You are hereNonviolent Resistance
Eva Westheimer was recently arrested for shutting down a strip mine in West Virginia, along with Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival ( http://rampscampaign.org ). Westheimer is a junior at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She describes the recent action she took, the ongoing campaign, and what motivates her.
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Joshua was trained as an Arabic translator and deployed with the 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion to Abu Ghraib prison working as an interrogator from June 2004 to January 2005. Upon his return, Joshua applied for conscientious objector status and was honorably discharged in May 2005. His story is featured in the documentary film Soldiers of Conscience:
Joshua enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves at age 17, and later enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The rigidity and conformity of West Point was a turnoff so he left after just three months. The University of Iowa helped Casteel land on his feet, but his ROTC experience was similar to West Point.
With the military a lesser priority, Joshua enrolled at a university in Colorado for a year before returning to Iowa to earn his B.A. in Literature, Science, and Arts in 2002. He then earned a dual M.F.A. in Playwriting and Non-Fiction Writing, also from the University of Iowa in 2008. Joshua was working as a Graduate Arts Management Fellow at the University of Chicago before he was diagnosed with cancer.
Joshua served on IVAW’s Board of Directors in 2006. In addition, he stood with war resister Ricky Clousing at a press conference before Ricky turned himself in to the military. (Starting at 16:00 min)
In March 2008, Joshua led a panel on Racism and Dehumanization at Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2010, he testified at the Truth Commission on Conscience and War.
Joshua believed his illness was a result of his service in Iraq where he was exposed to the toxic fumes from burn pits and had submitted a compensation claim with the Veterans Administration.
Joshua was invited to speak at over 50 venues worldwide, including the UK, Sweden, South Korea, as well as two national tours of Ireland. In 2006, Joshua appeared on the stage of the Royal Court Theatre for Human Rights Watch’s Cries From the Heart performing a monologue from his play Returns, which premiered at the University of Iowa in February 2007, and then at Columbia College in Chicago. Some of Joshua’s essays on war and Christian ethics have become part of course curricula at Wheaton College and Duke Divinity School. He was also featured in the documentary film Iraq for Sale.
He grew up a in a devoted evangelical Christian household. His father Everett “Rick” Casteel, also an Army veteran, founded Caleb Ministries, a counseling and mediation agency in Cedar Rapids. Sadly, Rick also succumbed to cancer in 2010 and Joshua was with his father during those difficult days.
Our deepest sympathies go out to his loving family. Joshua was an inspiration to many of us in the military and veterans community. His conviction and willingness to speak the truth was an example to us all. Joshua was truly a soldier of conscience. May he rest in peace.
To Law Enforcement
Those who come to demonstrate at the RNC do not come to confront you.
They come to confront:
· those who give you your orders, our Elected Officials.
· those who give them their orders, the Power Elite.
We, police officers and protesters alike, should be standing together to remind our government that they work for us, the people. That it is WE THE PEOPLE who elect them, and we who give them their orders.
You have been told that we are coming to commit acts of violence and destruction. We are not.
We utilize peaceful means to promote peaceful ends and to stand up for justice...social, economic and environmental justice.
You have been told that we are coming to fight the police. We are not.
You are being abused right along with us. It is the Power Elite we are after. They are screwing over all of us and laugh at us when we fight one another.
We do not expect you to take our word for it. Hear it from retired Police Captain Ray Lewis on his interview where he can explain it:
It's time we stood together. We know who the real enemy is, and its neither you or us. So it's pointless to fight one another.
If you are ordered to assault a non-violent peaceful crowd, we ask you to defy your orders. Stand for justice. It is our sincere hope that you allow the demonstrators to do what they come to do, peacefully protest an unjust system. We stand for justice.
If you are ordered to assault a non-violent peaceful crowd, we ask you to defy your orders. Stand for justice.
It is our sincere hope that you allow the demonstrators to do what they come to do, peacefully protest an unjust system. We stand for justice.
At this year's Veterans For Peace convention in Miami, VFP President Leah Bolger challenged members to take risks: "Many of you have risked a lot for war. What will you risk for peace?"
One VFP member, S. Brian Willson, gave his legs and part of his skull for peace. It was 1987, and the U.S. military was shipping weapons to port, in order to ship them to El Salvador and Nicaragua, where they would be used to slaughter the people of those nations, where, in Willson's words "In one country, we supported a puppet government against a people's revolution; in the other, we supported a puppet revolution against a people's government."
Willson had decided that his own life was not worth more than the lives of non-Americans, that they were losing their lives and limbs as a direct result of our inaction, and that he had a moral responsibility to act. Willson and others sat down on a train track in front of a train full of weapons. The train usually traveled at 5 miles per hour. The train would stop. The protesters would be removed from the tracks. That was the standard practice, and that was the law. But that's not what happened the day Willson lost his legs.
It seems that the military had decided that nonviolent protesters did not exist, that everywhere in the world the only tool available was violence. Therefore, Wilson must be a violent terrorist. Therefore, he and his companions must be planning to jump aboard the train. Therefore, the train must speed up and stop for nothing and nobody. That was the order given. The other protesters moved out of the way in time. Willson, sitting cross-legged, could not. The train ran him over. And then the men driving the train sued Willson for causing them to suffer post traumatic stress.
But something else happened too. Hundreds of people ripped up the track and built a monument out of the railroad ties. People formed blockades of trains on that track for years to come. Every train and nearly every truck was blocked until January 1990. Celebrities showed up and held rallies. Ronald Reagan's daughter wrote a kind letter to Wilson, as did professional sports teams and other big whigs congratulating him on his courageous stand. And similar actions sprang up around the country. Visiting Nicaragua, Willson was treated as a national hero.
But Willson is from our nation, and he's a global hero. Probably his most valuable act, however, has been performed behind a keyboard. "Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson," with an introduction by Daniel Ellsberg, is an epic. This is the long and careful transformation from an eager soldier accepting of rightwing dogma to a principled and courageous advocate for peace and ecological justice. Willson now strives to live sustainably, and brings the reader to question not only the paying of war taxes but the consumption of corporate products generated by the cruel threat of force in foreign lands.
"One day," Willson writes, "the corporations that allow and often enable terrorism in countries like Colombia will be pushed out of those countries. We will no longer be able to buy one-dollar Cokes or ninety-nine-cent-a-pound bananas. Maybe when that day comes, we will finally realize that we do not even desire cheap goods at the cost of others' lives. Maybe we will finally realize that we all share a common humanity."
Willson's book is a tour, with him, of much of the world, from the killing he participated in in Viet Nam, to that he has tried to prevent in Latin America, Palestine, and elsewhere. It’s a philosophical journey, through the course of which Willson learns much from the people he is trying to help. The Zapatistas, the Cubans, and others are not just victims of imperialism, but pioneers in sustainable (and enjoyable!) living. If that idea strikes you as crazy but you're willing to consider a careful argument from someone who began far to your right and doesn't change easily … or if the idea strikes you as plausible and you like to see it laid out in a very human story … either way, you can't do better than to read "Blood on the Tracks," and perhaps we as a people -- and I mean the human people, not the people of some nation -- would be better off if a little more of the blood we are still spilling in such great quantities were spilled on railroad tracks for peace.
One of the most inspiring events thus far at the Veterans For Peace National Convention underway in Miami was a presentation on Thursday by several veterans who have refused to participate in war. Typically, they have done this at the risk of significant time in prison, or worse. In most cases these resisters avoided doing any time. Even when they did go behind bars, they did so with a feeling of liberation.
Gerry Condon refused to deploy to Vietnam, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, escaped from Fort Bragg, left the country, and came back campaigning for amnesty. President Jimmy Carter pardoned resisters as his first act in office. Condon never "served" a day, in either the military "service" or prison.
Peace activists stopped traffic briefly while other activists leafleted at the Navy’s West Coast Trident submarine base.
Activists with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent action held a peaceful early morning vigil at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Main Gate as Navy and civilian employees entered the base. The vigil commemorated the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Trident submarine base at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, Washington, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons. Each of the 8 Trident submarines at Bangor carry as many as 24 Trident II(D-5) missiles, each capable of carrying up to 8 independently targetable warheads. Each nuclear warhead has an explosive yield up to 32 times the yield of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
|Resisters (from left to right): Betsy Lamb, George Rodkey & Ann Havill
(photo by Leonard Eiger)
A total of 16 persons engaged in the blockade. All were issued citations at the scene for “Walking on roadway where prohibited” and released. Those cited were Tom Rogers, Poulsbo, WA; Cindy Sheehan, Vacaville, CA; Marion Ward, Vancouver, WA; Michael Siptroth, Belfair, WA; Mal Chaddock, Portland, OR; Ann Havill, Bend, OR; Betsy Lamb, Bend, OR; Bernie Meyer, Olympia, WA; Leonard Eiger, North Bend, WA; Constance Mears, Poulsbo, WA; Gordon Sturrock, Eugene, OR; Brenda McMillan, Port Townsend, WA; Mack Johnson, Silverdale, WA; Gilberto Z Perez, Bainbridge Island, WA; George W Rodkey, Tacoma, WA and Elizabeth Murray, Bellingham, WA.
|Anne & David Hall Leafleting (photo by Berd Whitlock)|
|Each leaflet had an origami crane attached
(photo by Berd Whitlock)
Monday’s vigil, nonviolent direct action and leafleting were the culmination of a weekend of events at Ground Zero Center. Participants commemorated the anniversaries of the atomic bombings and celebrated 35 years of Ground Zero’s resistance to the Trident nuclear weapons system.
Participants had the opportunity to hear from Ground Zero co-founders Jim and Shelley Douglass, persistent peace activist Cindy Sheehan, and the (pepper sprayed) face of Seattle Occupy Dorli Rainey.
The weekend included nonviolence training, letter writing to elected officials, action planning, a vigil at the Kitsap Mall and a screening of the documentary “In My Lifetime.” The film, a presentation of the Nuclear World Project, is intended to help people develop an understanding of the realities of nuclear weapons.
Additional events were associated with the Ground Zero weekend.
Ground Zero's Glen Milner organized this year’s Peace Fleet, a flotilla of boats that sailed into Seattle’s Elliott Bay on August 1st to meet the U.S. Navy fleet in a protest against militarism.
Activists representing Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington Chapter, arrived at Ground Zero on Saturday during the Bike to the Bomb bicycle ride. Bike to the Bomb protests the use of nuclear weapons against the people of Japan, and spotlights the massive nuclear arsenal stored and deployed at Bangor.
Participants in the 2012 Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free Future, which began in Portland, Oregon on July 22nd, also arrived at Ground Zero on Saturday to participate in the weekend’s activities. The walk is organized by Buddhist monks from Bainbridge Island, and carries a message of hope for peace and a nuclear free world.
|All 16 who blocked the roadway today. (photo by Berd Whitlock)|
For nearly thirty-five years Ground Zero has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.
Six Peacemakers Arrested at the Pentagon to Commemorate the 67th anniversary of the US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The theme of this week’s show: Guns and Media
- RootsAction.org and Just Foreign Policy have launched a campaign targeting NBC’s new program, “Stars Earn Stripes,” a reality show co-hosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark and co-starring Todd Palin, which the network is advertising during the Olympics. We discuss this with David Swanson
- Another mass shooting, this time in Wisconsin, has people wondering what can be done about gun violence, the gun lobby and the debate about second amendment protections. We discuss this with Ladd Everitt
More about this week’s guests:
David Swanson holds a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, media coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as communications coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
Quote: “NBC is marketing its new show during the Olympics as the next big sport, featuring former Olympic athletes, but the sport is war, with — so they tell us — real bullets, real explosives, and real danger. If NBC is really risking blowing off the head or arm or leg of Sarah Palin’s husband and the other stars, then we’ve regressed to ancient Rome. Bread and circuses are now Big Macs and NBC war-o-tainment shows. I suspect and hope that in fact NBC is not putting these people at risk and nobody is going to die on Stars Earn Stripes (note, link does not take you to the NBC show page). And I am certain that the 95 percent of casualties in U.S. wars who rarely get mentioned on any NBC program, namely the non-Americans, will not be featured. We will not see children and grandparents blown to pieces. We will not see cluster bombs picked up as toys. We may see doors kicked in, but not the screaming terrified families behind them. NBC is sanitizing and normalizing war as a sport. Gone is any concept of war as an emergency, any notion of war time as separate from peace time. We are into permanent war, and war for its own sake.”
Ladd Everitt is the Director of Communications of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. He has served as the Director of Communications of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence since May 2006. In this position, he is responsible for developing and managing a wide range of communications activities in support of the organization’s overall mission.
Mr. Everitt has served in a volunteer capacity with the D.C. Crisis Response Team, a group which offers comfort, support and referral services to victims and survivors of homicide in the District of Columbia. From 2002-2007, he served as the volunteer President of the D.C. Chapter of the Million Mom March. Under his direction, the chapter conducted events for victims and survivors of gun violence, published letters and editorials in local and national periodicals, participated in press conferences and demonstrations calling for sensible gun laws, networked with other community groups who are interested in stemming the tide of gun violence, and authored a comprehensive resource book for victims and survivors, which was used by the Metropolitan Police Department.
Ladd relocated to the District of Columbia from New York in September of 1993 to pursue a Masters degree in U.S. Foreign Policy at American University. After completing his degree, he worked as a Research Associate with the U.S.‑Saudi Arabian Business Council in Washington, DC, and as a Chief of Policy Development for the Air Force Association in Arlington, Virginia.
A statement from Coalition to Stop Gun Violence issued in the wake of the incident in Colorado read in part: “Reports indicate that the shooter, 24-year-old James Holmes wore body armor and was armed with two Glock handguns, a tactical shotgun, and an AR-15 style assault rifle. He also released some type of chemical gas into the theater during the massacre. Twelve fatalities have been reported so far, with approximately 38 moviegoers injured, including 16 critically. “Sadly, there is nothing novel about this tragedy. It is yet another massacre perpetuated by a homicidal maniac who was given easy access to lethal, military-style firepower. “The pro-gun movement has told us that bloodbaths like Aurora are the price we must pay to guarantee freedom and individual liberty in the United States. Rational Americans should reject such radical ideology and demand immediate reform of our gun laws. “The truth is that there is no greater threat to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ than the wanton gun violence that continues to destroy American families and communities. Until our legislators stand up to the extreme leadership of the National Rifle Association and enact laws to assure the thorough screening of gun buyers, tragedies like Aurora will continue to haunt America. It is long past time to put public safety back on the agenda in the U.S. Congress, and in our state legislatures.”
By Eve Tetaz
I left Paris on June 28, 2012 and arrived in DC the same day to stand trial in DC Superiour Court on Wednesday, July 29th along with 13 co-defendants for having protested the death penalty on the steps of the Supreme Court in January. I was sentenced to 60 days in jail because I refused probation and to pay a fine on the grounds that although I broke a DC law, I was upholding my right under the first amendment of the Constitution to peacefully petition the government for a redress of grievances. I believe that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment, and is a violation of the rights guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution. Three of my codefendants opted to spend 5 days in jail rather than do community service in order to remain in solidarity with me.
Oak Ridge, TN—Early this past Saturday morning three plowshares activists performed a disarmament action in response to Government plans to invest $80 billion to sustain and modernize the nuclear weapons complex.
Calling themselves Transform Now Plowshares, Michael R. Walli (63), Megan Rice (82), and
Greg Boertje-Obed (57) entered the Y-12 nuclear weapons facility before dawn.
They delivered an indictment citing U.S. Constitutional and Treaty Law as well as the
“The ongoing building and maintenance of Oak Ridge Y-12 constitute war crimes that can and should be investigated and prosecuted by judicial authorities at all levels. We are required by International Law to denounce and resist known crimes.”
This action is one of a long tradition of Plowshares disarmament actions in the US and around the world which challenge war-making and weapons of mass destruction.
By David R. Weyeneth, Sr.
To accompany Gene Sharp's "From Dictatorship to Democracy" (PDF).
One: Focus on a problem or issue which needs change.
Two: Hold hearings and conduct research, including taking statements and affidavits of witnesses. The research may reveal a history of previous social change campaigns as well as being useful in outlining the current campaign. Keeping records will be useful in constructing a history of the current campaign for reference by others.
Three: Witness sites and events of the social problem.
Four: Negotiate with persons or agencies indicated as responsible or capable of alleviating the problem. Return to negotiations as needed.
Susan Crane, one of the five plowshares activists who entered the U.S.
Navy's Pacific Trident Naval Base at Kitsap Bangor (NBKB) in Washington
State in November 2009 has been ordered to appear before Judge Benjamin
Settle at the U.S. District Court, Tacoma, Washington on July 23, 2012.
Crane has already served 15 months in prison. The government is seeking
revocation of Crane’s current additional 1 year term of supervised release,
alleging noncompliance with some of the terms of her supervised release.
Crane, a mother of two grown children, and a grandmother, maintains now, as
she did throughout her trial, that the five came to the Navy base to
peaceably state the truth “Disarm Now: Trident Illegal and Immoral.”
Crane said, “The eight Trident submarines deployed from NBKB constantly
threaten to unleash nuclear holocaust. Each of the 800 nuclear weapons
by Common Dreams - Common Dreams staff
Environmental activists shut down dozens of Shell gas stations across the UK, Denmark and Germany on Monday. The action was part of environmental group Greenpeace's Save the Arctic Campaign -- a bid to prevent oil drilling in the Arctic slated to begin within the next three weeks. Greenpeace has ramped up its efforts against oil company Shell as its drilling vessels drift closer to its targets in the Arctic.
Earlier this week Shell's first drill rig to near the Arctic, Noble Discoverer, lost control during high winds and ran aground near Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
"Shell can't keep it's drill rig under control in a protected harbor, so what will happen when it faces 20 foot swells and sea ice while drilling in the Arctic? Shell's whole drilling program seems to be running aground...Shell cannot be trusted, and President Obama should not let its Arctic drilling program move forward," stated Greenpeace Lead Arctic Campaigner Jackie Dragon.
On Monday the activists scaled the roof of a Shell gas station, many in sickly polar bear costumes, used barriers to block off access to pumps, and covered a Shell sign with a Save the Arctic banner. In one instance they placed a life-sized polar bear model on a station's roof. Other campaigners chained themselves to pumps, a Greenpeace spokesman told the Independent.
Activists shut down pumps by switching emergency shut-off levers, which stop gas flow.
24 were arrested over the course of the planned actions.
What does Independence Day mean to you? The holiday can be a time to gather with family, friends and community. But it can also be an opportunity to reassess the direction of the country, the past struggles that secured rights and freedom, the challenges to power that rose up in the face of adversity, and the inequalities that still exist.
Elliott Adams and Nate Lewis, two members of Veterans For Peace, were part of a larger group of 15 activists arrested Thursday at the gate to Hancock Airbase in Syracuse, N.Y., where they held large banners and signs protesting drones for three hours before they were arrested.
One banner showed images of children killed by U.S. drones in Afghanistan. Another showed a reaper drone and the grim reaper. Another quoted Martin Luther King Jr. "I have a dream" and Barack Obama "I have a drone."
Photos and videos: http://www.facebook.com/daniel.j.burns.9?sk=wall
For some of the participants, this was not their first time protesting at Hancock. Adams was arrested last year as one of the "Hancock 38," and again this past April in a group of 33. Adams is Past President of Veterans for Peace and current Nonviolent Training Coordinator.
Police in Germany Join the People They're Supposed to Protect and Serve -- Imagine That in a More Fascist State Like Ours
In town court this evening, at the request of the town prosecuting attorney, Judge David Gideon dismissed the charge of “parading without a permit” against the “Hancock 33.” Onondaga County sheriffs arrested the defendants, from Syracuse and across New York State, on Sunday, April 22 while they walked silently, solemnly and single-file along the shoulder of East Molloy Road, the public road leading to the main gate of Hancock Air Base.
Many of the defendants were carrying signs protesting the piloting of weaponized Reaper drones at Hancock. Their intent, foiled by the arrests, was to deliver a citizen’s indictment to the base. They allege that under International Law war crimes are committed on the base, especially the widespread killing of civilians by the Reaper in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The town attorney Donald Doerr, citing the DeWitt Town Code – Chapter 134-1, noted that prosecution was unnecessary since the 33 weren’t a threat to themselves or to the traveling public and that they didn’t interfere with emergency service to the community.
One of the walkers, Ann Tiffany of Syracuse, said, “These were pre-emptive arrests. They violated citizens’ rights to assemble and petition our government under the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.”
“Let Justice Flow Like a River…”
By Brian Terrell
The United States District Courthouse in Jefferson City, Missouri, is a modern and graceful structure sitting on a bluff over the Missouri River. Less than one year old, it is a virtual temple in white marble, granite and glass, its clean lines all the more immaculate in contrast to its nearest neighbor, the crumbling 19th century hulk of the derelict and empty Missouri State Penitentiary, now a tourist attraction and occasional movie set. Set into the floor of the courthouse rotunda, executed in marble and bronze, is the image of the Great Seal of the United States, the eagle with arrows in one talon and olive leaves in the other, circled by a quote from the Bible, from the prophet Amos, “Let Justice Flow Like A River.”
By Dave Lindorff
My wife and I live on a 2.3-acre plot of forested land in a pre-Revolutionary house with a run-down old barn. When we first moved here, there was a rather large set of grassy areas, one in front of the house, another behind the kitchen, a large field in the back, behind the barn, a smaller lawn in front of the barn, and a hidden glen, as well as an island of grass in the middle of a circular gravel driveway.
On Wednesday night in Montreal, we shared a long dinner with student organizers, discussing everything from police tactics in Montreal and New York to the necessity of an anti-racist and anti-colonial framework for our movements. Our hosts noticed that, around the time that the nightly 8:30 p.m. march was supposed to begin, we were getting nervous about missing it. They laughed and said, “Don’t worry, it will go on until 2 a.m.” Or at least they normally do.
By midnight, after peacefully and joyfully marching through the city for hours, the police charged our march of about 4,000 people with batons and pepper spray. In a moment the scene became one of chaos and confusion. Many in the crowd turned around and ran, but there were police behind us, too, coming straight at us with their batons out as people were pepper sprayed and thrown to the ground. Eventually, we found our way out of the melée and asked our Canadian comrade what had happened to provoke the police. “Nothing,” she answered. “They just got tired of us.”
Excerpted from: NATO protests reveal need for nonviolent discipline by Ken Butigan
This was the largest organized medal return since April 1971, when more than 800 veterans deposited their medals on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to dramatically repudiate the Vietnam War. Like that event four decades ago, Sunday’s ceremony was moving and powerful. It crystallized in a clear but visceral way the realities of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time it spelled out the critical importance of undertaking deliberate and potentially risky resistance for healing and nonviolent change.
This riveting event could well have become the indelible image of this week’s NATO protest. Even more importantly, it might have prompted a renewed national focus on the realities and costs of the last dozen years of war-making.
So far, neither has happened. Although there was some media coverage of the medal return ceremony (including a piece on local television and extensive reporting on Democracy Now!), it was largely overshadowed by the clash between police and protesters that took place almost immediately after the vets exited the stage. The march permit expired and most of the thousands of marchers drifted away, but a couple of hundred people stayed put in the streets. Hundreds of police in riot gear then flooded into the area. As an Associated Press story reports:
Some of the most enduring images of the event were likely to be from the end — when a small group of demonstrators clashed with a line of police who tried to keep them from the lakeside convention center where President Barack Obama was hosting the gathering. The protesters tried to move east toward McCormick Place, with some hurling sticks and bottles at police. Officers responded by swinging their batons. The two sides were locked in a standoff for nearly two hours, with police blocking the protesters’ path and the crowd refusing to leave. Some protesters had blood streaming down their faces.
This description conveys little of the ferocity of the tense confrontation that erupted after the permit expired and a huge police contingent swarmed into the space, intent on pushing people out of the intersection and keeping them from moving toward the convention center. News accounts and video clips from the scene show that the police tactics were hugely confrontational and aggressive; the police attacked and pummeled many protesters. At the same time, video clips show objects being hurled at police officers, including a police barricade, and protesters pushing police. Both sides were confrontational, as this raw video indicates.
My spouse Cynthia and I brought our two-year-old daughter Leah to this march. (The coalition website said that this event would be “family friendly,” and we took it at its word.) We were one block from the stage, but left a couple of minutes before the permit expired because Leah was getting hungry and thirsty; it had been a long, hot day. As we walked north, a long phalanx of police officers in riot gear were trotting single file toward the intersection, where only a few minutes later they would be swinging batons at marchers unwilling to budge. Some would be bloodied; others arrested.
There is no excuse for the actions of the police. At the same time, the lack of nonviolent discipline among the remaining protesters contributed to escalating this confrontation. The media frame on this story shifted almost immediately from “peaceful march” to “street fighting,” and the powerful action of the Iraq and Afghanistan vets was largely lost in the inundating shuffle.
Well before all of this, Suellen Semekoski and I were asked by Iraq Veterans Against the War to co-facilitate the nonviolent action training that would support the vets in preparing for their medal return. We were happy to do so, and on Saturday afternoon and evening we plunged into this process with them.
In our six hours together, we sensed the depth of hope that this public action was generating for them as individuals and as a community. Throughout the day the participants repeatedly stressed that nonviolence was going to be crucial to this event and that they were committed to maintaining this spirit. In addition, we were joined by three members of Afghans for Peace who were collaborating with IVAW on this event. They were also resolute about the importance of nonviolent discipline. The success of this action, they said, depended on it.
These survivors of war — U.S. veterans and Afghan peaceworkers — were creating a rare public space where they sought to call on the nation and the world to reflect deeply on the reality of this past, present and future destructiveness. They were very clear that nonviolent strategies, tactics and atmosphere would be vital to achieving this.
Unfortunately, there was little infrastructure in place to support that possibility. While many of us led numerous nonviolence trainings in the Chicago area in the run-up to the NATO mobilization, there were no agreed-upon nonviolence guidelines to serve as a foundation for nonviolent action. (The “Chicago Principles” did not serve this function.) Nor were there adequate numbers of peacekeepers prepared to intervene in order to maintain this nonviolent atmosphere. (In January, some of us had offered to train 500 peacekeepers, who would be equipped to respond to outbreaks of violence. This was based on the experience some of us had had in Seattle in 1999 at the World Trade Organization meeting, where 200 peacekeepers had been an inadequate number. We were told that the coalition was already training peace guides.)
There are many reasons such infrastructure was not in place, including a sensitivity to the now classic debate between nonviolence and diversity of tactics. Nevertheless, I suspect that we are at a crossroads as a movement for change and, at some point, we must make a difficult but important choice.
From my perspective, people power depends for its lifeblood on nonviolent discipline.
Nonviolent action is more effective than violent action — including the kind of heated scrum that took place in Chicago this past Sunday — because it keeps us on message (focused on the issue, rather than the tired tit-for-tat narrative), it is more likely to alert, educate and mobilize the population (the lynchpin of successful movements), and it communicates a vision of the kind of society we want (veterans creating the space of transformative healing and social change rather than the push-comes-to-shove dynamics of retaliatory violence).
By Dave Lindorff
It seems pretty clear by now that the three young “domestic terrorists” arrested by Chicago police in a warrantless house invasion reminiscent of what US military forces are doing on a daily basis in Afghanistan, are the victims of planted evidence -- part of the police-state-style crackdown on anti-NATO protesters in Chicago last week.
Camp Douglas, WI – Thirteen Wisconsin citizen activists held their monthly vigil outside the gates of Camp Williams/Volk Field on Tuesday May 22, 2012, calling for an end to drone warfare. People attended from Madison, Monona, Portage, Montello, Mount Horeb, and Wisconsin Rapids. Camp Williams/Volk Field is a National Guard facility where testing and training for the RQ-7 Shadow 200 drones is being conducted. The monthly vigils are organized by the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, a group that practices nonviolent civil resistance against the illegal and immoral policies of our government. They join an increasing number of activists all over the country who are speaking out against drone warfare.