Tuesday, Jun. 28, 2011

Purple Rain Protest in Cape Town, 1989

The Purple Rain Protest is as famous for its iconic imagery as for its role in stopping apartheid in South Africa. When thousands of antiapartheid activists took to the streets in Cape Town four days before parliamentary elections, police turned a water cannon with purple dye on them in an effort to halt the demonstrations and mark the protesters for identification and arrest. The plan backfired, however, when one protester hijacked the nozzle from a police officer and sprayed office buildings and the local headquarters of the ruling National Party. In addition to galvanizing resistance at home, the image of protesters standing in front of a purple torrent became a defining symbol of civil disobedience worldwide.