Humanities › Issues What is Civil Disobedience? Share Flipboard Email Print Rosa Parks in 1988. Angel Franco / New York Times Co. / Getty Images Issues Animal Rights Animals In Entertainment Animals Used For Food Hunting and Wildlife Management The U. S. Government U.S. Foreign Policy U.S. Liberal Politics U.S. Conservative Politics Women's Issues Civil Liberties The Middle East Terrorism Race Relations Immigration Crime & Punishment Canadian Government View More By Doris Lin Animal Rights Attorney J.D., University of Southern California B.S., Applied Biological Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Doris Lin is an animal rights attorney and the director of legal affairs for the Animal Protection League of New Jersey. our editorial process Doris Lin Updated March 08, 2017 Definition: Civil disobedience is the public act of willfully disobeying the law and/or the commands of an authority figure, to make a political statement. Participants expect to be arrested, and are frequently charged with crimes such as trespass, failure to disperse, or failure to obey an officer. Civil disobedience is generally understood to be nonviolent, although some have argued that violent acts can also be considered a form of civil disobedience. The purpose of civil disobedience is to convey a political message, which is accomplished through increased media coverage of the issue. Also, if the law broken is the law being protested, it sends the message to authority figures that people consider the law so unjust, they are willing to openly disobey it. An example of this is Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat on a city bus to a white person, as was required by law in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. Another purpose can be the disruption of the organization being protested. In the United States, common types of civil disobedience include staging a sit-in at a government or corporate office, blocking traffic or doorways, or merely being in a location where the person is not allowed to be. Famous advocates of civil disobedience include Martin Luther King, Mohandas Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau. In Animal Rights Within the animal rights movement, activists have staged peaceful sit-ins, chained themselves to barricades and trespassed in order to film undercover videos. While traditional protests are legal and protected by the First Amendment, disruptive activities such as blocking doorways or driveways are illegal and are a form of civil disobedience. Also Known As: Nonviolent resistance Examples: The protest will include an act of civil disobedience, and arrests are expected.