Pro-Sandinista rally, Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, June 1979
Photographer: David Gonzalez
Clearly the election of Donald Trump has revived interest in mass protest among the rank and file of the Democratic Party and its left-leaning allies, and it may seem to some as if we’re in the midst of a “revival” of truly vital protesting after decades of apparent hibernation. One might even conclude that the 1980s and 1990s will go down in history as a quiescent era of reaction and conformity.
Don’t believe it.
In recent decades, protests have never not been a thing—in the nation’s largest city, New York, there hasn’t ever been a year that wasn’t marked by significant protests over topics like abortion, AIDS, housing, police brutality, foreign affairs, queer rights, animal rights, and anti-war demonstrations.
In the more recent political era, there has been a notion that successful protests are always peaceful protests, but “Whose Streets? Our Streets! New York City: 1980–2000,” the remarkable exhibition currently at the Bronx Documentary Center (614 Courtlandt Avenue) gives the lie to that claim as well. The powers that be, including the police, aren’t always willing to permit righteous protest to take place in a peaceful manner, and sometimes blood is shed, automobiles are overturned, and large objects are set on fire.
The show ends on March 5, so if you’re in the vicinity, make sure to get out and check it out before it closes.
(Also, take part in any protests in your area that conform to your particular views!)
Nuclear Freeze Rally, Central Park, Manhattan, June 1982
Photographer: Richard Sandler
Memorial to AIDS victims, Central Park, Manhattan, June 1983
Photographer: Alon Reininger
More after the jump…