How the whole world protested in 2014

  • A demonstrator sits in front of a street fire during a demonstration following the grand jury decision in the Ferguson, Mo., shooting of Michael Brown, in Oakland, Calif., Nov. 25, 2014.
  • A protester raises his umbrellas in front of tear gas, which was fired by riot police to disperse protesters blocking the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, Sept. 28, 2014.
  • Riot police officers gather as they clash with protesters in the center of Kiev, Ukraine, on Jan. 22, 2014.
  • An opposition activists hurls a homemade explosive device to National Guard troops during a protest against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, on March 3, 2014.
  • A man is doused with milk and sprayed with mist after being hit by an eye irritant from security forces trying to disperse demonstrators protesting against the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 20, 2014.
  • Demonstrators walk around a drawing of an outlined body at Zocalo Square, during a protest in support of 43 missing Ayotzinapa students, in Mexico City on Nov. 20, 2014. Protesters threw Molotov cocktails and clashed with riot police outside Mexico City’s National Palace as thousands protested against President Enrique Pena Nieto’s handling of the apparent massacre of 43 trainee school teachers. Hundreds of police in riot gear blocked access to the palace in the capital’s main square, the Zocalo, where thousands of protesters had gathered in support of the students, apparently murdered after their abduction by corrupt police on Sept. 26. The writing on the floor around the drawing reads “A grave for the state”.
  • A child uses a rag to shield his face from tear gas being fired by police who used it to force protesters from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown who was killed on Aug. 9 in this suburban St. Louis community.
  • Tear gas reigns down on a woman kneeling in the street with her hands in the air after a demonstration over the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on Aug. 17, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
  • Protesters clash with police during a demonstration at the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Sept. 27, 2014.
  • The national guard disperses water cannons on anti-government protesters during a protest at Altamira square in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 14, 2014.
  • Protesters chants slogans during a demonstration against the upcoming FIFA World Cup and to demand better social health services and education at Central do Brasil metro station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 27, 2014. 
  • A protestor stands near the barricades during clashes with riot police in central Kiev on Feb. 20, 2014, in Kiev, Ukraine. At least 25 protesters were killed on February 20 in fresh clashes between thousands of demonstrators and heavily-armed riot police in the heart of Kiev, AFP correspondents at the scene said.
  • In this Feb. 22, 2014, photo, anti-government protesters take cover during clashes with riot police in Caracas, Venezuela.
  • Protesters rallying against a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner carry a collection of mock coffins bearing the names of victims of fatal police encounters as they cross the eastbound traffic lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York, N.Y. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
  • Pro-democracy protesters clash with police outside Hong Kong’s Government complex on Dec. 1, 2014, in Hong Kong. 
  • A protester pushing his bicycle yells slogans while walking underneath a red cloth during a protest in support of the 43 missing trainee teachers in Mexico City, Dec. 1, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters guard the perimeter of Independence Square, known as Maidan, on Feb. 19, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • Protesters clash with the military police during the World Cup around Maracana World Cup stadium in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, on June 15, 2014.
  • A woman protests with signs pasted on her face that read “FIFA Go Home” and “Will not have a Cup” during a march against the World Cup 2014 at the Copacabana beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 12, 2014.
  • McDonald’s employee Connie Ogletree, 55, right, leads a group of fast food workers and supporters in a chant during a protest outside a Krispy Kreme store, May 15, 2014, in Atlanta, Ga. Calling for higher pay and the right to form a union without retaliation, fast-food chain workers in Atlanta protested as part of a wave of strikes and protests in 150 cities across the U.S. and 33 additional countries on six continents.
  • Demonstrators make their way down Sixth Avenue during the People’s Climate March in New York on Sept. 21, 2014.
  • People wave a large Ukrainian flag in Independence Square on Feb. 23, 2014, in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • Pro-democracy protesters build a massive bamboo scaffolding barricade after the Hong Kong police vowed to remove any further barricades that were set up within the Occupy Central movement in the Central District of Hong Kong on Oct. 13, 2014. The demonstrators are calling for open elections for the city’s next chief executive in 2017, rejecting a ruling from Beijing that candidates must be approved by a government-backed election committee. They have also demanded Hong Kong leader Leung’s resignation.
  • Demonstrators take part in a protest to demand higher wages for fast-food workers outside McDonald’s in Los Angeles, Calif. on May 15, 2014. The march was held as part of an international protest by fast-food workers who planned to go on strikes in 150 cities across the United States and demonstrations in 33 other countries on Thursday to demand higher pay and better working conditions.
  • Women react during a protest demanding security forces to search harder for 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist militants, outside Nigeria’s parliament in Abuja April 30, 2014. Scores of suspected Boko Haram gunmen stormed an all-girls secondary school in the village of Chibok, in Borno state, on April 14, packing the teenagers onto trucks and disappearing into a remote, hilly area along the Cameroon border.
  • A protester takes part in a demonstration calling for immigration reform at a rally in Chicago, Ill., March 27, 2014.
  • In this photo taken Oct. 30, 2014, protesters shout out as they go on a rampage near the parliament building in Burkina Faso as people protest against their longtime president, Blaise Compaore, who seeks another term, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
  • “Yes” campaigners stand near “No” supporters at Dumbarton Town Hall as former Prime Minister Gordon Brown leaves after attending a rally on Sept. 16, 2014, in Glasgow, Scotland.
  • A masked anti-government protester is seen behind the national flag during a rally outside a compound of the country’s parliament where members of the Senate are gathered for a meeting in Bangkok, May 16, 2014. 
  • Protestors and student demonstrators hold up their cellphones in a display of solidarity during a protest outside the headquarters of Legislative Council in Hong Kong on Sept. 29, 2014.



From the racially polarized streets of Ferguson to the violent transfer of power in Burkina Faso, the world was rocked this past year by old-fashioned political protest.

In the U.S., race, class and the fate of our country’s climate motivated thousands to make their voices heard. The police-related deaths of unarmed black men Eric Garner and Michael Brown galvanized the nation and led to months of largely peaceful, but occasionally combative, action from the summer through the fall.

The rallying cry of activists — “Black Lives Matter” — became one of the most enduring phrases of 2014.

Meanwhile, an estimated 400,000 citizens troubled by the lack of legislative activity on the climate change front, united for a historic climate march in New York City. The Big Apple was also one of several sites where fast-food workers made their case for raising in the minimum wage. “Now, it’s not just about fast food workers,” said Kendall Fells, organizing director for Fast Food Forward, in an interview with msnbc. “Just about every low-wage service sector industry is getting involved, which is pretty much the heart of the American economy.”

The future of Hong Kong’s economy was just one of the issues at stake during heated pro-democracy demonstrations in that city during the winter. Venezuela faced similar upheaval in February following the death of longtime leader Hugo Chavez in 2013. Political tensions led to the collapse in October of the government in Burkina Faso, and martial law was declared in Thailand to prevent a full-blown coup in May.

Europe was not untouched by bitterness either. The Ukraine had to contend with riots and violence this December in protest of that country’s president, Viktor Yanukovich. The referendum to determine whether Scotland would remain part of the United Kingdom inspired great passion in the fall as well.

The activist movements of 2014 helped reaffirm the significance of speaking truth to power, and will continue to shape our world in the years to come.