As occupying public spaces was to the Occupy movement, “Shutting It Down” is to the new wave of protest around police brutality and systemic racism. “If We Don’t Get It, Shut It Down” has long been a favorite chant of the labor movement, but for the rapidly growing movement saying #BlackLivesMatter, it’s also become a tactical mandate.
In the world of protests, “shutting it down” might seem self-evident. Disruption is the point: As Martin Luther King, Jr., famously wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”