Fighting for a Place at the Table

In 1999 barriers in the streets of Seattle went up as industry leaders and heads of state arrived in the city to negotiate economic and environmental policy, amongst other topics. Shut out from the process and left outside the fences was everyone else. Protests erupted. A global movement began and spread wherever there was a trade meeting. From these initial protests came others: Protests in Istanbul against a proposed development in Gezi Park and the women’s and science marches that countered the dangerous policies of the Trump administration.

The protests have not been without success. Because of them, rights and policies that are being taken away by the American president now find themselves being protected behind corporate doors. To achieve the preservation of these rights and policies protesters have been attacked, fired on and killed.

Since the first protests, companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Walmart and Amazon have pledged to reduce or eliminate their CO2 emissions and 174 countries have signed onto the Paris Accord. Although the United States walked away from its commitment to the word, many states and cities within the United States have signed onto it.

Without protest in the streets and people demanding that their voices be heard none of this could have ever been achieved—from the young man hurling back tear gas canisters to the girl marching for science with her mother and father there has been some progress.

 A lot more needs to be done, but the progress that’s been made since 1999 cannot be denied.

Note: The inclusion of the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul was included here because the protests were sparked by environmental concerns when plans were made to turn the park, one of Istanbul’s few remaining green spaces, into a mall by the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. After protesters who had camped out in the park were violently expelled by police, tens of thousands took to the streets in support of them at which point the initial environmental protest became inclusive of  additional topics. Other protests featured here also had an array of issues advocated for, however the environment was center amongst them.