Many of us were taught to be wary of “mob psychology.” But according to history professor Peter Stearns who has studied the effects of crowds on political change, emotion is not necessarily in conflict with rationality. The protests of the 60s did not end racism, for sure, but they did accomplish tangible results. The crowds in Portland and across the country for Black Lives Matter will similarly require patience and persistence. Stearns points out that despite the justifiable anger, there is a significant “weapons gap” between the crowds and law enforcement. No matter the resistance by unjust powers, popular enthusiasm brings results. Of course creativity is required in the age of Covid 19. Symbolic action, like removing statues, is important.

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