In 1916 and 1917 suffragists for the women's movement picketed the White House, with one silent picket leading to the arrest of 218 women from 26 states.
The Bonus Army was the popular name of an assemblage of some 43,000 marchers (17,000 World War I veterans, their families, and affiliated groups) who gathered in Washington, D.C., in the spring and summer of 1932 to demand immediate cash-payment redemption of their service certificates. Its organizers called it the Bonus Expeditionary Force.
N.O.W. (Women's Movement)
On August 26, 1970, on the 50th anniversary of women's suffrage, NOW activists organized a Women's Strike for Equality. Approximately 50,000 women marched in New York and another 100,000 women participated in demonstrations and rallies in 90 cities, 42 states.
In 1977 NOW organized over 100,000 people to march on Washington in 95-degree heat, in a sea of purple, gold and white banners (reflecting the suffragist colors), to press for an extension of the time limit on ratifying the ERA.
Having won the extension, NOW activists organized a record 90,000 people to march on Chicago, again urging Illinois' ratification, in the 1980 Mother's Day March for ERA.
After the defeat of the ERA in 1982, NOW did not organize another major march on women's rights until the East Coast/West Coast March for Women's Equality/Women's Lives in March 1986, when over 120,000 women and men demonstrated in Washington, D.C., and the following weekend in driving rain in Los Angeles, against the impending threat to abortion rights.
NOW's April 1989 March for Women's Lives drew crowds that had not been seen in Washington since the Vietnam protests of 1969 and 1971. After organizing a recording-breaking crowd of 600,000 in April, NOW followed up with a rally of 350,000 that fall — the November, 1989 Mobilize for Women's Lives at the Lincoln memorial -- and broke their own record by bringing 750,000 abortion rights supporters for a massive April 1992 March for Women's Lives
In 1995, more than 200,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C., on April 9 for the Rally for Women's Lives, the first and largest mass action to stop violence against women.
They lasted about ten years from the early 60s into the early 70s. It's well documented and too lengthily to list there. In 1969 Students for a Democratic Society held its national convention in Chicago from 18 June through 22 June. Huge list at Wiki.
The Very First Actual Occupation: On 9 April, 1969, 300 students at Harvard University seized the administration building in protest of the war. They threw out eight deans and locked themselves in. Harvard students took over University Hall, one of the college's oldest buildings. Opposed to the escalating war in Vietnam, the protesters demanded that Harvard end its Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program. The demonstrators had vowed non-violent resistance, but in the early hours of April 10th, university administrators made the unprecedented decision to call in city and state police. The use of billy-clubs and mace to remove the demonstrators outraged even those members of the community who did not support the takeover. The sit-in at Harvard, and the so-called "bust" that ended it, were part of a national phenomenon; but as one participant put it, "Like it or not, whatever goes on at Harvard gets a lot of attention."
In 1977: Initially Joseph Califano, U.S. Secretary of Health, Education
and Welfare, refused to sign meaningful regulations for Section 504 of
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. After an ultimatum and deadline,
demonstrations took place in ten U.S. cities on April 5, 1977.
The sit-in (occupation) at the San Francisco Office of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, led by Judith Heumann, lasted from April 5th to until May 1st, 1977 (25 days). More than 150 demonstrators refused to disband. This action became the longest sit-in at a federal building to date. Joseph Califano signed the regulations on April 28, 1977.
The following year in 1978 disability rights activists successfully protested the Denver Regional Transit Authority with a year-long civil disobedience campaign because the transit system was inaccessible to people who used wheelchairs.
The Afrikan Student Union at Ohio State University occupied the offices of the campus president for eight days in 1998 in protest of proposed changes in the Office of Minority Affairs.
Another living wage sit-in, this one at Washington University in 2005, lasted for eighteen days.
In May of 2008, students protesting the University of North Carolina’s ties to sweatshop garment makers occupied the lobby of their administration building for sixteen days.
On September 24th, 2009 students and workers at UC Santa Cruz began the occupation of the Graduate Student Commons as part of a day of action at all UCs across the state. From CNN: "About 70 students at UC Santa Cruz in California avoided arrest early Sunday morning when they surrendered the administration building they had occupied for three days, according to a school spokesman."
The Wisconsin Protests and Occupation
February 13, 2011 - Gov. Scott Walker unveils his budget repair
bill, which would curb most collective bargaining rights for most public
employees and asks them to increase contributions for benefits. Democrats and
labor leaders call it union busting and begin to mobilize against it. About 150
people protested in front of the Capitol while about 100 others demonstrate in
front of the Governor's Mansion.
February 14 - Teaching and project assistants from the University of Wisconsin–Madison distributed "We ♥ UW: Don't Break My ♥" Valentine cards to the governor, as a means of protesting the bill's negative impacts on working conditions at the university
February 15, 2011 - At least 10,000 protesters gather at Capitol Square, while 3,000 more fill the Capitol.
February 16 - The number of protesters in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol was estimated at 30,000.
February 17, 2011 - About 25,000 people continued the protest, citing concerns that Republicans were attempting to pass the legislation without scheduling adequate time for public review and debate. Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller led the 14 senate democrats in fleeing the state to prevent the quorum necessary for a vote on the Budget Repair Bill. At the same time, protesters occupied the Senate chambers. Protesters eventually had undertaken a physical occupation of the Capitol building, establishing a fully functioning community within the public spaces of the Wisconsin State Capitol, including an information center, a sleeping area, food stations with food for protesters supplied by local businesses.
February 18, 2011 - Tens of thousands of protesters jammed the Wisconsin capitol and many schools closed for a third day. State troopers were enlisted in the hunt for 14 Democratic state senators whose disappearance has prevented a vote on the new governor's controversial budget proposal.
February 19, 2011 - Some of the largest crowds yet (70,000 protesters) descended upon Wisconsin's state capitol to march, chant and shout about Republican Governor Scott Walker's controversial proposal to trim benefits and curtail collective-bargaining rights.
February 26, 2011 - Protests hit its peak on Saturday, when more than 100,000 people descended on the Capitol grounds for a rally, which was the largest state rally since the Vietnam War.
March 3, 2011 - After the occupation of the State Capitol building for two weeks and two days, the final group (50 to 100) of pro-union protesters left the building peacefully after a judge ordered their removal.
Occupy Wall Street Movement
Began September 17, 2011 - New York City's Zuccotti Park. The mother of all occupations. To date: Occupied 6 Weeks and 2 Days and counting. By October 9, similar demonstrations were either ongoing or had been held in 70 major cities and over 600 communities in the U.S. Internationally, as other "Occupy" protests have modeled themselves after Occupy Wall Street, in over 900 cities worldwide.
Sometimes, tree-sitting is also used as a long-term resistance strategy, with activists occupying trees for months or years at a time. There was a tree-sitters' camp in Berkeley, California protesting the planned removal of coastal live oaks. The protesters were in the trees from February 12, 2008 to September 9, 2008 (7 months), making it the longest running urban tree-sit in history. (number of people unclear)
Rallies and Marches and other Mass Protests
"I Have a Dream" is a 17-minute public speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. and was delivered on August 28, 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. Over 200,000 civil rights supporters attended.
The March for Women's Lives was a demonstration for reproductive rights and women's rights, held April 25, 2004 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.. The National Park Service no longer makes official estimates of attendance after the Million Man March controversy in 1994, so official estimates are often speculation. March organizers estimated that 1.15 million people participated.
The Million Man March was a gathering of social activists, en masse, held on and around the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on October 16, 1995. ABC-TV funded researchers at Boston University estimated the crowd size to be 837,000.
The Million Woman March was a protest march organized on October 25, 1997, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Organizers estimated an attendance of 2.1 million.
The Genoa Group of Eight Summit protest, from July 18 to July 22, 2001, was a dramatic protest, drawing an estimated 200,000 demonstrators. Dozens were hospitalized following clashes with police and night raids by security forces on two schools housing activists and independent journalists. People taken into custody after the raids have alleged severe abuse at the hands of police.
The Restoring Honor rally was held on August 28, 2010 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and was organized by Glenn Beck. A scientific estimate placed the crowd size around 87,000, while media reports varied dramatically from tens of thousands to 500,000.
Other Mass Gatherings
In 480 B.C., the Persian Army marched into the Battle of Thermopylae with between 200,000 and 500,000 men.
More than 2,000 years later, in 1943, the Soviet Union's Red Army suffered more than a million casualties at the Battle of Stalingrad.
Also during the early 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi led millions of Indians in protest against British rule through noncompliance. Indian public officials resigned, parents withdrew their children from British schools and participants boycotted British goods. Exact figures for such a movement are difficult to calculate.
Largest Mass Protests
When it comes to protests, the book of Guinness World Records currently lists the Feb. 15, 2003 Iraq War protest in Rome as the largest antiwar rally in history. The event drew an estimated crowd of 3 million. On that same day, protesters gathered in nearly 600 cities in a coordinated global effort to express moral outrage against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. This included a reported 1.3 million protesters in Barcelona, Spain, and between 750,000 and 2 million protesters in London [sources: Guinness Book of World Records]. All told, between 6 and 10 million people participated in the global protest. According to the French academic Dominique Reynié, between January 3 and April 12, 2003, 36 million people across the globe took part in almost 3,000 protests against the Iraq war
During January 2007, an estimated 60 million Hindu pilgrims gathered at the convergence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in northern India for the Ardh-Kumbh Mela, or festival [source: BBC].
Largest Massive Peaceful Gatherings
Over five million
* Pilgrimage to Sabarimala Hindu temple in Kerala, India is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world with an estimated 45–50 million devotees visiting every year.
* An estimated 40 million people gathered over 41 days in Sabarimala, India between 15 November and 26 December 2008.
* An estimated 34 million people gathered over 11 days in Rajahmundry, India for Godavari pushkaram between 31 July and 10 August 2003.
* An estimated 15 million people attended the funeral of C. N. Annadurai in Tamil Nadu, India in 1969.
* An estimated 10 to 14 million people visited the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq during Arba'een in 2009.
* An estimated 10 to 14 million people visited the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq during Arba'een in 2010.
* An estimated 9 million people visited the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq during Arba'een in 2008.
* An estimated 8 million people attended the annual feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila, Philippines on January 2011.
* An estimated 7 million people attended the 25th anniversary of El Shaddai Manila, Philippines.
* An estimated 5 million people gathered in Sabarimala, India on 14 January 2007.
* Over 5 million people attended a World Youth Day Rally in Manila, The Philippines in 1995 to see Pope John Paul II.
Two to five million
* Up to 5 million people came to welcome Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran, Iran on his return to Iran on 1 February 1979.
* An estimated 5 million people attended the funeral of Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser on 1 October 1970 in Cairo, Egypt.
* An estimated 4 million people attended the funeral of Abdel Halim Hafez in Egypt.
* An estimated 4 million people attended the funeral of Umm Kulthum in Cairo, Egypt on 6 February 1975.
* An estimated 4 million people attended the closing Mass of World Youth Day 1995 in Manila, Philippines.
* An estimated 2 to 4 million people are reported to have attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome, Italy on 7 April 2005.
* An estimated 3 million people marched through Rome, Italy in opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in the largest anti-war rally in history on February 15, 2003.
* An estimated 3 million people attended a parade in Boston, United States celebrating the Boston Red Sox's victory on October 30, 2004. The victory ended an 86 year drought of world series championships and ended the era of the famous Curse of the Bambino for the Red Sox.
* An estimated 3 million people attended the annual feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila, Philippines on January 2008
* An estimated 3 million people gathered for the funeral of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran in 1989.
* An estimated 2 to 3 million people gathered to rally in defense of workers rights in Rome, Italy on March 23, 2002.
* An estimated 2.8 million people made the annual Hajj to Mecca,Saudi Arabia (excluding unregistered pilgrims which were over 0.75 million, the number of pilgrims would then be over 3.5 million) in November 2010.
* An estimated 2.7 million people attended the closing Mass of World Youth Day 2000 in Rome, Italy.
* An estimated 2.5 million people participated in a beatification mass held by Pope John Paul II in Błonia Park, Kraków, Poland.
* An estimated 2.5 million people participated in the São Paulo Gay Pride Parade that took place in June 2006 in'São Paulo, Brazil.
* An estimated 2 million people gathered in Philadelphia, USA for the Stanley cup parade for the 1974 Stanley Cup Champions, the Philadelphia Flyers.
* An estimated 2 million people gathered for the Republic Protests on May 13, 2007 in İzmir, Turkey.
* An estimated 2 million people are reported to have gathered in Madrid, Spain for a parade celebrating the success of Spain national football team in 2010 FIFA World Cup.
* An estimated 2 million Hindu women gathered at the Attukal Temple in Kerala, India on 4 March 2007, making it the largest gathering of women in history, overtaking the record set by the same festival on February 23, 1997.
* On 25 May 2010 an estimated 2 million people gathered at the 9 de Julio avenue in Buenos Aires to attend several concerts and street art parades celebrating the Bicentennial of the May Revolution
* An estimated 5 million people are reported to have gathered in Tahrir Square for a Celebrating the removal of Mubarak regime on 19 Feb 2011 during the Egyptian revolution.
* An estimated 2 million people are reported to have gathered in India for a Christian healing service, conducted by Benny Hinn in 2005; with the three day attendance totaling 4 million. But, Indian newspapers only reported attendance in the order of thousands, where as Binny Hinn's personal website claimed 7.3 million attendees.
One to two million
* An estimated 1.5 million attended the Diretas Já protest (April 16, 1984) in São Paulo, Brazil
* An estimated 1.0 million gathered in London, England for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on 29 April 2011.
* An estimated 1.5 million people attended the funeral of former Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan on 1 March 2011. The length of the funeral cortege surpassed 4 miles.
* An estimated 1.2 million people attended the inauguration of Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. on 20 January 2009.
* An estimated 1.5 million people attended the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia, PA 2 July 2005.
* An estimated 1.5 million Hindu women gathered at the Attukal Temple in Kerala, India on 23 February 1997 for what was at that time the largest gathering of women in history and earned the temple a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. They brought cooking pots with which they prepared food as an offering to a goddess.
* An estimated 1.2 million to 1.5 million people attended the "Telangana Maha Garjana", at Warangal in Andhra Pradesh,India on 16 December 2010 to demand the formation of Telangana as an Independent Statehood.
* An estimated 1.25 million people attended a Papal mass given by Pope John Paul II in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland on 29 September 1979. The estimated attendance was about one third of the population of Ireland gathered in one expansive public area.
* An estimated 1.6 million people (30 percent of Lebanon's 4 million population) gathered in Beirut, Lebanon on 14 March 2005 to demand an end to the Syrian military presence in Lebanon. This event is known as the Cedar Revolution.
* An estimated crowd of over 1 million protesters gathered at the headquarters of the UN Military Observer Group in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir on 1 March 1990 to present a memorandum addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations demanding that Kashmir be given the right of self determination.
* An estimated 1 million people participated in what is considered the largest procession in the history of New Delhi, India on 8 October 1970 in commemoration of Hans Ji Maharaj, led by his son Guru Maharaj Ji (now Prem Rawat).
* An estimated crowd of over 1 million revelers attended Love Parade in Essen, Germany on 25 August 2007.
* An estimated crowd of over 1 million Colombians gathered in Bogotá, Colombia on 4 February 2008 to protest against FARC.
* An estimated crowd of 750 thousand to 1.5 million people gathered in Central Park in New York City on 22 April 1990 to celebrate Earth Day.
* An estimated crowd of about 2 million people attended the funeral at Dhaka of President Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh on 30 May 1981.
* An estimated 1 million people attended the funeral procession of the French enlightenment writer Voltaire on 11 July 1791.
* An estimated one million Catholics gathered for the mass at Saint Peter's Square, to celebrate John Paul II's beatification on May 1, 2011.
* An estimated 1.2 million attended World Youth Day 1997 (August 19–24) in Paris
* An estimated 1 million attended World Youth Day 1987 (April 11–12) in Buenos Aires, Argentina
* An estimated 1.4 million attended World Youth Day 2011 (August 16–21) in Madrid
(* Also GOOGLE "Prison Strikes" and the G-8 protests)