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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 an alleged sniper attack, the national guardsmen opened fire on unarmed students, killing four and wounding nine others.

see also Revolt