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Nonviolence

How To Be A Nonviolent Second-Wave Feminist

During the 1970s and 1980s, many feminists pushed the armed forces to allow women to serve in combat. Many also organized to demand that police forces diversify and bring more women and people of color into their ranks. But this segment of the women’s movement did not represent everyone. A  smaller but hugely vocal constituency opposed violence, militarism, police expansion and colonialism, and argued that an equal opportunity to maim or kill would do nothing to create the equitable societies they sought to build. Unfortunately, their efforts often get short shrift in historical accounts of the era. The anthology, Feminism, Violence and Nonviolence zeroes in on the influence of pacifist thought on Second Wave feminism.

How Communities Are Making Political Violence Backfire

The new dystopian Hollywood film, Civil War, has raised the specter of devastating violent conflict once again engulfing America. While the film has been criticized by some for normalizing political violence, others have embraced it as a learning opportunity, and a way to highlight the necessity of working together to prevent the terrible outcomes envisaged in the film. Although the film doesn’t really address how the United States devolves into civil war, in fact research has documented how that happens, and the United States is seeing the signs now – including the mainstreaming of dehumanizing rhetoric, and politically motivated threats, harassment, and acts of physical violence that are inspiring fear and undermining the practice of democracy.

There’s A Better Way To Make Communities Safer

Over the past 25 years, as co-creator of Nonviolent Peaceforce, I have seen unarmed civilian protection (also known as UCP or UCP/A to include the methodology of accompaniment) evolve to the point where our teams have worked alongside local communities using evidenced-based, civilian-led approaches to prevent violence and protect civilians in 15 countries. In helping to foster a community of practice, I have witnessed dozens of small and large organizations using active nonviolent methods to create community safety. Here are three examples I find to be particularly inspiring.

Breaking The Law In Response To Climate Change

The Marxist cultural critic Raymond Williams once described TV as “flow”. He was writing in the days when you had to watch everything live, as it was broadcast, before even VCR was invented, and obviously we don’t watch TV like that so much any more. (Even though we use the word ‘streaming’). But there is a deeper truth all the same in Williams’ account: that sense that all television washes past us, each of its genre conventions so tightly defined that nothing ever surprises us or breaks out of the screen. Watching Channel 4’s documentary ‘Is it time to break the law?’, about the limits, or not, of environmental protest, was for these reasons and others a complete surprise.

What Should We Do With The Perpetrators Of The Climate Crisis?

Chuck Collins’ new book “Altar to an Erupting Sun” may be fiction, but it poses a very topical, real-world challenge for readers: What’s the right way to act when facing an existential challenge like climate change? Right off the bat, in the first chapter, we learn that the novel’s central character, Rae, is a climate activist who has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Having done her research to know the “carbon barons” responsible for so much destruction, she decides to “take one with her” by wearing a suicide vest. It works as intended, taking the life of a fossil fuel company CEO.

What Determines The Success Of Movements Today?

Anyone who has come across “Why Civil Resistance Works” by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan will be familiar with the idea that size matters for social movements. Their highly cited “3.5 percent rule” says that once movements actively involve at least 3.5 percent of the population they will inevitably succeed. The idea that this is a cast iron rule has been contested — including by Chenoweth — on the basis that it was a description of the past rather than a prediction of the future. Others have shown that the rule has been broken in at least two cases. And although it was extracted primarily from a Global South context for countries resisting regimes, it has since, controversially, been applied to the strategy documents of prominent activist groups like Extinction Rebellion and been widely quoted in the media, including by the BBC, The Guardian and The Economist.

Crowd Combats Anti-Pride Protesters At Children’s Museum By Singing

A Pride event designed for children and families took an ugly turn in Rancho Cordova Saturday. Protesters showed up shortly after family festivities got underway at the Sacramento Children’s Museum. Drag princess Suzette Veneti says she wasn’t surprised, she was disappointed and wanted answers. One sign read: “Groomers are not welcome in California.” Another read: “Protect white children.” “You’re standing there with a megaphone and signs, you’re scaring kids,” Veneti said. “They could’ve protested at Pride. They could protest anywhere they want, but to pick a children’s museum with children, like, this is for kids.” “There were a lot of young volunteers just in tears, because they had never experienced something like this,” said Andrew Gibout with the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus.

Palestine’s New Resistance Model: How The Past Year Redefined The Struggle

What took place between May 2021 and May 2022 is nothing less than a paradigm shift in Palestinian resistance. Thanks to the popular and inclusive nature of Palestinian mobilization against the Israeli occupation, resistance in Palestine is no longer an ideological, political or regional preference. In the period between the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and only a few years ago, Palestinian muqawama – or resistance –  was constantly put in the dock, often criticized and condemned, as if an oppressed nation had a moral responsibility in selecting the type of resistance to suit the needs and interests of its oppressors. As such, Palestinian resistance became a political and ideological litmus test.

Somehow This Madness Must Cease

It was appropriate today, as we mark the national holiday for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, to re-read ‘A Time to Break the Silence,’ his most powerful speech, given on April 4, 1967, just a year before his tragic murder in Memphis. It is a speech that stands the test of time; much of it is as relevant today as it was in 1967, when war was raging in Vietnam. I would urge people to read or listen (link above) to that profound and prophetic speech in its entirety. He said, “There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.” With climate catastrophe and nuclear madness moving at a rapid rate towards a potential apocalypse for all humanity, King’s words resonate with, as he said, “the fierce urgency of now.”

What’s Happening With Nonviolent Cities?

What an exciting time for the Nonviolent Cities Project! For years, Pace e Bene has fostered the vision of communities that promote nonviolence in schools, businesses, cultural events and more. We organize with local cities/towns to implement nonviolent solutions and alternatives to physical violence as well as systemic, structural, cultural and other forms of violence. From Nonviolent Carbondale, Illinois, to Nonviolent Springfield, Massachusetts, groups are working to transform their communities. Here’s what’s happening in this ever-expanding effort. We’re welcoming new groups in Nonviolent Opelika, Alabama, and Nonviolent Rochester, New York. We’re celebrating inquiries from Salford, in the United Kingdom; Cleveland and Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Lakewood, Ohio; Gresham, Oregon and more.

What A Truly Humanitarian Response In Afghanistan Would Look Like

As we reflect on what has transpired in Afghanistan with the Taliban returning to power, we have a vital opportunity for a more authentic, coherent humanitarian response. Toward this end, we must engage some critical analysis and questions.   We might ask why the Afghanistan government didn’t adequately have the support of its people? How can the conditions and momentum be generated for such trust, consideration and inclusion? Why has this been an ongoing issue long before the drawdown of U.S. troops?  President Biden has done a very courageous act by significantly reducing the role of the U.S. military and committing to military withdrawal in a large-scale international conflict, even after 20 years of U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan.

Counter-Coup Unarmed Community Organizing Resource List

An organizer and analyst we deeply respect, “Training for Change” co-founder George Lakey, recently suggested Voices help maintain a list of organizations in the U.S. which are helping people prepare for the possibility of a stolen election, a rigged election, or an outright coup following November 3rd voting in the U.S.. In a nation with rapidly dwindling concern for democracy, the principle of nonviolent community organizing for democracy has seldom seemed so urgent. We’re impressed by the quality of outreach and organizing which has already developed in cities and states across the U.S.

When The State Cannot Protect, Civilians Have The Responsibility To Intervene

A few years ago, I was walking in Minneapolis, just a few miles from where George Floyd was murdered, when a panicked, young Native American man ran by me and into the street. Immediately afterward, a Minneapolis Police squad car pulled next to me. One officer jumped out, tackled the young man in the middle of the street and started pounding his face into the pavement. I approached the officer and told him that he was using excessive force and I had his badge number. His partner quickly escorted me back to the curb while informing me that I would be arrested for interfering with the arrest. I stood, yelling, while the beating continued. Recently standing at the memorial in front of the Cup Foods where Mr. Floyd was murdered, I recalled my earlier experience.

13 Percent of Environmental Activists Are Killed Worldwide

The Autonomous University of Barcelona's Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) published a study that shows that 13 percent of environmental activists are killed and another 18 percent are victims of physical violence worldwide. Research reveals that citizen movements halt ecological degradation by up to 27 percent of environmental conflicts, despite the high rate of criminalization, violence, and murders, especially in conflicts related to mining. The Environmental Justice (ENVjustice) scientists analyzed 2,743 cases of environmental conflicts from around the world recorded in the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice (EJAtlas), an interactive map that identifies and locates existing ecological conflicts.

White Women Line Up To Form Human Shield To Protect Black Protesters

Injustice and discrimination tend to be described in binary terms: good vs. evil, female vs. male, Black vs. White. However, at one of the at least twenty anti-police violence demonstrations held across the country on Thursday, an act of alliance disrupted that line of thinking by showing White bodies on the line to protect Black lives. In an image captured by photographer Tim Druck, scores of White women in Lousiville lined up arm-in-arm to form a human shield separating the Louisville Metro Police from protestors expressing their angst about the murder of Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people at the hands of the police). Taylor was fatally shot by police as they barged in her home in March with a no-knock warrant and killed her while she was laying in her bed.
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