WRL Statement on NYPD Surveillance of Activist Groups

The War Resisters League is the oldest secular pacifist organization in the United States.  Since 1923, WRL has been nonviolently resisting war at home and abroad.
 
Our philosophy of revolutionary nonviolence demands change at the very roots of our society.

Our work has never been just about opposing wars when they happen but also trying to prevent wars, taking on the inequalities of our system at their root.  We believe in the transformative power of nonviolent action in our communities, in our world, and in ourselves.
 
We understand that there are interwoven systems of domination and exploitation at the roots of inequality and injustice, and that to “remove all causes of war” we must collaborate and stand in solidarity with oppressed people across the globe.
 
We are pacifists but we are not passive.
 
The police have been spying on WRL in many forms and for many years.
 
If they had been listening, they would have heard a consistent voice.  They would have heard concerned people coming together to stand with those directly impacted by US foreign policy.  They would have heard concerned people reaching out to, working with, and counseling veterans, from WWII through the current wars in Iraq in Afghanistan.  They would have heard truth about military recruitment, and the militarization of the police here at home.
 
Make no mistake about it.  There are serious crimes happening.  Thoughtful investigations are needed.  People should be held accountable.  If the NYPD was really listening when they attended our meetings, they would know who the real criminals are.
 
We believe that change begins in our own communities.  
 
From stop and frisk to racist anti-Muslim training videos, from heavy-handed tactics against peaceful protestors in Occupy Wall Street to secretive surveillance of people exercising their first amendment rights, from racial profiling, to acting on behalf of corporations instead of the people of this city….the NYPD must be challenged by the communities it allegedly serves.  
 
But the pattern that is emerging into public view, demonstrated again with these recent documents and known in many communities in NYC over many years, is making crystal clear the crisis of oversight, transparency and accountability in the NYPD.
 
War has always been justified in the name of security, but all too often security is an alibi used to limit our freedom, dehumanize people, and sustain power thru fear.  Political surveillance on peaceful groups of citizens can have the chilling effect of stifling dissent.
 
We live in a time of enormous possibilities.  People are rising up around the world, around the country, and in our city to change things for the better.  To call for transparent and accountable government.  To call for an end to violence and oppression.  We are all part of this struggle.
 
It is outrageous that the NYPD would put any of us here under the glare of suspicion, spy on and try to disrupt our activities, harass and jail some of us, while those guilty of torture, deception, and launching disastrous and illegal wars go fee -- this is the tragedy.
 
We are not shaken. We are not intimidated. We will not stop. We will continue to serve (and try to protect) all the communities we work with.  If the NYPD wants to do the same, it can begin with an apology, and continue with accountability, accountability that starts with Commissioner Ray Kelly, who should resign immediately.
 
We have been exercising our rights since 1923, rights that should be protected and promoted to better create the world we want.  We refuse to acquiesce to the climate of suspicion and fear and criminality that the NYPD is fomenting.
 
We at the War Resisters League will continue to resist war and to actively support those who refuse to pay for war, as well as those who refuse to fight in it.  And we will continue to stand with our friends and allies here to build a sustainable movement for peace and justice.
 
Thank you.