The section provides information on strategic nonviolence and links to organizations that provide training in nonviolent resistance, effective strategy and creative actions. For more information on a common vision and strategy that unites people into an effective national movement please see our page, about PopularResistance.org.

Featured Video: The video to the right is an hour-long presentation on grand strategy given to the Fellowship Of Reconciliation in Olympia, WA. It is a reflection on how organizers can grow social movements to be impactful enough that they can effect social change, and it highlights principles and a theoretical framework that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of actions and tactics.

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History Teaches That We Have the Power to Transform the Nation, Here’s How.


The fact is, United States and world histories show that an organized and mobilized populace is what has always caused transformational change. This history is not taught in our education system or emphasized in the heroes we idolize in our culture, but it is so significant that it cannot be hidden from view. The country could not operate if the people refused to participate in its corrupt systems. The ultimate power is with us, if we let go of fear and embrace it. Now that there is a history of more than 100 years of modern resistance movements, there is data to show what works and what doesn’t. As a result, we can develop a vision, a strategic plan and tactics that make success more likely than ever before.

“I’ve Got Sweaters … What I Need Is Social Change”

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All I want for Christmas is support for the Movement of Movements. These are the people who train our friends and neighbors in nonviolent action. They stop environmental destruction, work for living wages, halt wars, protect Net Neutrality, stand up to police violence, combat propaganda with truth, and thwart unjust trade deals . . . in other words, they’re on the front lines of life and death, working on your behalf every single day. If you’d like to give me something for Christmas, make a donation to one of these amazing groups. Here are my picks for organizations and endeavors to support. If you’d like donate as a gift to me (or the world) this season, I’d appreciate that more than a card or a hand knitted sweater. (I’ve got sweaters, what I need is social change.)

In The Struggle Against Police Violence, The Youth Shall Lead

Demonstrators march in New York on December 13 during the Justice for All rally and march. (Photo: AP/John Minchillo)

This new movement is being led by mostly young black women who won’t allow us to forget that black women’s lives matter, too (Columbia University Law professor Kimberle Crenshaw was present with a large banner that featured the pictues and names of black women and girls also killed by police). It is drawing in diverse crowds, including white allies who are not calling for gradual change, but a total end to white supremacy. The people in the street have neck tattoos, are dressed in sagging skinny jeans, and curse loudly (among the more popular chants: “BACK UP, BACK UP, WE WANT FREEDOM, FREEDOM, ALL THESE RACIST ASS COPS, WE DON’T NEED ‘EM, NEED ‘EM!” and “WHO SHUT SHIT DOWN? WE SHUT SHIT DOWN!”). The movement doesn’t look or sound like anything our elders remember (or were taught) about the civil rights era. And that’s OK. We have a new fight. We have to create a new model of resistance.

Is It Bad Enough Yet?

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The root of the anger is inequality, about which statistics are mind-boggling: From 2009 to 2012 (that’s the most recent data), some 95 percent of new income has gone to the top 1 percent; the Walton family (owners of Walmart) have as much wealth as the bottom 42 percent of the country’s people combined; and “income mobility” now describes how the rich get richer while the poor … actually get poorer. The progress of the last 40 years has been mostly cultural, culminating, the last couple of years, in the broad legalization of same-sex marriage. But by many other measures, especially economic, things have gotten worse, thanks to the establishment of neo-liberal principles — anti-unionism, deregulation, market fundamentalism and intensified, unconscionable greed — that began with Richard Nixon and picked up steam under Ronald Reagan. Too many are suffering now because too few were fighting then.

Above Their Law

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I went to their courtroom as an American Indian, not a citizen of kkkanada and/or a subject or the “Crown”, giving them authority over me. I am not be a ‘full blood’ Indian, but I am in part Migmaq and Penobscot. I don’t need an “Indian Status” from the status quo, determining who I am by quantum blood levels. This is their justification of the decision process of who is and who isn’t an First Nation, Native, etc.. And this is, according to the Crown, the enemy. I’m an American Indian, none of the preceeding descriptions. This right to choose where my or your allegiance is, is up to me or you. I don’t need anyone else’s given permission but from the Ancestors. They have given me the right to be a channel to what happened in that court room as an Indian living by Tribal Law and respecting International Law.

Protests Build And Intensify People’s Views On Issues

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Bill McKibben suggested that the massive People’s Climate March in September had helped cause theUS-China climate announcement of a few weeks ago. He tweeted, “First reaction to US China climate news: We should do more of these big protest-type things, they seem useful.” But did the People’s Climate March actually cause these policy outcomes? Maybe. The truth is that it’s really difficult to assess the causal impact of protests. Many of the same things that drive people out to the streets also influence politicians to take actions in support of the movement’s cause. When the tide of public opinion shifts to support a movement, for example, we can expect to see both more protest and more favorable policy outcomes.

Ferguson: Revolution, Democracy, and Empire

Ferguson This Stops Now protest sign

Berkman says social revolutions do not happen by accident, but the same can be said of empires. They are forged out of the deliberate use of greed, theft, deceit, imperialism, and ruthless terror. The American Empire is no different. Yet the vast majority of Americans prefer to ignore it; foreign affairs are not something most people pay attention to. However, if you pay attention to the weapons and tactics being used by the American Empire for social control at home, you are seeing exactly what it does abroad, as well. This is a sign that our empire is imploding. We do not know for sure if the death of Michael Brown is the event that will ignited a social revolution, but we do know it started a considerable amount of unrest and dissent. I believe many people wonder how one event could do such a thing because they are not fully aware or sensitive to the amount of oppression black people experience. We should not be surprised when victims of The New Jim Crow spill into the streets full of anger. And if proper channels for peaceful change do not exist, we should not be surprise if that anger becomes violent. When inequality, unjust laws, mass incarceration, racism and police brutality among other things, are not addressed then the result is insurrection. Some may see rioting in Ferguson as just that, rioting. I see an empire in decline, seeds of revolution, and a struggle to preserve democracy.

What Makes Nonviolent Movements Explode?

Occupy Wall Street on September 30, 2011. (Wikimedia Commons/David Shankbone)

In the years following the crash, America entered into its worst economic crisis in three quarters of a century. The unemployment rate reached into double digits, something that had not happened in the lifetimes of more than a third of all Americans. State governments reported record demand for food stamps. And yet, debate in Washington, D.C. — influenced by the activism of the insurgent Tea Party — revolved around cutting the budget and trimming social programs. “We were basically having an insane national discussion,” remarked economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. It took an outburst of popular action to change this. And that outburst came in an unexpected form.

Your Right To Protest And Police Enforcing Laws

Demonstrators march down Cathedral Street after trying to disrupt the holiday lighting of the Washington Monument in Baltimore to protest a New York grand jury's decision not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Eric Garner case. By Jerry Jackson, Baltimore Sun.

Everyone knows the First Amendment guarantees free speech and freedom of assembly—the right to protest. But as demonstrations build across the country over institutional racism and excessive force in policing, there are other things protesters need to know, from legal limits on protests to what to do if arrested. In some cities, there’s no guarantee that police will behave, balancing the rights of protesters with what they will say are the rights of everyone else. What follows are summaries and links to five guidelines and legal analyses for protesters from civil rights’ lawyers. They say what you can and cannot do, tell protesters to be prepared for possible arrest, what to do if arrested and more.

Civil Rights Movement Came Out Of A Moment Like This

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Back in August, some observers drew comparisons between the shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, and the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. If parallels to civil rights movement history are helpful now, then let yesterday’s announcement that a Staten Island grand jury won’t indict the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death be a sign that we’re somewhere closer to 1963—when a series of devastating setbacks and subsequent widespread outrage transformed the civil rights struggle—than we are to Till’s lynching, that earlier consciousness-raising moment. There was a perfect storm this week: the continuing fallout of the failed indictment of Wilson; the news of the outcome in the Garner case; a Cleveland newspaper’s efforts to discredit and sling mud on the parents of a 12-year-old boy killed by police. This moment has the potential to catapult change

What US Movements Can Learn From The Hong Kong Protests

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They were not the words of a local student or activist, but of a visitor from Shanghai. As we talked by my tent in the encampment, we reflected that Hong Kong activists were fighting to exercise the simple right that Americans across the Pacific would be using at the ballot box the very next day, in national elections on Nov. 4. More than 60 people now sit in prison in China for expressing various degrees of support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. Yet, more come here every day for a taste of what one man from Beijing described to me as “the first ever genuine movement for freedom on Chinese soil.” Although this could not have been said as easily across the border, it’s an increasingly common sentiment these days in Hong Kong, where local, mainland and even Taiwanese activists continue forging new connections around the makeshift supply stations and study centers of the occupation.

Why We Need A “No Compromise” Climate Movement

People's Climate March New York

Fast forward to 2014, the crisis surrounding the fossil fuel industry’s exploitation and destruction of the earth has only worsened. According to climate scientists, April, 2014 became the first month that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million further pushing us towards a climate catastrophe that includes floods, droughts, mega-storms and greater social and economic inequity. Another recent report states that the earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past forty years due to unsustainable killing for food practices and habitat destruction. Studies have also found that people living near mountaintop removal mine sites are twice more than likely to suffer from cancer than people from other parts of Appalachia. Furthermore, mountaintop removal has been linked to high rates of birth defects.

A Genuine Movement For Social Change

"To some extent, we can create the future rather than merely observing the flow of events," says Noam Chomsky. (Image via Shutterstock)

The role of the technical intelligentsia in decision-making is predominant in those parts of the economy that are “in the service of the war technique” and closely linked to the government, which underwrites their security and growth. It is little wonder, then, that the technical intelligentsia is, typically, committed to what sociologist Barrington Moore in 1968 called “the predatory solution of token reform at home and counterrevolutionary imperialism abroad.” Moore offers the following summary of the “predominant voice of America at home and abroad” – an ideology that expresses the needs of the American socioeconomic elite, that is propounded with various gradations of subtlety by many American intellectuals, and that gains substantial adherence on the part of the majority that has obtained “some share in the affluent society”.

Seattle WTO Uprising Still A Force In World Events, 15 Years Later

"WTO protests in Seattle November 30 1999" by Steve Kaiser. CC BY-SA 2.0

“This is what democracy looks like!” has become, since Seattle, more than a momentary expression of an alternative world that is possible. Instead, it has grown into an ongoing direct challenge to corporate capitalism and elite government. To be clear, the cost of that challenge has already proven high. And the past fifteen years have brought not only increased popular resistance but also greater social control in the form of police militarization and violence, security state expansion, unending war, and the legalization of corporate rule. Yet the fact remains that we have witnessed the birth of a global democracy movement that is constitutionally subversive and antagonistic to the institutions, laws, acts, and culture it seeks to transform.

What It’s Like To Go To Jail For Your Cause

The “human blockade” is attempting to obstruct the building of a gas storage facility / photo from WeAreSenecaLake

As a personal experience, enduring what Martin Luther King, Jr. called, “the ordeals of jail” deepens one’s commitment to our campaign, fosters patience and bravery, and reveals a side of American life—the world of incarceration—that is otherwise hidden from view. Most of all: there is great satisfaction in aligning one’s actions with one’s values. Those of us who have chosen jail sentences—by refusing to pay the county a fine for the privilege of arresting us—have discovered joy behind our bars and a sense of being at peace with oneself. And, finally, because jail is one of the few places in the world without to-do lists, email, text messages, Internet access—or even clocks—the incarcerated civil disobedient is given a gift of time: time to read, write, sketch, meditate, reflect, and otherwise draw on one’s own inner resources.

Nonviolent Action: Minimizing The Risk Of Violent Repression

Cove Point protesters holding banner By Kevin W. Thomas

If you want a nonviolent action to be maximally effective, there are two preliminary points to consider. First, spend time developing a carefully elaborated nonviolent strategythat will guide each and every aspect of your campaign. And second, make sure that each nonviolent action that your group undertakes is governed by its strategic goal, not its political objective. If your nonviolent tactic (demonstration, strike, blockade…) is the strategically chosen and focused tactic for this stage of your campaign, and you undertake it with the strategic goal (not political objective) clearly in mind, then, irrespective of the immediate police response (including if it is illegal, violent and/or makes use of provocateurs), your strategic goal will be achieved, your campaign will be advanced and any violent response by police or the military will be either politically irrelevant or strategically advantageous to your campaign.