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Nonviolent Resistance


Before Presidential Debate, Obama Admin Weakened Endangered Species Act Under Oil Industry Pressure

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

As eyes turned to the most viewed presidential debate in U.S. history, the Obama administration meanwhile quietly auctioned off thousands of acres of land for oil and gas drilling in national forests, opened up 119 million acres for offshore drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico, and delivered a blow to the Endangered Species Act. 

As Dakota Access Protests Escalated, Obama Admin OK’d Same Company for Two Pipelines to Mexico

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Photo Credit: C-SPAN

On September 9, the Obama administration revoked authorization for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) on federally controlled lands and asked the pipeline's owners, led by Energy Transfer Partners, to voluntarily halt construction on adjacent areas at the center of protests by Native Americans and supporters.

Security Firm Guarding Dakota Access Pipeline Also Used Psychological Warfare Tactics for BP

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

G4S, a company hiring security staff to guard the hotly contested Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), also works to guard oil and gas industry assets in war-torn Iraq, and has come under fire by the United Nations for human rights abuses allegedly committed while overseeing a BP pipeline in Colombia and elsewhere while on other assignments.

An Open Letter to the People of Brazil

As I read of the latest coup in Brazil, once again removing a democratically elected leader from power, my anger surged. Not again! However, as I see and read about the ongoing massive protests, as well as calls by prominent community leaders to mobilize in defense of your country's democracy, I feel great hope for Brazil. Having been a nonviolent activist for many years, I would like to support Brazilian activists to develop a nonviolent strategy that will increase your chances of success.

Documents: How Big Oil Pushed to Make Dakota Access-Style Permitting a New Normal

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

In the two months leading up to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to issue to the Dakota Access pipeline project an allotment of Nationwide 12 permits (NWP) — a de facto fast-track federal authorization of the project — an army of oil industry players submitted comments to the Corps to ensure that fast-track authority remains in place going forward.

This fast-track permitting process is used to bypass more rigorous environmental and public review for major pipeline infrastructure projects by treating them as smaller projects.

Obama Admin Moves Oil, Gas Lease Bids Online To Quell Protests

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On August 30, the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it would utilize Congress' blessing, given to it in the form of passed legislation, to proceed with online bidding for oil and gas located on U.S. public lands. 

Dakota Access Pipeline Tribal Liaison Formerly Worked For Agency Issuing Permit To Cross Tribal Land

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The Standing Rock tribe has filed a lawsuit against the U.S Army Corps of Engineers for using the controversial Nationwide Permit 12 to fast-track authorization of the hotly contested Dakota Access pipeline.

Nonviolent Revolt in the Twenty-First Century

I sometimes wonder whether one of the ways in which 'Amercian exceptionalism' manifests is that many US scholars and others are unable to consider the contributions of those who are not from the USA. For example, I routinely read about studies of Martin Luther King Jr. and his associates (such as strategist James Lawson) in relation to nonviolence while the much more insightful and vastly greater contributions of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on the same subject are largely ignored by US scholars (although not, for example, by Professor Mary E. King, one of the best in the field).

ANTIDRONE PROTESTOR ON TRIAL IN WISCONSIN

SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT ASSOCIATES NONVIOLENT DEMONSTRATORS WITH “HATE GROUPS”
PATTERN OF POLICE HARASSMENT ALLEGED
By Joy First

FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 1:00 pm
Juneau County District Court
200 Oak Street
Mauston, WI

On Friday Brian Terrell will stand trial in Juneau County District Court for his part in a February 23 protest at Volk Field, a Wisconsin Air National Guard facility near Camp Douglas. The Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars has, for more than four years, sponsored monthly protest vigils calling attention to the Volk Field facility that trains soldiers to use remotely controlled “Shadow Drones.” These drones have been instrumental in the targeted assassination program, labelled as a war crime by many legal experts. Many military experts say that drone warfare recruits more enemies for our country than it kills. 

Terrell of Maloy, Iowa, and Kathy Kelly of Chicago, both co-coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, were arrested by Juneau County Sheriff’s deputies on February 23, 2016, as they attempted to enter the base with a loaf of bread and a letter for the base commander. The commander has not answered several letters mailed to him by members of the Coalition in recent years, expressing their opposition to drone warfare.

A Nonviolent Strategy to End War

There is a long history of anti-war and peace activism. Much of this activism has focused on ending a particular war. Some of this activism has been directed at ending a particular aspect of war, such as the use of a type of weapon. Some of it has aimed to prevent a type of war, such as 'aggressive war' or nuclear war. For those activists who regard war as the scourge of human existence, however, 'the holy grail' has always been much deeper: to end war.

On forgetting and forgiving: Killing and Our Current American Crisis

By John Grant

 

Kill one person, it’s called murder.

Kill 100,000, it’s called foreign policy.

        - A popular bumper sticker

Lament for Humanity: A 50 Year Reflection

Deeply affected by the death of my two uncles in World War II, on 1 July 1966, the 24th anniversary of the USS Sturgeon sinking of the Japanese prisoner-of-war ship Montevideo Maru which killed the man after whom I am named, I decided that I would devote my life to working out why human beings are violent and then developing a strategy to end it.

The good news about this commitment was that it was made when I was nearly 14 so, it seemed, anything was possible. Now I am not so sure.

What about cops?: Ban Assault Weapons, But for Police Too, Not Just Civilians

By Dave Lindorff

 

A few years ago, I contacted my local police department asking them to send an officer over to put down a doe that had been hit by a car on the street in front of my house. She had suffered a left front and right rear leg break but had somehow flopped herself well into the yard and was on the ground suffering. When a cop arrived, and began to approach her with his pistol I warned him off, saying the deer would hurt herself more trying to get away.

Women's Draft? Sign Me Up To Abolish War

By Rivera Sun

For too long, the women of this nation have been complacent while our brothers, sons, husbands, and fathers are sent to kill, maim, brutalize, destroy and even die in defense of our alleged liberty.

But now, the Senate has passed a $602 billion defense bill that includes an amendment for drafting women. If this bill were in effect today, I would be fined a quarter of a million dollars and face five years in prison for writing these words:

Women: do not register for the draft.

No one - man or woman - should register, or be required to register, for the draft. The draft should be completely eliminated. The military should be dismantled. War should be abolished. The bloated war budget should be returned to our children and students. The military industrial complex should be evicted from our politics and war profiteering should be completely and utterly outlawed.

According to the new bill, saying this and telling other women not to register for the draft is against the law, but I'll say these words as long as I live in every way I can . . . and I'll tell it to men, too. For too long, this nation has sat idle as horrific wars are waged in our names. Now, a Congress of the same predominantly rich, white, old men who send our brothers off to war would like the women of this country to pick up the weapons in our very own hands.

I refuse.

Fox in Hen House: Online Auctions For Public Lands Oil and Gas Bids May Be Industry-Owned, Run

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

If the recent past serves as prologue, then online leasing of oil and gas on U.S. federal lands may resemble the proverbial fox guarding the hen house, with one eBay-like company in particular standing to profiteer from the industry's proposed e-bidding scheme.

Image Credit: Willis Nowell | Flickr

Case Dismissed for State of the Union Activists: Resistance Continues

By Joy First

It was with great apprehension that I left my home near Mount Horeb, WI and flew to Washington, DC on May 20, 2016.  I would be standing in Judge Wendell Gardner’s courtroom on Monday May 23, being charged with Blocking, obstructing and incommoding, and Failure to obey a lawful order. 

As we prepared for trial, we knew that Judge Gardner has jailed activists found guilty in the past, and so we knew we must be prepared for jail time.  We also knew that the government prosecutor had not responded to our latest motions, and so we wondered if that was a sign that they were not ready to proceed with a trial.  With this uncertainty in mind, for the first time ever I got a one-way ticket to DC, and it was with great sadness that I said goodbye to my family.

And what was my offense that brought me there?  On the day of Obama’s last State of the Union address, January 12, 2016, I joined 12 others as we exercised our First Amendment rights attempting to deliver a petition to President Obama in an action organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.  We suspected that Obama would not tell us what was really going on, and so our petition outlined what we believed to be the real state of the union along with remedies to create a world we all would want to live in.  The letter outlined our concerns regarding war, poverty, racism, and the climate crisis.

As about 40 concerned citizen activists walked toward the US Capitol on January 12, we saw the Capitol Police were already there and waiting for us.  We told the officer in charge that we had a petition we wanted to deliver to the president.  The officer told us we could not deliver a petition, but we could go demonstrate in another area.  We tried to explain that we were not there to demonstrate, but were there to exercise our First Amendment rights by delivering a petition to Obama.

As the officer continued to refuse our request, 13 of us began to walk up the steps of the Capitol.  We stopped short of a sign that read “Do not go beyond this point”.  We unfurled a banner that read “Stop the War Machine: Export Peace” and joined the rest of our colleagues in singing “We Shall Not be Moved”.

There was no one else trying to get inside the Capitol building, but nonetheless, we allowed plenty of room on the steps for others to get around us if they wanted to, and so we were not blocking anyone.  Though the police told us we could not deliver our petition, it is our First Amendment right to petition our government for a redress of grievances, so when the police told us to leave, no lawful order was given.  Why then were 13 of us arrested?  We were taken to the Capitol police station in handcuffs, charged, and released.

We were surprised when four members of the group, Martin Gugino from Buffalo, Phil Runkel from Wisconsin, Janice Sevre-Duszynska from Kentucky, and Trudy Silver from New York City,  had their charges dismissed within a couple of weeks of the action.  Why were there charges dropped when we all did the exact same thing?  Later, the government offered to drop the charges against us for a $50 post and forfeit.  Because of personal reasons four members of our group, Carol Gay from New Jersey, Linda LeTendre from New York, Alice Sutter from New York City, and Brian Terrell, Iowa, decided to accept that offer.  It seems the government knew early on that this case could not be prosecuted.

Five of us went to trial on May 23, Max Obusewski, Baltimore, Malachy Kilbride, Maryland, Joan Nicholson, Pennsylvania, Eve Tetaz, DC, and me.

We were in front of the judge for less than five minutes.  Max stood and introduced himself and asked if we could begin by talking about his motion for extended discovery.  Judge Gardner said we would hear from the government first.  The government prosecutor stood and said that the government was not ready to proceed.  Max moved that his case be dismissed.  Mark Goldstone, attorney advisor, moved that the case against Eve, Joan, Malachy, and me be dismissed.  Gardner granted the motions and it was over.

The government should have had the common courtesy to let us know they were not prepared to go to trial when they obviously knew ahead of time the trial would not go forward.  I would not have had to travel to DC, Joan would not have had to travel from Pennsylvania, and others more local would not have bothered to come to the court house.  I believe they wanted to mete out whatever punishment they could, even without going to trial, and not allow our voices to be heard in court. 

I have been arrested 40 times since 2003.  Of those 40, 19 arrests have been in DC.  In looking at my 19 arrests in DC, charges have been dismissed ten times and I have been acquitted four times.  I have only been found guilty four times out of 19 arrests in DC.  I think we are being falsely arrested to shut us down and get us out of the way, and not because we have committed a crime that we will likely be found guilty of.

What we were doing at the US Capitol on January 12 was an act of civil resistance.  It is important to understand the difference between civil disobedience and civil resistance.  In civil disobedience, a person knowingly breaks an unjust law in order to change it.  An example would be the lunch counter sit-ins during the civil rights movements in the early 1960s.  A law is broken and activists willingly face the consequences.

In civil resistance, we are not breaking the law; rather the government is breaking the law and we are acting in resistance to that law-breaking.  We did not go to the Capitol on January 12 because we wanted to get arrested, as was stated in the police report.  We went there because we had to call attention to the illegal and immoral actions of our government.  As we stated in our petition:

 We write to you as people committed to nonviolent social change with a deep concern for a variety of issues that are all interrelated. Please heed our petition—end our government’s continuing wars and military incursions around the world and use these tax dollars as a solution to end growing poverty which is a plague throughout this country in which vast wealth is controlled by a tiny percentage of its citizens. Establish a living wage for all workers. Condemn forcefully the policy of mass incarceration, solitary confinement, and the rampant police violence. Pledging to end the addiction to militarism will have a positive effect on our planet's climate and habitat. 

We delivered the petition knowing that we could be risking arrest by doing so and knowing that we would face the consequences, but we also believed that we were not breaking the law by attempting to deliver the petition.

And of course it is utterly essential that as we do this work we keep in mind that it is not our minor inconvenience that should be at the forefront of our thoughts, but rather the suffering of those we are speaking up for.  Those of us who took action on January 12 were 13 white middle-class citizens of the United States.  We have the privilege of being able to stand up and speak out against our government without serious consequences.  Even if we do end up going to jail, that is not the important part of the story.

Our focus always needs to be on our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering and dying because of our government’s policies and choices.  We think of those in the Middle East and Africa where drones are flying overhead and dropping bombs that are traumatizing and killing thousands of innocent children, women, and men.  We think of those in the United States who are living under the mantle of poverty, lacking such basic necessities as food, housing, and adequate medical care.  We think of those whose lives have been shattered by police violence because of the color of their skin.  We think of all of us who will perish if government leaders around the world don’t make drastic and immediate changes to deter climate chaos.  We think of all those who are oppressed by the powerful.

It is critical that those of us who are able to, come together and speak up against these crimes by our government.  The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) has been organizing actions of civil resistance since 2003.  In the fall, September 23-25, we will be part of a conference organized by World Beyond War (http://worldbeyondwar.org/NoWar2016/ ) in Washington, DC.  At the conference we will be talking about civil resistance and organizing future actions.

In January 2017, NCNR will be organizing an action on the day of the presidential inauguration.  Whoever becomes president, we went to send a strong message that we must end all wars.   We must provide liberty and justice for all.

We need many people to join us for future actions.  Please look into your heart and make a conscious decision about whether you are able to join us and stand up in resistance to the United States government.  The people have the power to bring about change and we must reclaim that power before it is too late.

For information on getting involved, contact joyfirst5@gmail.com

Hammering for Peace

Bdownloady Kathy Kelly

Last winter, at the Voices home/office in Chicago, we welcomed two friends who were in town for a Mennonite church gathering focused on the symbol of beating swords into plowshares. Their project embraces a vision from the biblical “Book of Isaiah” which longs for the day when “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they study war anymore.” Our friends quite literally enact this vision. They use saws to cut guns and rifles in half and then hammer on the broken weapons, turning them into useful tools for gardening and light construction.

Throughout the service, one of the men could be seen, on a screen, standing outside the Mennonite church hall, fashioning, with hammer and anvil, a rifle into a garden tool. Sparks flew with his hammer, but no-one was inflamed into anger. The fire our friends wanted to ignite was inside us. With what work can we replace war? If we are no longer training for war, what else could we be doing?” 

That winter night, at the Mennonite church, I couldn’t help but think of another activist who had swung a tool last December, in this case, a sledgehammer, because she was inspired to confront weapon makers and encourage alternatives to war. Jessica Reznicek, age 34, didn’t own the weapon system she wanted to transform. But she felt responsible to help the general public own up to its complicity with weapon systems funded by U.S. taxpayers. She took a sledgehammer to the doors of a major weapon producing company, Northrop Grumman, outside Offut Air Force base. In a written statement explaining why she swung her tool at the plate glass, Jessica asks people to understand that Northrop Grumman's weapon systems shatter and destroy the lives of people the world over.

As one of the manufacturers with the largest share of the global Unmanned Aerial Systems market, (18.9%), Northrop Grumman profits immensely from peddling complex weapon systems often designed to be eyes in the skies monitoring targets for assassination. This kind of surveillance and extrajudicial execution generates intense anger and backlashes in other lands. It also promotes proliferation of robotic weapons. But the U.S. military and acquiescent institutions encourage us to feel that we've been made safer by complex weapons of destruction, and we should instead be frightened of a young woman wielding a sledgehammer to break a plate glass window.

On May 24, Jessica Reznicek went go to a trial in Nebraska, expected to last two days, for her action. She has chosen to go “pro se,” – to defend herself. Courts in the U.S. seldom allow the necessity defense. If the judge in Jessica’s case does so, Jessica could try to defend herself saying she acted to prevent a greater harm. She could establish that the U.S. government consistently provides Northrop Grumman with lavish funding, devoting immense resources of materials and scientific ingenuity to the study of war, all desperately needed elsewhere. Northrop Grumman steadily experiments in perfecting the high-tech advantage of an empire bent on endlessly dominating the world through endless war.

I wish that the testimony of my friends who literally beat guns into garden tools  could be part of the courtroom proceeding. They urge us to make guns and other weapons unnecessary, using raw tools of compassion and service to heal the conflicts in which weapons are used. I wish my young Afghan friends here in Kabul, who live under constant surveillance of Unmanned Aerial Systems, could testify about their desire to refine tools of peace making and constructive service.

A Friendly Critique of the Break Free Climate Actions

I have enjoyed reading accounts and seeing photos of those committed and courageous climate activists who participated in the recent Break Free from Fossil Fuels actions conducted at various locations in 13 countries from 4-15 May 2016. See 'Break Free from Fossil Fuels'.

How to Oppose the Draft for Women and Not Be Sexist

For the majority of people in the United States who have no idea, yes, draft registration still exists, but only for males. However, the U.S. House of Representatives is interested in adding young women to the rolls. In fact the House Armed "Services" Committee passed such a measure in April, and it is now part of the National "Defense" Authorization Act pending review, amendment, debate, and passage.

An amendment proposed by Congressman Pete Sessions would undo this "progressive" development. Some rightwing groups that consult the Bible for their standards of women's rights also want to stop the extension of "selective service" to all 18 year olds. Some peace activists believe that the key to ending warmaking is actually activating the draft in as big a way as possible. And liberal humanitarian warriors want equal war rights for women. Much of the rest of the world, meanwhile, believes the United States has overdosed on military madness.

Ending Human Violence is a Task for Each of Us

Do you think that ending human violence is impossible? Do you believe that even aiming to do so is unrealistic? Well, you might be right. But you might also be interested to know that there are a lot of people around the world who are committed to trying. And, if you think the aim is worthwhile, you could be one of them.

The Boys Who Said NO! A Documentary on the Nonviolent Draft Resistance Movement during the Vietnam War

From www.boyswhosaidno.com

Over the past 200 years, there have been a series of dynamic and successful nonviolent direct action movements in the U.S. stretching from abolishing slavery and winning women’s rights to advancing wider civil rights, equality, disarmament, and peace.  Influential Americans including William Penn, Henry David Thoreau, Jane Addams, and Martin Luther King, Jr. all opposed war and defended human rights, and countless numbers of others have followed their example throughout the country and around the world. 

In that tradition, tens of thousands of young people followed their consciences and actively refused to cooperate with the draft and the Vietnam War during the 1960s and 70s because of the injustice and violence they represented.  Featuring recently filmed interviews with the men and women involved, The Boys Who Said NO! explores the important but little known story of young people who organized resistance to the draft and chose prison instead of war.

Nationally, over half a million young men evaded or resisted the draft during these years, and tens of thousands risked substantial fines and prison sentences of up to five years for publicly taking a stand.  In the end, the government convicted 3,250 draft resisters and sentenced them to between one and five years in federal prison.

These young men became part of the largest mass incarceration of war resisters in U.S. history. Ultimately, they inspired and influenced countless others to question the war, oppose conscription, and end the conflict in Vietnam.  United States history shows that activists like these, who have developed effective conflict resolution strategies using nonviolence, have moved critical national issues forwards without violence.

Our director is Judith Ehrlich, who won an Academy Award nomination for codirecting The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Her earlier films include The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It, about conscientious objectors in WWII. Our producer Christopher C. Jones was inspired to make this film by a reunion of seventy nonviolent activists in 2013. He is a former draft resister as are our other Advisory Team members Robert Cooney, Steve Ladd and Lee Swenson. Bill Prince, MD is our co-producer.

How do the lessons of the nonviolent draft resistance movement relate to social conflicts we have today and in the future? What impacts did the imprisonment of these young Americans have on their lives, on society and on stopping the war?  These are some of the questions the film explores. Please visit our website and see some early edited draft film segments: www.boyswhosaidno.com

New poem by TCBH resident poet Gary Lindorff -- 'Gun Tales of a Pacifist'

Gun tales of a pacifist

 

My brother and I learned to shoot

At summer camp.

That is where gunpowder

WAAAHHHH…but we don’t wanna get arrested!!

By Mike Ferner
 
As the macho, gun-toting, testosterone-addled cowboys who took over the wildlife refuge in Oregon call it quits, their pitiful whine can be heard all the way to Florida: “Waaahhh…but we don’t wannna get arrested…”
 
So much for the rugged-individualists and badass proponents of personal responsibility.
 
Let’s see what happens as their armed insurrection winds down.  How will the system treat the militant bullyboys? 
 
Will they get pepper-sprayed in the face as did the college students peacefully sitting in a driveway at UC Davis during Occupy protests, or shot in the head with a police projectile as did Veterans For Peace member Scott Olson in Oakland?
 
Will they get two months in jail like Ed Kinane for stepping across a line at the School of the Americas; or six months in jail like grandmother Mary Anne Grady, for taking pictures of demonstrators outside the Reaper drone base in upstate NY; or a $20,000 fine like Kathy Kelly’s peace group, for taking medicine to people in Iraq before the U.S. military invaded their country in 2003; or 10 years in prison for speaking out against the madness of World War One, like Gene Debs;
 
Will they be clubbed in the head, set on by German shepherds, slammed up against light poles by fire hoses like the kids demonstrating for civil rights in Alabama, or killed by vigilante executioners and buried in a dike for registering voters?
 
If they go to jail, will they conduct a peaceful hunger strike and endure force-feeding like Alice Paul and Rose Winslow did for demanding women get the right to vote?
 
If they are arrested, chances are very good that nothing like the above will happen to any of the massively-armed, good ‘ol boys in Oregon who would be the first to tell you they were only making a statement of conscience against government gone amuck.
 
But when the students at UC Davis, or Kathy Kelly, or Ed Kinane, or Gene Debs, or the civil rights protesters, or the suffragists, all unarmed and committed to nonviolence, conducted their protests they did so with the understanding they may well suffer serious bodily harm and at the very least be arrested and sentenced. 
 
They treated the police, the prosecutors and the judges with utmost respect.  They did not plead to lesser charges but underwent trials in hopes of educating more people about the evils against which they fought. 
 
So let’s see how the Rambo wannabes of Eastern Oregon handle themselves.  Seems they could use a few lessons in toughness from nonviolent peace and justice activists.   
 
###
Mike Ferner served as a hospital corpsman during the Viet Nam war.  In 2006 he participated in a five-week, water-only fast with Kathy Kelly and Ed Kinane to protest the war in Iraq and was also convicted of two felonies for painting “Troops Out Now” on a highway overpass, which cost him two months house arrest and $5,000.

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David Swanson at St. Michael’s College, Colchester, VT, October 5, 2016.

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