America has a very long history of protests that meet with excessive or violent response, most vividly recorded in the second half of the 20th century.
It is a common fantasy among people born in the years since the great protests movements — and even some not so great ones — that they would have stood on the bold side of history had they been alive at the time and been called to make a choice.
But the truth is that American protest movements in real time — and especially in their early days — often appear controversial, politically difficult, out-of-the-mainstream, and dangerous. And they are met with fear.
An excellent essay in The Atlantic.