10 of the Craziest Protest Stories Ever

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Protesting, violently or non-violently, has been the common man’s way of making his voice heard when those in authority turn deaf. Some protests have brought about huge changes and taken humanity towards progress. The earliest protests are recorded to have happened in the 13th century which led to the writing of the Magna Carta which awarded legal protection to the barons in the monarchy.

But not all protests have been for righteous reasons. Some reasons have been silly, some unbelievable, and some completely crazy.

Here are some of the craziest protest stories you would come across from all over the globe.

1. To protest against the amount of air in packets of potato chips, Korean students made a raft out of them and paddled it across a river.

In 2014, a group of four South Korean students made a raft out of 160 unopened bags of potato chips to protest against the amount of nitrogen gas stuffed into the packets that was way more than the amount of food. The raft was made to prove a point that the packets had so much gas that they could float. Of the four students, two got into the raft and paddled it for 1.3 kilometers across the Han River as over 200 people watched.

Manufactures of potato crisps say that injecting nitrogen is necessary to protect the contents of the packets, but there is a Korean law in place that requires the packets to have a minimum of 65% food content. The Korean students made a video before their protest in which one of them joked, “I bought nitrogen gas, they gave me free snacks with it.”

The students said that their intention was not to cause a boycott but to encourage the chip makers to listen to the voices of the consumers in South Korea. They succeeded, and Orion, a crisps-making company in the country, promised to increase the amount of food in the packets. (source)

2. London Black Cabs’ Union protested against Uber by creating a gridlock in central London. Instead of damaging Uber, the strike increased its app downloads by 850% and quickened the black cabs’ downfall.

 London Black Cabs’ Union protest
Image credit: DAVID HOLT/Flickr

Ever since the cab aggregator, Uber, was launched, several taxi unions across the world have protested against it. In June 2014, the Black Cabs’ Unions in London decided to protest against Uber over fares and licensing. Around 12,000 drivers took part in the demonstration creating a gridlock. Cab drivers honked in unison on the roads adjoining the Trafalgar Square holding placards and shouting slogans. Their complaint was that to obtain a taxi driver’s license from the government, they had to have four to seven years of training, but people who were part of Uber were not being subjected to the same regulations.

However, the strike backfired. The protest that brought London to standstill made more people download the Uber application on their smartphones. In a week, the app downloads for Uber had increased by 850%, to which Uber had said that London had sided with them. (source)

3. When the price of the chocolate bar increased from five cents to eight cents, 200 kids marched to the capitol building in Canada shutting down the government for one whole day in 1947. This was referred to as “The Candy Bar Strike.”

The Candy Bar Strike
Image credit: Library and Archives Canada/Flickr

Right after the World War II ended, every country was rebuilding and so were the companies that had been operating on low-profit margins during the two major wars. They raised the prices on almost everything from fruits to cars, and that proved to be very heavy on the pockets of the people bringing in inflation. The prices of a 3-ounce candy bar went up by 60%—from five cents to eight cents—on April 25, 1947.

The kids, who were the largest consumers of candies, decided to protest against this. They drew signs and began walking around the town singing a song they had made on-the-spot:

“We want a 5-cent chocolate bar,
Eight cents is going too darn far,
We want a 5-cent chocolate bar.
Oh, we want a 5-cent bar…”

Thereafter, on April 30, 1947, 200 kids marched to the steps of the British Columbia capitol building and shut down the government business for one whole day. The protest spread across Canada with 3,000 kids giving up candy until the prices were brought down. In a few days, the prices of candy dropped by 80%. (source)

4. A rider who was part of 550 motorcyclists participating in a protest against the mandatory helmet law in New York lost control of his bike and hit his head on the pavement which killed him. If he had worn his helmet, he would have survived said, medical experts.

In 2012, 550 motorcyclists who were a part of the Onondaga chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) gathered in western New York near Syracuse to protest against the law that mandated wearing helmets while riding. One of the protestors was a 55-year-old man named Philip Contos from Parish, New York. Riding bare-headed, he lost control of his 1983 Harley Davidson on Route 11, in Onondaga, New York and hit his head on the pavement.

He was pronounced dead at the Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. The doctor at the hospital said that he had suffered a skull fracture when he tried to applied brakes and was thrown over the handlebars. His death could have been prevented if he had worn a helmet. Contos was a seasoned rider and not a newbie, so the cause of his death was not negligence or inexperience but lack of precaution. This incident diffused the protest organized by ABATE. (1,2)

5. Australia’s second largest ever petition was to protest against the rising beer prices in 2000. It had 792, 985 signatures when submitted to the parliament.

PETITION, Goods and Service Tax - Beer
Image source: parlinfo.aph.gov.au

On the 4th of December, 2000, Australians signed a petition to bring down the prices of beer in the country. In a country where 121 petitions are presented every year, it became the second largest petition filed in the Australian parliament with 792,985 signatures. The largest petition filed was for funding support for community pharmacies with 1,210, 471 signatures.

The prices of draught beer in Australia were set to rise due to a goods and services tax which was being raised from seven to nine percent. The price rise was much more than what the prime minister had stated before the last election that had happened in the country. The prime minister had said that the rise in the prices of beer would not be more than 1.9 percent. For beer other than draught, he had stated that there might be a reduction in the price. The people protested by filing a petition in the Australian parliament which in the long run did not prove useful as Australia continues to have expensive beer prices.

A research firm found out that Sydney in Australia was one of the most expensive cities to buy a pint of beer in the world. A pint in Australia now costs around AU$7.87 on an average. Nearly 1.7 billion liters of beer are consumed in the country every year which is equivalent to 670 Olympic-sized swimming pools. (1,2,3)

6. To protest against consumerism, a company sent 30,000 boxes full of poop on Black Friday and made 180,000 dollars from it.

Bullshit, cards against humanity
Image source: @davidzumini/twitter

The makers of the hilarious card game Cards Against Humanity literally filled boxes with “bullshit” on Black Friday. Black Friday is celebrated on November 23 every year in the United States when scores of people begin shopping for the upcoming Christmas season. The company was fed up with the high prices on all products during Black Friday, so they protested against consumerism. They took the game off the market that usually sold for $5 more than the average price on Black Friday and replaced it with a box full of “bullshit.” This is the message they displayed:

“To help you experience the ultimate savings on Cards Against Humanity this Black Friday, we’ve removed the game from our store, making it impossible to purchase.

Instead, we’re offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy some new bullshit.”

And, 30,000 people bought that box that was selling for approximately $6. The company made 180,000 dollars from the boxes full of shit and donated all the proceeds to charity. Some fans thought that they were going to get an extra card from the game when they bought the box in spite of clear tweets by the co-founder of the game, Max Temkin, informing them about the poop in the box. (source)

7. In 1917, when 1,300 miners went on strike in Arizona, the mining company hired 2,200 men to put them onto cattle cars at gunpoint for a 16-hour trip in searing heat without food and leave them in New Mexico.

Striking miners and others being deported from Bisbee. The men are boarding the cattle cars.
Image source: Wikimedia

At the beginning of July 1917, 1,300 miners went on a strike against their employer, Phelps Dodge Corporation, to protest against the poor working conditions in Bisbee, Arizona. A union named Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) presented a set of demands that included a demand to stop the physical examination of workers at the end of every shift and blasting the mines while workers were in them. When the company refused the demands, 3,000 miners (85% of mine workers from three companies in Bisbee) went on strike on June 26, 1917.

On July 11, 1917, Phelps Dodge’s corporate executives recruited 2,200 men from Bisbee and the nearby town of Douglas, who then arrested around the 2,000 striking miners from a list that was handed to them, giving them a warning that if they went back to work they will be spared from the arrest and deportation. Seven hundred agreed to the terms, but the remaining 1,300 were loaded on to 23 cattle cars at gunpoint. Many of the cattle cars had three inches of cow manure covering the bottom.

It was not until noon that day that the men who were arrested at dawn were given some water. When they reached Hermanas in New Mexico and stopped at three in the morning of the next day, they were fed at the insistence of President Wilson. (source)

8. In 1973, the crew of the Skylab 4 space station went on strike. It became the only strike to ever occur in space, while in orbit. They turned off communications with NASA because of over-working complaints and spent the day relaxing.

left to right, Astronaut Gerald P. Carr, commander; Scientist-Astronaut Edward G. Gibson, science pilot; and Astronaut William R. Pogue, pilot. Skylab
Image credits: NASA/WikimediaNASA/Wikimedia

It was the longest space mission in 1973 that lasted 84 days where three astronauts aboard the Skylab space station got tired of the demanding schedule that NASA expected them to follow. NASA expected them to work for 6,051 hours as a total between the three men, conduct several scientific and medical experiments while making observations of the Sun, the Earth, and a comet named Kohoutek, do four spacewalks, along with performing the task of loading and unloading gear.  This meant working for 24 hours a day.

They decided to call a strike by taking a day off, turning off all communication with NASA, and spend the day watching the view of the Earth from space and relaxing. This day was known as the “day of silence.”

Due to this protest, the ground team at NASA reached a compromise with them and let them complete tasks on their own time and reduced their workload in return for completing the mission as scheduled. The Skylab 4 mission was completed successfully, but the three astronauts—Gerald Carr, William Pogue, and Edward Gibson—never went to space again. (source)

9. At a garment factory in Bangladesh, thousands of workers went on a strike, not to protest against low pay or bad working conditions, but because they wanted to get rid of the ghost that haunted the bathroom.

workers at Bangladesh garment factory
Image source: ndtv.com

In June 2013, thousands of workers in Bangladesh called a strike and started rioting because they believed that they were being attacked by a ghost that was haunting the building in which the bathroom was located. Three thousand workers who were afraid of the ghost protested at a plant in Gazipur, Bangladesh. They began vandalizing the factory and stopped only when the police used tear-gas shells to disperse the crowd.

Mass hysteria about ghosts is very common in several factories in Bangladesh when the workers come down with unexplained health issues. The majority of the population of Bangladesh believe in evil spirits and ghosts. In the same year, factory workers of another factory in Bangladesh began falling ill, but nothing was diagnosed. That is when the doctors concluded that it was a case of mass hysteria.

A woman who worked at the Gazipur plant complained that she got sick because a female ghost had attacked her in the women’s washroom. The unexplained health issues are usually a cause of problems invisible to the human eye like a gas leak or toxic substances in the air. The factory owners had to perform a “ritual exorcism” and shut down the factory for a few days so that everyone could calm down. (source)

10. Farmers in Brussels protested the fall in milk prices by squirting milk at police officers directly from the cows’ udders.

Brussels Farmers protest
Image credits: Teemu Mäntynen/FlickrTeemu Mäntynen/Flickr

Upset with the decreasing prices of milk in Brussels, over 2,500 farmers resorted to a unique way of protest. They blockaded the area outside the headquarters of the European Union and when the police were called in, they began bottle-pelting the police officers. They also threw chickens and squirted cow milk at them directly from the cows’ udders. Their protests continued for weeks.

The farmers brought their tractors to block the highways leading to Brussels and created a chaos that affected thousands of commuters in the city. But in spite of all this, their demand to drive up the prices of milk by limiting production through quotas was not fulfilled as the European officials aimed at creating freer markets. Millions of gallons of milk were dumped on the streets during the protest. The cows that were brought in by the farmers to squirt milk at the police officers got scared by firecrackers. One of the cows also chased a man down the street in panic. (source)

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