On this MLK day, let us recall Dr. Martin Luther King's deepest legacy. He understood that denouncing the violent extremism of young, angry men in the ghettos could not be done without hypocrisy unless one also condemned the far greater violence of the U.S. war machine in Vietnam. When governments decide political problems can be solved through violence, it is no surprise their citizens reach the same conclusion.
WRL's Ali Issa on the protest upsurge in Iraq: "Since a new wave of protest in Iraq — the largest in decades — has forced the Iraqi government to finally begin acknowledging the fundamental problems with the now 12-year-old quota system, Iraqis across sectors and at the grassroots are striving to chart a new political course. It’s also time for the world at large to see Iraqis in a new way. Not as simply Sunni, Shi’ite or Kurd, Gulf-backed or Iran-backed, terrorist or victim. Iraqis are asking us to do much better than that."
Stop Urban Shield is a broad coalition of grassroots community and social justice organizations primarily based in the Bay Area but with partnering community groups across the nation who have come together united against Urban Shield. Urban Shield, a SWAT team training and weapons expo that brings together local, regional, and international police-military units to collaborate on and profit from new forms of surveillance, state repression, and state violence.
Today on our 96th birthday, War Resisters League is as energized and hopeful as ever in working to dismantle the military industrial complex. When people ask us why, we say: it’s because the life and dignity of everyday people are worth fighting for, across the United States and around the world.
We are deeply moved by the joys that a dignified life can bring: the ability to pursue knowledge, the ability to spend time with friends and family, and the ability to provide for those you love.
The War Resisters League stands in solidarity with our comrades in No New Jails, who have been organizing to stop Mayor Bill de Blasio’s jail expansion plan and are holding it down at City Hall today. Join us in Abolition Square & tell your city council members that we don’t need new jails!
Former WRL staff member Peter Kiger died on August 19 in New Castle, Indiana. He was 80 and had Parkinson’s disease.
Born and raised in Spiceland, Indiana, Peter became a Quaker whose life mission was peacemaking. But during his freshman year at DePauw University (1956) — before becoming a pacifist — he won a Chicago Tribune medal as an outstanding Air Force ROTC student. Then in his junior year he went to Germany for pre-med studies, living with a German family who had suffered great losses during World War II. This, along with seeing the war’s devastation first hand, was life-changing. He came home an avowed pacifist. After graduating with honors from DePauw in 1960, Peter spent a year in medical school at Northwestern, followed by a year in Springfield (IL) Federal Penitentiary in 1961 as a conscientious objector for having refused alternative service to the military.
With protests in Puerto Rico, growing calls to dismantle the Department of Homeland Security, and organizing around the country to #ClosetheCamps, resistance is alive. As we celebrate the recent win of our friends at Decolonize This Place, we're reminded that organizing takes time. Over 6 years ago WRL launched our Facing Teargas campaign targeting Safariland; today that work helped to ground the victory won by Decolonize This Place and others. That's why we continue to create spaces that bring activists together across movements, oppose war profiteers from New York to Phoenix, and set our sights on liberation.
Congratulations to the Stop Urban Shield Coalition on the recent victory of demilitarizing emergency preparedness in California’s Bay Area! In other words: ending Urban Shield. Since 2013, this cross-community coalition has organized tirelessly against Urban Shield — a SWAT team training and weapons expo, that brought together local, regional, and international police to collaborate on, and practice, new forms of military-grade weaponry and tactics of state repression. Urban Shield was often described as “the largest SWAT training in the world.” As proud members of the Stop Urban Shield Coalition, War Resisters League sends our love and respect to Bay Area organizations that strategized, organized and built the community power leading to this huge win.
This past 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!