The world has become all too familiar with protest movements that turn chaotic and sometimes even violent. Almost everybody has seen media images from around the world of protestors hurling rocks at security forces and vandalizing property. However, we find a starkly different picture when we see media reports from the “Occupy” protests that are currently going on in Hong Kong.
If you watch the coverage of the student protests in Hong Kong, you are very likely to see the civil discussion of their political views rather than the common picture of the angry protestor shouting and acting aggressively. Other scenes that have become common are those of students finishing their schoolwork or cleaning up the litter that has been left in the streets. Many people find this to be a refreshing change from the protests that we have become used to and it seems that other protests could learn from this disciplined form of civil disobedience.
Part of the answer to why these protests are much more civil than many others are, lies in the fact that the protest organizers set rules for what type of behavior will be acceptable as part of the movement. By educating their fellow protestors on how they should act, they have taken steps to avoid violence and disorder and this has helped their movement to gain wider support in the HK community.
Holding and maintaining an organized protest that doesn’t dissolve into chaos can be difficult. When people protest, they feel passionately about the cause that has brought them to the streets. These students have seen the importance of not allowing the disobedience to extend beyond forms that are necessary to make their point. If they can maintain these protests and keep them from taking a turn for the worse, these students could turn into a political force that can affect significant change.