WHEN NO ONE'S LISTENING, IT TAKES MORE THAN SHOUTING TO BE HEARD...

Steve Crawshaw's Street Spirit: The Power of Protest and Mischief, with a foreword by Ai Weiwei, celebrates some of the most remarkable protests from around the world – using humour, courage and creativity to defy the sceptics and bring about change.

‘Never retreat. Retweet.’

Ai Weiwei
China, 2009. The artist Ai Weiwei, under arrest in an elevator. He shared the image with the world.

China, 2009. The artist Ai Weiwei, under arrest in an elevator. He shared the image with the world.

From the Foreword by Ai Weiwei

When a totalitarian society faces creative protests, it is like ice meeting fire …

Change is not a matter of belief. It is as inevitable as evolution. Over the centuries, human history has been impressive with its constant change. The only surprise is that the changes keep happening, faster and faster. They are beyond our prediction. The question is not whether changes will happen or not. Change can happen at any time, anywhere. It is happening now ... 

No matter what kind of society we live in, it takes the individual to rebel and exercise civil disobedience for those in power to recognize public concerns. The only effective expression for protest is creative expression.

‘A hero is somebody who does what he can.’

Romain Rolland

Thailand, 2014: For the military junta, sandwich-eating and book-reading both became arrestable offences.

Thailand, 2014: For the military junta, sandwich-eating and book-reading both became arrestable offences.

NARONG SANGNAK / EPA / ALAMY

Praise for Street Spirit

If you care about something deeply, your mind and your body will take you to the streets and force you to organize, to be political, to protest and to fight. This is a condition as basic and natural for a human being as love — and that’s why Steve Crawshaw’s book matters.

Nadya Tolokonnikova, founding member of Pussy Riot

A lovely book, wonderful stories, fascinating ... In a world worried about too many isms, a bright antidote.

Lyse Doucet, Chief International Correspondent, BBC

Full of wonderful and entertaining stories of the power to create change.

Bianca Jagger, human rights campaigner

‘I, too, am America.’

Langston Hughes (1925)

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2016. Ieshia Murray, a Pennsylvania nurse, awaits her arrest.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2016. Ieshia Murray, a Pennsylvania nurse, awaits her arrest.

JONATHAN BACHMAN / REUTERS

About the author

Steve Crawshaw

Steve Crawshaw is Director of the Office of the Secretary General at Amnesty International, which he joined as international advocacy director in 2010. From 2002 to 2010, he was UK director and UN advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. He joined the Independent at launch in 1986, where he reported on the eastern European revolutions, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Balkan wars.

He is co-author with John Jackson of Small Acts of Resistance: How Courage, Tenacity and Ingenuity Can Change the World, preface by Václav Havel (Jon Snow: ‘brilliant’). His previous books were Easier Fatherland: Germany and the Twenty-First Century (John le Carré: ‘rare and long overdue’) and Goodbye to the USSR: The Collapse of Soviet Power (Ryszard Kapuściński: ‘fascinating and vivid, should be read’).

He studied Russian and German at the universities of Oxford and Leningrad (St Petersburg), and lived in Poland from 1978 to 1981.

‘I have no symptoms, I have opinions.’
‘Your opinions are your symptoms. Your disease is dissent.’

Tom Stoppard, Every Boy Deserves Good Favour

Prague, Czechoslovakia, November 1989. Riding to the revolution.

Prague, Czechoslovakia, November 1989. Riding to the revolution.

Photo by Steve Crawshaw