Category Archives: Activism

The Good Friday Massacre: World…We Are All Palestinians Now!

… When Darkness and Disorder Began to Reign in a Kingdom…
There Appeared the Loyal Ministers.

— The Tao Teh Ching

Eighteen more Palestinians were unapologetically murdered this past “Good Friday” by the Israeli military. They were unarmed. They were on their own land. They were desperate.  They screamed their desperation as they marched. Then, they shouted their daily reality of personal horrors too close to Israel’s attention. So, they were killed.

These innocents were shot like fish in a barrel: No place to hide, no place to run, no chance of escape. The hunters all around them. Easy targets. In what now seems like a national sport, Israel has picked up the pace beyond tormenting Palestine…because it can!

For the record, it is important to accurately understand the current Israeli imposed rules of engagement for this latest round of unjustified violence. A synopsis is in order:

As any rational person should know well, Israel has been slowly — since the complete blockade of Gaza eleven years ago — torturing, by choking, what little is left to be stolen from Palestine. Thanks to the Israel-friendly inhabitants in the US White House, Israel has been given carte blanche to increase this inhuman stranglehold. The new US/Israeli policy towards Palestine holds the draconian view that any Palestinian love for their nation, their futures, their health, their families, and their happiness can be wiped away. Israel truly believes it can change the fundamental human mind of all of Palestine…if their imposed arbitrary torture and their killings are sufficient.

Beyond this increasing isolation, deprivation and degradation of Gaza and Palestine and the military takeover of the West Bank for more illegal Israeli settlements, the Likudists that dominate both Israeli and American politics, have managed to require their US president to hand them the Palestinian capital of Jerusalem as a gift for his ascendancy. Strangely, both these antagonists were then surprised that the Palestinians did not find this departure from history an acceptable US decision.

Despite having slowly seized, coerced or purchased 90% (95% if you count the Golan Heights) of original Palestine since the inception of Israel in 1948, suddenly sensing trouble, the IDF next declared a 350-meter no-go zone within the borders of what they had not already taken from Palestine. With their futures sinking like a bag of kittens wantonly cast adrift, direct action within what remains of Palestine was understandable. On March 30 “Land Day,” an annual commemoration of the deaths of six Arab citizens of Israel killed by Israeli security forces during demonstrations over government land confiscations in northern Israel in 1976, Hamas called for the start of a march called, “The Day of Return.” In protest they marched, some 17,000 strong, towards the border: To their border… right up to that fence.

Well, not quite.

One, two, three, four, five…eighteen…they were murdered. The videos do not lie. Bullets from the 100 Israeli snipers not being sufficient enough, however, a tank was used to blow to pieces a distant lonely farmer who was out of rifle-shot. Why? Not because they dared to visit the DMZ border zone. Not because they threw rocks that could never reach the fence. Not because the petrol bombs and burning tires of this desperate protest were hurled ineffectively in the direction of the thirty-foot-high, electrified, steel fence.

No. These little fish were killed for one simple, nay fundamental, reason: They refused to accept their fate. They would not change their minds. So…an example had to be made.

Are We Not All, Today, Palestinians?

“Resistance is futile.” That is the message of the IDF this week. It is also clearly implied within new US foreign policy designed to bring the Palestine, and particularly Gaza, to its knees. America considers this increased horror the means to a peaceful end to the bitter conflict of decades. This policy of delusion, however, too clearly echoes existing US foreign policy across the globe. That same threatening message is certainly explicit in too much of what is wrong with our world today. The arrogant Israeli horrors that are ongoing at this border protest are really just an extension of a collective worldwide US foreign policy that demands acquiescence and allegiance. Or Else!

Is resistance futile? In this, America is forcing everyone worldwide to become a Palestinian.

Take as example the Israeli military Court decision which met in secret to send 17 year-old Palestinian protester, Ahed Tamimi, to join hundreds of other convicted children in an Israeli prison for eight months. Her crime?  Not, that the IDF had just marched into her home. Not that her cousin had just been shot in the face by the IDF for throwing stones in their direction. No, her crime was that she did not willingly accept these horrors. She resisted; slapping the two soldiers for what they had done. This opinion was echoed by her lawyer, Gaby Lasky, who stated after the trial:

They want to deter other Palestinian youth from resisting occupation.

So, because she refused to accept being witness to this arbitrary horror, one that should shock the conscience, she is thus guilty of… resisting.

Take heed.

One look at the failures of recent attempts at, and enthusiasm for, national democracy seems to clearly bolster this point. Take Greece. It took less than 150 days for the fledging Syriza party to go from achieving a stunning legitimately democratic victory to allowing the whole country and its future to be functionally overthrown by the feared Troika: the IMF, EC and ECB. The country was thus sold off for pennies on the Euro merely to obtain more debt. Greece is now economically and politically beholden to Brussels as is their treasonous president, Alexis Tsipras, the usual slippery politician who single-handedly (well, Finance Minister, Varoufakis certainly helped) sold Greece, his own government , and his soul willingly to a higher authority that controls virtually all of the future of Greece. A future that is already far worse, and of which they have no control.

Like the Palestinians?

Ukraine is an easy one. The US admits that it funded the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych’s presidential democratic election victory and that it has recently sent massive amounts of new high-powered weapons for a spring offensive of horror and wanton killing. America, its hand-picked president Poroshenko and his neo-Nazi themed government, hope to break the will of the eastern Ukrainians in the Donbass region using increased violence, and bringing them, too, to their knees and stealing their future.

Like the Palestinians?

Then there was Spain and the Catalonia election, failed, sadly, before it all got started due the leadership’s lack of understanding — like Greece — of the true strength of their adversaries within the EU and Spain. Theirs was a drastic overestimation of their true political power. Post-election victory, the result has been a disaster with independence referendum president, Carles Puigdemont, also being arrested with obvious EU complicity in Germany this week. Catalonian resistance has been again squashed, its leaders taken, its people told to go home, return to work…or else. Yes, do as they are told by a foreign governing body of immoral politicians that they did not choose to elect.

Next, consider the UK and Brexit, the monumental, shocking and successful democratic vote for resistance to foreign hegemony. Like Ukraine, Greece, and Catalonia the primal forces of nature are doing their very best to ensure that democracy, here too, will fail. As described in a June 27, 2016 article, Brexit was an easy target for delay and tactical overthrow well before it went to a vote. Almost two years later, Brexit is arguable, as predicted, further away from becoming a reality than before the vote because of the duality of the true allegiances of the UK politicians. So, who really holds power over the people of  Britain?  Politicians.  The House of Lords. The EU. Certainly not the people.

Like the Palestinians?

A Mind Programmed to Violence: The American Foreign Export.

The cause, the epicenter, of this mental malady that demands subservience at the end of the gun is the American Congress and its foreign and domestic policies of obedience. The fault here also lies with the American public’s tacit willingness to accept this increasingly authoritarian rule without complaint.

One would have thought that in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election and the proven revelations of DNC corruption and Hillary Clinton criminal complicity, Americans would well know that they, too, do not have an opposition political party. Add the recent documentation of FBI and CIA collusion in the same conspiracy to bring HRC to power, while burying her proven crimes, and it is indeed a wonder that voters are once again excitedly heading off to the slaughter of the 2018 mid-terms.

Of course, few Americans see reality for themselves, but evidence abounds and with American foreign policy embracing, excusing and justifying these and a growing list of imposed horrors upon the conscience, the world would do well to understand from whence these are spawned: A country where violence and killing seem endemic. Where an artificially elected congress likes it that way.

Take the increase in police killings of unarmed citizens. For many, these US citizen’s resistance amounted to having their back turned, their hands in the air and/or running away. The US is certainly number one is this horror as well as in the least number of police convictions for same. The current White House marionette has already publicly embraced police brutality. Protests against these extra-judicial killings are paltry at best. So, the killings increase yearly.

Since taking office, Trump not just guaranteed that the Guantanamo Bay torture center will stay open. He has provided massive new and undisclosed funding for it. Ensuring that it will soon be at full capacity, he then named arguably the two most righteous, self-serving zealots of arbitrary torture and unabashed horror, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, to help with this goal: showcasing America’s hatred of human resistance.

Philip Giraldi, in an article on March 22, 2018, noted this point:

… every change reflects an inexorable move to the right in foreign policy… so he [Trump] is inevitably being directed by individuals who have long American global leadership by force if necessary.

Just in case, back in the USA Trump re-authorized the distribution of returning Mid-East military hardware to be distributed to towns across the country. Despite the best attempts of US media complicity, propaganda, and censorship, the government knows the people are slowly waking up to their own dismal futures. To this government and its military, it seems only a matter of time before the Second Amendment and the US military square-off against each other. They are preparing to crush this resistance.

Like the Palestinians?

But the American mind, one with a slowly building penchant for violence, helps to allow Trump and his monocracy in Congress to continue to get their unchallenged path to war by playing on this mindset. This is becoming endemic in the American mind; one that enjoys guns and killing. Spend just one hour watching American TV commercials and the routine level of violence shown via movie trailers, video games featuring ultra-violence and US military armed forces recruitment adverts is hour after hour like no country on earth. Congress and the NRA legislatively propagate this blood-lust, using America’s entrenched love for guns and killing as the misunderstood base rationale to increase the US budget for any and all the tools that kill.

This was sorely evidenced this past year when the US House and Senate passed legislation as an attachment that allowed hunters to not only kill wolves and bears, but to increase the thrill of the hunt, this Congress said it would be OK for these same hunters to now kill new born wolf puppies and bear cubs, too. So, the true morality of these humans was shown clearly. Despite every US senator being individually contacted by this reporter with the additional horrifying fact that this barbaric earmark of legislation would also allow these hunters to kill the pups and cubs during springtime and in their mother’s dens, the bill passed easily without any debate regarding this new degradation of the American conscience.

But, they had a good reason, as shown in their staff letters of reply, to abandon their conscience.

The earmark that all but doomed the North American wolf back to extinction after decades of recovery, was tucked away in a spending bill. As goes the US budget year after year, this was, in majority, a military spending bill. It needed Republican votes to pass. The price for one single lowly congressional vote, dangled by Alaska state rep., Don Young, was to allow tiny new-borns to be slaughtered at will. In the face of a military that needs to be fed and congressmen who need money and have a vote (soul) for sale; the wolves never had a chance.

Defenseless wolves or slaughtered Palestinians must be considered an example to the world. A call to action. Compared to a tranquilized US sponsored first world that ignores the real plight of the remaining civilized world around them, worldwide Palestinians know well what these disaffected and apathetic populations refuse to admit: That election results mean nothing, their government officials are controlled by others, their future and their lives are at the whim of American corporate economic interests, and… their happiness in life is of no concern to politicians at all.

Just like Palestinians?

Yes, the American man on the street will proudly tell you that his country is #1 in the world in everything. Of course, his argument does not include the fact that America is also number one in: Mass killings, Prison incarceration, police killings of civilians, personal debt per person, share of national debt per person, military expenditure, private military contractors, money printing (QE), manipulating elections, overthrowing governments, drone killings of the innocent, money donated to Israel, weapons given to Israel or UN vetoes of humanitarian resolutions, et al.

This military madness was all too evident in the recent US spending bill of mere weeks ago. Yes, the military had its budget demands as did the Israel lobby within Congress. In a stunning example that proves who is really in charge in Washington, the Congress within the $1.3 trillion spending bill incredibly approved  $15.5 billion extra for the US military despite it having only requested a paltry $654.6 Billion.  Also, Israel was  granted an additional $$558.4 million over their own budget request of $147.4 million. The total of $705.8 million is an increase of $105.4 million over what congress bequeathed to them last year.

Of course, there was not a penny extra for any of the social services that were gutted in the first two rounds of budget ping pong.

Still, America is number one? This irrational mind is a tribute to America’s media. This also highlights the one most threatening fact about the American understanding of its role in the world: Willful, delusional ignorance. One that increasingly suffers at the hands of their politicians yet cheers on the cause of their own demise. As an American journalist, Robert Bridge, noted this week:

This apathetic attitude on the part of so many Americans to this wave of death and destruction against foreigners in foreign lands suggests that any semblance of an anti-war consciousness has left the building.

More so than in any country, in the US fact and truth are so easily accepted as lies. This shows a madness deep inside.  A failure of the mind, one that watches passively at the violent destruction of so much of the world, at the hands of their own country, yet fails to notice that their own homeland’s myopic, insular, flag-draped future is also, piece by piece, month by month, being removed from their grasp; until there is nothing left.

Just like Palestine.

When US Foreign Policy Meets Criminal Insanity.

The weekend after the Good Friday Massacre, Israeli Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, not only proved charges that he and his Likudist party are criminally insane (“a depraved indifference to human life”) and guilty of genocidal apartheid, he brashly showcased to the world a brand new crime of conscience: Criminal Hypocrisy.

Said Netanyahu’s office in a tweet:

The most moral army in the world will not be lectured by those who have indiscriminately bombed civilian populations for years.”

His sick joke failed to note, of course, Israel’s actual inclusion in the club of nations without consciences such as its US, EU, and UK patrons, and an incredible new allegiance with their new BFF, the Saudi Arabian, Mohammed Bin Salman. All collectively have the blood of millions on their hands. Distortion of this kind by Netanyahu shows the depravity of the mind aforementioned. As if these words were not enough to prove the point, IDF leader Avigdor Leiberman removed all doubt, stating with glee that the Israeli troops were “doing their job” and that all involved in the slaughter “deserved commendations“.

Only the insanity of US inspired military arrogance can utter such rot. Only those of a similar mind will believe it.

These self-serving — and false — statements belie the accurate casualty figures of the two previous Israeli inspired wars in Gaza and three in Lebanon when previously Israel felt the need to “cut the grass.”  When it comes to war, however, the actual facts forever prove a very different result of Israeli army tactics that can best be summed up in one word: chickenshit!

Casualty figures and the eyes of the world show without doubt that Israel never picks a fair fight, preferring civilian deaths to IDF body bags. Despite the world’s seventh largest military, Israel will not fight any Army without full US financial, military, munitions, intelligence, foreign policy, and UN assistance. Its massive, American funded military, prefers to attack the defenseless, the innocent and the civilian. This was shown clearly in daily TV horrors during the 2006 Lebanon War and the 2014 Gaza war. To argue otherwise is madness.

Worse, Israel leaves the on-the-ground killing to its proxies in the US, UK, EU nations and Saudi Arabia, nations that regularly use their national coffers and militaries, not for their own people, but to affect what, in reality, provides only a positive geopolitical bearing for Israel; not their own countries.

In doing so, it is the political leaders not the citizens of these many countries, and far too many others, that have almost thoroughly sold out their voters and their country to be co-opted into the embrace of America’s pro- Israel/pro-war modern doctrine; one that increases in its threat to humanity with each and every Trump cabinet replacement.

The list of countries similarly affected, as are the Palestinians, by US foreign policy, beyond those referenced here, is so long and well established that one must pause in the task and reflect: why it is necessary to write it again? If the world, the Palestinian world beyond Gaza and the West Bank, has not, after all the worldwide horror, taken note on their own, it is not worth the effort. For thus they have not, despite all this evidence, realized their kinship with the beleaguered Palestinians of the world, and this is indeed their own madness.

This madness predictably continued this past week in the aftermath of just one day of the Good Friday protests.

An investigation was called for by a special session of the UN Security Council, which the US vetoed. Going further, an Israel IDF spokesperson stated that there would be no investigation on their part. This is not surprising from a new world order that makes no apologies, much less admission, for its war crimes against humanity.

Amazingly, an IDF spokesperson did exactly that, publicly and disgustingly admitting, via Twitter, Israel’s guilt when issuing his proud statement:

Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.

Nothing was ever so clear.

Back in America, the next few weeks will see Trump, his foreign policy, and the American people’s attention have their own Land Day style protest problem come to their own border. Approximately 1700 people are walking directly towards Trump’s symbolic wall. The majority are desperate refugees from Honduras, a country destroyed many times over by malicious US control that continues to inflict daily military horrors on its people with US weapons. The recent Honduran presidential election was overthrown by the US collusion in a very suspect recount when the US-backed presidential candidate initially lost by too slim of a margin. Now the country is in turmoil, killing routine, and these Honduran Palestinians have vowed to walk right up to Trump’s US border wall and demand asylum. Since the US directly caused their plight this would seem a fair request.

However, considering the true nature of the intent of US foreign policy, their example of resistance will have to be quashed. This will certainly be the case since April 3, 2018, a publicly nervous US president Trump authorized the US military to take control of the US southern border. What will transpire upon the refugee’s arrival will be an interesting test — if Mexico doesn’t stop it first. How many feet before the border will these refugees be allowed before being shot in cold blood? Will the US ship them all back to uncertain death in their home countries as the Israelis are doing to the black North African refugees now?

A good part of the world too well understands our current relationship to our national politicians. Those that have experienced or witnessed their horrors. The rest needs to awaken quickly.

A battle now rages worldwide. To merely witness it is to perish. The shrinking civilized world of correct and moral conscience is in a fight against those who believe that they can infect the mind of the whole planet with the same madness that drives them to climb over the backs of all others onwards to their own oblivion, as if this were a cherished goal.

This is the mind that believes in one fundamental: The rest of us? We are all Palestinians.

It is time to resist the temptation to do nothing. It is time to resist this madness that would numb us into willfully watching our own demise. It is time to march right up to walls of power across the globe and cast these world leaders out from their citadels. It is time to tell them, “Je Suis…Palestine!”

Just like Palestinians.

Nonviolence or Nonexistence? The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Fifty years ago, on 4 April 1968, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

The night before he died, King gave another of his many evocative speeches; this one at the packed Mason Temple in Memphis. The speech included these words:

Men for years now have been talking about war and peace. Now no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and non-violence in this world, it is non-violence or non-existence. That is where we are today.

In clearly identifying this stark choice and having been inspired by Mohandas K. Gandhi’s wide-ranging social concerns, King’s concerns were also broad:

The Triple Evils of poverty, racism and militarism are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. They are interrelated, all-inclusive, and stand as barriers to our living in the Beloved Community. When we work to remedy one evil, we affect all evils.

So what has changed in the past 50 years? The world has traveled a great deal further down the path of violence. So far, in fact, that nonexistence is now the most likely outcome for humanity. See “On Track for Extinction: Can Humanity Survive?

Despite the vastly more perilous state of our planet, many people and organizations around the world are following in the footsteps of Gandhi, King and other nonviolent luminaries like Silo, and are engaged in what is effectively a last ditch stand to end the violence and put humanity on a path to peace, justice and sustainability.

Let me tell you about some of these people and organizations and invite you to join them.

In Bolivia, Nora Cabero works with the Movimient Humanista. The Movement has many programs including the Convergence of Cultures which aims to facilitate and stimulate true dialogue – oriented towards the search for common points present in the hearts of different peoples and individuals – to promote the relationship between different cultures and to resist discrimination and violence. Another program, World Without Wars and Violence emerged in 1994 and was presented for the first time internationally in 1995 at the Open Meeting of Humanism held in Chile at the University of Santiago. It is active in about 40 countries. It carries out activities in the social base and also promotes international campaigns such as Education for Nonviolence and the World March for Peace and Nonviolence.

Eddy Kalisa Nyarwaya Jr. is Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Institute for Conflict Transformation and Peace Building and also President of the Alternatives to Violence Program. For the past 18 years, he has been active in the fields of ‘peace, reconciliation, nonviolence, healing of societies, building harmonious communities’ in many countries including Burundi, Chad, eastern Congo, Darfur (western Sudan), Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan and northern Uganda. Late last year he was in New Zealand to deliver a paper on the Great Lakes conflict. In Rwanda, the Institute for Conflict Transformation particularly works on nonviolence education in schools, universities and refugee camps. Another initiative is the conduct of workshops on nonviolence and peace through sports for head teachers in the country but it also has programs to fight early marriages and pregnancies, as well as offering trauma counseling to refugees.

In Russia, Ella Polyakova is a key figure at the Soldiers’ Mothers of Saint-Petersburg. Ella and her colleagues work to defend the rights of servicemen and conscripts in the Russian military. Ella explains why:

When we were creating our organization, we understood that people knew little about their rights, enshrined in Russia’s Constitution, that the concept of “human dignity” had almost disappeared, that no one had been working with the problems of common people, let alone those of conscripts. We clearly understood what a soldier in the Russian army was a mere cog in the state machine, yet with an assault rifle. We felt how important hope, self-confidence and trust were for every person. At the beginning of our journey, we saw that people around us, as a rule, did not even know what it meant to feel free. It was obvious for us that the path towards freedom and the attainment of dignity was going through enlightenment. Therefore, our organization’s mission is to enlighten people around us. Social work is all about showing, explaining, proving things to people, it is about convincing them. Having equipped ourselves with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Russia’s Constitution, we started to demolish this dispossession belt between citizens and their rights. It was necessary to make sure that people clearly understood that, having a good knowledge of rights, laws, and situations at hand, they would be able to take responsibility and protect themselves from abuse.

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, was recently part of a committed effort to convince the Maine state legislature not to give warship-builder General Dynamics, which has already received more than $200 million in state and local tax breaks for the Bath Iron Works (BIW), any more ‘corporate welfare’. Bruce recently completed a fast, which lasted for more than a month, as one of the actions that Maine peace activists took to try to prevent this welfare payment to a company that has spent $14.4 billion buying back its own stocks between 2013-2017 and whose CEO was paid $21 million in 2016.

Despite their efforts, the Maine House of Representatives voted 117-31 in favor of the $45million General Dynamics corporate welfare bill and the Senate supported it 25-9. The decision was announced on the same day that General Dynamics sacked 31 workers from the BIW. As Bruce noted:

It was an honor to work alongside [those] who stood up for the 43,000 children living in poverty across Maine, for the tens of thousands without health care, for our starving public education system, and for the crumbling physical infrastructure as Maine joins Mississippi in the “race to the bottom”.

You can read more about this ongoing campaign to convert the Bath Iron Works into a location for the production of socially useful and ecologically sustainable non-killing technologies on the website above. There are some great photos too.

Gaëlle Smedts and her partner Luz are the key figures at Poetry Against Arms based in Germany. ‘The inspiration for this campaign is the life, work and legacy of the Latin American poet, philosopher and mystic: Mario Rodriguez Cobos, also known as Silo. His total commitment to active nonviolence, his denunciation of all forms of violence, his doctrine for overcoming pain and suffering and his magnificent poetry are a great affirmation of the meaning of life and transcendence.’ Poetry Against Arms publishes poetry/songs of people around the world who take action to resist militarism.

Since the 1970s, the world’s leading rainforest activist, John Seed, has devoted his life to saving the world’s rainforests. Founder and Director of the Rainforest Information Centre in Australia, one of his latest projects is to save the tropical Andes of Ecuador, which is ‘at the top of the world list of biodiversity hotspots in terms of vertebrate species, endemic vertebrates, and endemic plants’. From the cloud forests in the Andes to the indigenous territories in the headwaters of the Amazon, the Ecuadorean government has covertly granted mining concessions to over 1.7 million hectares (4.25 million acres) of forest reserves and indigenous territories to multinational mining companies in closed-door deals without public knowledge or consent. These concessions will decimate head water ecosystems and biodiversity hot spots of global significance. If you would like to read more about this campaign and what you can do to help, you can do so in John’s article ‘Ecuador Endangered’.

Apart from the individuals mentioned above, signatories and endorsing organizations are engaged in an incredibly diverse range of activities to end violence in one context or another. These include individuals and organizations working in many countries to end violence against women (including discriminatory practices against widows), to rehabilitate child soldiers and end sexual violence in the Congo, activists engaged in nonviolent defense or liberation struggles in several countries and occupied territories, as well as campaigns on a vast range of environmental, climate and indigenous rights issues, campaigns to promote religious and racial harmony as well as campaigns for nuclear disarmament and to end war.

But it also includes many individuals tackling violence at its source by focusing on their own healing and/or working on how they parent their children for a nonviolent world.

Given the perilous state of the global environment and climate, still others are focusing their efforts on reducing their consumption and increasing their self-reliance in accordance with the fifteen-year strategy outlined in “The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth“.

If you would like to be part of the worldwide movement to end violence that has drawn the six people and several organizations mentioned above together, along with many others in 103 countries around the world, you are welcome to sign the online pledge of “The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World“.

Reverend King posed the fundamental choice of our time: nonviolence or nonexistence. What is your choice?

The Isolation of Julian Assange is the Silencing of Us All

In this letter, twenty-seven writers, journalists, film-makers, artists, academics, former intelligence officers and democrats call on the government of Ecuador to allow Julian Assange his right of freedom of speech.

If it was ever clear that the case of Julian Assange was never just a legal case, but a struggle for the protection of basic human rights, it is now.

Citing his critical tweets about the recent detention of Catalan president Carles Puidgemont in Germany, and following pressure from the US, Spanish and UK governments, the Ecuadorian government has installed an electronic jammer to stop Assange communicating with the outside world via the internet and phone.

As if ensuring his total isolation, the Ecuadorian government is also refusing to allow him to receive visitors. Despite two UN rulings describing his detention as unlawful and mandating his immediate release, Assange has been effectively imprisoned since he was first placed in isolation in Wandsworth prison in London in December 2010. He has never been charged with a crime. The Swedish case against him collapsed and was withdrawn, while the United States has stepped up efforts to prosecute him. His only “crime” is that of a true journalist — telling the world the truths that people have a right to know.

Under its previous president, the Ecuadorian government bravely stood against the bullying might of the United States and granted Assange political asylum as a political refugee. International law and the morality of human rights was on its side.

Today, under extreme pressure from Washington and its collaborators, another government in Ecuador justifies its gagging of Assange by stating that “Assange’s behaviour, through his messages on social media, put at risk good relations which this country has with the UK, the rest of the EU and other nations.”

This censorious attack on free speech is not happening in Turkey, Saudi Arabia or China; it is right in the heart of London. If the Ecuadorian government does not cease its unworthy action, it, too, will become an agent of persecution rather than the valiant nation that stood up for freedom and for free speech. If the EU and the UK continue to participate in the scandalous silencing of a true dissident in their midst, it will mean that free speech is indeed dying in Europe. This is not just a matter of showing support and solidarity. We are appealing to all who care about basic human rights to call on the government of Ecuador to continue defending the rights of a courageous free speech activist, journalist and whistleblower.

We ask that his basic human rights be respected as an Ecuadorian citizen and internationally protected person and that he not be silenced or expelled.

If there is no freedom of speech for Julian Assange, there is no freedom of speech for any of us — regardless of the disparate opinions we hold.

We call on President Moreno to end the isolation of Julian Assange now.

List of signatories (in alphabetic order):

Pamela Anderson, actress and activist
Jacob Appelbaum, freelance journalist
Renata Avila, International Human Rights Lawyer
Sally Burch, British/Ecuadorian journalist
Alicia Castro, Argentina’s ambassador to the United Kingdom 2012-16
Naomi Colvin, Courage Foundation
Noam Chomsky, linguist and political theorist
Brian Eno, musician
Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks Ambassador and board member of The Centre for Investigative Journalism
Teresa Forcades, Benedictine nun, Montserrat Monastery
Charles Glass, American-British author, journalist, broadcaster
Chris Hedges, journalist
Srecko Horvat, philosopher, Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25)
Jean Michel Jarre, musician
John Kiriakou, former CIA counterterrorism officer and former senior investigator, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Lauri Love, computer scientist and activist
Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst, Presidential advisor
John Pilger, journalist and film-maker
Angela Richter, theater director, Germany
Saskia Sassen, sociologist, Columbia University
Oliver Stone, film-maker
Vaughan Smith, English journalist
Yanis Varoufakis, economist, former Greek finance minister
Natalia Viana, investigative journalist and co-director of Agencia publica, Brazil
Ai Weiwei, artist
Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer and activist
Slavoj Žižek, philosopher, Birkbeck Institute for Humanities

Role Of Youth In The Coming Transformation

The eruption of youth protests over gun violence in schools and other issues is another indicator that the 2020s could be a decade of transformation where people demand economic, racial and environmental justice as well as peace. Students who are in their teens now will be in their twenties then. They will have experience in how protests can change political culture.

Some view the youth awakening in these protests as reminiscent of youth movements in previous generations, others are less optimistic. We cannot predict the role this generation will play, but throughout the history of mass movements, youth have been a key factor by pushing boundaries and demanding change.

One of the slogans in the actions against gun violence is “adults failed to solve the problem.” The truth is, as many youth are aware, those currently in power have failed on many fronts; e.g., climate change, wealth disparity, racial injustice, never-ending wars and militarism, lack of health care and more. These crises are coming to a head and provide the environment for transformational changes, if we act.

Beware of Democratic Party Co-option

One of the challenges youth, and older, activists face is the Democratic Party. Democrats have a long history of co-opting political movements. They are present in recent mobilizations, such as the Women’s March and March for our Lives, which both centered on voting as the most important action to take.

Big Democratic Party donors, like George and Amal Clooney, provided massive resources to the March for Our Lives. The corporate media covered the students extensively, encouraged attendance at the marches and reported widely on them.

As Bruce Dixon writes:

It’s not hard to see the hand of the Democratic party behind the tens of millions in corporate contributions and free media accorded the March For Our Lives mobilization. 2018 is a midterm election year, and November is only seven months away. The Democrats urgently need some big sticks with which to beat out the vote this fall…

Democratic politicians see the gun issue as an opportunity for the ‘Blue Wave’ they envision for 2018, even though the Democrat’s history of confronting gun violence has been dismal. When Democrats controlled Congress and the presidency, they did not challenge the culture of violence, confront the NRA or stop militarized policing that is resulting in hundreds of killings by police.

Ajamu Baraka writes:

Liberals and Democrat party connected organizations and networks have been quite adept at getting out in front of movements to pre-empt their radical potential and steer them back into the safe arms of liberal conformism.

Indeed the history of the Democratic Party since its founding as a slave-owners party has been one of absorbing political movements and weakening them.

For this new generation of activists to reach their potential, they must understand we live in a mirage democracy and cannot elect our way out of these crises. Our tasks are much larger. Violence is deeply embedded in US culture, dating to the founding of the nation when gun laws were designed for white colonizers to take land from Indigenous peoples and control black slaves.

When it comes to using the gun issue for elections, the challenge for the Democrats is “to keep the public anger high, but the discussion shallow, limited, and ahistorical,” as Bruce Dixon writes. Our task is to understand the roots of the crises we face.

Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz describes this in her new book, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment. The culture of violence in the US goes beyond the horrific shooting in schools to the militarization of our communities and military aggression abroad. The US military has killed more than 20 million people in 37 nations since World War II.

One step you can take in your community is to find out if there is a Junior ROTC program in your local school and shut it down.

Potential for Youth to Lead in Era of Transformation

One of the reasons we predict the 2020s may be an era of transformation is because issues that have been ignored or mishandled by powerholders are becoming so extreme they can no longer be ignored. Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report writes the gun protests present an opportunity to highlight all the issues where Democrats (and Republicans) have failed us.

Youth are already involved, often playing leadership roles, in many fronts of struggle.  Rev. Jared Sawyer, Jr. writes that when racial violence arose at the “University of Missouri in recent years, student athletes and scholars united in protest, prompting the administration to take action. Organizations like Black Youth Power 100 have arisen in the wake of police” violence against black people. Youth are on the front lines of the environmental movement, blocking pipelines and carbon infrastructure to prevent climate change. Youth are leading the movement to protect immigrants from mass deportation.

This week, Hampton students took to the streets over sexual violence, housing, food and other problems on campus. Students at Howard University started HU Resist, to “make sure that Howard University fulfills its mission.” They are in their third day of occupying the administration building.

At March for Our Lives protests, some participants saw the connections between gun violence and other issues.  Tom Hall reported that those who “attended the rally had far more on their minds than gun control and the midterm elections—the issues promoted by the media and the Democratic Party. Many sought to connect the epidemic of mass shootings in American schools to broader issues, from the promotion of militarism and war, to poverty and social inequality.” Youth also talked about tax cuts for the rich, inadequate healthcare, teacher strikes, the need for jobs and a better quality of life. He noted those who attended were “searching for a political perspective,” and that, while it was not seen from the stage, opposition to war was a common concern.

Robert Koehler writes: “This emerging movement must address the whole spectrum of violence.”  He includes racist violence, military violence, mass incarceration and the “mortally sinful corporate greed and of course, the destruction of the environment and all the creatures.” What unites all of these issues, Koehler writes, is the “ability to dehumanize certain people.” Dehumanization is required to allow mass murder, whether by a single gunman or in war, as well as the economic violence that leaves people homeless and hungry, or for the violence of denying people necessary healthcare and to pay people so little they need multiple jobs to survive.

Movements are Growing, Now How Do We Win?

We have written about the stages of successful social movements and that overall the United States is in the final stage before victory. This is the era of building national consensus on solutions to the crises we face and mobilizing millions to take action in support of these solutions.

Protests have been growing in the US over the past few decades. Strong anti-globalization protests were organized under Clinton to oppose the World Trade Organization. Under the Bush administration, hundreds of thousands of people took the streets against the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. The anti-war movement faded under the Obama administration, even though he escalated US militarism, but other movements arose such as Occupy, immigrant’s rights, the fight for 15, Idle No More and black lives matter. Erica Chenowith posits that current youth activists “did their first activism with their moms. It’s a quicker learning curve for kids.”

At present, large drivers of mass protests are reaction to the actions of the Trump administration and the Democrats using their resources to augment and steer anti-Trump anger into elections. To prevent what happened to the anti-war movement under President Obama, people will need a broader understanding of the root causes of the crises we face, not the shallow analysis provided by the corporate media, and will need to understand how social movements can be effective.

To assist in this education, Popular Resistance is launching the Popular Resistance School. The first eight week course will begin on May 1 and will cover social movement theory – how social movements develop, how they win and roles people and organizations play in movements. All are welcome to participate in the school. There is no cost to join, but we do ask those who are able to donate to help cover the costs.

For more information on the school and to sign up, click here. Those who sign up will receive a weekly video lecture, a curriculum and an invitation to join a discussion group (each one will be limited to 30 participants). People who complete the course can then host the course locally with virtual support from Popular Resistance.

The next decade has the potential to be transformative. To make it so, we must not only develop national consensus that issues are being mishandled, that policies need to change and that we can change them, but we must also educate ourselves on issues and how to be effective. We have the power to create the change we want to see.

A Blueprint for Resistance: Jesus Christ vs. the Police State

“In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime — the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps …the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Just as police states have arisen throughout history, there have also been individuals or groups of individuals who have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer risked his life to undermine the tyranny at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn challenged the soul-destroying gulags of the Soviet Union.

Martin Luther King Jr. called America on the carpet for its color-coded system of racial segregation and warmongering.

And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for standing up to tyranny that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him.

A radical nonconformist who challenged authority at every turn, Jesus was a far cry from the watered-down, corporatized, simplified, gentrified, sissified vision of a meek creature holding a lamb that most modern churches peddle. In fact, he spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, and pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire.

Those living through this present age of militarized police, SWAT team raids, police shootings of unarmed citizens, roadside strip searches, and invasive surveillance might feel as if these events are unprecedented, the characteristics of a police state and its reasons for being are no different today than they were in Jesus’ lifetime: control, power and money.

Much like the American Empire today, the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day was characterized by secrecy, surveillance, a widespread police presence, a citizenry treated like suspects with little recourse against the police state, perpetual wars, a military empire, martial law, and political retribution against those who dared to challenge the power of the state.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, a police state extends far beyond the actions of law enforcement.  In fact, a police state “is characterized by bureaucracy, secrecy, perpetual wars, a nation of suspects, militarization, surveillance, widespread police presence, and a citizenry with little recourse against police actions.”

Indeed, the police state in which Jesus lived and its striking similarities to modern-day America are beyond troubling.

Secrecy, surveillance and rule by the elite. As the chasm between the wealthy and poor grew wider in the Roman Empire, the ruling class and the wealthy class became synonymous, while the lower classes, increasingly deprived of their political freedoms, grew disinterested in the government and easily distracted by “bread and circuses.” Much like America today, with its lack of government transparency, overt domestic surveillance, and rule by the rich, the inner workings of the Roman Empire were shrouded in secrecy, while its leaders were constantly on the watch for any potential threats to its power. The resulting state-wide surveillance was primarily carried out by the military, which acted as investigators, enforcers, torturers, policemen, executioners and jailers. Today that role is fulfilled by the NSA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the increasingly militarized police forces across the country.

Widespread police presence. The Roman Empire used its military forces to maintain the “peace,” thereby establishing a police state that reached into all aspects of a citizen’s life. In this way, these military officers, used to address a broad range of routine problems and conflicts, enforced the will of the state. Today SWAT teams, comprised of local police and federal agents, are employed to carry out routine search warrants for minor crimes such as marijuana possession and credit card fraud.

Citizenry with little recourse against the police state. As the Roman Empire expanded, personal freedom and independence nearly vanished, as did any real sense of local governance and national consciousness. Similarly, in America today, citizens largely feel powerless, voiceless and unrepresented in the face of a power-hungry federal government. As states and localities are brought under direct control by federal agencies and regulations, a sense of learned helplessness grips the nation.

Perpetual wars and a military empire. Much like America today with its practice of policing the world, war and an over-arching militarist ethos provided the framework for the Roman Empire, which extended from the Italian peninsula to all over Southern, Western, and Eastern Europe, extending into North Africa and Western Asia as well. In addition to significant foreign threats, wars were waged against inchoate, unstructured and socially inferior foes.

Martial law. Eventually, Rome established a permanent military dictatorship that left the citizens at the mercy of an unreachable and oppressive totalitarian regime. In the absence of resources to establish civic police forces, the Romans relied increasingly on the military to intervene in all matters of conflict or upheaval in provinces, from small-scale scuffles to large-scale revolts. Not unlike police forces today, with their martial law training drills on American soil, militarized weapons and “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset, the Roman soldier had “the exercise of lethal force at his fingertips” with the potential of wreaking havoc on normal citizens’ lives.

A nation of suspects. Just as the American Empire looks upon its citizens as suspects to be tracked, surveilled and controlled, the Roman Empire looked upon all potential insubordinates, from the common thief to a full-fledged insurrectionist, as threats to its power. The insurrectionist was seen as directly challenging the Emperor.  A “bandit,” or revolutionist, was seen as capable of overturning the empire, was always considered guilty and deserving of the most savage penalties, including capital punishment. Bandits were usually punished publicly and cruelly as a means of deterring others from challenging the power of the state.  Jesus’ execution was one such public punishment.

Acts of civil disobedience by insurrectionists. Starting with his act of civil disobedience at the Jewish temple, the site of the administrative headquarters of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council, Jesus branded himself a political revolutionary. When Jesus “with the help of his disciples, blocks the entrance to the courtyard” and forbids “anyone carrying goods for sale or trade from entering the Temple,” he committed a blatantly criminal and seditious act, an act “that undoubtedly precipitated his arrest and execution.” Because the commercial events were sponsored by the religious hierarchy, which in turn was operated by consent of the Roman government, Jesus’ attack on the money chargers and traders can be seen as an attack on Rome itself, an unmistakable declaration of political and social independence from the Roman oppression.

Military-style arrests in the dead of night. Jesus’ arrest account testifies to the fact that the Romans perceived Him as a revolutionary. Eerily similar to today’s SWAT team raids, Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, in secret, by a large, heavily armed fleet of soldiers.  Rather than merely asking for Jesus when they came to arrest him, his pursuers collaborated beforehand with Judas. Acting as a government informant, Judas concocted a kiss as a secret identification marker, hinting that a level of deception and trickery must be used to obtain this seemingly “dangerous revolutionist’s” cooperation.

Torture and capital punishment. In Jesus’ day, religious preachers, self-proclaimed prophets and nonviolent protesters were not summarily arrested and executed. Indeed, the high priests and Roman governors normally allowed a protest, particularly a small-scale one, to run its course. However, government authorities were quick to dispose of leaders and movements that appeared to threaten the Roman Empire. The charges leveled against Jesus—that he was a threat to the stability of the nation, opposed paying Roman taxes and claimed to be the rightful King—were purely political, not religious. To the Romans, any one of these charges was enough to merit death by crucifixion, which was usually reserved for slaves, non-Romans, radicals, revolutionaries and the worst criminals.

Jesus was presented to Pontius Pilate “as a disturber of the political peace,” a leader of a rebellion, a political threat, and most gravely—a claimant to kingship, a “king of the revolutionary type.” After Jesus is formally condemned by Pilate, he is sentenced to death by crucifixion, “the Roman means of executing criminals convicted of high treason.”  The purpose of crucifixion was not so much to kill the criminal, as it was an immensely public statement intended to visually warn all those who would challenge the power of the Roman Empire. Hence, it was reserved solely for the most extreme political crimes: treason, rebellion, sedition, and banditry. After being ruthlessly whipped and mocked, Jesus was nailed to a cross.

As Professor Mark Lewis Taylor observed:

The cross within Roman politics and culture was a marker of shame, of being a criminal. If you were put to the cross, you were marked as shameful, as criminal, but especially as subversive. And there were thousands of people put to the cross. The cross was actually positioned at many crossroads, and, as New Testament scholar Paula Fredricksen has reminded us, it served as kind of a public service announcement that said, “Act like this person did, and this is how you will end up.”

Jesus—the revolutionary, the political dissident, and the nonviolent activist—lived and died in a police state. Any reflection on Jesus’ life and death within a police state must take into account several factors: Jesus spoke out strongly against such things as empires, controlling people, state violence and power politics. Jesus challenged the political and religious belief systems of his day. And worldly powers feared Jesus, not because he challenged them for control of thrones or government but because he undercut their claims of supremacy, and he dared to speak truth to power in a time when doing so could—and often did—cost a person his life.

Unfortunately, the radical Jesus, the political dissident who took aim at injustice and oppression, has been largely forgotten today, replaced by a congenial, smiling Jesus trotted out for religious holidays but otherwise rendered mute when it comes to matters of war, power and politics.

Yet for those who truly study the life and teachings of Jesus, the resounding theme is one of outright resistance to war, materialism and empire.

What a marked contrast to the advice being given to Americans by church leaders to “submit to your leaders and those in authority”—which in the American police state translates to complying, conforming, submitting, obeying orders, deferring to authority and generally doing whatever a government official tells you to do.

Telling Americans to march in lockstep and blindly obey the government—or put their faith in politics and vote for a political savior—flies in the face of everything for which Jesus lived and died.

Ultimately, this is the contradiction that must be resolved if the radical Jesus—the one who stood up to the Roman Empire and was crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be—is to be an example for our modern age.

We must decide whether we will follow the path of least resistance—willing to turn a blind eye to what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the “evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination, to the moral degeneracy of religious bigotry and the corroding effects of narrow sectarianism, to economic conditions that deprive men of work and food, and to the insanities of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence”—or whether we will be transformed nonconformists “dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.”

As King explained in a powerful sermon delivered in 1954:

This command not to conform comes … [from] Jesus Christ, the world’s most dedicated nonconformist, whose ethical nonconformity still challenges the conscience of mankind.

We need to recapture the gospel glow of the early Christians, who were nonconformists in the truest sense of the word and refused to shape their witness according to the mundane patterns of the world.  Willingly they sacrificed fame, fortune, and life itself in behalf of a cause they knew to be right.  Quantitatively small, they were qualitatively giants.  Their powerful gospel put an end to such barbaric evils as infanticide and bloody gladiatorial contests.  Finally, they captured the Roman Empire for Jesus Christ… The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.  The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists.  In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist!

…Honesty impels me to admit that transformed nonconformity, which is always costly and never altogether comfortable, may mean walking through the valley of the shadow of suffering, losing a job, or having a six-year-old daughter ask, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?”  But we are gravely mistaken to think that Christianity protects us from the pain and agony of mortal existence.  Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear.  To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tragedy-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way that comes only through suffering.

In these days of worldwide confusion, there is a dire need for men and women who will courageously do battle for truth.  We must make a choice. Will we continue to march to the drumbeat of conformity and respectability, or will we, listening to the beat of a more distant drum, move to its echoing sounds?  Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul saving music of eternity?

A Few Thoughts on the “March for Our Lives”

In yesterday’s New York Times, regular op-ed contributor David Brooks heaped effusive praise on last Saturday’s March for Our Lives. Brooks wrote:

I have to say, I loved the gun-control march I observed  last Saturday in Washington. The crowd was good-hearted, gracious, diverse and welcoming… Everybody kept underlining their faith in our democratic system, that voting is the way to make change…Of course some of the student speakers were grandiose and pretentious. Most of us were like that when we were 18.

Brooks is sometimes described as ‘the liberals’ favorite conservative,” perhaps because of his erudition and seeming reasonableness. In truth, Brooks has invariably condemned political activism while remaining oblivious to structural and class realities in this country. What this pompous moralizer and the Democratic establishment share is fear that this youth-led, increasingly inclusive protest movement can’t be cooped and contained by “vote, vote, vote” mantras, working within the two-party status quo or bought off with free food. They already see students of color standing in solidarity with Parkland while simultaneously linking that shooting with systemic violence in Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

If, as promised, their courageous campaign continues, it will quickly encounter the system’s recalcitrant resistance to any serious changes. And if a critical mass of students begins seeing the connections among violence, racism, injustice, capitalism and Washington raining death on people abroad, the MSM will abruptly cease its fawning approval. Many of us recall how quickly the liberal establishment turned on Dr. King the moment he gave voice to these same connections.

Finally, most of us older folks didn’t come to radical politics through our formal educations or the good fortune of being red diaper babies. In fact, R,W & B diapers were the norm. Instead, we stumbled through a process that, looking back, included naive liberal actions and expectations. For example, we knew the U.S. attack on Vietnam was immoral but had yet to fully grasp that it wasn’t a “mistake.” That it was only one inevitable consequence of a vile economic system and was preceded and followed by countless other covert and overt interventions.

We learned some hard lessons, not the least of which was that we’d been lied to our entire lives. At the time I recall seasoned activists sharing their experiences, pointing us toward information sources and above all, being infinitely patient with us.  I sense that’s a critically important role for us in the days ahead.

Defendants Acquitted Based On Climate Necessity Defense

Roxbury climate necessity defendants. (By Peter Bowden)

Massachusetts – On March 27, 13 defendants went into the West Roxbury District courthouse to answer charges related to their arrests protesting the West Roxbury Massachusetts Lateral Pipeline. They expected to have charges against them reduced to civil infractions — the equivalent of a parking ticket. While finding no grounds to deny that motion from the prosecution, the judge chose to let each defendant testify briefly on the necessity of their actions.

The defendants collectively presented a powerful and comprehensive argument for why it was necessary to engage in civil disobedience to stop the imminent local and global harms of this fracked gas pipeline. Following their testimony, the judge acquitted ALL the defendants by reason of necessity.

While defendants in this case were still denied a jury trial and the possibility of presenting a full necessity defense, this was the first time that we know of that defendants were acquitted based on climate necessity. The defendants told the story of the campaign against the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline and how their actions were justified by the threat of climate change.

Lawyers for the 13 activists suggested there may even have been a “cause and effect” – that charges were reduced in order to avoid the trial for which the defendants, their legal team, eight expert witnesses, and many supporters had prepared.

Activists said they were disappointed that they would not get the chance to present their case to a jury of their peers, but not disheartened. “The attempt to take these cases to trial was a long shot,” said Marla Marcum, co-founder of the Climate Disobedience Center and a spokesperson for the group. “As climate activists in 2018, we know that long shots and moral imagination are some of the most promising tools for culture-shifting transformation.”

With the judge dismissing the charges, the campaign was a success even without the trial. As Nathan Phillips, a professor in the Earth and Environment Department at Boston University and one of the defendants, said “We forced Spectra to admit to the judge that they did not have and do not have a safety plan for the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline and likely any projects going forward.”

The result in this case is an important part of building power to fight the fossil fuel industry. Climate justice advocates told their story not just in court but from the way they created their protest, which included “Digging Mass Graves” to highlight the dangers of climate change.

Wampanoag Territory: West Roxbury Protectors ExoneratedJudge completely dismisses all civil charges in favor of Necessity Defense. Start Video At 4 Minutes In…Statements From:-Attourney Josh Raisler-Tim DeChristopher-Marla Marcum-Karenna Gore-Nathan Phillips -Brown Pulliam-Warren Senders -Nora Collins -Mary Boyle -Diane Martin -Calista Womick-Catherine Hoffman Climate Action RI • 350 RIClimate Disobedience CenterShare, educate and inspire…Mitakuye Oyasin,Standing Bear ~ John Gonzalez#MniWičoni#WaterIsLife#ProtectTheSacred#StopSpectra#OčetiOyate#AllNations

Posted by John Gonzalez on Tuesday, March 27, 2018

 

Roxbury protesters arrive to show the moral imperative of stopping climate infrastructure due to climate change.

Roxbury pipeline protest dramatized the mass deaths that climate change will occur and the necessity of stopping climate infrastructure.

Digging Mass Graves in West Roxbury from Kori Feener on Vimeo.

“What we stood for is true, and that truth is in the process of coming to light, regardless of the fact that the system is unable to fully hear it right now,” said Karenna Gore, daughter of former Vice President Al Gore and Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Activists continued to tell their story after the protest. See this blog from Tim DeChristopher, and by Rev. Lara Hoke. The participants consistently made the point that they restated before the court — there is an urgent necessity to stop building carbon infrastructure as climate change will kill millions of people and cause immense environmental damage.

This protest and refusal to accept a plea bargain built the movement’s power and demonstrated the violence of carbon energy infrastructure projects.

The defendants were among roughly 200 protesters who had been arrested as part of a massive campaign against this pipeline, beginning in mid 2015. Initially concerned with local  safety – the risk of locating a high pressure facility in a densely-populated neighborhood and across the street from an active blasting quarry—protesters gained support from Boston Mayor Walsh and the entire Boston City Council, Congressman Lynch, Senators Markey and Warren, State Representative Coppinger and State Senator Rush, as well as residents and officials from the Town of Dedham through which the pipeline also runs.

This is not just one protest but part of a national resistance movement for climate justice with activists taking action across the country to stop carbon energy infrastructure and extraction of oil and gas. We urge you to share this report so tens of thousands of people will see principled climate disobedience actions as one kind of necessary leadership in a time when our regulatory systems and our government are owned by the fossil fuel industry. We hope this action will inspire more people to take direct action, risk arrest, and pursue novel legal strategies.

The Climate Disobedience Center provides a guide for activists on how to use the tool of the necessity defense in climate cases. It defines climate necessity as: “The climate necessity defense is an argument made by a criminal defendant to justify action taken on behalf of the planet. It’s offered by activists who have been arrested for protesting fossil fuel extraction and government inaction on climate policy.” [Emphasis in original] The necessity defense is a long-time defense used in civil disobedience cases where activists argue that their violation of the law should not result in conviction because they were acting out of necessity to prevent a greater harm. In climate cases, the argument is the impacts of climate change are so serious that breaking the law is necessary to avert them.

The trial was supported by Climate Disobedience Center, the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Climate Defense Project, and 198 Methods.

For more information visit the Climate Disobedience Center and Stop the West Roxbury Lateral. The above report is based in part on the press release from the defendants.

Marching for the Democrats: Another Farce on Washington?

They called in [Roy] Wilkins; they called in [A. Philip] Randolph; they called in these national Negro leaders that you respect and told them, ‘Call it off.’ Kennedy said, ‘Look, you all are letting this thing go too far.’ And Old Tom said, ‘Boss, I can’t stop it, because I didn’t start it.’… And that old shrewd fox, he said, ‘If you all aren’t in it, I’ll put you in it. I’ll put you at the head of it.’…

Malcolm X on the 1963 “Farce on Washington”)

Liberals and Democrat party connected organizations and networks have been quite adept at getting out in front of movements to pre-empt their radical potential and steer them back into the safe arms of liberal conformism. Before resistance to the election of Donald Trump could be developed into a radical rejection of the neoliberal order, the new alignment of ruling class forces that coalesced around the candidacy of Hilary Clinton launched a pre-emptive strike against Trump with the two-fold objective of preventing him from governing and ensuring that opposition to Trump did not take on an anti-system character.

A similar thing happened after the 2006 massive marches of undocumented migrant workers that had a militant anti-capitalist component. It was quickly marginalized and transformed into something called “immigrant rights” with the highest demand being a demand to become legalized settlers. Then, on the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington when Black people were still experiencing the devastating and disproportionate impact of the capitalist crisis of 2007-08, members of the Black Mis-leadership class warmly welcomed the first Black president to join in the day’s festivities ensuring that the gathering would be devoid of any meaningful politics.

Unfortunately, for the young people who sincerely want to understand and confront gun violence, the opportunism of the democrats made these students and their pain easy targets to advance the agenda of the democrat party that sees this issue as one that will advance their electoral agenda.

While the democrat party and liberals pretend to respect and celebrate the young people, they know that the narrow focus on largely irrelevant gun control reforms like more background checks, banning certain ammunition clips, and sale of assault weapons will do nothing to confront what Dr. King referred to as the deep malady at the heart of U.S. culture that makes it so fundamentally violent.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, points out in lavish detail on the subject in her new book Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment.  She reminds the reader of the central role of violence and the reason why the second amendment was seen by the ruling elite of the U.S. settler state as a fundamental right, second only to freedom of speech. She argues that the gun control and the normalization of violence was essential to how white nationalism, racialized dominance, and social control through systematic violence operated in the U.S. It was the method in which white settlers appropriated Native land and controlled their massive enslaved population.

So the young people will need to understand that this normalization of violence is reflected in the social institutions, values, and ethical framework of their society. The violent, white male shooters that are now turning their guns on the society at large are not an aberration but a logical, almost inevitable consequence of a culture in which people are degraded and de-humanized as instruments for others pleasure and exploitation, made into things, through what Dr. King called the process of “thingingfication.”

A respectful engagement with these young people is one in which you struggle with their understanding of the terms of their culture, its history and reality. We must be honest with them and help them to understand the role of violence not only as a cultural product but as the main instrument that created their nation.  That violence is systemic to the system and history of their settler-colonial nation and for the maintenance of the U.S. empire.

Judging from some of the statements, many of these young people are close to making the right connections. That it is the “thingingfication” of the racialized “other” that more people cannot see the moral contradiction between the concern for gun violence in the U.S. and their continued support for U.S. militarism abroad.

Radical politicization means that they and the public at large come to terms with the fact that the arms industry and the proliferation of arms/weapons is not just a problem domestically but that it is a billion-dollar industry in which representatives from both parties are implicated. And if the NRA is a terrorist organization, what does that make the arms industries and the U.S. state?

However, as long as those young people are ensnared by the morally challenged liberal democrats, their ideological development will be arrested, and a few will emerge as “new leaders” given salaries, awards for being in the struggle for two weeks and will become weapons used to block authentic radicalization among their constituency.  That is how hegemony works.

Fredrick Jameson reminds us of the lesson that these young people will have to learn that they will not learn from their liberal benefactors: “The lesson is this, and it is a lesson about systems: one cannot change anything without changing everything.”

So, it was a good week for both bourgeois parties. The democrats didn’t get called out for their collaboration with Trump and the republicans on the budget. The Trump folks have more ammunition to use to mobilize their supporters in opposition to what they will frame as efforts to violate the constitution and take away their guns and give more power to a repressive government. Even the intelligence agencies benefited from the week’s events with attention being shifted away from the FBI scandal that is threatening to blow the cover off of official criminal activity to undermine the electoral process, not by the Russians, but unelected forces in the U.S. state.

But for those of us from the colonized Black and Brown zones of non-being, we can never allow ourselves to be distracted by the diversionary and accommodationist politics of the latest carefully crafted spectacle, especially one that proports to be advancing a superior moral politics.

We must always remind ourselves that some can march with the confidence that “their” government might be trusted with regulating weapons and protecting their lives but that the protection of our fundamental human rights rest with our ability to defend our collective rights, and no one else.

Through our painful lived experiences, we understand and must live by the insight provided by our dear brother, James Baldwin, who counseled us that we must be vigilant when our oppressors speak of morality and the sanctity of life:

The “civilized” have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death; these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the conscience of civilized world.

Distraction can be deadly, let’s us get and stay woke!

Enough Is Enough: If You Really Want to Save Lives, Take Aim at Government Violence

It is often the case that police shootings, incidents where law enforcement officers pull the trigger on civilians, are left out of the conversation on gun violence. But a police officer shooting a civilian counts as gun violence. Every time an officer uses a gun against an innocent or an unarmed person contributes to the culture of gun violence in this country.

— Celisa Calacal, Journalist

Enough is enough.

That was the refrain chanted over and over by the thousands of demonstrators who gathered to protest gun violence in America.

Enough is enough.

We need to do something about the violence that is plaguing our nation and our world.

Enough is enough.

The world would be a better place if there were fewer weapons that could kill, maim, destroy and debilitate.

Enough is enough.

On March 24, 2018, more than 200,000 young people took the time to march on Washington DC and other cities across the country to demand that their concerns about gun violence be heard.

More power to them.

I’m all for activism, especially if it motivates people who have been sitting silently on the sidelines for too long to get up and try to reclaim control over a runaway government.

Curiously, however, although these young activists were vocal in calling for gun control legislation that requires stricter background checks and limits the kinds of weapons being bought and sold by members of the public, they were remarkably silent about the gun violence perpetrated by their own government.

Enough is enough.

Why is no one taking aim at the U.S. government as the greatest purveyor of violence in American society and around the world?

The systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government has done more collective harm to the American people and our liberties than any single act of terror or mass shooting.

Violence has become our government’s calling card, starting at the top and trickling down, from the more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year on unsuspecting Americans by heavily armed, black-garbed commandos and the increasingly rapid militarization of local police forces across the country to the drone killings used to target insurgents.

Enough is enough.

The government even exports violence worldwide, with weapons being America’s most profitable export.

Indeed, the day before thousands of demonstrators descended on Washington DC to protest mass shootings such as the one that took place at Stoneman Douglas High School, President Trump signed into law a colossal $1.3 trillion spending bill that gives the military the biggest boost in spending in more than a decade.

Ironic, isn’t it?

Here we have thousands of passionate protesters raging, crying and shouting about the need to restrict average Americans from being able to purchase and own military-style weapons, all the while the U.S. government—the same government under Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton and beyond that continues to act as a shill and a shield for the military industrial complex—embarks on a taxpayer-funded death march that will put even more guns into circulation, and no one says a thing about it.

Why is that?

Why does the government get a free pass?

With more than $700 billion earmarked for the military, including $144.3 billion for new military equipment, you can expect a whole lot more endless wars, drone strikes, bombing campaigns, civilian deaths, costly military installations, and fat paychecks for private military contractors who know exactly how to inflate invoices and take the American taxpayers for a ride.

Enough is enough.

You can be sure this financial windfall for America’s military empire will be used to expand the police state here at home, putting more militarized guns and weapons into the hands of local police and government bureaucrats who have been trained to shoot first and ask questions later.

There are now reportedly more bureaucratic (non military) government civilians armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than the U.S. Marines.

While Americans have to jump through an increasing number of hoops in order to own a gun, the government is arming its own civilian employees to the hilt with guns, ammunition and military-style equipment, authorizing them to make arrests, and training them in military tactics.

Among the agencies being supplied with night-vision equipment, body armor, hollow-point bullets, shotguns, drones, assault rifles and LP gas cannons are the Smithsonian, U.S. Mint, Health and Human Services, IRS, FDA, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Education Department, Energy Department, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an assortment of public universities.

Seriously, why do IRS agents need AR-15 rifles?

Enough is enough.

Remember, it was just a few months ago that President Trump, aided and abetted by his trusty Department of Justice henchman Jeff Sessions, rolled back restrictions on the government’s military recycling program to the delight of the nation’s powerful police unions.

Under the auspices of this military “recycling” program, which was instituted decades ago and allows local police agencies to acquire military-grade weaponry and equipment, more than $4.2 billion worth of equipment has been transferred from the Defense Department to domestic police agencies since 1990.

Ironically, while gun critics continue to clamor for bans on military-style assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and armor-piercing bullets, expanded background checks, and tougher gun-trafficking laws, the U.S. military boasts all of these and more, including some weapons the rest of the world doesn’t have.

In the hands of government agents, whether they are members of the military, law enforcement or some other government agency, these weapons have become routine parts of America’s day-to-day life, a byproduct of the rapid militarization of law enforcement over the past several decades.

Over the course of 30 years, police officers in jack boots holding assault rifles have become fairly common in small town communities across the country. As investigative journalists Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz reveal, “Many police, including beat cops, now routinely carry assault rifles. Combined with body armor and other apparel, many officers look more and more like combat troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Although these federal programs that allow the military to “gift” battlefield-appropriate weapons, vehicles and equipment to domestic police departments at taxpayer expense are being sold to communities as a benefit, the real purpose is to keep the defense industry churning out profits, bring police departments in line with the military, and establish a standing army.

It’s a militarized approach to make-work programs, except in this case, instead of unnecessary busy work to keep people employed, communities across America are being inundated with unnecessary drones, tanks, grenade launchers and other military equipment better suited to the battlefield in order to fatten the bank accounts of the military industrial complex.

Thanks to Trump, this transformation of America into a battlefield is only going to get worse.

Get ready for more militarized police.

More police shootings.

More SWAT team raids.

More violence in a culture already drenched with violence.

Enough is enough.

You want to talk about gun violence?

According to the Washington Post, “1 in 13 people killed by guns are killed by police.”

While it still technically remains legal for the average citizen to own a firearm in America, possessing one can now get you pulled over, searched, arrested, subjected to all manner of surveillance, treated as a suspect without ever having committed a crime, shot at and killed by police.

You don’t even have to have a gun or a look-alike gun, such as a BB gun, in your possession to be singled out and killed by police.

There are countless incidents that happen every day in which Americans are shot, stripped, searched, choked, beaten and tasered by police for little more than daring to frown, smile, question, or challenge an order.

Growing numbers of unarmed people are being shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.

Enough is enough.

With alarming regularity, unarmed men, women, children and even pets are being gunned down by twitchy, hyper-sensitive, easily-spooked police officers who shoot first and ask questions later, and all the government does is shrug and promise to do better.

Killed for standing in a “shooting stance.” In California, police opened fire on and killed a mentally challenged—unarmed—black man within minutes of arriving on the scene, allegedly because he removed a vape smoking device from his pocket and took a “shooting stance“.

Killed for holding a cell phone. Police in Arizona shot a man who was running away from U.S. Marshals after he refused to drop an object that turned out to be a cellphone. Similarly, police in Sacramento fired 20 shots at an unarmed, 22-year-old black man who was standing in his grandparents’ backyard after mistaking his cellphone for a gun.

Killed for carrying a baseball bat. Responding to a domestic disturbance call, Chicago police shot and killed 19-year-old college student Quintonio LeGrier who had reportedly been experiencing mental health problems and was carrying a baseball bat around the apartment where he and his father lived.

Killed for opening the front door. Bettie Jones, who lived on the floor below LeGrier, was also fatally shot—this time, accidentally—when she attempted to open the front door for police.

Killed for running towards police with a metal spoon. In Alabama, police shot and killed a 50-year-old man who reportedly charged a police officer while holding “a large metal spoon in a threatening manner.”

Killed for running while holding a tree branch. Georgia police shot and killed a 47-year-old man wearing only shorts and tennis shoes who, when first encountered, was sitting in the woods against a tree, only to start running towards police holding a stick in an “aggressive manner.

Killed for crawling around naked. Atlanta police shot and killed an unarmed man who was reported to have been “acting deranged, knocking on doors, crawling around on the ground naked.” Police fired two shots at the man after he reportedly started running towards them.

Killed for wearing dark pants and a basketball jersey. Donnell Thompson, a mentally disabled 27-year-old described as gentle and shy, was shot and killed after police—searching for a carjacking suspect reportedly wearing similar clothing—encountered him lying motionless in a neighborhood yard. Police “only” opened fire with an M4 rifle after Thompson first failed to respond to their flash bang grenades and then started running after being hit by foam bullets.

Killed for driving while deaf. In North Carolina, a state trooper shot and killed 29-year-old Daniel K. Harris—who was deaf—after Harris initially failed to pull over during a traffic stop.

Killed for being homeless. Los Angeles police shot an unarmed homeless man after he failed to stop riding his bicycle and then proceeded to run from police.

Killed for brandishing a shoehorn. John Wrana, a 95-year-old World War II veteran, lived in an assisted living center, used a walker to get around, and was shot and killed by police who mistook the shoehorn in his hand for a 2-foot-long machete and fired multiple beanbag rounds from a shotgun at close range.

Killed for having your car break down on the road. Terence Crutcher, unarmed and black, was shot and killed by Oklahoma police after his car broke down on the side of the road. Crutcher was shot in the back while walking towards his car with his hands up.

Killed for holding a garden hose. California police were ordered to pay $6.5 million after they opened fire on a man holding a garden hose, believing it to be a gun. Douglas Zerby was shot 12 times and pronounced dead on the scene.

Killed for calling 911. Justine Damond, a 40-year-old yoga instructor, was shot and killed by Minneapolis police, allegedly because they were startled by a loud noise in the vicinity just as she approached their patrol car. Damond, clad in pajamas, had called 911 to report a possible assault in her neighborhood.

Killed for looking for a parking spot. Richard Ferretti, a 52-year-old chef, was shot and killed by Philadelphia police who had been alerted to investigate a purple Dodge Caravan that was driving “suspiciously” through the neighborhood.

Shot seven times for peeing outdoors. Eighteen-year- old Keivon Young was shot seven times by police from behind while urinating outdoors. Young was just zipping up his pants when he heard a commotion behind him and then found himself struck by a hail of bullets from two undercover cops. Allegedly officers mistook Young—5’4,” 135 lbs., and guilty of nothing more than taking a leak outdoors—for a 6’ tall, 200 lb. murder suspect whom they later apprehended. Young was charged with felony resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a peace officer.

This is what passes for policing in America today, folks, and it’s only getting worse.

In every one of these scenarios, police could have resorted to less lethal tactics.

They could have acted with reason and calculation instead of reacting with a killer instinct.

They could have attempted to de-escalate and defuse whatever perceived “threat” caused them to fear for their lives enough to react with lethal force.

That police instead chose to fatally resolve these encounters by using their guns on fellow citizens speaks volumes about what is wrong with policing in America today, where police officers are being dressed in the trappings of war, drilled in the deadly art of combat, and trained to look upon “every individual they interact with as an armed threat and every situation as a deadly force encounter in the making.”

Remember, to a hammer, all the world looks like a nail.

We’re not just getting hammered, however.

We’re getting killed, execution-style.

Enough is enough.

When you train police to shoot first and ask questions later—whether it’s a family pet, a child with a toy gun, or an old man with a cane—they’re going to shoot to kill.

This is the fallout from teaching police to assume the worst-case scenario and react with fear to anything that poses the slightest threat (imagined or real).

This is what comes from teaching police to view themselves as soldiers on a battlefield and those they’re supposed to serve as enemy combatants.

This is the end result of a lopsided criminal justice system that fails to hold the government and its agents accountable for misconduct.

You want to save lives?

Start by doing something to save the lives of your fellow citizens who are being gunned down every day by police who are trained to shoot first and ask questions later.

You want to cry about the lives lost during mass shootings?

Cry about the lives lost as a result of the violence being perpetrated by the U.S. government here at home and abroad.

If gun control activists really want the country to reconsider its relationship with guns and violence, then it needs to start with a serious discussion about the role our government has played and continues to play in contributing to the culture of violence.

If the American people are being called on to scale back on their weapons, then as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government and its cohorts—the police, the various government agencies that are now armed to the hilt, the military, the defense contractors, etc.—need to do the same.

It’s time to put an end to the government’s reign of terror.

Enough is enough.

Millions of Students Demand “Never Again” to Gun Violence

Over a million students and allies walked out of classes in the U.S., from Maine to Hawaii, and elsewhere in the world on March 14. Ten days later, March 24, hundreds of thousands of defiant marchers flooded the streets in Washington, D.C., and at more than 800 places on every continent except Antarctica. What might they do next?

Many surviving Parkland students are becoming familiar faces in D.C. Politicians hear from them regularly and some respond positively. They have captured the nation’s attention with their soaring speeches and emotional chants at what is being described as “sibling marches.”

They are protesting the killing of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They gathered on street corners, in downtowns, gyms, football fields, auditoriums, and elsewhere. The first events typically took 17 minutes to honor those who were murdered.

This was the largest wave of protests in American history, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. This show of strength reveals a political awakening by youth. “Welcome to the revolution,” said one student.  “We need to turn this moment into a movement,” said another, which some call the #Never Again Movement.

Since the 1999 Columbine shooting, 187,000 students have experienced a shooting. “Many are not the same,” added the Washington Post.

Three groups gathered in different cities here in semi-rural Sonoma County. A March for Our Lives group took to the center of our small-town Sebastopol (population 8000) and another at Courthouse Square in Sonoma County’s capital Santa Rosa. It was organized by Moms Demand Action and the Sonoma County Junior Commission on Human Rights.

Some vets and active duty military persons attended the Sebastopol gathering and spoke against assault weapons.

The Love Choir led singing at the Sebastopol action. They wore shirts saying “Peacetown USA.” Their lyrics included the following: “I’m going to lay down my sword and shield. We’re going to study war no more.” A popular chant was “We shall not be moved.” One sign read “Liberty, Not Death for My Grandchildren.”

The town of Sonoma was the site of another rally, in its Plaza. Fourteen students from Sonoma Valley High School traveled to D.C. to join the March 24 action there.

“Make safe schools a priority” was the goal of the Santa Rosa gathering. It offered student speakers, opportunities to pre-register to vote, and other options for concerned citizens of all ages to become involved with advocacy.

Signs such as the following were held: “Books Not Bullets!” “Love Kids, Not Guns.” “Send Prayers to the NRA.” “We Adults Have Failed Our Young People.”

One student held a sign bearing 17 blood-red hands and the message “How Many More!” A student wore a t-shirt that read “Young and Powerful.”

Politicians Support Students

California Congressman Jared Huffman met with nearly 1000 students and adults the day after the first large march. “There is a lot of evidence right now about the power of young voices,” he said. “Many of us have been beating our heads against the wall of gun reform for years and getting nowhere. These young people are stepping up and speaking so eloquently. They are changing the country.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) has been meeting regularly with high school age activists. He urges them to dig in for a long fight, “like the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements.”

Sebastopol Mayor Patrick Slayter attended both rallies in his town. He supports greater gun control and was heartened by the student activism.

“This fits in with the history of the country. The way change is made is the bottom up,” said History Professor Nolan Higdon of Cal State East Bay.

“These kids are all right,” a Chronicle headline reports the day after the first march. Between 1990 and 2004 92 million Americans were born. They represent the largest generation in history, becoming 1/3 of the U.S. population this year. That’s a lot of votes.

“It’s going to look scary to politicians,” said Rebecca Schneid,16, editor of the Parkland student newspaper. The U.S. may be at the beginning of a new, rapidly growing movement. It could grow and change history dramatically.

The New York Times quoted senior Ally Sheehy as saying, “The ‘children’ you pissed off will not forget this in the voting booth.  We are a force to be reckoned with.”

“How disgusting and broken our political system is right now in America,” added senior David Hogg, a survivor of the recent Parkland massacre.

Organizers demand tighter background checks on gun purchases and a ban on assault weapons, like the one used in the Florida bloodbath.

A small number of pro-gun demonstrations have also happened, especially in rural areas. Some have chanted “NRA is the only way.” Arguments and scuffles have broken out between the two sides.

Conservative supporters of guns organized smaller, competing rallies this weekend in places that include Helena, Montana, and Salt Lake City. Meanwhile, in a Pennsylvania town each classroom now has a 5-gallon bucket of stones.

Student leaders vowed to continue walkouts April 20th, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting in Colorado. They plan to continue direct actions, register young people to vote, lobby legislators, and even run for office.

Many students walked out of classes in the l960s to protest the American Wars on the People of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. My generation was a leader in ending those wars, as this generation can lead us to stricter gun laws, and thus fewer school and other mass shootings.

By walking out, today’s students may have initiated a massive movement for change, including more even than the importance of dealing with guns—at a time when the U.S. desperately needs change and new leadership.

We adults have failed to provide safety for our young people.