Newsletter: The Contagion Of Courage
When our colleagues take brave actions, others are inspired. George Lakey describes how courage develops in movements. He lists some key ingredients to overcome fear: people working in community to empower each other, envisioning a successful action and spreading the contagion of courage.
Lakey describes courage as each of us expanding beyond our comfort zones and adds that our training for actions should include opportunities to step outside our comfort zone. He suggests we need to view the rapid heartbeat and adrenalin during an action not as fear, but as excitement.
Envisioning the whole story – where the story starts, the action being taken and its successful impact – emboldens us and calms our fears of uncertainty.
We learn courage in community because courage is contagious. If we build campaigns, not single action protests, there is time for courage to spread.
Challenging Extreme Energy
This week activists with We Are Cove Point, SANE Energy and Beyond Extreme Energy went into a protest against Dominion Resources knowing they knew we were coming. There was some nervousness knowing we were facing a well-prepared security force. But, we had community, we had prepared and we moved forward together. As a result, the investor analysts at the meeting heard our message and were impacted by the protest.
There is some fear in an occupation of tribal land in Arizona where tribes have come together in what one participant describes as “an action that constitutes a holy war, where tribes must stand in unity and fight to the very end.” Some 300 tribal members from across the country are camping out to protect Apache sacred lands which were recently taken by Congress for copper extraction. They are asking for solidarity and support.
The civil resistance campaign in Seneca Lake continues with more than 216 arrests of people blocking the entrance to a proposed fracked gas storage facility under a lake that provides drinking water to 100,000 people. Sandra Steingraber describes how the community has been built through food, music, mutual respect and common goals. Community has sustained the multi-month uprising.
When we show courage, sometimes the reaction is fear. When 42 members of the Quaker Action Team protested at the PNC regional bank headquarters in Philadelphia, PNC locked down their building. The team wanted to give a quilt to the regional president showing opposition to mountain top removal. The president refused the quilt.
Across the country protests are building against extreme energy extraction. In Lancaster, PA protesters are telling Williams-Oklahoma to go home and stop building the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. In Cove Point, a Maryland protester climbed a crane to protest Dominion’s fracked gas terminal and refinery. Vermont activists are celebrating their success in stopping one pipeline and are urging the entire gas pipeline project be scrapped. Virginians are protesting Dominion pipelines across their mountainside. Iowans formed a new coalition to stop the Bakken pipeline. And California saw its largest protest against fracking with thousands marching. Workers are also standing up to abusive work conditions in a refinery strike that is spreading across the country.
The movement grows because people work to expand it. One West Virginia lawyer is traveling the state to teach people about the impact of pipelines. We see the tremendous growth in the massive days of divestment campaign, ongoing as we write this newsletter.
The movement is having an impact and scoring victories. An energy CEO described how politics is a bigger problem than dropping prices. In Nebraska a judge ruled Trans Canada cannot use eminent domain to take land for the KXL pipeline because there is no public benefit. There is a perfect storm against extreme energy – costs are increasing, protests are rising, regulation and bans on extraction are growing, prices are falling and Saudi Arabia wants to stop the US shale market. Investors should get out of the dirty, old energy businesses and invest more safely – in a clean energy future.
The FBI director made a surprising speech acknowledging racial bias in policing and saying often in our history the police “enforced the status quo” at the expense of African Americans. He urged better recordkeeping of police killings and violence that would include information about the incident and the race of the citizen involved. The #BlackLivesMatter movement made this admission happen.
A police officer was indicted in New York for the death of Akai Gurley. This would not have happened without the pressure of protests after failed grand juries in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown killings. Was the city afraid that another non-indictment would escalate protests?
Protests continued this week, the six month anniversary of the Michael Brown killing. In Ferguson, a rolling Monday Mourning protest began at the mayor’s house where a casket was left at his front door.
People are questioning broken windows policing. Researchers have shown it does not work, and now even some of those who had been advocates are questioning it. At the same time, the police state grows. What will it take to undermine the system of injustice and abuse? Michelle Alexander raises one strategy that could crash the system–people demanding the right to a jury trial. If these rights were exercised, it would crash the system. The strategy has risks as prosecutors and judges would use excessively harsh penalties against those who dared to stand up. Is this a strategy to consider?
More War Talk; A Coup Thwarted In Venezuela
War is an item on the political agenda in Washington, DC. Never mind that we cannot feed the hungry, build modern infrastructure, provide health care for all or transition to a green economy – there is always money for war.
President Obama sent Congress an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to allow war with ISIS. There are serious problems with this AUMF; here are five reasons to oppose it. There is resistance in Congress from both the right and the left. This AUMF can be stopped. Organizing is happening now and we will provide details when they are available.
In Venezuela, a coup that would have included the assassination of President Maduro, was stopped. In recent weeks we’ve described the slow-motion coup in Venezuela and how the US was waging a covert war, this week it was ended before it could take place.
The history of US-sponsored coups brought to mind a period in Afghanistan where the country had progressive leadership that was urging girls to go to school, getting rid of dowries and stopping girls from marrying at a young age. That was undermined by a CIA coup; look where the country is today.
In Ukraine a US-supported coup has led to a civil war. The US and Europe have been divided over more weapons and troops with Europe saying “no” and the US pushing escalation. This week a peace plan was agreed to by France, Germany, the Kiev government and Russia. It is fragile, especially because war hawks in the US want to escalate and will create excuses to do so. Will the US learn that meddling in foreign nations causes more instability, insecurity and violence?
Campaign to Stop Fast Track for Trade Deals Grows
Opposition to Fast Track trade authority for corporate trade deals continues to grow. The hubris of the Obama administration and its Trade Representative, Michael Froman, is shown in how they treat elected officials. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), a high ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, has reasonably asked:
“. . . to view an unredacted copy of the proposed text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). He wants to bring his chief of staff, who has a top security clearance, and he wants to be able to take notes privately. He also wants to review documents that show the position of each country participating in the agreements, as well how the U.S. position has changed over the course of the negotiations.”
Froman has dodged the request. Members of Congress need to refuse to grant the immense power of Fast Track to an administration that treats them so poorly. How can Senator Wyden, who has called for transparency and congressional participation, consider Fast Track when Congress is mistreated?
We mention Wyden because he is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Orrin Hatch wants him to co-sponsor Fast Track when Congress returns from next week’s recess. Contact Ron Wyden and let him know: no Fast Track is acceptable. After contacting Wyden, contact your representatives through www.StopFastTrack.com. The tool there makes it very easy. This will be decided by April, so now is the time!
Popular Resistance is organizing a Rapid Response Team to stop Fast Track. Congress is expected to introduce Fast Track shortly after the President’s week recess. It must pass in the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee as well as the full Senate and House. They can move quickly and already there is a lot of arm-twisting. Fast Track is a game-changer: Join the Rapid Response Team to stop Fast Track.
At the local level, make your city, town or county a TPP Free Zone. Get your council to pass a resolution saying it will not give up its ability to protect the health and safety of their community, protect workers and the economy or their ability to plan their own future to secretly negotiated trade agreements undemocratically rushed through Congress. The next city considering a TPP Free Zone is New York City. So far Berkeley, Madison, Dane County and Los Angeles have passed TPP Free Zones. Get your city or county to join them.
Breakthroughs: Keeping the Internet Free and Equal
We are on the verge of major breakthroughs for the future of the Internet. Not only is our ten month campaign for reclassification of the Internet as a public utility with net neutrality rules coming to fruition, but the FCC is also likely to open the path for municipal broadband which would allow local governments to provide Internet access as a public service rather than a for-profit business.
The wealthy monopolistic telecom lobby is not giving up. This week one of their puppets, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, now an FCC commissioner, held a press conference making all sorts of false claims. Popular Resistance interrupted his press conference holding a sign that said: “85% Republican Voters Support Net Neutrality.” We were attacked by the police, thrown to the floor and dragged from the room but we made our point. Commentators noted our mistreatment also explaining how Pai was 100% wrong on net neutrality.
Congress is still considering legislation to undermine the FCC. So far it is not progressing; if it doe,s it will be a major error with high political costs. Those who seek to undermine the Internet are out of step with supermajorities of voters, where over 80% support Net Neutrality, but also out of step with the tech industry, small businesses and entrepreneurs. It is a miscalculation that will cost politicians their political careers.
Analysts are describing how the people are winning against one of the biggest business lobbies; how something that was politically impossible 10 months ago has become politically inevitable. We’re pleased many of the reports give Popular Resistance some credit. In fact, it was a coalition of advocacy groups, tech corporations and Internet investors–and of course nearly 4 million comments supporting our view that achieved this victory.
No Qualms about Getting in the Government’s Face
In a recent article on our interruption of Commissioner Pai’s press conference the Daily Dot wrote:
“The activists came from Popular Resistance, a group that has no qualms about getting in the government’s face. Popular Resistance members previously protested at Wheeler’s home, and they recently livened up C-SPAN by storming a congressional hearing on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
High profile actions are what the public is getting to know Popular Resistance for, but our colleagues know that protest is a small part of what we do. Popular Resistance develops an overall strategy for transformative change, helps build a mass independent movement, reports on various fronts of struggle, writes extensively about issues, provides people a path to activism, works in coalitions to build campaigns and helps keep people on track. Resistance against the power structure is necessary but insufficient for success. We thank you for participating because mobilizing masses of people is the key to success for the social movement of which we are part.