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!
Today the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, Morocco, and Indonesia are actively engaged in aerial attacks in upwards of 15 regions primarily in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Since Donald Trump took office, “civilian” casualties from U.S. airwars have doubled with an average of 120 bombs dropped a day. Learning about airwars throughout the world clarifies that the environmental, structural, and psychological impacts keep killing and destroying communities after the initial aerial attack— in some instances for generations.
Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 90 this year. As we mark his birthday on this holiday, we are reminded of his work, his words, his inspiration, and his legacy… and we wonder what work he may have gone on to do if he had lived. We are reminded of all of those in the civil rights and antiwar movements of Martin's lifetime, and of the people who came after to build on those struggles. We are reminded of those whose names and work and wisdom Martin knew, but who are less known to many of us.
As an organization that strives to target and dismantle war at its root causes, we believe in radically different ways of being than what our current world allows. We imagine a world where all people breathe clean air and drink clean water, where all people share what we grow and create, where all people live full, unencumbered lives. Where the land is returned and reparations are paid. When we recognize our reality and the current inheritance of future generations - poisonous wildfires, rising waters, the privatization of every resource we need to stay alive - we gain clarity on our greatest enemies.
This past summer, WRL National Committee member Debbie Southorn took a moment to collect stories about our past, present, and future. Give it a listen above and stay tuned for more awesome opportunities for future podcasts!