Demilitarist School: Report Back from Chicago

In April, WRL piloted our first Demilitarist School in Chicago! Over three days, 13 young people and a group of Demil School facilitators, including WRL staff and National Committee members, gathered to grapple with the scale of US militarism. Participants delved into discussions about strategies for dismantling militarism and the ways antimilitarist work feeds into struggles for Black liberation, immigrant rights, prison abolition, workers rights, queer liberation, and climate justice. Special thanks to Assata’s Daughters who generously provided space for the Demil School. 

Read more about what particpants did each day below: 

Activities included Trivia on the US War Machine, the Many Limbed Monster of Militarism Activity, and a workshop on challenging anti-Black and anti-immigrant sentiments and violence.  

During these workshops some big themes of the school started to emerge with participants including:  starting to grasp the scale of US military spending & reach; getting grounded in the many ways institutions across sectors are upholding militarism; understanding the links but also differences between anti-Black & anti-migrant violence, and the importance of joint struggle.

WRL National Organizers Yuni & Tory piloted WRL's new Resisting Airwars curriculum, which included history on airwars; video testimonies from airwars survivors & people displaced by airwars; and a game to learn more about the companies profiting off airwars.  

Wednesday afternoon another Chicago pal, Nash Alam, came to lead a workshop on The Battle of the Story where we came up with counter-recruitment skits after analyzing a marines recruitment ad.

For our final day, former WRL organizer and current Win Without War digital organizer Tara Tabassi videoed in to share about work they’ve been doing on the War Powers Resolution to end the war on Yemen, with Win Without War.  We had a great discussion about the ways that congress is like a giant version of City Council, how hard but necessary this work is, and how we use 'progressive' champions to forward our issues, while continuing to build accountability.  

Later we had a police militarization presentation, followed by a really moving discussion on counter-recruitment led by a bad-ass Black youth organizer in Chicago, Tweak Harris.  

After lunch, we wrapped up our time together and flexed our creative muscles: we screen-printed 'Demilitarize' t-shirts, participants did an "I will resist militarism by..." photo project, and a few folks collaged to contribute to our Demil School zine.

Thanks to the many folks who made this first Demilitarist School possible! We're looking forward to contintuing the program, expanding the curriculum and time allotted to allow more space for participants to dig even deeper, and ultimatley bringing WRL's Demilitarist School to other U.S. cities.

To support the Demilitarist School consider making a donation to WRL - you're support is greatly appreciated!