10 Strange Protests
These groups eschewed typical protests for something a little more creative.
1. Bring in the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA)
CIRCA is an anti-authority, UK-based collection of clowns that protest globalization, war, and other activist issues. The group is most well-known for its protests against the 2003 invasion of Iraq and George W. Bush’s visit to the UK during that same year. The group is nonviolent and follows the tenets of civil disobedience. According to its website:
CIRCA is reclaiming the art of Rebel Clowning, it’s combatants don’t pretend to be clowns, they are clowns, real trained clowns. Clowns that have run away from the anaemic safety of the circus and escaped the banality of kids parties, Fools that have thrown away their sceptres and broken the chains that shackled them to the throne.
So what kind of training do recruits for the Rebel Clown Army have to endure? There are five phases of “Basic Rebel Clown Training”: 1) Finding the Inner Clown; 2) Subversive Play; 3) Civil Disobedience and Direct Action; 4) Bouffon Manoeuvers; and 5) Marching and Drilling.
Ironically, CIRCA has created an “army” to respond to war issues. This doesn’t seem to bother them, though. According to their website, CIRCA is an army “because we live on a planet in permanent war—a war of money against life, of profit against dignity, of progress against the future.”
2. The Lone Lucha Libre Biker Protest
In 2009, leaders in Mexico City closed the government-owned Central Light and Power Company, which provided electricity for much of the surrounding area. The closing resulted in the loss of many workers’ jobs. By presidential ruling, many of the employees' unions were also banned.
In 2011, a supporter from the Mexican Electricians Union dressed up in a luchador cape and costume, hopped on a motorcycle, and charged at a group of police standing outside of the electric company’s headquarters. The bike and the biker’s helmet were decorated with union memorabilia. As the luchador did donuts in the parking lot of the closed electric company, the police fired at him with bean-bag guns.
3. Nude Calendar Pothole Protests
Back in 2006, a group of Canadian residents from Leader, Saskatchewan, protested against a fairly common complaint: poor road conditions. Apparently, the roads of the highways in Leader were filled with horrible potholes, and drivers often had to dodge them to travel safely down the road. These Canadian residents decided to create a 2007 calendar which featured people posing nude inside of the worst potholes—one naked man is featured floating in a pothole in a full-sized canoe. The calendar sold 3000 copies at $20 each, and Saskatchewan’s government finally agreed to fix the highways.
Others have addressed pothole issues in other ways. Citizens in Raipur, India held fake religious ceremonies to name potholes in honor of the city’s officials. Russian protestors have marked potholes with neon paint, and citizens in Uganda have sold fish from water-filled holes.
4. Channeling Avatar
In Israel, there is a huge controversy over the separation barrier in the West Bank Village that divides the Israeli and Palestinian communities. In 2010, Palestinian protesters dressed as Avatar characters—in blue clothing, blue body paint, and makeshift loincloths—as they demonstrated in Bilin to reference the struggle of, and show their affinity for, the film’s characters.
5. Squirting Milk at Police
While most of us would celebrate dropping milk prices, the issue is a common concern for farmers who sell milk to make a living. In 2009, more than 3000 farmers in Brussels congregated outside the EU’s headquarters to protest plunging milk prices in the area.
One farmer began milking his cow in the middle of the street and squirted the milk—straight from the cow’s udder—at a group of riot police. Other farmers squirted beer at the police and threw bottles, stones, and pitchforks. Millions of gallons of milk were dumped into the streets and surrounding fields or given away for free. At one point, a farmer’s cow became frightened and sprang loose. The cow took off and chased a worker down the street.
Farmers in India also protested plummeting milk prices. On April 25, 2012, angry farmers in New Delhi poured milk on leaders from milk-products companies.
6. Hanging From Shark Hooks
In 2011, performance artist Alice Newstead decided to protest shark finning, a practice in which fishermen capture sharks, cut off their fins for shark fin soup dishes, and dump the bodies back into the ocean.
Newstead decided to hang from hooks in a window storefront in San Francisco to highlight the plight of sharks. The hooks are the same ones used during the shark finning process and were placed through the skin on her back. Newstead was covered in metallic body paint to simulate the color of a shark.
7. Underwater Protests
In 2010, advocates at Greenpeace installed 400 life-sized human statues underwater off the coast of Mexico. The statues were placed 9 meters underwater and are intended to signify the effects of global warming and rising water levels.
Brady Bradshaw, a representative from the Greenpeace U.S. student network, stated that “without action to reduce greenhouse gas emission, 100 million people or more could be in danger of losing their homes, their lives, or both to rising seas.”
The installation’s message was intended for the UN Cancun climate talks and meant to encourage nations to make pledges for reducing carbon emissions.
8. Nuclear Suits and Umbrellas
On the one-year anniversary of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi disaster—which occurred when a tsunami hit nuclear reactors in 2011 and spewed radiation into the surrounding area—Greenpeace activists gathered in the crowded streets of Jakarta to bring attention to the dangers of nuclear energy, donning radiation suits and masks and carrying black umbrellas marked with nuclear symbols.
9. Giant Pigeons
In 2001, people dressed up in giant, 7-foot-tall pigeon costumes and blocked traffic at a pedestrian crossing near Trafalgar Square in London. A local advertising company created the protest to challenge the Greater London Authority, who had recently banned a pigeon-feed seller from Trafalgar Square despite the fact that the seller had been there for many years.
10. Giant Snowmen
In 2010, two environmental activists dressed up as giant snowmen in Berlin to protest global warming. The two stood alone in a field of snow. Still no word on how their two-man protest fared.