Editor’s Note from Rivera Sun
This week’s news is long and juicy. Get a cup of coffee and indulge in a little extra time to read the headlines. They are wildly creative and surprisingly varied. It’s also a meaningful way to engage with nonviolence on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I spot the impact of Dr. King’s commitment to nonviolence in many of today’s Nonviolence News stories. Along with M.K. Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, and so many millions more, the global lineage of nonviolence lives in each and every person who uses it today.
In some ways, MLK Day is a bit strange in the United States. It has somehow become a “day of service” during which people – especially young people – are urged to volunteer. Yet, the radical King, the relentless organizer for profound change, the ceaseless rabble-rouser for racial justice, the man who opposed war and poverty, the incredible person who galvanized people to upend the status quo of this country is often glossed over. The message of nonviolence in all its transformational depth is often left out of the conversation altogether. It is up to us to honor Dr. King’s courageous and often controversial commitment to nonviolence by deepening our own. It is up to us to embody Dr. King’s vision and continue the work for justice, peace, and nonviolent change. I offer this quote, a favorite of mine:
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I also have some exciting news for this important day: Nonviolence News is growing. We’re welcoming new readers! Thanks to a bold collaboration with the M.K. Gandhi Institute and Nonviolence Now, our readership is about to grow in leaps and bounds. (Find out more in our Collaborator Spotlight.) We’ll also be rolling out a brand new layout next week with more photos and easier-to-read design. To welcome our newer readers, we’ll be taking the next few weeks to explore nonviolence from new angles. We’ll be showing the heart and soul, inner and outer, small and large scale uses of nonviolence. I hope you’re excited. I am.
Here’s to nonviolence and change,
Rivera Sun, Editor
With all the change that’s afoot, small donations go a LONG way. Thanks!
Collaborator Spotlight: Nonviolence Now
Nonviolence Now and Nonviolence News are sister projects. Now, my colleagues at the M.K. Gandhi Institute are launching a second global media campaign promoting nonviolence, including signing up for Nonviolence News. In an effort to introduce the length, breadth, and depth of nonviolence, we’ll be redesigning Nonviolence News. Don’t worry! We’ll still have all the same great stories. We’re just introducing new ways of looking at it. It’s an exciting time. Thanks for being a part of it!
Here are some recent successes brought about by nonviolence in action.
French Protests Save Pensions Faced with unrelenting protests over proposed changes in France’s generous pension system, officials backed off from raising the full-benefit retirement age to 64 from the present 62.
Port of Richmond Kicks Coal Richmond, CA, blocked a key coal export route by banning the fossil fuel from being exported via their port, citing climate change as the reason. As we shift away from coal and other fossil fuels, Just Transitions that support workers while holding CEOs and shareholders responsible will be needed.
Coal Miners Lift Railroad Blockade A group of Kentucky coal miners who blocked a railroad track for three days over unpaid wages have ended their protest, claiming victory after receiving their paychecks. The group was inspired by last year’s rail blockade by other miners who also successfully won unpaid benefits.
Shutting Down US Coal Plants Saved 26,000 Lives The shutdown of hundreds of coal-fired power plants in the United States over the past decade has saved an estimated 26,610 lives, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Sustainability.
20,000 Acres of Everglades Saved From Oil Drilling The Governor of Florida plans to have the state buy the threatened land to prevent them from being sold to oil and gas developers.
Three Film & Movie Awards Dinners Go Vegan: The Screen Actors Guild Awards dinner joined the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards in offering a plant-based menu at their star-studded affairs, citing animal rights and climate justice.
An Ugh-ly Anti-Victory Ugh. Rollbacks of successes are always discouraging. In 2019, we shared an encouraging report that Chick-fil-A had stopped donating to the two anti-LGBT groups they were infamous for supporting. Well, they’re back in action, donating $1.8 million to anti-LGBTQ groups. Time to renew the pressure.
Here’s how people are taking action this week for a wide range of causes.
“Run Against the Dictator”: 12,000 activists in Thailand joined into the “Run Against the Dictator” mass jog, calling for the removal of the military dictator who came to power six years ago in a coup and failed to step down following contested elections last year.
Kyrgyzstan’s Anti-Corruption Activists and Journalists Under Seige: Repression has escalated sharply against people trying to expose and end corruption in Krygyzstan. Activists and journalists face assault, threat, lawsuit or arrest.
Armenian Mothers Protest Baby-Stealing Scheme: Armenian mothers protested in front of the state prosecutor, seeking answers about revelations of a baby-stealing scheme. Following an investigation into a high-level crime ring accused of selling Armenian infants to foreigners, women who think they may have been victims are demanding justice.
German Beekeepers Stage Sticky Protest Two beekeepers poured a bucket of honey down the steps of the Germany’s Agriculture Ministry to protest the continued use of a controversial herbicide that threatens bees.
Dublin Tractor Protest Causes Traffic Chaos Around 60 tractors and dozens of other vehicles descended on Dublin, Ireland in a 24-hour protest over beef prices.
1,200 Florida Teachers Rally To Save Public EducationDefying threats of termination, more than one thousand teachers gathered at the state capital to demand fair pay and better funding for schools. Students and parents accompanied them.
Egyptian-American Hunger Striker Dies Mustafa Kassem died in Egypt after going on hunger strike in prison. The 54-year-old New York taxi driver was originally from Egypt. He was arrested on a home visit in 2013 on accusations of being a spy and taking part in anti-government protests. He went on hunger strike in a bid to win his freedom.
Nonviolence towards the Earth is nonviolence toward humanity. Here are ways people are working to save the planet . . . and our species.
Wet’suwet’en First Nation Blockades Pipeline On Tribal Territory Canadian police have arrested over a dozen activists in a showdown over First Nation sovereignty and a fossil fuel pipeline.
Fiji’s Citizens Say #PlasticFree Campaign Is Misleading Fiji’s citizens are pressuring their country to speak truth about their #PlasticFree campaign. Thicker plastics are still allowed – and many would like to see that change.
Martinique Protesters Support Environmental Activists While the trial of seven young people was taking place, the police prevented the entry of a solidarity march and thus triggered a bigger protest.
Canadian Students Walk Out in Support of Wet’suwet’en Students staged a walk out in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en First Nation as the showdown between the First Nation and the Canadian government loomed.
United Nations Orders Canada To Halt Work on Trans Mountain Pipeline: A new report says informed consent must be obtained from the Secwepemc people. “Now it is clear to the whole world every minute that Canada continues construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline is a violation of the basic human rights of Indigenous people.”
#Stop The Money Pipeline Fights Wall Street Over Fossil Fuels Climate activists are taking on a new pipeline – the one that funnels money from Wall Street into planetary destruction. A coalition of climate, environmental, youth, and indigenous organizations unveiled Stop the Money Pipeline, a campaign to “pressure banks, insurance companies and asset managers to stop financing fossil fuels and deforestation and start respecting human rights and Indigenous sovereignty.
25 People Occupy Bank for Fossil Fuel Divestment Over twenty people occupied a Chase Bank branch in Washington, D.C. today to kick off Stop the Money Pipeline, a major new activist effort going after the financial industry’s funding of climate destruction.
Tens of Thousands Demand Australian Prime Minister Resign Angry over mishandling of bushfires, denial of climate change, and the approval of coal and other mines, tens of thousands of Australians demonstrated in several cities demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. 30,000 people demonstrated in Sydney, Australia, for stronger climate action.
Operation Wallaby Airdrops Food to Fire-Starved Wildlife Operation Wallaby and other animal relief groups are dropping tons of food by helicopter to help endangered animals survive the aftermath of the fires.
Sydney Opera House Lights Up To Honor Firefighters Giant projected images of firefighters in support of their heroic efforts to contain Australia’s bushfire crisis covered the iconic Sydney Opera House.
The struggle for racial justice takes many forms. In schools, workplaces, politics, society, and culture, people are demanding changes that ensure racial justice. Here are some of their stories.
Dark-Skinned Gods and Goddesses Counter Religious Racism India’s photographers counter religious racism by recreating images of Hindu gods and goddesses as dark-skinned instead of light skinned.
Lowrider Magazine Gave Voice To Chicano Resistance The DIY car magazine celebrated Chicano culture and gave voice to resistance. It’s closing up shop … but Chicano pride and lowrider culture remains strong.
Native American Land Taxes Serve As Reparations In the San Francisco Bay Area, local residents and businesses can pay to help restore Indigenous land to Indigenous stewardship in one form of reparations.
Racial Justice Efforts Stand On a Long Legacy Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrice Cullors shares reflections on how the last eight years of organizing work for racial justice stands on a long legacy.
Reclaim the Block Wants Community Solutions, Not Cops A coalition of local organizations looks to a future where Minneapolis divests from the police department and invests in community-based solutions and safety.
“Teacher of the Year” Takes A Knee During the national anthem at a sports championship attended by President Trump, this teacher took a knee to protest. Kelly Holstine said she did so “to stand up for marginalized” people.
Diversity Is Good For Us, New Study Shows A new study shows that, hey, guess what? Diversity is good for us. It improves the well-being of a nation over the long run.
An emerging concern for millions of people, homelessness and lack of affordable housing has led to widespread efforts to ensure that housing – a human right – is accessible to all.
Oakland’s Moms 4 Housing Evicted By Militarized Police Despite community protest, militarized police with guns drawn removed housing rights activists in a pre-dawn raid from the vacant house they had occupied.
Woman Converted Vacant Lot Into Safe Shelter for Unhoused Women An Oakland woman took over a vacant lot to organize housing in tents for unhoused women, providing access to a solar shower, a garden that grows food and flowers, a communal kitchen, dining table, camping toilets and a pump-operated sink.
Rainbow-Painted Bungalow Resists Gentrification in Atlanta Edgewood’s ‘Teardown House’ boldly protests gentrification and police brutality with wall-sized murals. Despite complaints, this painted house aims to help neighbors and make statements on a street that’s emblematic of a changing Atlanta.
People are striving to attain gender justice in a wide variety of ways. Here are a couple stories that came up in this week’s news.
Women’s March 2020 – Photos and Stories Women and allies took to the streets in 180 cities to protesting for impeachment, peace, racial justice, migrant rights and more.
Midwives and Doulas Save Black Lives Through Maternity Care
Black mothers die of maternal mortality at a higher rate than other races in the United States. A critical piece of racial justice involves providing maternal care. Here’s an inside look at what it’s like to be a midwife or doula fighting Black maternal mortality.
Chilean Anti-Rape Song and Flash Mob Target Weinstein Trial 100 women performed the viral Chilean anti-rape song outside the courthouse in New York City as Harvey Weinstein went to trial for his predatory sexual abuses revealed through #MeToo.
Welcome to the Roaring 2020s for Feminists Feminism in the 2020s should be “uncomfortable” says this activist and feminist. Here’s why.
As people flee war, economic injustice, and climate disasters, the struggle for migrant justice is growing. Here are some examples of recent actions.
Qatar Scraps Exit Permits For Workers Facing pressure from unions and activists, Qatar scraps exit permits for migrant workers, a move that rights activists say will help stem exploitation.
Protesters Picket “Tent Courts” Ruling On Migrants Carrying signs proclaiming the “evils” and “injustices” of Migrant Protection Protocols, hundreds of protesters from throughout the country descended upon Brownsville, Texas, on Sunday to kick off a daily vigil against the Trump administration’s immigration policy.
“Sidewalk School” Opens For Migrant Children With thousands of families living in the Matamoros tent city in Mexico, hoping for asylum in the United States, these educators have opened a sidewalk school for the children.
Discriminatory Ban on Migrants Triggers Boycott of County After Bemidji, Minnesota, banned refugees, comments from thousands of people across the country have poured in on Twitter and Facebook, with many expressing that they would no longer vacation or spend money in the Bemidji area.
Around the world, people are using nonviolent action to wage peace.
Here are some of this week’s stories.
Turkmenistan’s Courageous Conscientious Objectors Those who oppose military service in Turkmenistan are imprisoned, but the ordeal doesn’t end there – most face discrimination and beatings in prison.
40 U.S. Cities Adopt Back From the Brink Resolution on Nukes Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Honolulu are among the 40 US cities that have adopted a Back from the Brink resolution, which puts forward five policy goals aimed at reducing the threat of nuclear war: no first use of nuclear weapons, end sole authority to launch a nuclear attack, take U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert, cancel modernization/replacement of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and ultimately seek the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Organizing For Peace in Ukraine: An Interview With Nina Potarska
For Potarska, listening to people on both sides of the frontline in eastern Ukraine is crucial for even tiny steps towards resolution.
Nonviolence unleashes our human creativity. Here are some ways creativity and the arts merged with nonviolent action this week.
Envisioning the Green New Deal: A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words This poster campaign illuminates and illustrates what the Green New Deal might look like if it was implemented in our towns and cities.
Chicago’s Urban Murals Highlight the Perils Urban Birds Face
Public art projects in Rogers Park, the South Loop, the West Loop and elsewhere call attention to the beauty of birds and the environmental and climate problems that threaten them.
LGBTQ Fantasy Novels Boldly Go Beyond Homophobic Worlds These novels offer a compelling vision for the future as they “imagine worlds where homophobia does not exist.”
Science Fiction Explores the Bright Side of Environmental Change Beyond apocalyptic cli-fi, there’s a whole universe of science fiction that deals with environmental change without being depressing.
Photography As Social Justice Artist and Activist Dona McAdams reveals the truth by taking her camera into forgotten and ignored places.
Here are a few stories that harvest the wisdom of the successes and setbacks in worldwide nonviolence movements.
MLK Was Far More Radical Than We Remember This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we would do his memory justice by honoring all of his legacy. Not just the parts that make white Americans comfortable.
Dr. King’s Last Campaign Is Still Potent Today Before he died, Martin Luther King, Jr. joined a campaign to unify working people of all races. Today, nothing could be more powerful.
Negative Peace Is Not Nonviolence Nonviolence is not simply the absence of violence, it’s taking a proactive stand against violence and injustice, and working to repair the harm. This was Dr. King’s understanding of nonviolence and we would do well to remember these lessons today.
India’s Women Are On a Roll India’s women are organizing a sustained, profound shift in India’s movement culture. A mass movement of movements led by women is emerging – one that promises massive change.
20 Key Civil Resistance Movements to Learn About for 2020 The Minds of the Movement blog shares 20 key stories from the past decade to give us tips and pointers for our work in the coming decade.
Here are a few upcoming actions inviting your participation and support.
Day of Action to Support the Venezuela Embassy Protectors Take action on Jan 22 to push back against the slanted trail the embassy protectors face – a trial in which the history of the conflict between the US and Venezuela may not be permitted to be discussed.
No War With Iran Global Demonstrations on January 25th.
Stop 5G Global Protest Day on January 25th.
End the US Military Draft! A bill has been introduced into US Congress to end draft registration for all genders and halt the plan to expand the draft to everyone. Here’s how to support it.
Transit Equity Day on February 4th Labor Network For Sustainability has offered this toolkit in preparation for February 4th’s Transit Equity Day, a collaborative effort of several organizations and unions to promote public transit as a civil right and a strategy to combat climate change. (Feb 4 – Global)
Black Lives Matter At School Week Feb 3-7, 2020, engage your local school in participating in Black Lives Matter and racial justice in schools.
How To Shut Down A Military Base On January 27 at 6:00pm Eastern, join this free webinar from World Beyond War to hear from former U.S. Navy Commander Leah Bolger, and activists Robert Rabin & Tom Hastings about the social and environmental impact of military bases, and the strategies and tactics that have been used to successfully shut them down.
How To Replace War with the Alternative Global Security System Join this free webinar from World Beyond War on February 19 at 4:00pm Eastern. Participants will hear from Phill Gittins, PhD (WBW’s Education Director) and Tony Jenkins, PhD (Education Director 2017-2019) about the “AGSS,” the alternative global security system laid out in World BEYOND War’s book. We’ll explain the nuts and bolts of the AGSS: the frameworks, processes, tools, and institutions necessary for dismantling the war machine and replacing it with a peace system based on common security.
Wow! Impressed by all those nonviolence stories?
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Author/Activist Rivera Sun has written many books and novels, including The Dandelion Insurrectionand The Way Between. She is a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent movements and her essays are published in journals across the country and around the world. You can find out more about her at: www.riverasun.com
Nonviolence News is a sister project to Nonviolence Now. Nonviolence Now is a campaign that is intended to introduce and share stories of nonviolence, and to ignite the potential of principled nonviolence globally. They place thought-provoking nonviolence images in unlikely spaces and connect people who might be leaning toward violence with an alterantive.