More than 80 years ago, Gandhian satyagrahis planned to raid the Dharasana Salt Works and tried to break through police lines, only to be beaten down. The satyagrahis did not fight back nor defend themselves. Eyewitness accounts and the re-created scene in the film Gandhi expose the brutality the nonviolent protesters faced, and it proved to be a turning point for the British Empire’s control over India as the world condemned the actions. It was difficult for the Empire to defend its violent repression when the satyagrahis maintained such nonviolent, albeit difficult and dangerous, discipline. For the public, the lines between oppressor and oppressed were clearly established by the Indians’ nonviolent action, which made it nearly impossible for the British to blame the victim.
To be sure, there has been widespread condemnation of the heavy-handed — and incomparable — police violence in Chicago. The National Lawyers Guild reported more than 60 injured activists as Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy shed tears over four injured CPD officers. Those are the human, physical consequences of the protest action. But there are other consequences worth considering as well.
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