Days of Rage: Is Ferguson spreading out or dissipating?

Inspired by the ongoing events in Ferguson, Anonymous has called for Days of Rage protests across the nation:

 

At least one part of the story here is the reasonably sophisticated use of social media, including Youtube above.  The description on Youtube includes a link to a list of events planned in more than 30 cities, so far.  Facebook is another site to find local information.

Poor policing, profiling, racism, and brutality are hardly problems limited to Ferguson, and some in Anonymous see the opportunity to fill the spotlight and press the issues.

Meanwhile, police in most of those cities are better trained, even better armed, and better prepared than those in Ferguson.  They are certainly monitoring the same social media sites as the activists.  Staging these events on such short notice will be the work of locals, not any kind of professionalized national group; expect the events–and the policing–to vary a lot.

There’s a question about whether diffusion, spreading the call around the country, or focus is the best strategy for this moment.  Multiplying fronts in the emerging battle runs the risk of losing control of the message and dissipating the efforts.  Until now, the focus on Ferguson has riveted media and popular attention on events across a few blocks.  For more than a week, it’s been clear that some large number of those in the streets–including the police–are not from Ferguson.  This has meant a willingness to trade peace in that tiny city for a vision of justice for Michael Brown and attention to larger issues.  This has meant a concentration of forces in a very small area.

The focus approach, mobilizing immense efforts in a limited site, has worked in the past.  Racism was also a nationwide problem in 1964, when the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee focused its summer project on Mississippi, and its efforts promoted a national response.  The old Days of Rage protests sponsored by the Weather Underground focused on Chicago in 1969, and a few hundred activists generated national attention–if not any policy victories.  Diffusion can also work, as we saw with Occupy.

The question for this round of Days of Rage is whether the protests, starting tonight, end up multiplying forces without diluting focus.

 

 

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About David S. Meyer

Author and professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine
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3 Responses to Days of Rage: Is Ferguson spreading out or dissipating?

  1. ebrew79 says:

    Needs to be a nationwide event, People have forgotten about John Crawford in Ohio, and then there is Ezell Ford and Omar Abrego in LA. Cops acting without fear.

    • The questions: 1. can activists generate a substantial and visible presence nationwide? 2. is mobilized action likely to keep the focus on police behavior or shift to the demonstrators?

  2. Pingback: Days of Rage: Is Ferguson spreading out or dissipating? | Occupy Wall Street by Platlee

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