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10 Things You Cannot Do at Peaceful Demonstrations, Riots, or Protest Rallies

Updated on June 24, 2014

Kent State University Killings


14-year-old Mary Ann Vecchio screaming and kneeling over the body of 20-year-old Jeffrey Miller, shot during the Kent State Massacre. Kent State photojournalism student John Paul Filo — just 22-years-old at the time — captured the image, and was later awarded the 1971 Pulitzer Prize.

Democratic National Convention Protests in Chicago 1968


Anti-Vietnam War protester in 1968


Hello, Memory Lane

All of the photos on this story lay-out are of riots. Who can name the last real, old-fashioned riot with heads-a-knocking, face socking, good old American, yell your heart out, riot? The Occupy Wall Street doesn’t count. There were no music festivals, Top 40 protest songs that came out of that event that proved to be nothing more than a sit-in. But I give the young folks a lot of credit for trying.

No one listened as the Occupy Wall Street protesters, who were peaceful by the way, kept yelling and screaming their truthful-opinions on how Wall Street is doing more than investing some suckers’ money, but playing an active role in policy-making favoring the super-rich. The protesters didn’t gain any friends by showing proof with voting records of United States senators and congressmen who apparently agree with these cold, heartless one-sided policies “bullied through” the Obama Administration. Cue the riot squads with bullet-proof shields, helmets, clubs, and teargas. Why? This was just a show of force. This sit-in’s participants did not start any fires in campus buildings, burning cars or Old Glory, so why the brute-force shown by the local police?

In a riot in 1915, Londoners destroy a German-owned shop


TOM HAYDEN, 68 (years later, he was a State Senator from California married to Jane Fonda)
Helped lead the anti-war protest at the Democratic National Convention

I never feared for my life during the attacks. I think it must be like a soldier in a war zone. Your adrenaline is so high that you’re not thinking those thoughts. I’m being clubbed and slugged; I was gassed. The gassing seemed perpetual.

The officers seemed to be just wantonly beating people. It was without boundaries. I was arrested twice in two days. I don’t know if my body or lungs could withstand it today. When you’re young, the body seems to want to survive. —Tom Hayden was co-founder of the Students for a Democratic Society, and one of the organizers of the anti-Vietnam War demonstration outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Now a writer and researcher, he teaches sociology at Pitzer College in Clairmont, California, and is a member of the editorial board of The Nation.

Did anyone respond?

The answer is the same as in the riots and anti-war protests of the 1960’s: To keep these “troublemakers,” and those who are rebelling against Uncle Sam in line. Show them who’s boss. Yeah, drive them back to their place in society an forget the Bill of Rights that guarantees a peaceful demonstration against any government official or policy.

No one made an effort to produce a solution to the Occupy Wall Street event. I am talking about and to the “Money mongers,” greed brokers and fat cats with fat salaries, fat felines and fat girlfriends, for knowing how to find and use monetary loopholes that will only add to their stash in their daddy’s bank. Oh how I wish someone would dial-up Pink Floyd’s “Money,” right here so I could enjoy the moment. I was wise in not asking for “If Six Was Nine,” by Jimi Hendrix for “I” didn’t want to be labeled a brainless protestor as some elders called them when I was young.

Who can forget the city-wide riot in Chicago, 1968, at the Democratic National Convention? And yeah, oh yeah, the Chicago Seven, (Originally the Chicago Eight), that included Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner— along with several yippies who made a name for themselves, only if temporarily, for trying to stop the war in Vietnam by openly-protesting how our president and government were sitting on their hands as thousands of our innocent guys were being slaughtered everyday that surfaced.

Memory jogger: the Chicago Seven, the brave souls, were charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to countercultural protests that took Chicago to the edge of destruction with the fiery, violent riots of 1968.

This is a violent riot


People flood the streets fighting, looting, some just want to save their own lives


Riots: an inside view

Say you would like to “forget this time in our country?” I used to say that. Now I want to remember this time if only for one reason: We had freedom then. Lots of freedom, to walk, run, bear signs, sing songs, clap our hands and even sit on our butts on the cold concrete hallways and byways to hold a constitutionally-guaranteed peaceful protest against anyone in office or any law that was “bulldozed” through Congress and Senate that meant harm to us and our kids.

I am not in any way, condoning or applauding the “hot heads,” who got caught-up in the frenzied-moments of the riots and started acting stupid by hurting others, including the cops who were, after all, just earning a paycheck to feed their kids. It was these people, the “hot heads,” who gave peaceful protests a black eye. Seriously, no pun toward the Black Panthers.

It’s all about peace and order. A peaceful demonstration is great, unless someone breaks through the invisible boundaries and then the police are then allowed to use force to keep the order. My question is: Is there a police equation somewhere that tells how many cracked skulls it takes to keep order?

The police have tough jobs during riots in the "old days"


During the riots, protests and demonstrations, we all danced with deaf ears


Angry young people yelling to speak their minds


Kent State: Lest we forget

Some demonstrations such as the infamous Kent State demonstrations, not riots as the “establishment” press reported, can and did get violent. It was just a group of kids from Kent State University exercising their right to protest the Vietnam war, government policies that promoted the Draft and not acting to cut-back on the bombing on Hanoi, and suddenly shots were fired. Yes, gunfire by a National Guard troop who were called-in to stop this “nonsense.” There were lectures to be given, tea to be drank, and no time for Kent State students to speak their mind and actually show how they all despised what was not happening in Washington as per the Vietnam War.

The sad fact of the Kent State University demonstration, lest we forget, were four students who were gunned-down by one or more National Guardsmen. Who pulled the trigger? Who got excited? And who over-reacted? I can say this with an honest-clarity: It was “not” all the Kent State students’ fault. It was not all of the National Guard’s fault. But it was someone’s fault. Just like the JFK Assassination and The One-Shooter or Two-Shooter Theory, we may never know.

All this talk about riots and bloody-demonstrations, is making me nauseated. So now the title of this piece:

10 Things That You Cannot do At Riots or Demonstrations

The 1968 Convention Riots at a glance

The primary cause of the demonstrations and the subsequent riots during the 1968 Chicago convention was opposition to the Vietnam War. Young peace activists had met at a camp in Lake Villa, Illinois on March 23 to plan a protest march at the convention. Anti-war leaders including David Dellinger (editor of Liberation magazine and chairman of the National Mobilization Committee to End War in Vietnam) Rennie Davis, head of the Center for Radical Research and a leader of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Vernon Grizzard, a draft resistance leader, and Tom Hayden (also a leader of the Students for a Democratic Society) coordinated efforts with over 100 anti-war groups.

Groups related to this effort also planned events. Jerry Rubin (a former associate of Dellinger) and Abbie Hoffman (both leaders of the Youth International Party (YIPPIES) planned a Youth Festival with the goal of bringing 100,000 young adults to Chicago. They tried to get a permit from Chicago to hold a YIPPIE convention. The permit was denied, but the YIPPIES still came.

Teargas and guns smoke so thick you could walk on it


Sometimes, police were pushed to use force to keep order


Vietnam rolled on while politicians spun webs of deception


Please pay attention

10. You cannot, for any reason, start calling the police vulgar names. And that includes the disrespectful moniker, “Pigs,” tacked onto them by anti-war protesters during the Vietnam years.

9. Do not tickle the demonstrators in front of you causing the police (if any are there) to think a fight is breaking-out and the demonstators are met with a severe-clubbing by the police.

8. Making ugly faces at the news media who cover this riot or demonstration will not help whatever cause the demonstration is about. Fact is, your face-making will bring shame and discredit to the cause.

7. Teasing the police dogs is a definite no, no. And if the dogs bite you, you are liable for hospital care, not the police or the dogs.

6. Throwing rocks, bottles, or your shoes at the police or other people who are protesting your protesting will get you arrested quickly.

5. Laying down in the street by yourself will only prove that you are nuts. And will get the other rioters or protesters to laugh at you.

4. “Mooning,” is strictly-forbidden. This is not the 60’s, friend, but 2014. This childish act will get you admitted to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

3. Trying to stop traffic from passing you and your angry demonstrators is forbidden. If you want results, smile at the cars going by, hold up your sign, and do not do anything stupid.

2. Painting yourself up to look like an African-American is a dangerous thing to do. Especially since the demonstration is not about discrimination against African-Americans, but “Safety Violations in The Workplace.”

1. Soaking yourself with gasoline, kerosene or diesel fuel and holding a box of matches is not wise. Remember, people who are stopping to see what this riot is about and some of them smoke cigarettes. Do I need to make this any plainer?


Closing thoughts . . .

"Sure, these 10 things to not do at riots, demonstrations, and protest rallies, are at most, funny and we love to invoke our sac-religious nature at a time when these ugly scenes and events are not happening in our placid United States."

"That's an easy task, to sit with our families in our cozy homes and view "vintage" photos of things in "the old days," which were most of the "turbulent 60's," and no blood or sweat is required of us."

"Some, and it is hidden well if I do say so, of what "I" really feel about this topic are camouflaged in his hub. Some is not."

"But one thing I should have said out in the body copy, but I didn't. I saved it for this space:

"Dear God, help us as a nation to never sink to this level again of causing bloodshed, power-abuse by authorities, and trying to gag American citizens, free people from exercising their guaranteed rights to have a peaceful petition against any politician, law or practice they deem harmful and a threat to their rights."

"Peace being the key word."



Coming soon . . .”How to Be a Successful Peeping Tom.”


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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Graham,

      Thanks for commenting on this piece.

      YOU my friend are very appreciated.

      Take care.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear lupine,

      Hey, where have you been? I have missed you so much. Thanks for your comment and encouragement.

      And you keep up your good work also.

      Keep in touch. Please?

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Ericdierker,

      Thank you very, very much. I am humbled by your remarks.

      May you have a great weekend and peaceful life.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, sheilamyers,

      I am in agreement with what you say in your comment. I suppose the dominant term in those days for me was FEAR. Fear in the government, military and from each other.

      Peace the sought-after and seldom held.

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you so much.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      A heart felt thanks to you for your sweet thoughts. I praise God for my followers. And what they think.

      You are one special writer in your own right--so is everyone on this hub comment boxes.

      I love you all.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, dear Belleart,

      Thank you so much and I mean it, for your kindness and comment.

      I have Fibromyalgia, Neurothopy and cannot work.

      That is not to say that I cannot walk or move about. I just hurt 24/7 and writing is great therapy for me to keep sane.

      I do enjoy interacting with you and my followers.

      I get such a high from your comments.

      Bless you richly.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      grand old lady (who is NOT old),

      Thanks for bringing up these special memories that yes, I do remember. "Piggies," from the Beatles White Album and the Black Panters, yes. Turbulent times in our lives, but look at the wiser ones who came out on the other side.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Thank you for your warm comment. You are a sensitive soul. I can sense that. And it was super-nice of you to give me a portion of your time and thinking.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Oh, man, how the memories started surfacing mid-way through this hub. And the song, "Ohio," what a heart-breaking piece of vinyl.

      I want us to never forget these times. Because look at the repetition of our entering wars: Iraq and Afghanistan.

      Do you know that these wars alone will forever cost us, the taxpayers and generations to come.

      I do not condone tyranny. I hate it. I hate for innocents to be treated like dogs. But for us to always jump in with bullets rather than words.

      I am too told to endure much more.

      Thanks for your time and comment.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      I appreciate that, your comment, so much.

      And I shouldn't be thanking people for commenting on a time in our lives when bloodshed was at our doorsteps each day.

      I wonder what our lives would have been like if we had not entered Vietnam, Korea?

      I will always wonder.

      Thanks for your comment and understanding.


    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 

      4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Kenneth. First class. You really brought your points together with your sometimes harrowing photographs. Highly informative and so well researched. Your last paragraph is a welcome end. Tip Top.

      voted up and all.


    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Kenneth, I always enjoy your hubs. This one was more serious and harsh than your usual style. Very informative and I value your opinion. Keep up the good work, my friend!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I like how you pointed out the riots and the disasters which resulted can't be pegged on any one person. Everyone made their own choice to take the actions they did so there's enough blame to go around. I'm not saying protesting is wrong, but as you pointed out, there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. When the protestors step over the line to any kind of violence and causing damage, no one on the other side of the issue is going to take them or any other protestor seriously. People like Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr did things the right way. Peaceful protests will get more positive attention than the others.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very well done. Great photos.

    • wordswithlove profile image

      Neetu M 

      4 years ago from USA

      Excellent article, Kenneth! You said everything there was to say.

    • belleart profile image


      4 years ago from Ireland

      You are a very creative writer, I enjoy reading so many of your hubs. But how on earth are you banging them out so quickly?! You're certainly a dedicated writer and it shows in all of your work. :)

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      This is both serious and funny and brings back so many memories. I remember Kent State and that photo of the girl beside the boy who was shot. And the other demos as well. I remember the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, the Kennedys, that time of our lives. I remember the Beatles song, "Have you seen the little piggies in their starched white shirts." Ah yes, those were times of turbulent change. And you're right, in a demo you should not tickle the person in front of you because it could be misconstrued and a peaceful demo becomes a disaster. Very nice way of bringing us back to the past. You wonder if things have gotten better since then.

    • torrilynn profile image


      4 years ago

      Very broad and informative hub you have here. I agree that you shouldn't call the police pigs or do something that might even look like a fight is about to erupt. The truth lies within this hub.

    • word55 profile image


      4 years ago from Chicago

      Hey ken, this is an exceptionally excellent write up of those evil times. I remember those times even tho I was a tot. Very well said. I couldn't believe when I heard that the students at Ohio's Kent State were killed. I salute you my brother.

    • mgt28 profile image


      4 years ago

      You are a different type of writer: you twisted the often said 'bear arms' to 'bear signs' in a manner that only an imaginative writer can conjecture. This is one of the best written article in literary terms and not in the context. For a creative writer, context matters nothing, and this is a good example where a writer picks any topic and produces a gem.


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