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When Americans notice business and politics mingling in other countries they often see it as a sign of institutional decay, crony capitalism or authoritarianism. Today the mixing of government and corporations is happening in America. Sometimes that is in pursuit of honourable causes, as in the protest of CEOs over new laws restricting voting in Georgia and other states.  (From the Economist)

Can I interpret "protest of CEOs" in two different ways: one being that people protest CEOs, the other being that CEOs initiate the protest themselves?
Based on the context, I think it's better to interpret it the second way, as new laws restrict them from voting.

However, in most cases, I think " the protest of XXX" almost always means to protest against someone/sth, as in my first interpretation.

In the corpus, I found most sentence, if not all, at least from what I have looked through, bear the meaning of "protest against someone/sth."

Just to give one example:

After four students from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University were refused service at the lunch counter at Woolworth department store in Greensboro, North Carolina, Dellums led a boycott and protest of Kress and Woolworth stores in the Bay Area. (from The Liberary Community)

Also, It seems that "protest by" will better fit the context to mean "protest initiated by XXX," as demonstrated by the Corpus. An example sentence is:

The defeat of the Charlottetown Accord was interpreted as a protest by Canadians against the country’s “political class” (mainly the deeply unpopular Mulroney government), and as a vote against the Accord itself. (from thecanadianencyclopedia)


I am not interested in the Georgia law, and all I want to know is whether I can understand this "of" structure in two ways and I have to choose one meaning over the other based on contextual clues. And why I think "protest of" is not the best option here. Thank you!

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  • "The protest of CEOs over X". X tells you the reason for their protest. CEOs are the people who do/did the protest.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 2:53
  • You are right in that the CEOs are protesting. You may want to get a more accurate source if you’re interested in Georgia election laws, though. Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 2:59
  • 1
    The usage 'a boycott and protest of Woolworth stores' is clumsy - it should logically be 'a boycott of, and protest at/against, Woolworth stores'. Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 8:14

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Given the context of the article, I am not sure why you do not see it as promoting CEOs who protest against the laws:

"in pursuit of honourable causes, as in the protest of CEOs over new laws restricting voting in Georgia and other states."

Do you really think that the Economist and other media would be promoting the new Georgia laws? No way. That would be the end of them.

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