Occupy Valentine's Day? February 14 Turns Into a Global Day of Protest, From Pakistan to Hawaii

While you were spending an average of $116.21 on a Valentine's Day gift, others celebrated love by participating in mass demonstrations across the world.

Of course, many of these groups capitalized on the most obvious of themes. Same-sex couples rallied in Virginia demanded marriage certificates in Fairfax, Arlington, and Richmond county, knowing that they would be denied.

Also, hundreds of immigrants and allies protested at the Alabama Statehouse courtyard to urge Governor Robert Bentley for a full repeal of immigration bill HB 56 by holding signs that said, "Gov. Bentley, don't you have a heart?" 

However, while many look forward to Valentine's Day, an equal number oppose the "indecency" associated with it. Countries outside the United States coordinated mass actions to protest the day. Men in Karachi, Pakistan, burned Valentines and heart-shaped signs, while students in Indonesia marched to denounce V-Day for "ruining the young generation of Muslims."

In the U.S., Occupy Wall Street resurfaced, and members of OWS went to break up with Bank of America in New York City, while the Occupy movement in Honolulu stood its ground during a public shouting match with police at Thomas Square.

Notable anniversaries were also celebrated on Valentine's Day. Wisconsin protesters reunited to celebrate the 17 day occupation of the State Capitol by Wisconsin workers in 2011.

Also, in the international arena, the hacker group, Anonymous, committed an act of solidarity for the people of Bahrain. To commemorate the one year anniversary since the teargas attacks during the country's democratic uprising, Anonymous overpowered the website of Jamestown-based Combined Systems Inc., who manufactured the tear gas used in Bahrain last year.

It is a relief that a year after the Arab Spring, it seems the spirit of the protester remains in the hearts of people all over the world. As a society, we are learning to straddle that delicate balance between our understandings of love and justice. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love." I see the truth of that quote manifested in the peoples' struggles listed above.

Thank you to all those who challenge and defend love and justice in their lives.  Not just on Valentine's Day, but every day.

"Gov. Bentley, don't you have a heart?"

Photo Credit: glennshootspeople

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Hanalei Somar

Hanalei is the New York City coordinator for BAYAN USA, a founder of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE NYC, a GABRIELA USA organization), and a Steering Committee member of the May 1st Coalition for Immigrant Rights. She is a community organizer, writer, performer, and multi-media artist. Hanalei is also a member of the artist collectives everydayarmada and k-k, and has been awarded residencies and opportunities with Project Rowhouses, The Laundromat Project, and the Asian Womens Giving Circle.

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