The most influential protests of 2017

Gizelle Begler and Mira Veikley pose for a photograph at the Women's March in Washington.

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Gizelle Begler and Mira Veikley pose for a photograph at the Women’s March in Washington.
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Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

In January, around half a million people took to the streets for the Women’s March on Washington, DC.

Stories about the march’s mission, pink “pussy hats,” clever signage, and big-name attendees flooded Google News, and captivated the nation.

The Women’s March was just one of several protests – on all sides of the political spectrum – that made headlines in 2017. As the year comes to a close, Google is looking back on the top searches (i.e. terms that had the highest spike in traffic this year compared to 2016) in the US over the past 12 months.

Here are the the top 10 protests people wanted to know about:


10. The May Day protests

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A woman wearing a costume stands during a May Day protest in New York on May 1, 2017.
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REUTERS/Mike Segar TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Immigrant groups planned rallies nationwide on this year’s May Day. The rallies and protests in major cities, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, drew tens of thousands of people.

The goal was to stand up against President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration platform and policies.


9. The Women’s March on Washington

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A crowd at the Women’s March on Washington, DC on January 21, 2017.
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Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

The day after Trump’s inauguration, an estimated 500,000 people attended the Women’s March on Washington. Several other cities around the US and world held their own marches.

According to the DC organizers, the march’s goal was to stand up for equality for all groups, especially women, LGBT folks, people of color, immigrants, and those with disabilities.


8. The Venezuelan protests

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An opposition activist clashes with the riot police as they block the Francisco Fajardo highway in Caracas on May 29, 2017.
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Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty

Venezuela is facing ongoing protests, which began in early 2017 after the arrest of multiple opposition leaders and after the country’s Supreme Court dissolved Parliament and transferred all legislative powers to itself.

Protestors (known as opposition activists) argue that the move signals the erosion of democracy in Venezuela. They also attribute the country’s high levels of inflation and chronic scarcity of basic resources to corruption in Venezuela’s government, led by President Nicolas Maduro.


7. Various protests that occurred in Washington, DC

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People who call themselves Dreamers protest in front of the Senate side of the US Capitol to urge Congress in passing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, on December 6, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

As the nation’s capital, DC is a natural place for people to demand political change.

In 2017, people often Googled “DC protest” to learn more about the various political groups that organized there. Some of these protests included an LGBT equality march, a series of DACA marches, a pro-Trump rally, and the March for Black Women (aka the March for Racial Equality).


6. The airport protests

In late January, tens of thousands of people in over 80 US airports protested Trump’s first travel ban, which would have temporarily barred refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries.

Two federal judges blocked Trump’s second iteration of the ban on March 15.


5. The St. Louis protests

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Demonstrators protest outside of the St. Louis city jail following the arrest of 123 people protesting the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley on September 18, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri.
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Scott Olson/Getty Images

In September, Jason Stockley, a white police officer on trial for murder in the shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith, was acquitted in St. Louis, Missouri.

On the third of 16 days of protests, more than 120 people were arrested when a small group attacked police, broke windows, and flipped over trash cans, according to authorities. The next day, peaceful protesters locked arms on Market Street, a few blocks from the site of the previous night’s violence.

The rallies continued throughout October and then again on November 24, when around 50 protestors attempted to disrupt Black Friday sales at the St. Louis Galleria mall.


4. The University of California, Berkeley protests

On 11 instances in February, March, April, August, and September, there were clashes between pro-Trump demonstrators (including the alt-right, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis) and anti-Trump counter-protestors (including socialists, anarchists, and Antifa members) in Berkeley, California.

The first protest happened when media personality and Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos was set to deliver a speech at the University of California, Berkeley. Further protests occurred due to pro-Trump rallies, and after the university cancelled a speech by conservative commentator Ann Coulter and struck down a “Free Speech Week.”


3. The Boston Free Speech rally

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Counter protesters clash with Boston Police outside of the Boston Commons and the Boston Free Speech Rally in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 19, 2017.
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Stephanie Keith/Reuters

In August in Boston, Massachusetts, a group planned a rally that aimed to “defend freedom of speech.” The ralliers identified as members of the “alt-lite,” a loosely organized, far-right group comprised of people who oppose mainstream conservatism to varying degrees.

The event ended up attracting fewer rally attendees than counter-protestors, who argued that hate speech should not be tolerated.

Another far-right protest, met by over 100 counter-protestors, was held in the same location in November.


2. The Charlottesville protests

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Andrew VanBuesking watches his daughter Avi, 2, during a vigil at the site where Heather Heyer was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting against the white supremacist Unite the Right rally on August 13, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In August, a group of white nationalists held a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It turned violent when a driver plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Four days later, a crowd held a peaceful vigil in the wake of the violence.

Carrying lit torches, a white nationalist group later reappeared in Charlottesville in October. Just like the summer before, demonstrators chanted “You will not replace us!” and that the South would “rise again.”


1. The NFL national anthem protests

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Members of the New England Patriots kneel during the National Anthem before a game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
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Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick, an NFL quarterback who doesn’t play for a specific team, spurred a wave of protests that prompted a series of reactionary tweets from President Trump. In September 2016, instead of putting his hand over his heart during the national anthem, Kaepernick kneeled to protest police brutality against people of color and to promote racial equality.

Throughout the 2017 season, other NFL players did the same.