelson Mandela
At the foot of one of South Africa’s most famous statues of Nelson Mandela, the country’s indigenous people, the Khoisans, have been protesting for three years to be constitutionally recognized as South Africa’s first nation, between other questions.
8. Activist takes on Shell CEO on TED Stage
It was supposed to be a “civilian” discussion at the top of TED’s countdown to 2021 between the founder of an activist fund, a Scottish climate campaigner, and the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, the largest oil and gas company. gas company based in Europe. But when Shell is responsible for unfathomable environmental damage, human rights abuses and oil spills that continue to ravage the land, ‘civilian’ was going to be a challenge.
During the conversation, young activist Lauren MacDonald confronted Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, saying: “You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself”. MacDonald then detailed Shell’s long history of pollution and contributing to the climate crisis and noted its reported complicity in the murder of Nigerian activists in the 1990s.
Shell, MacDonald said, is “responsible for so much death and suffering” before asking van Beurden directly: “If you’re going to sit here and act like you care about climate action, why are you appealing of the recent court ruling that Shell must cut its emissions by 45% by 2030?When he refused to answer, in protest, she walked off the stage.
9. Protesters throw dirty diapers at a political headquarters in Mexico
Using slingshots, two dozen protesters in Mexico threw 1,000 dirty diapers into the offices of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ruling party, the Partido Revolutionario Institucional (PRI) in 2017. Called the pañalazo, the protest creative was to “give back to the PRI all the crap they gave to the government and the country with their corruption and impunity.
—El Universal (@El_Universal_Mx) February 2, 2017
10. Protesters wash the national flag in Peru to clean up corruption
About 200 Peruvians symbolically waved red and white Peruvian flags in front of the presidential palace to protest the “dirty politics” of President Alberto Fujimori’s 2000 re-election campaign. (Fujimori was later imprisoned for abusing his power and using violent tactics to crush his opposition.) The flag-cleaning protest lasted for months, but it wasn’t until a video surfaced showing a Fujimori ally bribing a lawmaker that the president was forced to flee the Peru.
11. Indian men don skirts to protest gang rape
When a 23-year-old student was gang raped on a bus in New Delhi in 2013, Indian authorities responded by suggesting a skirt ban to prevent further rapes. To protest this victim blaming solution, 25 Indian men took to the streets wearing skirts, to argue that no matter what you are wearing, sexual assault is never the fault of the victim.
12. Columbia University student carries mattress to protest sexual assault on campus
In 2015, Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz carried her dorm mattress on her back to protest the school’s failure to expel her alleged rapist.
Sulkowicz and her mattress became a powerful symbol of the movement to reform sexual assault procedures on campus after she decided to drag him to campus for her thesis, titled “Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight).” She even brought it to her graduation.
You can join us in protesting the ongoing war in Ukraine peacefully, either by joining protests near you or by joining the protest online. Find out how you can get involved and take action here.