Back in the day, the noted optimist Jim Morrison said "they got the guns, but we got the numbers". In a modern, militarized surveillance/security state, it's really the other way around -- mere numbers become irrelevant when the minority has all the weapons, the money, and the power, overt and coercive. Power gives you options: to beat, to imprison, to ignore, to propagandize, to wait you out, to fuck up your future job prospects, any number of things. Mainly to refuse to respond to your plaints and your protests and your duly registered disgust at their conduct.
They don't give a shit because they don't need to give a shit because they don't want to give you the satisfaction and risk legitimizing your grievances because fuck you, cowboy. Whose country do you think this is, anyway? Get back in line or the hired dogs will just put on the riot gear and roll out the up-armored assault vehicles.
Of course these are lessons learned from the '60s, that hippies and idealists need to be beaten down, bought off, or spied on and blackmailed. Nowadays, they hardly even need to do that -- the flying monkeys at Faux News and their scumbag commentators will happily ridicule any non-teabagger grievance. Rudy Giuliani and his Nosferatu shadow have opportunistically slithered out of the coffin to piss on the graves of Eric Garner and Michael Brown and anyone else who fucks with Our Boys In Blue, the same type of hyper-paranoid mutt that perforated Amadou Diallo for the high crime of reaching for his wallet.
I respect the idealism of protestors, the sincere conviction that it will do jack shit to change anything. Occupy Wall Street changed nothing, the massive Iraq War protests around the world in 2003 changed nothing. People reserve high praise for the non-violent (well, on the part of the protestors, anyway) resistance tactics of Gandhi and MLK. And those did change some things, but at what a price, a lot of people getting the shit beaten out of them or murdered for saying no, and a couple of martyred heroes.
But the most modern manifestation of the tactics you see when you see protests is the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999. A grim combination of pushing people around, presenting the tactics of looters and vandals as the norm, and dismissing and delegitimizing valid grievances, Seattle became the template for defusing the causes of disruptive groups of citizens.
(Some of the comments in the Atlantic article are just as appalling. Look, most reasonable people will acknowledge that pulling hundreds of millions of people out of grinding poverty in China and India is a net positive from a humanitarian perspective. But, uh, it wasn't the average 'murkin manufacturing worker's fault that those countries are hopelessly overpopulated; it wasn't just a couple thousand greedy union tools that lost their jobs, it was millions of working-class people who were promised retraining and opportunities; the usual suspects made all the money from gutting their countrymen's jobs and communities. Whatever potential globalization legitimately had, what it was was just another round of American corporations fucking over American workers, and pocketing the profits.)
About the only protests you don't see getting smacked down are old white guy protests, your Cliven Bundy types, your teabagger rallies, your gun-nut slobs sporting stretched-out beach shorts and assault rifles at the Chipotle ostensibly because Second Amendment, but really because most guys who can no longer see their dicks have trouble convincing women to suck them off.
The reason those protests don't get shut down is because they're useful to the powers that really be. They're a handy distraction, a way to further propagandize and polarize a dwindling but effective slice of the electorate. They've had their lives upended so that greedheads could profit massively from exploiting the competitive advantage of places with a massive surplus of labor, and look for easy answers to pin the blame on.
Body cameras on cops won't hurt, but also won't change much when grand juries literally refuse to indict despite actual video evidence of police over-reaction and misconduct. Those punk-ass cops gang-mauled Eric Garner for selling individual cigarettes; the man lost his life for selling loosies. It's all on video, crystal clear, and still they refuse to do a goddamned thing about it. Video doesn't matter, in a climate where citizens will not just eat the shit sandwich, but run down to the store and buy the bread.
Here's the only video that matters, if we want to understand what's going on here:
Robin Harris in House Party