Protest in Cape Town outside the Russian Embassy – What’s in a protest anyway?

Yesterday Capetonians gathered to protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in front of the Russian Embassy in Thibault Square Plaza. They weren’t the first and probably won’t be the last to protest. Protests have erupted across the world, from London to Tokyo, as civic discontent blows wildfire.

Many of the Cape Town protesters were expats from Ukraine and Russia. Some were those who simply care about the innocent lives affected. The scenes were moving as people urged through protest placards and implored Russia to stop the invasion. The protest was peaceful, but the feelings were one of unrest.

These protest actions may seem admirable to some and futile to others. What’s in a peaceful protest anyway? The cynic might think.

A form of civic culture that impacts social movements – from political to cultural, peaceful protest has prevailed since its widespread popularity in the 1960s. Civic culture has always been something that has fascinated me when studying its impact in my undergraduate and postgraduate years as a political science student before graduating, and I still write afterwards Ashleigh Nefdt of Cape {town} Etc.

Peaceful protests unite mobilization, the instrument playing the tune of the gathering of the free opinions of the individual. It’s how people say they stand up to decisions that aren’t their own, fighting the consequences that become just that.

Large or small, peaceful protests in particular show the world one essential thing: many civilians do not agree to harm the innocent. In the current climate, from what many global protests indicate, this thread of thought is present, and at its heart are these innocent people affected.

This applies to Russians who shared their displeasure on social media over actions over which they had no say, to Ukrainian civilians hiding in underground metro stations seeking shelter and who also have no say, and to all those in the world who cling to their loved ones a little tighter.

Especially in the age of social media, the number of people hoping for peace on multiple topics can be seen in real time, and often in numbers. If anything, protesting social media also shows us the individualism present in the world, largely disconnecting these from the choices of their countries. It’s something that wasn’t so easily shared in many other historical conflicts – people’s real opinions.

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Russia invading Ukraine explained in 5 points

Picture: Esa Alexander

About Walter J. Leslie

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