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Activists in the USA: what the Americans fought for and what came of it

This spring, a March for Our Lives rally took place in the United States — student rallies demanding to limit the circulation of weapons in the country, which is notorious for frequent shooting at schools. Where the arms lobby has always been part of the political mainstream, major changes seem an unattainable goal, but the ice has broken and the action was supported by influential representatives of popular culture, which is also traditionally important for the United States.

Фото: Depositphotos

Edition "Нож"Recollects another seven American activist movements of the last decades - from PETA and Black Lives Matter before Anonymous and fighters for public toilets for transgender people.


Purpose: the struggle for animal rights.

What have achieved: denial of fur has become the accepted norm.

PETA founded the Englishwoman Ingrid Newkirk in the 1980 year, shortly after moving to live in Baltimore. One day, her neighbors moved out, leaving behind a dozen kittens, which continued to multiply already on its territory. Being a native of Surrey, she grandly called the animal capture service. She was told that the cats were put to sleep, but the expression put down she took it too literally, in British: “I thought:“ Oh, how nice, they will be seated there, and then they will find a new home ”.

When Newkirk decided to look into the room with the kittens, the center employee asked, puzzled: “I mean? Why watch? They are all already dead. ”

This moment was a turning point in the life of Ingrid. She left the university (she wanted to become a broker), settled down at the same animal control center, trying to prevent ill-treatment of representatives of the homeless fauna at least at the local level. As a result, having failed to change the order (local servants regularly thrust their victims into refrigerators, crushed and kicked them), she began to arrive at the center as early as possible in order to kill dozens of animals with her own hands, without unnecessary cruelty. This is where the PETA radicalism began.

Already in 1981, the organization achieved the first (and, seemingly, the last) police raid to an animal lab, where 17 experimental monkeys from the Philippines removed their genitals and spinal ganglia. The owner of the center was charged on six counts - however, later all of them were canceled or canceled. But Ingrid managed to start a massive information campaign with the participation of celebrity (one of the main allies of the activists will be Pamela Anderson, hiding behind sheets of lettuce on billboards) and achieve changes in the law Animal welfare act. And PETA has evolved from a small group of like-minded people into a whole national (and then international) abolitionist movement.

Since then, PETA supporters have undressed against the use of fur (Newkirk admits that they deliberately use sex as a propaganda tool: “We are real media girls”), spattered the coats of stars with fake blood, threw the dead raccoon right into the plate editor (Vogue, broadcast clips with torture of elephants before entering the circus, released video games on Kentucky Fried Cruelty - in a word, they tried to defend the rights of animals by all available means.


Purpose: initially - lulz, then - cyberwar with censorship, terrorism, racism and authoritarian states.

What have achieved: introduced the concept of "hacktivism", de-anonymized the Kukluksklanovtsy, helped fight Internet censorship in authoritarian countries, gathered followers around the world.

Фото: Depositphotos

Action Anonymous It is not entirely correct to refer to exclusively American activism. Being a "decentralized global brain", the organization originated in the vast 4chan in the distant 2003 year, when in the collective unconscious the imageboard was not yet considered the outpost of alt-Wright (and even then there was no such word).

In 2008, Anonymus abandoned crypto-hooliganism and seriously took on hacktivism. Their first goal was the Church of Scientology, which attracted public attention to itself after the very movie with Tom Cruise. Black faxes were drained by cartridges to the head office address, telephone lines, DDoS attacks, and protests around Church offices around the world.

It was then that the Guy Fawkes mask from the movie “V means Vendetta” became a symbol of movement. The first serious battle was rather lost: many hacktivists were calculated by IP and arrested because of poorly developed instructions that were distributed through IRC chats.

The peak of the popularity of the movement came at the beginning of 2010-x - anonymus successfully joined the Arab spring, helping the people of Tunisia to hide from state surveillance and sending government sites offline. Then there were attacks on Bank of America, homophobic organizations (including the Ugandan authorities, which issued the anti-LGBT law, but not Vitaly Milonov) were included in the distribution. Already in 2012 year Anonymous got into the list of "100 most influential people" according to the magazine Time - The movement has largely changed the structure of the protest as such, showing the importance of online operations. 5 November 2013 for the first time passed the “March of a Million Masks” - Anonymus was dumped on the streets in 400 cities around the world.

In 2015, they started a dubious fight against ISIS in terms of their effectiveness, and even issued instructions for everyone.

And in 2016, on the eve of the US presidential election, reports began to appear that hacktivists declared war on Donald Trump. Later, an official denial followed, stating that such actions contradict the ideology of the movement: "We want everybody to be heard, even if he is a monster."

Black Lives Matter

Purpose: racial equality.

What have achieved: Of the Ferguson effect, a serious dialogue about cop violence and racism.

Фото: Depositphotos

In the summer of 2013, after the court acquitted Hans Zimmerman - a white man who shot a 17-year-old unarmed black teenager in his residential complex - activist Alicia Garza wrote a post on Facebook A Love Note to Black People. Patrice Coolors answered in the comments: #blacklivesmatter. They were joined by Opal Tomet, one of the largest social movements in the United States (and in the world) in recent years.

In August, 2014-th BLM held their first official peaceful protest rally in Ferguson on the occasion of the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was killed by a white police officer during a store robbery. Since then, the movement has organized more than a hundred demonstrations, making its unofficial anthem track Alright Kendrick Lamar.

Their ideologies are based on ideas of equality and inclusion. Two of the three co-founders identify themselves as queer.

Phrase Black Lives Matter, being both the name of a decentralized movement, and a slogan, and a hashtag, turned out to be too abstract a term. After some time, the project appeared Movement for Black Lives, and differentiate the activism passing under the BLM hashtag became much more difficult, and even later All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter (movements in support of law enforcement officers who died during execution).

In recent years, there have been fewer rallies, but activism continues.

Occupy Wall Street

Purpose: the overthrow of corporate power.

What have achieved: Kanye West’s support, Barack Obama’s languid commentary and the long squatting of a private park.

Фото: Depositphotos

In 2011, the Canadian anti-consumist edition Adbusters through the mailing list, it stated that “America needs its own Tahrir,” hinting at the Arab Spring. The main plagues of modern society were the initiators of the protests who declared the growing role of corporations in the economy, the uneven distribution of capital and the global crisis. One of these letters was accompanied by an image of a ballerina on the famous Wall Street bull - it was proposed to arrange a march to the main financial Mecca of the United States.

In the autumn of the same year, the demonstrators nevertheless went outside - and occupied Zukotti Park (all other points of destination were cordoned off by the police beforehand, and the square remained free because it was the private territory of the company Brookfield with which the protesters can be expelled only with the consent of the owner). The demonstrators set up their camp here with a wifi and field kitchen and held it for more than a month until the owner of Zukotti Park complained that sanitary norms were violated in the territory. As a result, the “sector” was cleared out (not without the help of a pepper spray), along with arresting protesters around 200.

Occupy Wall Street, despite the support of celebrities like Kanye West, she could not get any clear actions from financial institutions and authorities, except for Barack Obama’s streamlined comment.

Later it turned out that the FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security were following the protest (a counterterrorism unit was involved in the operation), and also coordinated their actions with the very Wall Street banks. The plastic world has won.


Purpose: show the scale of the problem of harassment.

What have achieved: the overthrow of patriarchy in Hollywood, female solidarity throughout the world; forced society to take a new step towards gender equality.

Фото: Depositphotos

The phrase that helped to overthrow the patriarchy in Hollywood and begin a serious dialogue on gender equality appeared in 2006 in the open spaces MySpace. Activist Tarana Burke, having failed to find other words, answered the 13-year-old girl who admitted that she had been sexually abused.

In October 2017, in the midst of a scandal around the figure of Harvey Weinstein, actress Alyssa Milano remembered this phrase: “If all women who had been sexually harassed or attacked would also have written„Me too“In our status, we could give people the opportunity to imagine the extent of this problem.” Dozens of celebrities answered Milano’s tweet, including Björk, Lady Gaga and Emily Ratakovski, and the hashtagMeToo over the day provoked more than 12 million posts on Facebook alone and subsequently grew into a full-fledged movement Time's upstruggling with the problem of harassment.

Following Weinstein, who had been protested against 80 women, a number of actors were accused of sexual violence, including Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman and James Franco.

After cleaning a man in Hollywood, as he wrote The New Yorker, found themselves in the position of “Jews in Germany”: meetings now take place with the doors open, and their participants practically ceased to embrace.

By February of this year, the organization managed to raise 20 million dollars to help victims of violence, as well as attract about 200 volunteer lawyers.

Sports protests against the US anthem

Purpose: raise the topic of police violence and racial inequality.

What have achieved: public attention and Trump's humiliation.

In 2016, at the start of the National Football League pre-season games, Colin Kapernik, club quarterback San Francisco 49ers, sat on the lawn during the performance of the US national anthem in protest against police violence and racial inequality.

Later, he began to kneel down to pay respect to the veterans of the US Army (it is believed that the anthem before the start of sports games is dedicated to them and the police forces, and not to the country as a whole), but at the same time continue its protest.

Kapernyk decided to support players throughout the league - many also bowed one knee, others following the example of Tommy Smith and John Carlos from the Olympics-1968 (the protest had deep roots - everything started at the end of the 19th century) raised their fist up, others clung to each other with their hands during the performance of the Banner, covered with stars.

In September 2017, President Trump added fuel to the fire. After his emotional speech that he should get rid of the protesting players (“Take [this] son ​​of a bitch off the field, he is fired. Fired!”), The protest movement gained a new life. Some began to remain altogether in the locker room for the time of the hymn, and not only the athletes but also Stevie Wonder and, for example, the main characters of the X-Files, fell on his knee.

Supreme Court member Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the protest "stupid and disrespectful," adding that players have the right to behave this way, "if they want to be stupid." Oklahoma Senator James Lankford saw the Olgin troll conspiracy in it. The conservatives are furious, the protest continues - we are waiting for the new NFL season.


Fight for transgender people’s right to freely enter public toilets

Purpose: achieve the repeal of anti-LGBT law in North Carolina.

What have achieved: cancellations (albeit partial).

Фото: Depositphotos

In the spring of 2016, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a law under which all state transgender people are required to use the toilets in accordance with the sex indicated at birth in the passport. At the same time, the local municipality was forbidden to adopt regulations that could restore the rights of trans-people, the most oppressed social minority (according to the 2014 survey of the year, 42% of trans-women and 46% of trans-men in the USA tried to commit suicide at least once).

McCrory’s main argument was that, under the guise of transgender men, they allegedly would penetrate women's toilets and attack everyone in a row, although the statistics suggest the opposite: there were no such cases registered. At the same time, 70% trans people faced rejections and verbal aggression or physical abuse when visiting public restrooms.

Since the “Law on Toilets” came into force, not only LGBT people expressed their indignation, but also society as a whole: North Carolina began to be boycotted en masse. Politicians who have abolished business trips to the state, large businesses like companies, have joined the fight for the rights of trans people. PayPalfrozen the construction of the headquarters in Charlotte, musicians of the level of Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr, who canceled there concerts with tens of thousands of tickets sold, and even The site began to block all users from North Carolina - any click on the video for them ended with a black screen and the announcement of the administration.

As a result, after just a couple of weeks, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed an order softening the “toilet law”, although most of his points remained in force, unless private companies were able to set their own rules, and the state labor code now allowed legal proceedings against employers from - for gender discrimination. A year later, in March 2017, the new governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, officially abolished the law, although the LGBT community regarded it rather as a compromise: state authorities still had the actual right to regulate the norms of public restrooms, but to change anything in the current "toilet" legislation, they can now no earlier than 2020 year.

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