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How Not to Protest – Wear a Mask

March 25, 2012

In a society where increasing numbers of ‘average-joes’ want insight into the people who own the majority of the wealth and their activities; where, more than ever, people are interested in raising public interest in social issues – you can’t expect to hide behind a mask, virtual or physical.  The ability to hide has also become vastly more difficult.  You can wear a mask to a rally, but expect that if your face appears on the internet somewhere, you will be found and identified.

Sometimes this occurs inadvertently, for example – the Fleming Dr. rioters. They didn’t really have a cause, but they were certainly overt about their actions. The faces of hundreds of these people were shown in a matter of moments and can be found all over the  various social networking sites, unashamedly shouting ‘Fanshawe’ and ‘Welcome to London’ amongst other things. They may not have spoken to anyone and publicized their names, but uploaded photos and videos have done that for them.

The members of the ‘Occupy’ movements around the world were primarily visible when approached or when speaking about their cause. It made them both approachable and humanized their message because it wasn’t coming from someone who wanted to be hidden, afraid to really stand up and make a statement. They want their message heard, and at least the average citizen can see who they are and have a chance to listen to what they say.

On the other hand, there are those like the anti-Olympic protestors at the Vancouver Olympics.  Wearing black balaclavas or masks, they destroyed public property and became violent when pressured by the police to disperse. I know some of the arguments that people had to oppose the Olympics – for instance, that public funds could be better spent to upgrade living conditions for those in assisted living/municipal housing; or that the First Nations community should be supported with more than a one-time handshake.  These are valid arguments and I would freely discuss them, but the black-masked folk had no intention of discussing anything.  They were intent on causing damage and disruption. And they were doing it incognito. How very brave of them.

Today, in my own city of London, Ontario, there was a planned protest by those supporting ‘white pride.’  An anti-racism group was prepared to ‘counter-protest’ in support of anti-racism.  While I support both groups’ right to rally, and actually support the cause of anti-racism, having been the target of racists and bigots myself, I cannot support a group that will not show its face.

I did not survey the rally site and did not personally witness the numbers of white pride supporters vs the numbers of anti-racism supporters, however I understand the counter-protestors outnumbered the original protestors.  I did meet a few of the anti-racism supporters, however I was very brusque and told them I was not interested in knowing what they were protesting about. This was met with the comment that I had my head in the sand like an ostrich.

At the time, I had no idea what the protest was about.  However, when approached by a group, whatever the size, of people wearing bandannas over their faces and hoisting flags of unknown significance, I tend to be less than interested in speaking with them.  Even with my girlfriend at my side and possibly because my girlfriend was at my side, I was intimidated enough to want to avoid any sort of confrontation or possible verbal abuse.

It turns out that these folk were likely members of the anti-racism group, a concept which I support. But just a word to the wise, if you are serious about your cause, whatever that cause may be, show your face.  It at once makes you about 100 times more credible and certainly more approachable. And just maybe, it shows you have nothing to hide.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Missnintyninepercent permalink
    March 25, 2012 9:13 AM

    We covered our faces for our own protection… These skin heads were the same ones that lit a man on fire when he.was asleep… I’m sorry we intimated you. I have a child I do not wish for someone like a neo natzi to search for me because I was at an anti hate rally theses people will hurt others.. I for one wish to stay safe

    • March 25, 2012 2:36 PM

      I’m sorry that you felt endangered by supporting your cause because again, I feel it is a valid cause. No one should feel that they are in danger whether they are the protestors or bystanders.

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