William Schnell details in his book "30 Years a Watchtower Slave" that, as a zone overseer, he was basically directed by the organizational leadership to enter an area and cause 'persecution' by inciting the locals to riot nearly. Franz recalls some similar events later on in Indiana and Ohio.
It was done to provoke, then to get courts to listen sympathetically to the Jw lawyers. It worked. They have little reason to do so today, however. Most of the religious freedoms they wished to secure [going house to house, not saluting the flag, etc] have been upheld.
Now, persecution is held out like a reverse-carrot to them. They like to find ways in which they are being 'persecuted' as it solidifies their opinion that Satan is against them [hence God is with them]. Unfortunately they apply it liberally to themselves and ignore others who undergo trials greater than their own as incidental, or the Devil's tactics to mislead others [persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany as example.] They have a strange way of applying history to situations. If it enriches their opinions, they proclaim it from house to house [literally]. If it can be used to support the idea that others have been persecuted, they ignore it.