In 2019, San Francisco passed a landmark law banning government facial recognition and requiring public oversight for local decisions related to the acquisition and use of other surveillance technologies such as cameras, drones, and more. That effort, led by the ACLU in deep partnership with civil rights partners, is part of a bigger movement afoot in the U.S. In more than a dozen cities and counties, communities have passed laws ensuring that decisions about high-tech surveillance are made by the community through the democratic process, not in secret by police and surveillance companies acting alone. Together, we are achieving important victories against secret and dangerous surveillance. We are raising awareness of how surveillance technology like drones, stingrays, and facial recognition exacerbate discriminatory policing, suppress dissent, and facilitate harm to immigrants and people of color.
The Yes Lab has put together a tremendous new tool to help activists develop campaigns, share the information and get help to carry out the project. They call it "Action Switchboard" and it allows you to post the action to a website -- they call the actions "Schemes." It allows people to see what you want to accomplish and get the kind of help you need, whether it is skills, supplies or financial support. They say it is "Kind of like Kickstarter, but for creative direct actions!" But, it is actually more than a Kickstarter because it is not just about raising money and getting other support. Once a Scheme is set up then inside your Scheme page, you can communicate with the rest of your team privately. People can also sign up to follow your Scheme so you can make public announcements that will be sent to everyone who signed up about your progress. And, if you want to "coordinate a large group to do a bunch of ongoing Schemes together around a particular goal or issue area [they] have special Outreach pages you can use to spread the word and raise money for your effort. Then, you can host large-scale conference calls where you work with your team to develop ongoing, sustained actions around your Goals. You can also run your own newsletter for your group."
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.