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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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, www.truth-out.org
June 13th, 2013
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.
Like Occupy Wall Street, the People’s Climate March has refused to issue a unified set of demands. It has, instead, favored “big tent” organizing. And like OWS, which took on the 1 percent’s power over the political process, this march is tackling an issue that many know is a serious problem but that still remains outside mainstream discourse Given this, it makes sense that similar tactics would be adopted in both messaging and structure. Like OWS, the march’s greatest success may ultimately be both its impact on the larger conversation and the continuing activities of its constituent parts — just as many Occupy-inspired groups did important work after the Zuccotti Park encampment was destroyed by the NYPD.
It is three years since Occupy Wall Street shook the world—and the reverberations are felt everywhere. No longer seen with the occupation of parks, plazas and squares, Occupy has relocated, it is in us, it is in our ways of being, relating and coming together. People are changed—feel more dignity and organize for a different world because of it. Occupy was never about a place or a moment—it was and is about a way of being and doing. As all ways of relating, it changed and changes, and must do so as to thrive. We have created a new generation of organizers/activists who are not part of a movement to win one thing and then declare victory, but a movement that is about changing everything. And little by little this is happening. Slower than perhaps many of us would like, but in three years we have come a long way. As our Turkish sisters and brothers sang in Tencere Tava Havasi in Taksim Gezi Park, their “sound of pots and pans” reminiscent of the Argentine call to the street with the sound of banging pots and pans; we are going “slowly slowly, as the ground is still wet.”
On August 28, 1963, 200,000 people swarmed into the nation’s capital for one of the most iconic moments in the civil rights movement: the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. More often remembered today simply as the March on Washington, it was seen by many as a turning point for the civil rights movement, which helped spur passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act. Today, with hundreds of thousands of people preparing to descend on one of the country’s largest cities for the September 21 People’s Climate March, some are hoping for a similarly transformative moment in the climate movement. But whether the People’s Climate March succeeds in generating the kind of results achieved by the 1963 March on Washington — and whether that is, in fact, a desirable outcome — remains to be seen.
The climate crisis is a crisis of democracy requiring a coordinated global grassroots mobilization to stop harmful policies and practices and build alternative systems that are effective and equitable. The climate crisis affects all of us and touches everything we care about. It will take a mass “movement of movements” to counter the power of money and corruption that prevents the change we need. The last two decades have been wasted by political misleadership and, as a result, immediate action is required. A landmark report issued last week concluded: “By 2018, no new cars, homes, schools, factories, or electrical power plants should be built anywhere in the world, ever again, unless they’re either replacements for old ones or carbon neutral.” We have a big task before us and need to build a global movement to make it a reality.
All of the elements required to create climate justice seem to be in place. The climate movement can put hundreds of thousands on the streets, organize creative civil resistance, get thousands to risk arrest and mobilize blockades of tar sands, fracking, oil pipelines and mountain top removal. Polls show high levels of public support for taking action on climate change. A 2014 Gallup Poll shows 65% of Americans support emissions controls and a 2014 George Mason-Yale study found Americans were twice as likely to support a congressional or presidential candidate who strongly supports action to reduce global warming. Yet, despite all of this, the climate change movement is unable to move U.S. or UN policy or force the economic system to respond adequately to the climate crisis.
From the very beginning, the movement in Ferguson, Missouri, has been youth-led and locally initiated. It was spurred after neighbors saw a young man dead in the streets for four hours after he had been gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson. After the first three or four nights, people deeming themselves “peacekeepers” began appearing at the protests. “I feel like they’re trying to heal a broken arm with a band aid.” The “peacekeepers” are of an older generation. Just about all of them are middle-aged. Some wear black shirts that say “peacekeeper” across the chest; others wear orange shirts that say “clergy;” some are politicians; some are clergy members; others have labeled themselves “community leaders.” Many protesters – especially people who have been out in Ferguson since Day One – have questioned their motives and are often at odds with their goals. Spook, a 24-year-old writer who attended the protests since they began on August 9 told Truthout, “there’s a rift there,” describing the relationship between peacekeepers and protesters. “People didn’t see eye to eye.” King D Seals, a 27-year-old resident of Ferguson, told Truthout, that while he respects them, he sees them as “disingenuous.” Another St Louis resident and organizer, who was out during the protests, described the peacekeepers’ tactics to Truthout: “I feel like they’re trying to heal a broken arm with a band aid.”
Last week the City of Boston agreed to pay Simon Glik $170,000 in damages and legal fees to settle a civil rights lawsuit stemming from his 2007 felony arrest for videotaping police roughing up a suspect. Prior to the settlement, the First Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that Glik had a “constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public.” The Boston Police Department now explicitly instructs its officers not to arrest citizens openly recording them in public. Slowly but surely the courts are recognizing that recording on-duty police is a protected First Amendment activity. But in the meantime, police around the country continue to intimidate and arrest citizens for doing just that. So if you’re an aspiring cop watcher you must be uniquely prepared to deal with hostile cops. If you choose to record the police you can reduce the risk of terrible legal consequences and video loss by understanding your state’s laws and carefully adhering to the following rules. Rule #1: Know the Law (Wherever You Are) Conceived at a time when pocket-sized recording devices were available only to James Bond types, most eavesdropping laws were originally intended to protect people against snoops, spies, and peeping Toms. Now with this technology in the hands of average citizens, police and prosecutors are abusing these outdated laws to punish citizens merely attempting to document on-duty police.
It’s an odd thing, really. in certain precincts of the left, especially across a broad spectrum of what could be called the economic left, our (by which I mean humanity’s) accelerating trajectory toward the climate cliff is little more popular as a topic than it is on the right. In fact, possibly less so. (Plenty of right-wingers love to talk about climate change, if only to deny its grim and urgent scientific reality. On the left, to say nothing of the center, denial takes different forms.) Sometimes, though, the prospect of climate catastrophe shows up unexpectedly, awkwardly, as a kind of non sequitur—or the return of the repressed. I was reminded of this not long ago when I came to a showstopping passage deep in the final chapter of anarchist anthropologist David Graeber’s The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement, his interpretive account of the Occupy Wall Street uprising, in which he played a role not only as a core OWS organizer but as a kind of house intellectual (his magnum opus, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, happened to come out in the summer of 2011). Midway through a brief discourse on the nature of labor, he pauses to reflect, as though it has just occurred to him: “At the moment, probably the most pressing need is simply to slow down the engines of productivity.” Why? Because “if you consider the overall state of the world,” there are “two insoluble problems” we seem to face: “On the one hand, we have witnessed an endless series of global debt crises…to the point where the overall burden of debt…is obviously unsustainable. On the other we have an ecological crisis, a galloping process of climate change that is threatening to throw the entire planet into drought, floods, chaos, starvation, and war.”
The mainstream environmental “movement” in the US has done almost nothing to counter the political and economic conditions that make participation in their contrived organizing spaces inaccessible to many people from the very communities bearing the brunt of degradation and state violence. At the same time, these hyper-visible Big Greens draw attention, recognition, and visibility away from localized and community-based grassroots organizing. In fact, these white-led liberal elite NGOs have time and again refused to take direction from primarily-impacted communities and have incorporated racist and colonialist elements directly into their recruitment tactics. Silencing the voices of leaders of indigenous communities and communities of color while often simultaneously using their images and appropriating bits and pieces of their cultures is a deeply entrenched mode of operation for many Big Greens. They often mash together multiple Indigenous cultures as if they were one, a method that reels in their target consumers, who often possess deeply misguided ideas of “Native Americans as the first environmentalists” and who can often be seen engaged in reformist “support work” that thinly veils their commitment to the settler colonial project.
While photographing a #FreePalestine rally in NYC on July 15, I ran into many friends. That’s no surprise for me in my hometown but what does stand out is how rarely I ever encounter any of my vegan/animal rights (AR) comrades at such human rights events. Reminder: All our grievances are connected… Please allow me to use the aforementioned Gaza-related rally as an example: $3 billion U.S. taxpayer dollars go to the Israeli military each year with the requirement that 74 percent of that money be used to buy weapons and equipment from U.S. defense (sic) corporations. Translation: If you pay U.S. taxes, you’re culpable. Also, from a more strict AR perspective, do you really think the massive bombardment being imposed upon Gaza only injures and kills humans? Bigger picture: Do you think non-humans are spared in any war? War is unhealthy for all species On Feb. 13-14, 1945, Allied bombers laid siege to the German city of Dresden. Within the target zone was the Dresden Zoo, run by animal trainer Otto Sailer-Jackson. To help understand how deeply embedded speciesism can be, take a moment to ponder the standing Nazi order that if human life was endangered, all carnivores must be shot.
Conversations with Activists Worldwide on How to Use Latin America’s COP to Build Citizen Action on Climate (From the Introduction…) “Mobilizing effective citizen action on the global climate crisis has never been more urgent or seemed more daunting. Across the world’s continents, due to drought, storms and fierce flooding, 2014 may well be remembered as the year when climate change became understood as a current reality instead of a distant projection. This is also the year in which, after stalled progress and dashed hopes, activist energies are turning once again to the demand for international action. [...] To help the climate change movement look more strategically at how to make use of the COP gathering, we undertook a diverse set of exploratory one-on-one conversations. When you speak with people in this way, you not only benefit from the best of their thinking and analysis, you can also push them to think about things even more deeply than they may have before. Sometimes face-to-face, sometimes over Skype, expressed in different ways by different people, we found a strong collective wisdom about a potential set of COP20 strategies. This report offers our best effort to synthesize that wisdom into something people can rally around as planning gets underway for the COP in the Andes.”
If you’re planning on participating in a peaceful demonstration or protest keep one thing in mind, at any time it could turn into a bloody riot. So what should you do if suddenly rubber bullets, tear gas canisters, and flash bang grenades are whizzing past you and a hundred Mad Max extras waiving clubs start goose-stepping in your direction? The following will provide you some tips and advice to keep you as safe as possible should you suddenly find yourself in a war-zone. Clothing When the storm troopers make their appearance at your protest march, you’ll notice they came dressed to kill. They typically wear helmets, face shields, gas masks, chest protectors, elbow pads, knee and shin pads, and combat boots. In addition, they will carry shields, batons, Tasers, radios, medical kits, shotguns and pistols. Meanwhile, you are standing there in a t-shirt and flip flops. The first tip is to come dressed for the occasion. Long pants and long sleeves to reduce the exposure of skin to RCAs. (Riot Control Agents)
Fifteen years ago this month, the French sheep farmer Jose Bové revved up his bulldozer and dismantled a McDonald’s. No matter how you slice it, this is one of the most memorable instances of a worker using the tools of their trade to take direct action. It all came about because he was beyond distraught at the United States for levying taxes on his beloved Roquefort cheese in retaliation for European farmers refusing to import U.S. hormone-fed beef. “McDo’s ,” as Bové called it, was the ultimate symbol of the destruction of French cuisine, embodying the problems with corporate globalization. When called to trial, he came by oxcart, carrying a large wheel of locally-produced Roquefort cheese. These and other actions that featured agrarian tools and products helped to plant Bové as an international symbol of small farmer and community resistance to corporate globalization. In honor of his outstanding use of implements of his trade, here are nine more examples of farmers, janitors, musicians and fire fighters wielding their own ordinary tools in extraordinary protests.
Speech given by Marta Harnecker on August 15, 2014, accepting the 2013 Liberator’s Prize for Critical Thought, awarded for her book, A World to Build: New Paths towards Twenty-first Century Socialism; translated by Federico Fuentes August 24, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — I completed this book one month after the physical disappearance of President Hugo Chávez, without whose intervention in Latin America this book could not have been written. Many of the ideas I raise in it are related in one way or another to the Bolivarian leader, to his ideas and actions, within Venezuela and at the regional and global level. Nobody can deny that there is a huge difference between the Latin America that Chávez inherited and the Latin America he has left for us today. That is why I dedicated the book to him with the following words: To Commandante Chavez, whose words, orientations and exemplary dedication to the cause of the poor will serve as a compass for his people and all the people of the world. It will be the best shield to defend ourselves from those that seek to destroy this marvellous work that he began to build. When Chávez won the 1998 presidential elections, the neoliberal capitalist model was already foundering. The choice then was whether to re-establish this model, undoubtedly with some changes such as greater concern for social issues, but still motivated by the same logic of profit-seeking, or to go ahead and try to build another model. Chávez had the courage to take the second path and decided to call it “socialism”, in spite of its negative connotations. He called it “21st century socialism,” to differentiate it from the Soviet-style socialism that had been implemented in the 20th century. This was not about “falling into the errors of the past”, into the same “Stalinist deviations” which bureaucratised the party and ended up eliminating popular participation.
As we have seen recently with the police abuse cases across the country and as we saw during the occupy encampments, citizens video is critical not just to creating our own media but for documenting what occurs. Repeatedly citizens video has the made the difference between whether people are aware an injustice occurred and has been critical evidence in achieving justice. This guide describes how video should be archived. Who is this Guide for? You are a human rights activist, a small or grassroots human rights organization, or media collective; You are creating or collecting digital video to document human rights abuses or issues, and; You want to make sure that the video documentation you have created or collected can be used for advocacy, as evidence, for education or historical memory – not just now but into the future…. But you are not sure where to begin, or you are stuck on a particular problem. If this is you, then this Guide is for you.