Not so long ago, several friends joined approximately 40,000 others in DC demanding action on climate change and opposing the Keystone pipeline. They left Illinois committed to breaking the law and getting arrested in front of the White House, as they put it, in the spirit of Dr. King. The law they broke when they got there was an anti-trespass type ordinance. They sat and waited to be ordered to move. They refused. They were arrested, fined and released the same day.
Being a lawyer, the son of a New York City police officer, and sometimes an activist I couldn't help but wonder when if ever it was okay to violate a law that is not itself unjust, and what Dr. King actually thought about civil disobedience. The paper begins with a brief argument that democratic law is a moral idea. It then discusses in detail the thoughts and actions of Dr. King as they relate to the law, and to law-breaking as a movement tactic. It also briefly looks at contemporary activist thinking on disruption, violence, and law-breaking as a tactic of social change.
"Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Disobedience and the Duty to Obey the Law: Where Do We Go From Here?,"
The Journal of Social Encounters:
Available at: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/social_encounters/vol3/iss1/10