G20: Why protest?

Police confront G20 protesters during a demonstration on Monday, June 21. (Pras Rajagopalan/CBC)

By Jennifer Hollett, CBC News

jennifer-hollett-52.jpgBefore I reported on protests, I attended protests. Back in high school, I remember standing with a sign at a polite Marineland demonstration protesting the captivity of animals, when someone drove by and yelled "Get a job!" This confused me. I had a job, on top of being a full-time student. With a delayed comeback, I weakly mumbled "Get a cause."

To me, protesting is standing up for what you believe in. Getting off the couch and into the streets. Taking an opinion and turning it into a sign. It's hard enough to get four friends together to see a movie, never mind crusading for a cause. And the art of peaceful protest plays an important role in the ecosystem we call democracy.

The G20 protests attract a wide range of activists, with a variety of causes from war to the environment. Some of the activists are professional, representing large NGOs; others are students exploring their political beliefs. And usually somewhere in the mix are hooligans looking for a riot. Organizers will agree, that's where things get messy.

But the reason I became a journalist, and why many G8/G20 leaders became politicians, is the same reason protesters take to the streets: to improve the world we live in.

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