4 Hilariously Weird Scenes From Historical Protests
When you want the people in power to pay attention to your demands for equality or justice or better parking or whatever, it can take drastic action, but there are times when even "drastic" isn't enough. Sometimes, you've gotta get weird ...
Belgian Farmers Squirted Milk and Threw Chickens at Police
Most of the major protest movements of recent years have played out in big cities, but in Europe, they know it's the farmers to watch out for. That proved ominous in 2009 when milk prices plunged across Europe, which was good for your average cereal junkie but not so great for dairy farmers. First, they dumped millions of gallons of milk right back into their fields, but after word got out that the European Union's agriculture ministers would be gathering in Brussels to discuss the situation, the farmers revved up their fleet of tractors and headed into the city. That's not a joke -- hundreds of tractors carrying 2,500 people descended upon Brussels. One guy brought a cow. Boy, he must have been embarrassed when he realized he was the only one.
But on the whole, they terrifyingly knew what they were doing. They used the tractors to block traffic into the city, and when riot police prevented them from getting too close to the meeting -- which failed to produce any desirable results -- they burned great bonfires of tires and hay. Yes, riot police; someone had apparently sounded the "farmers are coming" alarm, resulting in a huge police response that included everything from helicopters to riot gear. Are farmers, like, considered a gang in Europe?
They probably should be because as the farmers grew increasingly irate with the police, they turned to bioweapons, i.e., their livestock. They doused the area with milk from fire hoses that they'd had the foresight to rig ahead of time, scattered manure that they had also somehow brought with them, and threw eggs and even chickens. It's not clear how, why, or what; chickens were thrown, and that's all we know. That guy with the cow? He fended off police with milk squirted directly from its udders.
The cow, understandably, was not into this scene at all and, at one point, took off in a blind panic, terrorizing passersby until its owner could catch up to it and explain that it was supposed to attack the pigs, not people. Then everyone apparently just ... got tired and went home. If anyone wants to get into the prestige investigative podcast game, head to Brussels because there are so many questions here that demand answers.
Canadian Hicks Got Naked to Fix Potholes
Canada isn't just Vancouver and Toronto. There's this whole middle part where they don't shoot movies or have any Drakes, and it looks a lot like Nowheresville. Such was the plight of the rural folks living along Highway 32 in Saskatchewan, which was so lousy with potholes in the early 2000s that even ambulances avoided the road. Remember, this is Canada: They actually want the ambulances to arrive.
Emergencies aside, school buses got stuck, cars were routinely damaged, and despite residents' pleas, the local government refused to do anything about it. Finally, the small-town pharmacist who spearheaded the campaign joked with a reporter about shooting a nude calendar along the highway to showcase the region's variety of holes, and the local media latched onto the idea, calling him "every two months" to ask "Is the calendar ready?" Their bluff called, a group of 11 men and one brave woman sucked it up and stripped down on the highway in 2007. It's not like anyone was driving on it. One guy even posed in a canoe to show that one pothole was so big you could literally drive a boat through it.
It worked: The calendar brought in $40,000, and the government finally stepped up to fix the road. To be clear, the calendar didn't pay for the repairs, though it did buy a new roof for the local community center; fixing Highway 32 ended up costing $44.4 million. You would need present-day Betty White to sell that many calendars. The election of 2007 also ushered in a change in leadership that was more responsive to residents' concerns about the highway, but hey, baring your ass to whoever is so unfortunate to stumble upon your deserted highway is its own reward.
A Suffragette Hid in a Cupboard in the Palace of Westminster for Women's Rights Somehow
British suffragette Emily Wilding Davison was what's known in modern parlance as a bad bitch. She did a whole lot of wild shit in the name of women's rights -- she set fires, planted bombs, and was basically always rioting somewhere. She was arrested nine times, went on seven hunger strikes, and on at least three occasions that we know of, she hid overnight in the Palace of Westminster, where English law happens.
The first time, in April 1910, she was just trying to sneak onto the parliament floor to demand voting rights for women. To that end, she snuck into the heating system, intending to emerge the next day like a political stripper from a legislative birthday cake. But her thirst got the better of her, and she was arrested while she tiptoed around the building in search of water. A year later, she and her fellow activists decided to boycott the 1911 census in protest, reasoning that "If women don't count, neither shall they be counted." They used all kinds of tactics to avoid census takers, but Davison, perhaps nostalgic for her aborted mission in the Palace, took refuge in one of its cupboards.
This would either allow her to remain uncounted or force census takers to list her address as the Palace of Westminster, thereby somehow granting her the political rights of a man. To be honest, her plan wasn't super clear, but she had learned her lesson, and this time, she made it the whole night before she was discovered and arrested. Today, there's a plaque in her memory at the Palace, though it's pretty hard to find, being inside a cupboard and all.
Tragically, Davison's activism and, indeed, her life ended with another outlandish protest stunt just a few years later, when she ran into the path of the king's horse at a derby, apparently attempting to pin a suffragette flag to its reins. At least she died doing what she loved: fucking shit up.
People in Brussels Protested the Government with Pornographic Snowmen
Man, what is up with Brussels? How can people from the land of waffles be so mad all the time? In the early months of 1511, they had pretty good reason: For six weeks, they had endured temperatures so relentlessly cold that the season was nicknamed the "Winter of Death," and this was the Middle Ages, so that was really saying something. That was on top, of course, of all the economic inequality, religious tensions, etc., that constantly plagued the public at the time and, you know, now. Basically, it was a good time for a winter festival. These were standard affairs when things got bleak, and YOLO took over, and in addition to all the dancing, drinking, and fucking, they were often occasions to build snowmen. After all, what else are you gonna do when you're drunk, fucked out, and surrounded by snow? Come on. You're gonna build a snowman.
But the snowmen this year were different. People were mad, and there wasn't enough booze or genitals in the world to mollify them, so they took their frustrations out creatively. There were the typical fanciful snow creatures, yes, but also little boys peeing into those creatures' mouths. People headed to the Red Light District not to partake in the services available therein but to build icy caricatures of those offering them (and, okay, probably also to partake of the services available therein). They built snow cows taking great big snow shits.
According to records, more than half of the snow things created at the 1511 winter festival were "sexual or scatological in nature" because sometimes, when you're mad, you just wanna shout into the gross void, but some amateur snow sculptors were more direct with their complaints. They were the frozen equivalent of political cartoons, sometimes built directly in front of the homes of those they skewered -- one sat regally before the home of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who was conveniently waiting out the storm in more accommodating digs -- and their creators diligently destroyed the snowmen built by members of the more fortunate classes, because screw those guys. The whole scene was so majestic that it became known as the Miracle of 1511, probably the first and last time an anatomically correct snowman was labeled miraculous.
It's hard to say if the Miracle of 1511 worked out for the people of Brussels. Before long, the ice thawed, leaving them with an entirely new problem in the form of a disastrous flood, but the city made it out alive, if not all of its inhabitants did, and the next month, the King of France swooped in and made it rain with an entirely more welcome form of precipitation. (It was gold.) Was it the dirty snowmen? Was it a coincidence? One thing is for sure: Do not mess with Brussels. They will get so weird on you.
Top image: SandraMH/Pixabay