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.

In Protests, Who Owns The Highways?

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The typical American highway is no place for a person on foot. It is really not a place at all. These roads exist entirely outside of the human context, designed for the accommodation of cars and trucks that carry men, women, and children inside at high speed, and yet have their own brutal mechanical needs, wholly incompatible with flesh and blood. That was what made the images of last week’s protest on the road known as the Atlanta Downtown Connector so jarring. A few dozen individuals, including members of the group Southerners on New Ground, walked out onto that roadway and laid down a banner reading “#BlackLivesMatter.” This was one of several actions around the country protesting police violence and mass incarceration, and expressing solidarity with those who have been demonstrating in Ferguson, Missouri, over the killing of black teenager Michael Brown by white policeman Darren Wilson. “These are just some ordinary folks who are sick and tired of being criminalized, overpoliced, the mass incarceration,” organizer Mary Hooks told WSB-TV. “Ordinary people get fed up. Ordinary people need to be heard.”

Ferguson and Beyond – Next Steps to End Police Brutality

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This edition of Clearing The FOG Radio, co-hosted by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, focuses on where the movement against police abuse is going. With the decision of the grand jury possible any day now, and the likely result being no indictment according to law enforcement leaks to the press, how should the people of Ferguson and the nation react? What would be a constructive to response for the lack of justice for Michael Brown? And, what should the movement be demanding. In the first half hour two guests who have worked in Ferguson as part of the movement for justice for Michael Brown discuss next steps, the mood of the community and how those of us outside Ferguson can help. In the second half hour, two African American activists in Washington, DC and New York City comment on the situation, not only in Ferguson but regarding police abuse nationally. In DC, Kymone Freeman has been part of the #DCFerguson coalition and in NYC, Glenn Ford long-time commentator on African American issues and editor of Black Agenda Report comments. Ford proposes that rather than “community policing” we need “community controlled policing” that includes the ability of communities to remove officers who are racist or abusive.

Spokes On The Anti-Austerity Wheel

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If we want to envision an anti-austerity movement that can genuinely empower people, we will have to create one that moves beyond austerity altogether. The contraction of capital, the latest stage in the perpetual crisis of the free market, is happening again. This time it is feeding on the oxygenated blood of the working poor. In an effort to solve the false problem of the national debt, and in response to the first-world depression that was inflicted on the people by the banking class, austerity measures are being implemented in the U.S. from the blueprint established in the European Union. Austerity, cleanly put, is how a welfare state attempts to respond to the internal debt it has accumulated.

Turning Fear Into Power: An Interview With Linda Sartor

Linda Sartor standing on a Soviet tank outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. (WNV / Peggy Gish)

Linda Sartor is not afraid to die. Dedicated to nonviolence, she spent 10 years after September 11, 2001 traveling to conflict zones throughout the world as an unarmed peacekeeper, with roles ranging from protective accompaniment to direct interpositioning between parties when tensions were running high. She documents her work across the world — in Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran and most recently Bahrain — in her new book, Turning Fear into Power: One Woman’s Journey Confronting the War on Terror. Inwardly quiet and exceedingly humble (she chose to sleep outside for eight years of her adult life), her courage and conviction are not only refreshing, they’re infectious.

How The Hong Kong Protesters Can Win

Democracy Protest in Hong Kong Placard Says Occupy Central by AP

Don’t think that this will be over soon. This is fundamentally a war of patience and a test of our endurance,” 17-year-old Joshua Wong, student leader of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, tweeted on Thursday. For the past several weeks, the protesters have been putting on a clinic in organized, disciplined civil resistance: Tens of thousands of activists continue to throng the downtown streets and thoroughfares, demanding the resignation of Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying and threatening to occupy government buildings. Occupy Central, student coalitions, and other opposition groups have called for mass strikes while insisting that they will not back down until their ultimate goal of universal suffrage is achieved. Still, as momentum has slowed, the lingering question is, what next?

Russell Brand & Naomi Klein: Climate Change And The Need For Revolution

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Russell Brand and the author Naomi Klein have called for a “revolution” that could potentially see oil giants like Exxon Mobil dismantled. Speaking to Brand as part of a podcast exclusively shared with The Huffington Post, Klein agreed with the comedian’s call for a political and economic revolution, but warned: “It’s not going to happen in the right way if we don’t talk about the distribution of resources.” The pair zeroed in on multinational oil giants such as Exxon Mobil, referring to them as companies that were “addicted to stupid money”, with Klein arguing that the world could convert from fossil fuels to renewable energy within 15 years. “What the hell’s going on,” said Brand. “Is there no money in it? Why don’t people do it? They could still make money out of windmills couldn’t they?”

“Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”: Gesture, Choreography, And Protest In Ferguson

Ferguson Tear gas rains down on a woman kneeling in the street after a demonstration in Ferguson on August 17. By Scott Olsen of Getty Images

Unlike other slogans, though, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” is not just voiced. It is also embodied. Contained within the phrase is both a plea not to shoot, as well as the bodily imperative to lift one’s hands up. Since Michael Brown’s murder, we’ve seen photos of young black men and women in Ferguson, Tibetan monks from India, black Harvard law students, school children in Missouri, young people in Moscow, and a church congregation in New York City with their hands up. What does this gesture mean for the different bodies that enact it? How do protesters assign new meanings to such a codified bodily gesture? How can we read these protests as choreographic tactics and gestures of resistance? Why is the deployment of the body in the case of the Ferguson protests so significant? I want to offer five ways of reading this gesture in the following list, which is by no means exhaustive…

Of Marches And Movements

More than 400,000 people took part in the People’s Climate March last month in New York City. (Survival Media Agency / Robert van Waarden)

Joshua Frank is spot-on as he argues against tying movements to the Democratic Party in his article, We Don’t Need Climate Marches, We Need a Political Awakening in the October 3-5 edition of Counterpunch. I also quite agree (as I have written about here and here) that it’s high time working people break with the Democratic and Republican parties and build a party of our own. However, Frank’s piece flounders when it comes to analyzing the essential nature of the September 21 climate march in New York City. Moreover, I submit that Frank’s well-intentioned critique misses the point when it comes to evaluating marches, tactics and movements for social change in general. Let’s take for granted that we live in a class society, with those at the top pulling all the strings. The vast majority of us may lean a particular direction on some important issue or policy, but what counts is what the small stratum that owns Wall Street, the banking sector, our major industries and natural resources decides is best for business.

Former Customary Chief Jean Maurice Matchewan Speaks Out

Jean Maurice Matchewan under arrest at a logging blockade in the 1980s on Barriere Lake's traditional territory.

As the Customary Chief of Mitchikanibikok Inik (Algonquins of Barriere Lake) for almost 20 years altogether, I was also under constant attack by the federal and Quebec governments. I had a target on my back because I fought with everything I had against the Quebec and federal governments to protect our ancestral lands from over exploitation and our Algonquin Anishinabe way of life for future generations. In the 1980s, our traditional territory, located about 3 hours north of Ottawa in Quebec, was being devastated by clear-cuts. Under my leadership we camped out on Victoria Island for weeks and blockaded logging roads for months to get the governments’ attention and let them know they were on Algonquin territory and that we never gave up our jurisdiction to the land.

After Ferguson, From Civil Rights To Human Rights

Protesters in the streets shortly after police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. (Jamelle Bouie, Wikimedia)

A rebellion can’t last forever. But in the weeks since the killing of Michael Brown, the people of Ferguson, Mo., have been keeping it up for the rest of us. Now is when vision matters most — a vision or visions that can carry people from the moment to momentum, within which a movement can mature and grow and win. That’s why we should be discussing proposals like Forward from Ferguson, a new report by Max Rameau, M Adams and Rob Robinson — all veterans of the influential housing-justice group Take Back the Land, now working as the Center for Pan-African Development. The document, drawing on utterances of Malcolm X, calls for the U.S. racial justice movement to turn from the framework of civil rights to human rights. This is Malcolm speaking: We need to expand the civil-rights struggle to a higher level — to the level of human rights.

How Did Gandhi Win?

Gandhi during the Salt March, March-April 1930. (Wikimedia Commons/Walter Bosshard)

For those who seek to understand today’s social movements, and those who wish to amplify them, questions about how to evaluate a campaign’s success and when it is appropriate to declare victory remain as relevant as ever. To them, Gandhi’s may still have something useful and unexpected to say. That the Salt March might at once be considered a pivotal advance for the cause of Indian independence and a botched campaign that produced little tangible result seems to be a puzzling paradox. But even stranger is the fact that such a result is not unique in the world of social movements. Martin Luther King Jr.’s landmark 1963 campaign in Birmingham, Ala., had similarly incongruous outcomes: On the one hand, it generated a settlement that fell far short of desegregating the city, a deal which disappointed local activists who wanted more than just minor changes at a few downtown stores; at the same time, Birmingham is regarded as one of the key drives of the civil rights movement, doing perhaps more than any other campaign to push toward the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Put People Power At Center Of Movement; Avoid Co-option

Colonel Ann Wright protests testimony before Armed Services Committee saying "There is no military solution to ISIS."

This issue of civil society “co-option” matters so much because we are losing the war – the war against poverty, climate change and social injustice. Many courageous, inspirational people and organisations are fighting the good fight. But too many of us – myself included – have become detached from the people and movements that drive real social and political change. “Our work has begun to reinforce the social, economic and political systems that we once set out to transform; we have become too institutionalised, too professionalised, co-opted into systems and networks in which we are being outwitted and out-manoeuvred” The corporatisation of civil society has tamed our ambition; too often it has made us agents rather than agitators of the system.

Popular Protests: Success Is Measured In The Long Term

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Had he lived to this day, I wonder, what Professor Fang Lizhi, a beloved sage of China’s pro-democracy movement, would say. Accused by the government of being a “black hand”, Fang was one of the intellectuals whose initial call for democracy helped trigger the 1989 student movement. Professor Fang’s was a call to resist the temptation for an immediate victory and to recognise potential success in the long run. This wisdom is consistent with research findings about the outcome of social protest. It is very rare for any protest to have its demand immediately met – an unjust law changed, or a targeted official removed. In most examples, even defeated protests would surely help bring about the social changes the protestors fought for.

FBI And Shattering Of Students For A Democratic Society

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This past August, when protests in response to the police killing of Michael Brown did not abate after the first few days, instead attracting forces such as the New Black Panthers and the Revolutionary Communist Party, first the right-wing blogosphere, then other media, started reporting on “outside agitators.” What was remarkable – leaving aside what one thinks of the particular actors being “outed” – was the way such media seemed focused on and effectively worked to undermine, a certain kind of protest. Such press behavior in Missouri along with such things as revelations of spying on Muslim-American leaders, the making an example of Occupy activist Cecily McMillan, and other such repressive phenomenon, point to the omnipresence in 2014 of ubiquitous police-state measures in play. Sometimes covert, sometimes just the normal operation of things, they are an expression of a repressive terrain that has become effectively a way of life for anyone seen to be standing on the wrong side of the dominant authority.

Mobilizing For Racial Justice In The Face Of Tragedy

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Last month, John Crawford III was shot and killed in a Wal-Mart just outside of Dayton, Ohio. He had gone to the chain store to get S’more ingredients for a cookout later that day. As he wandered through the aisles, talking on the phone to his girlfriend LeeCee Johnson, Crawford picked up a BB gun lying on the shelf. Seeing this, 24-year-old Ronald Ritchie called Beavercreek police, informing them that there was a “gentleman walking around with a gun in the store…pointing it at people.” Ritchie later changed his story, admitting to The Guardian that “At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody.” This admission did little for the 21-year-old Crawford, who was gunned down by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams just five minutes after Ritchie’s call. Still on the line, Johnson — mother of Crawford’s two young children — heard her partner’s last words: “It’s not real.”