Seeking imprisonment is characterized by the purposeful attempt to become incarcerated by police by disobeying their orders in a peaceful and nonviolent manner. This method of protest was especially prevalent during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in the United States, when African American people situated themselves in areas designated as “white only,” knowing they would be arrested and beaten by police officers.Seeking imprisonment also has become increasingly popular within the Occupy Wall Street protests, as occupiers purposely disobey police orders to not occupy certain areas of properties, resulting in their arrest, beating and pepper-spraying. This makes Occupy protests very reminiscent of civil rights protests nearly a half a century after their conclusion.Seeking imprisonment is a curious functions of nonviolent protest. When protestors actively seek incarceration, it takes away all of the power that police possess, showing that the protestors are unafraid of being imprisoned and charged. Because police are an extension of the federal government, seeking imprisonment sends a similar message to Washington, D.C. as well.The efficacy of this nonviolent method is evident by the success of the movements that have utilized it in the past and present. Women’s rights, African American civil rights and Indian independence (Gandhi) all have been sought nonviolently and were incredibly successful. All of these movements also utilized the purposeful seeking of incarceration and imprisonment. The success of these tactics in today’s society, like those being implemented in the Occupy Wall Street protests, can be predicted by simply reviewing their efficacy during past events.
Although seeking imprisonment can be incredibly dangerous, as police officers often become belligerent and unforgiving, it has proven to be a very successful feature of nonviolent protest, proving its worth and effectiveness through past and current events and movements. By actively seeking incarceration via police, protestors strip the government of the only power they have against its citizens, imprisonment and charging. This lack of power often coerces the government to alter its legislature, the goal of any political or social movement.
Continue reading the 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.