Amid a wave of sustained protest in cities across the U.S. and the globe against police brutality and racial injustice, author and activist Naomi Klein on Thursday reminded those experiencing President Donald Trump’s America that it is precisely during times when the government is pushing hardest to discourage dissent that massive displays of public opposition are needed most.
While Trump this week has dispatched with calls for calm and unity in favor of “law and order” machismo and threats of deploying U.S. soldiers, more police, and federal agents to put down demonstrations spurred by last week’s killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Klein in a Twitter post reprised a warning she first issued at the outset of the president’s term: “When they say we don’t have the right to protest, that is the moment to flood the streets.”
After 2 decades of studying the Shock Doctrine, the most important lesson I have learned is this: when they declare a state of emergency, when they say we don't have the right to protest, that is the moment to flood the streets. It's the only thing that has ever worked. https://t.co/sps4BT19iw
— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) June 4, 2020
“One moment when it is incredibly important to resist, is in that moment when they are trying to scare you,” Klein said during the 2017 event in Chicago. “In that moment, when they are telling you to stay home, that is when you go out. When they are saying stay home—go out.”
Individuals and communities nationwide have demonstrated their inherent understanding of Klein’s guidance. Even after Trump had Lafayette Square outside the White House violently cleared of nonviolent protesters on Monday and threatened to send U.S. soldiers to patrol other U.S. city streets this week, the daily and nightly demonstrations, as Common Dreams previously reported, have only grown in strength and size as the week progressed.
Klein told the audience in 2017 that “we won’t know when it will happen,” but that when it does people should “flood the streets” en masse. “That matters more than anything,” she said to applause. “When they try to take away the right to protest, flood the streets, ok? Get ready.”
The event was related to Klein’s new book that year, titled “No Is Not Enough,” which offered an initial framework for understanding Trump’s rise to power as well as a blueprint for how best to resist his obvious racist and fascist tendencies.
Watch the full 2017 event, sponsored by Haymarket Books and featuring prominent scholars Michelle Alexander and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, below: