DEMONSTRATIONS IN AMERICA: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE FACTORS MOTIVATING NON-VIOLENCE AT THE MILLION MAN MARCH AND VIOLENCE AT THE UNITE THE RIGHT RALLY
Moten, Elizabeth C.
Halladay, Carolyn C.
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Demonstrations have brought awareness to issues of healthcare, civil rights, women’s rights, and the environment. While most of these demonstrations have been peaceful, some have resulted in injury and death. This thesis attempts to develop an understanding of the factors motivating non-violence and violence at U.S. demonstrations by examining the 1995 Million March and the 2017 Unite the Right Rally. Seven crucial questions—What were the organizational efforts and funding source for the demonstrations? Who were the key players or organizations that participated in the demonstration and do they have a history violence? What was the rhetoric of the speakers and performers at the demonstration? What were the actions of the protestors and counter-protestors? What were the actions of law enforcement during the demonstration? Did any legal cases result from the demonstration? What was the media coverage before and after the event?—are analyzed for an understanding of the factors that lead to violence at demonstrations. The findings show that non-violent demonstrations share four factors: extensive planning for the demonstration, the presence of religious leaders, rhetoric of non-violence in the speeches, and the demonstrators’ ability to police themselves. In contrast, violent demonstrations share only lack of preparation by public officials, and improper responses from law enforcement, which may be the two determining factors for violence at these events.
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