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Protest movements have had a long history in the United States. When a group of people feels they are being marginalized, sometimes they will gather in a show of numbers. Parades and speeches are the usual forum, but sometimes protests turn violent; see riot, hooliganism. One of the earliest and most famous protests in American history was the Boston Tea Party, a protest against British-imposed tax laws known as the Townshend Acts.

In more recent American and world history, protests have become a favorite tactic of liberals and revolutionaries. A frequent pattern is to announce a "peaceful" protest and then provoke the authorities into using a degree of force which appears excessive. This tactic worked well at Kent State, where after student rioting and an alleged sniper attack, members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students, killing four and wounding nine others. In several cases, liberals and revolutionaries often used the term "protest" to refer to what would be better described as riots, and during at least the 1960s also mistook that for "free speech" and a demonstration of unpopularity for something, to the extent that several anti-war protestors assumed that North Vietnam having no protests meant that the North Vietnamese government was actually "popular" among the people of North Vietnam (when in reality, if the people attempted to speak out against the North Vietnam Communist regime, they would have been killed).

See also