With the drama of a nationally organized protest movement unfolding in their neighborhood, GW students – and their behavior – find themselves in the spotlight. This notoriety, however, brings with it certain responsibilities, including promoting issue-oriented education among demonstrators, while refraining from violence.
The ultimate goal of the protests is to change the practices of the targeted institutions – the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. But in the short term, the rallies hold the potential to involve a broad spectrum of people concerned about important global social issues.
The great legacy of the impending demonstrations lies in educating these newly interested activists, a process that benefits both the organizers, by swelling the ranks of available troops, and society at large by creating conscientious, free-thinking citizens. On the other hand, peer-pressure protesting diminishes the value of the substance of the demonstrations and discredits the leaders and truly devoted followers of the causes this rally supports. Protest organizers should strive not only to amass a large number of malcontents at the gates of the IMF and World Bank but also to ensure that those demonstrators are well-versed in the cause.
Inevitably, whenever so many people gather in one place, the possibility of deviance from idyllic, peaceful demonstrations increases exponentially. Each protestor has the power to derail the efforts of thousands of well-meaning individuals by introducing violence into a tense situation. With the various police agencies already camped out around the IMF and World Bank, protestors should make every effort not to provoke the officers.
Violence only detracts from the message thousands of voices will chant this weekend. The District is busy preparing for the worst, for riots in the streets, for property damage and clashes with the police. But none of those things need to happen. Certainly the marchers wish to be remembered for their sentiments, not for the unruly actions the government anticipates.