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5 powerful demonstrations and protests and the impact they had

16/ 02/ 17 Mariel Rubinstein


  1. 1. John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ‘Bed-In’ for world peace


Instead of doing the traditional thing and spending the first few days of married life in some exotic location, John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent theirs doing a week-long ‘Bed-In’, protesting for world peace. The ‘Bed-In’ began on the 25th of March 1969 in the presidential suite at the Hilton in Amsterdam. Each day they invited press into their room to discuss peace for 12 hours.


Although the perhaps self-indulgent display didn’t accomplish world peace, the protest still added public pressure on the government, which could only have helped contribute to the end of the Vietnam war.

The whole thing was filmed and the footage was later turned into a documentary. You can watch the video here.


  1. 2. Rage Against the Machine boycott the christmas number one



In 2009, Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’ made the christmas number one after an effort to prevent letting another X Factor contestant win. The single sold 500,000 downloads beating X Factor winner Joe McElderry’s ‘The Climb’ by 50,000 copies to make the top spot.


Jon Morter, a rock fan from Essex, started the campaign with a Facebook group which led to more and more people getting involved. He said "I think it just shows that in this day and age, if you want to say something, then you can… If enough people are with you, you can beat the status quo.".

Zack de la Rocha, from Rage Against The Machine, said “It says more about the spontaneous action taken by young people throughout the UK” and that it was an “incredible organic grassroots campaign”. As the campaign took off, it also began encouraging people to donate to the homeless charity, Shelter, which received £65,000 in public donations by the end. Rage Against the Machine also promised to donate the profits of the single to the cause.


  1. 3. The wall of angels block anti-gay protesters in Orlando



After the terror attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, 2016, the funeral for the 49 victims was targeted by an extremist group, the Westboro Baptist Church. Four members of the group attended the funeral carrying anti-gay signs and shouting hateful chants but they were blocked by around 200 counter-protesters. In an attempt to shield the extremist group from the funeral proceedings, some of these protestors dressed as angels by wearing huge white wings. Hundreds of demonstrators also drowned out the anti-gay chants by singing ‘Amazing Grace’. Eventually, the Westboro protestors left, leaving the angels hailed as heroes. Watch the video here.


  1. 4. The SlutWalk Movement



Photograph: Raoul Dixon / NNP/North News & Pictures Ltd


 SlutWalk is a movement of protest marches calling for an end to rape culture. The protests began in Toronto after a police officer suggested that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” as a precaution against sexual assault. Since then, SlutWalk’s have taken place all over the world, including one in London in 2016. Most protesters taking part, the majority being young women, dress up as what is considered as ‘slutty’ - short skirts, revealing lingerie and low cut tops. One result of the campaign is the Toronto police have stated they will be retraining their police officers - which let’s be honest, is a very poor outcome.


    1. 5. ‘Kissathon’ protest in Sainsbury's




After a gay couple were kicked out of a Sainsbury’s supermarket this year in east London for “inappropriate” hand holding, around 200 people stormed the store and staged a mass ‘kissathon’. This was PDA for protest. And boy did it work.


Sound systems blasted out Diana Ross and Donna Summer and gay men and women kissed each other amongst the supermarket aisles. Following the ‘kiss-in’, Thomas Rees and his boyfriend Joshua Bradwell, the couple who were originally kicked out of the store, said, “both of us have received messages from people around the world who don’t even have the courage to hold hands, let alone stand up against something like this”.  


Since the protest, a spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said: “We do our best to make sure everyone feels welcome in our stores but occasionally we make mistakes. We are working hard to make sure lessons are learnt.” We sure hope so!


You can watch some footage from the ‘kiss-in’ here.


Mariel Rubinstein

Digital Content Producer from London

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