Nonviolence: News

The Roots of Revolutionary Nonviolence in the United States are in the Black Community

A photo of Bayard Rustin standing near a poster that reads: Integration Means Better Schools For All! This photo is on a golden background, and there is text underneath the photo that reads: "read: the roots of revolutionary nonviolence are in the Black community"

Many are wondering how to respond to the current white supremacist threat. We only have to look to history — to those who organized against the brutal culture and laws of segregation in this country — for inspiration on the importance of relationship building, creative strategies and training to dismantle it today. Few people today know that it was transnational solidarity between Black and white Christian clergy in the United States and Indian activists fighting for independence from British colonial rule that introduced the philosophies and strategies of revolutionary nonviolence to the United States, and that this work would build the foundation leading towards the civil rights movement.

In the late 1930s, Black people around the United States were searching for leadership and methods to end racial discrimination. Black publications were reporting on the Indian liberation movement with great interest. Indians and others involved in the movement for Indian independence brought the story to the United States. And Black leaders traveled to India to meet with Gandhi, with growing interest in the method of satyagraha, which translated into “nonviolence.” 

We need to strategically eliminate fascism, not engage in hollow calls for peace.

Black background with gold corner. Broken Rifle logo in the top center. Text says: No Justice, No Peace. The only way forward is to confront who we are as a nation and dismantle white supremacy.

Today, the right wing are openly organizing and attacking the political gains made by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) organizers at the frontlines of racial and economic justice, as well as attacking any sort of attempts to keep fascism at bay— such as the results of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election. In response, centrist and liberal media commentators, along with some organizations are calling for “peace” without a deeper analysis of the root causes of right wing fascism at play. In particular, this is where we diverge from other organizations who use the language of nonviolence to pursue a hollow vision of peace without the commitment to justice. These are acts of conflict avoidance masquerading as conflict resolution, and create a vacuum for the right wing to continue organizing. 

Resources to Stop a Coup

Trump has repeatedly said he will not peacefully transfer power and there is legitimate fear that the election may be stolen. If Trump makes good on this promise, then make no mistake: we are headed towards a coup. 

The President has also called on white supremacists to “protect the vote,” threatened to call out troops to protect (his) ballots and is actively seeding doubts about the integrity of the election process in order to contest it. 

We cannot sit back and watch Republican-led efforts suppress the right to vote.Remember: Black organizers and activists fought for decades using nonviolent tactics to win the right to vote. In a settler-colony like the United States, it's imperative we mobilize to defend hard-won rights so that we may move even closer towards an equitable country.

From rural to suburban to urban areas, people in the United States are organizing in powerful ways to confront white supremacy and police in the streets, to defend our election against a coup, and to de-escalate conflict on the ground. 

We've compiled a list of resources, readings, and free online trainings to help with these efforts. It’s going to take all of us to stop a coup: please read + forward this resource guide to activate more people in defense of our democracy.

No To War in Artsakh! Solidarity with antiwar Armenians and Azeris! Զոորակցություն Հայերի Հետ

No to War in Artsakh!

At least 150 people have been killed so far from the fighting between Turkey-backed Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh (also known as Artsakh and Karabagh) which began last week on September 27th when Azeri forces shelled the area. This conflict, with roots in Russian-drawn borders, Soviet-era imperialism and propped up by the modern day global arms sales, must not be allowed to claim more lives. Below, we are amplifying statements from Armenian and Azeri antiwar activists in the region and in the diaspora with a call to action if you are in the United States:

We're blockading the entrance to a tear gas manufacturer right now

Right now, 5 activists are blockading the entrance of Combined Systems Inc. with giant tear gas cans and gas masks, refusing to move.

These five are with a group of 40 activists from cities across the U.S. who are onsite in Jamestown, PA with the goal of shutting down operations at Combined Systems Inc. for the day. Outside the facility, other activists have staked over a hundred yard signs, each with the name of a different city where tear gas has been used against people.

By shutting down this facility today, we are here to put CSI President Jacob Kravel on notice that his company’s production of tear gas must come to an end. We hope whatever he chooses to produce in this factory can be useful rather than harmful.

A Revolutionary Nonviolent Perspective on US Uprisings

What we are seeing on the streets are not “peaceful” but rather nonviolent protests seeking to confront and disrupt the violence of U.S. police.

We are activists, we are practitioners of revolutionary nonviolence, and we are outraged. Outraged at the 400-year long history of violence against Black people in this country; outraged at the racist and murderous system that founded police, who kill Black people with impunity; outraged at the state-sanctioned brutality meeting Black Lives Matter protesters in the streets. We are outraged by the deployment of an old narrative that uses a false ideal of “peaceful protest” to justify the use of excessive force against protesters in the name of “restoring peace.” Read on...

Militarized Response Tracker #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd

We’re heartbroken and outraged and like so many of you, refuse to allow the systematic killing of Black people in the United States to continue without a fight for justice. There is a lot to be outraged about: from how the politics of COVID-19 pandemic put the lives of Black and indigenous folks at risk, to how calls for release of prisoners still haven’t been met, to the fact that police brutality has taken the lives of Ahmaud Arbury, Dreasjon Reed, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Taylor McDade, and far too many others. 

What We’re Tracking: Militarized Responses to #Justice4GeorgeFloyd

When we talk about police militarization, there is still belief in the notion that if police weren’t militarized, then we wouldn’t have a problem - even within the antimilitarist community. That's not true. We need to push back on this idea and the myth of “a few bad apples in the police force.” The truth is: “regular policing” has always and continues to harass, detain, brutalize, and terrorize Black people. It’s why there are virtually never repercussions for police officers who commit murder. And the militarization of domestic policing isn’t entirely new either - in fact, the history goes back decades.

WRL at 95: Redefining our Base, Building our Power

“We’re acknowledging the many ways militarization shows up in our lives and neighborhoods.”
by Eleanor J. Bader | October 24, 2018

What kind of world are we trying to build and whose leadership should we look to in these times? Read how WRL's been internally shifting after 95 years of antiwar movement building, and the directions we need to take into the future to create the world we need:

A Death in the Family: David McReynolds, Pacifist, Socialist, Ailurophile

 David McReynolds under arrest at "Shadows and Ashes" Direct Action for Nuclear Disarmament, New York City, April 28, 2015. Photo by Felton Davis

By Judith Mahoney Pasternak

A great force for a peaceful world left the planet when WRL's—and the nation's—David McReynolds, who for decades was the best-known voice of American radical pacifism, died August 17 of injuries from a fall in his East Village home. He was 88 and had spent almost 40 years on the staff of the War Resisters League as a self-described “movement bureaucrat.”

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