About one in five people in the U.S. have attended a protest or political rally since 2016

Peaceful Assembly

As reported by the Monitor, several protests and demonstrations have taken place in the US in recent months. Activism has increased over the last two years according to a recent poll that stated that "tens of millions of Americans have joined protests and rallies in the past two years, their activism often driven by admiration or outrage toward President Trump."

Gun control related protests

Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and teachers were killed, several protests took place in the country demanding action on gun control. 

On 19th February, dozens of young people and their families rallied outside of the White House in Washington DC in support of stricter gun control laws. Protesters held signs that read: "Change gun laws or change Congress" and “Am I next?”. One group, known as Teens for Gun Reform, had 17 members lie down outside the White House to symbolise the number of people who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

On 14th March, tens of thousands of students across the country walked out of their schools to protest the lack of government action to address the nation’s gun violence. Protests were also held outside the U.S. Capitol and at the White House. Many teachers, parents and school administrators took part in the walkout, but some school officials warned students they would face disciplinary action for leaving their classrooms without authorisation. Nearly 3,000 schools are estimated to have participated in the walkout.

Chanting "Vote them out!" and bearing signs reading “No More Silence” and “Keep NRA Money Out of Politics”, thousands of people filled Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. and marched in cities across the country on 24th March. Large rallies with crowds estimated in the tens of thousands gathered for March for Our Lives events held in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Parkland, Florida, the site of the 14th February attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

To mark the two-month anniversary of the Florida school shooting, students protested outside of the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia on 14th April. Local students were joined by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida who made speeches in support of gun control.

Thousands of gun rights advocates also held rallies in several state capitals urging lawmakers to resist calls for gun control measures. Peaceful protesters gathered outside statehouses from Maine to Wyoming to hear speakers support the Second Amendment and warn against restrictions on gun ownership. In Augusta, Maine, for example, around 800 people protested at the statehouse. In Atlanta, Georgia, about 160 people participated in a rally for gun rights, with many people carrying weapons and signs saying, "Don't Tread On Me".

Racial justice related protests

The killing of an unarmed black man by police on 18th March prompted widespread protest across Sacramento. Large peaceful rallies disrupted traffic, blocked access to a professional basketball game and disrupted a local city council meeting in the days following Stephon Clark's death. Protests continued in the city, including at the district attorney’s offices, where two demonstrators were arrested on 12th April. In response to the mass protests, local professional basketball team, the Sacramento Kings, announced plans to partner with Build. Black. Coalition and Black Lives Matter Sacramento to “fundamentally transform Black communities through deep investment in Black youth”.

The arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks on 12th April prompted protests at the coffee shop, a community sit-in and an online campaign to boycott the coffee company. People began protesting at the Starbucks soon after a video of police handcuffing the two men went viral. An online #boycottStarbucks campaign started trending on social media. In response to the public's outrage, Starbucks issued an apology and the CEO said he would meet with the two men who had been arrested. Prosecutors declined to charge the two men, who were released several hours under arrest.

University protests

On 5th March, at least 25 people were arrested after violent clashes broke out between protesters and police near a Michigan State University building where white nationalist Richard Spencer planned to speak. Police in riot gear were called in to separate about 20 Spencer supporters from the hundreds of counter protesters, but not before multiple incidents of violence occurred. The police said some of the protesters were found to be carrying weapons on them when they were arrested. Thirteen were charged with felonies while others face misdemeanor charges, including disorderly conduct, failure to obey police and trespassing.

Students and officials from Howard University in Washington DC struck a deal on 6th April to end nine days of protest where hundreds of students occupied the school’s administration building. The student protest was prompted by the university’s firing of six employees in the wake of an alleged financial aid scam. Led by the student group HU Resist, the protesters sought the resignation of the university’s president, improvements to university housing and facilities, and an overhaul of the school’s response to sexual assault. According to the Washington Post, the deal, “promises that students will be involved in reviewing the adequacy of on-campus housing,” and “makes pledges about improving the reporting of sexual violence and holding the line on tuition”.

Labour rights related issues

Teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona are speaking out against years of stagnate wages and cuts to education spending. In West Virginia, a nine-day-long strike forced the governor and legislators to raise teachers’ pay by five percent and drop legislation that would have made teachers' organisations anti-union. In Oklahoma, teachers walked out of the classroom on 2nd April to call for better funding and salaries. The protest forced many public schools across the state to close, and teachers have said they will continue to protest until their demands are met. "We've gotten tired of begging for everything," said Larry Cagle, an English teacher and co-founder of Oklahoma Teachers United. "Teachers, students and the community have decided enough is enough". On 13th April, thousands of Kentucky teachers and their supporters rallied at the state capital building in Frankfurt against a pension reform bill they say falls short of their needs. At least 39 school districts in the state were forced to close due to the protest. Arizona teachers held a “walk-in” protest on 4th April to demand a 20 percent increase in pay.

Oklahoma, West Virginia and Arizona rank among the worst states in terms of teachers' salaries, says the National Education Association.

Anti-war protests

Anti-war activists held a series of protests in dozens of cities to condemn President Trump’s missile strikes on Syria. The day after the attack, dozens of people gathered in front of the White House to denounced the airstrikes. Groups like the United National Antiwar Coalition and the ANSWER Coalition organised protests in 40 cities, including New York City, Oakland, Minneapolis and El Paso. Code Pink also led protests in San Francisco outside the homes of Senator Dianne Feinstein and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Science related issues

The 2018 March for Science was held on 14th April in several cities across the country. For example, in Chicago, thousands of people gathered inside the Field Museum of Natural History to talk with scientists and write postcards that were later sent to the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation. In Washington DC, around 10,000 people marched to the National Mall and heard speeches about environmental issues. In Raleigh, about 100 people rallied near the North Carolina General Assembly building.

On 21st March, more than 300 demonstrators occupied the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s administration building to criticise the proposed elimination of 13 majors in the humanities and social sciences. The Save Our Majors demonstration included faculty, staff and community members. More protests on campus are planned.

Immigration-related issues

On 27th February, at least 40 members of “Catholics for Dreamers” were arrested on Capitol Hill as they demonstrated against Congress’ failure to help young undocumented adults brought to the U.S. as minors, known as Dreamers. As part of the Catholic Day for Dreamers, more than 200 people rallied outside of the Capitol to hear speeches and meet with members of Congress. The executive order establishing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme was set to expire 5th March.

Other protests

Thousands of Macedonian-Americans and their supporters held a rally in Washington DC on 3rd March to protest the Macedonia's potential name change. The rally at the National Mall is part of a coordinated global effort to influence the leaders who are negotiating with Greece over its sovereignty.

Expression

A journalist arrested while covering a protest in downtown Memphis was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents immediately after his release. On 5th April, ICE agents waited outside of the Shelby County Jail to arrest Manuel Duran, a reporter for Memphis Noticias, soon after charges against him for disorderly conduct and obstructing a highway while covering the protest were dropped. The immigration status of Duran, who is from El Salvador, is unclear, but reports say he could face deportation.

On 28th March, police arrested a New York Daily News reporter for talking on his cell phone in the lobby of the New York State Senate. Ken Lovett was handcuffed by police after he was confronted by a Senate sergeant-at-arms while talking on his phone. According to Lovett, the sergeant-at-arms told him to leave the building, but he refused. Lovett was later released without charge.

In an exchange captured on video, former White House aide Sebastian Gorka was seen pushing a reporter at the Conservative Political Action Conference on 19th February. “Seb Gorka just got in my face,(...) and shoved me—guess he's still not my biggest fan,” Mediaite reporter Caleb Ecarma tweeted after the incident.

A Little Rock high school teacher was arrested after he harassed and threatened a local journalist who reported on his social media posts. Police say Lance Fritchman of McClellan High School left voicemail messages telling reporter Mitchell McCoy to “come out and let’s handle this man to man”. According to the police, Fritchman is charged with criminal trespassing after making repeated visits to the news stations where McCoy worked.

Tim Fleischer, an Eyewitness News reporter, was assaulted by a man while recording a news segment on 10th April. According to police, Efram Lacroix approached Fleisher while he was conducting an interview and punched him in the face. Lacroix was arrested immediately after the incident and is charged with assault and harassment. The reporter was hospitalised but was not seriously injured.

On 12th March, a San Diego reporter was live on the air when she and her photographer were attacked by an unarmed man. Reporter Bree Steffen and photographer Mike Gold were both unharmed and it remains unclear why the man became violent.

A Wisconsin high school student filed a lawsuit against his school’s principal after he was told he risked disciplinary action if he defied a school ban on wearing gun-themed apparel. Matthew Schoenecker, a freshman at Markesan High School, is suing because he says the ban infringes on his First Amendment free speech right to support the Second Amendment. One of Schoenecker’s shirts spell out the word “Love” using a handgun, grenade, knives and a rifle.

On 30th March, the State Department made public a proposal that would require almost all visa applicants to submit social media information for review in order to travel or immigrate to the U.S. Affecting nearly 15 million people a year, the new rules would require applicants to report the identifiers “and search results” for social media accounts that they have used in the previous five years. They would also be required to report whether certain family members have been involved in “terrorist activities”. Critics of the proposal say it would have a “chilling” effect on freedom of speech and association rights of individuals and nonprofits who work with international partners. The proposal requires approval by the Office of Management and Budget.