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Learn How to Talk About Demonstrations and Protests in English

Here are some words and phrases to help you talk about political protests in English.

Already this year there have been anti-government protests in Tunisia and Egypt, where people have taken to the streets (= to demonstrate along with others) to voice their anger. Turn on the news and you can see people holding up placards (message written on a rectangular piece of cardboard, and attached to a stick) and banners (message written on a long strip of material), on which they have written slogans (short messages). Demonstrations and protests are also noisy: people use microphones or megaphones (a cone-shaped instrument), or they chant their protests all at once.

In many cases, protests are peaceful, but in some occasions, they can turn violent. The police react by trying to contain the demonstrations, but the demonstrators in some cases erect barricades (barriers reinforced by whatever is available), then throw missiles from behind them.

In the UK, police practise the controversial kettling technique, where they pin protesters into a small holding area, not allowing anyone out. Mounted policemen (on horses) might also charge (run towards them) protestors in order to disperse the crowd

In other countries, the police or army sometimes use teargas (a spray that makes your eyes water), water cannon (like a powerful hosepipe), or more drastically, impose a curfew (when nobody can be outdoors after a particular time).

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