April 23 2017
Simply put, protests serve to create change. The success of a protest depends on the subject and the manner in which it is conducted. A major role which plays into the success of a protest is the attention it draws, and what better way to draw attention to something than death?
Martyrdom. Dying with a purpose. When successful, the attention of a movement intensifies substantially. Martyrdom makes the impossible, possible in any protest. But, does simply killing someone off in a protest attract the attention of the public? What really classifies a martyr?
Let's take a step back and look at the civil rights movement of the 1960's. Martin Luther King Jr. Remember that guy? Of course you do. Martin Luther King Jr. was a major figure in the fight for justice. He preached civil disobedience and equality amongst everyone regardless of skin tone. Just as Michael Eric Dyson in Time Magazine states, "For as famous as he may have been in life, it is death that ultimately defined him." Martin Luther King Jr. will without a doubt, forever remain a martyr for the civil rights movement in history.
The Civil Rights Movement contained all components of a successful protest. It had modest and realistic objectives. Activists were consistent with their methods to achieve their goals. Martin Luther King Jr. did not simply preach equality amongst people of color. He preached equality amongst everyone, broadening his audience which would create a stronger argument. He had the support of many. When he died, he died for a cause.
Let's compare this to the death of LaVoy Finicum. Know his name? His purpose? Probably not. Fincum was a militant in the Oregon Standoff in Malheur National Wildlife Reserve. He was shot by an officer after being chased down in his car. Video Surveillance clearly displays Finicum reached for a gun within his pocket which gave officers the incentive to shoot. However, many witnesses say he was deliberately murdered, simply for the sake of creating a Martyr out of him.
This illogical claim is almost as impractical as the protest itself. Unlike the Civil Rights Movement, the Oregon Standoff had no "end game". The audience was neither broad nor were the protestors consistent with their methods. Did the Bundy Brothers themselves even know what they were fighting for when they detested the government for being unconstitutional even though they were breaking the constitution themselves? Finicum's name will not be remembered simply because there was no cause in the protest. Did Fincum make the news? Yes. Did the Oregon Standoff attract the attention of the public? Of course. However, the mere fact that the protest is ending after only a month is enough information to conclude that it was unsuccessful. It lacked basic elements of any successful protest. Witnesses also directly lied to the public, stating Finicum was murdered when surveillance video clearly displays otherwise. There is nothing that delegitimize a claim more than clear-cut evidence which demonstrates something else. If there is no basis of a protest, there is no room for martyrs. My recommendation? Next time a protestor puts himself at risk for death, make sure it's actually worth dying for.