Dear friends, organizational partners, allies, and community members:
We’re here to share with our broader community some insight to what WRL has been focusing on internally, and to apologize to our community members and comrades who have been harmed after participating in a WRL action.
For background, we recently held an action in Trump country. Security, safety, coordination, and tactical aspects of the action were planned poorly, and it put people in harm’s way. Risk assessment was miscalculated, particularly for BIPOC folks. Participants were followed, harassed, threatened, and physically attacked by white supremacists.
After action leadership debriefed with the participants, it was clear that we did not adequately prepare our people - who collectively risked so much in every role - for the danger of doing a direct action in a rural white community.
In order to prioritize our organizational capacity towards listening to action participants on their concerns, how the action has impacted them, and the kind of support and care they would like to see from WRL, we made the decision to go dark on social media, and have been so for the last month.
We have heard from many action participants, and we are still in the process of meeting with each participant. We are writing to share this publicly with our broader community that we as an organization must move forward differently than we have because of the necessary and difficult lessons of this action - primarily in terms of organizing practices and culture that are rooted in white supremacy.
Action leadership moved with harmful urgency, placed last minute labor unfairly and stressfully on participants, and did not prioritize or comprehensively account for how we planned to keep our people, particularly our BIPOC comrades, safe in an especially hostile environment. At the same time, white organizers sidelined questions and concerns raised by BIPOC folks, were dismissive and condescending, and created a culture where many did not feel they could trust their own instincts. These are unacceptable ways to move and to organize.
Action leadership also moved in a way that disregarded normal internal procedures and left little room to offer feedback or questions - and what internal challenges that were raised were ignored. We are taking a deep look at the organizational culture and structure that led to this in order to make sure it never happens again.
There is more to come from us regarding this action and we intend on sharing with our movement community a public document of our lessons learned, as well as our organizational commitments to transforming. Part of this work includes our intentional learning from BIPOC organizers and comrades on community safety, as well as reckoning with how to prepare ourselves and fight back against white supremacists and the ways they are organizing themselves right now. We are deeply sorry for all the ways we fell short and manifested harmful practices and cultures of white supremacy that ultimately put people in danger. We are committed to doing better and we are grateful for the opportunity to transform from this experience.