Photographer David Moriya started photographing protesters against Donald Trump’s presidency on the day after the inauguration, and at subsequent marches he started sharing his pictures with demonstrators. This grew into the Resistance Photography Project, which shares images of demonstrations with people who march, and with non-profits, such as the ACLU and the New York Immigration Coalition, to use free of charge. Moriya says of the project ‘we’re making ourselves heard, now let us be seen’Continue reading...
As a powerful grassroots movement emerges, some want to use it for their own gain. The history of the Tea Party has important lessons on how to avoid that
The fury that is currently welling up against our demagogue president is a gorgeous thing. The women’s march on Washington bowled me over by its sheer numbers. The town hall meetings calling Republican representatives to account are delicious payback for decades of phony populism. The combination of the two is one of the healthiest political developments I have seen in many years.
But opportunism never sleeps, and with the rage and the resistance of recent weeks some far less noble characters have seen a chance to develop a new con. They’re up on the resistance bandwagon right now, rending their garments, shaking their fists, and praying that no one holds them responsible for the dead end into which they’ve steered us over the years. Inveighing loudly against Trump has become, for the people I am describing, a means of rescuing an ideology that has proven a disaster.Continue reading...
The former prime minister needed to be escorted by police after accidentally running the gauntlet of a CFMEU rally against penalty rate reductions in Sydney’s CBD on Thursday. The 77-year-old former Liberal leader had been attending a conference on Pitt Street when he walked out on to the street to find dozens of people shouting, booing him, holding up CFMEU flags and making profane gesturesContinue reading...
Greek farmers armed with shepherd’s crooks and stones are confronted by riot police outside the agriculture ministry in central Athens during a protest against bailout-related income cuts. More than 1,000 farmers, most of whom had travelled overnight from the island of Crete, took part in the demonstrationContinue reading...
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked readers about their everyday successes. Here are a selection of responses
The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #BeBoldForChange. People are being encouraged to take groundbreaking action to help improve gender equality. We asked you to share stories about the battles you’ve won in this area, from fighting for a pay rise to calling out sexist stereotyping.Continue reading...
Mainstream feminism has failed. Perhaps the most shocking example is the life expectancy of black trans women – in Latin America, it’s 35 years. The brutality of that statistic was on display again when two black trans women in New Orleans were killed within a matter of days last February. Since the new year, there are reports that seven transgender women across the US have been killed. The reality of poverty, violence, and discrimination in the lives of trans women of colour is just one reason why organisers of today’s Women’s Strike have mobilised to revert the innocuous “women’s month” back to its radical predecessor known as International Women’s Day.Continue reading...
Feminism is having a mainstream moment, but organizers of the national strike say the movement must reach out to women who cannot afford to take part
International Women’s Day has never had the kind of robust presence in the United States it enjoys abroad. For years, while foreign leaders made speeches and citizens of other countries held rallies, the main signal to many in the US that 8 March was any different might have been that day’s Google Doodle.
Then Donald Trump was elected president.
Tens of millions of women have neither the benefits nor the flexibility to take the day off in protestContinue reading...
An International Women’s Day demonstration in Petrograd on 8 March 1917 led to the overthrow of the tsar
The first day of the Russian Revolution – 8 March (23 February in the old Russian calendar) – was International Women’s Day, an important day in the socialist calendar. By midday of that day in 1917 there were tens of thousands of mainly women congregating on the Nevsky Prospekt, the principal avenue in the centre of the Russian capital, Petrograd, and banners started to appear.
The slogans on the banners were patriotic but also made forceful demands for change: “Feed the children of the defenders of the motherland,” read one; another said: “Supplement the ration of soldiers’ families, defenders of freedom and the people’s peace.”Continue reading...
International Women’s Day 2017 set to be one of the most political yet, with women in more than 50 countries downing tools
Women in more than 50 countries will go on strike from paid and unpaid labour on Wednesday while millions more will be taking part in direct action on what is set to be one of the most political International Women’s Days in history.
From Thailand to Poland, the United States to Australia, the first International Women’s Strike will see action on both the industrial and domestic fronts, with participants keen to show solidarity with an energised global women’s movement.Continue reading...
The action planned for International Women’s Day is a powerful weapon. Women withdrawing their labour have inspired Greek drama and changed the face of Icelandic politics
There is a plan to mark this International Women’s Day with a global strike; women everywhere expressing their solidarity with one another by withdrawing their labour. There is a good chance that by the time you read this, you will already be at work. There is another good chance that, if you are committed to global women’s solidarity, the work you do is already more valuable to women than it is to the patriarchy, and, by withdrawing it, you are not even cutting off your nose to spite your face, you are cutting off your nose to spite someone else’s face. And then there’s the pitfall common to all strike action: that you redistribute oppression, if only in the form of inconvenience, to people who were previously on your side, while leaving unaffected the people you truly want to notice.
Specific to women-only action is the question, knocking about since the worldwide Women’s Marches in January, over whether or not this is a good time to be excluding men, just as a united front of everybody with a shared view of humanity is most important. Janelle Brown, from the activist group Sisters Uncut, reminds us that the practical benefits of women-only spaces can outweigh the theoretical downsides: “Just not having men in the room makes decision-making much quicker. When there’s no interrupting – no bravado, essentially – you get shit done.”Continue reading...
Only the Vietnam era protests match the size and breadth of the movement unleashed by the election of Donald Trump. One point of comparison: The massive march and rally against the Vietnam War in 1969 was the largest political demonstration in American history until the even more massive Women’s March in January.
All around us we can see signs that the movement has only just begun. Consider, for instance, that a large percentage of those in the Women’s March engaged in their very first street protest. Or that thousands of protesters spontaneously flocked to airports to challenge the anti-Muslim ban. Or that hundreds of citizens have confronted their local congressional representatives at their offices and town hall meetings about the potential repeal of Obamacare and other Trump/Republican policies.
As activists prepare for future demonstrations, many are rightfully concerned about the potential disruptions by those using Black Bloc tactics, which involve engaging in property destruction and physical attacks on police and others. They often appear at demonstrations dressed in black and cover their faces to disguise their identities. Their numbers have been relatively small to date. But they garner an outsized amount of media coverage, such as a violent protest in Berkeley to block an appearance by an alt-right provocateur or the punching of a white nationalist during Trump’s inauguration. The result is that an otherwise peaceful demonstration’s primary message can get lost in a fog of rock throwing and tear gas. Even worse, fewer people are likely to turn up at future protests, and potential allies get turned off.
This is not a new phenomenon. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. confronted this issue. So did those of us active in the struggle against the Vietnam War. I played a major role in organizing the national antiwar demonstrations between 1967 and 1971, as well as dozens of smaller actions during that time. Today’s protest organizers and participants can learn much from our experiences on the frontlines a half century ago.
A good place to start is to consider the Weathermen, the most prominent of the counterparts to the Black Bloc in our day. As proponents of violent street tactics, the Weathermen capitalized on an aspect of the ‘60s counterculture that glorified violent revolution. Posters displaying romanticized images of Che Guevara, Viet Cong soldiers (especially women fighters) and Black Panthers with guns were plastered on many walls.
The Weathermen didn’t just spout revolutionary rhetoric. One of their most memorable actions was what they proclaimed as the “Days of Rage.” They urged people to join them in Chicago in early October 1969 to “Bring the War Home.” They recruited extensively among white working-class youths to come to the city with helmets and such weapons as clubs, prepared to vandalize businesses and cars as well as assault police. They believed their action would help provoke an uprising against the capitalist state.
During the “Days of Rage,” the Weathermen did not attach themselves to a larger peaceful demonstration. They were on their own. So, the action provides a great case study about the feasibility of violent street tactics.
For starters, they discovered that it was hard to find recruits for their violent street army. Only about 300 people showed up despite months of effort. And they found it harder to enlist support for their actions even among those who were friendly with them politically. In fact, Fred Hampton, the leader of the Black Panther Party in Chicago, publicly denounced the group’s action, fearing it would turn off potential allies and lead to intensified police repression. “We believe that the Weathermen action is anarchistic, opportunistic, individualistic, chauvinistic and Custeristic [referring to General George Custer’s suicidal Last Stand]. It’s child’s play. It’s folly.”
It would not be overstating the case to say that the “Days of Rage” was a flop. They did trash some stores and engage in fights with police. But Chicago police easily contained their violence and rounded up virtually all of the militants and charged them with stiff crimes. Some suffered serious injuries, and several were shot by police (none fatally). The Weathermen soon gave up on violent street protests, became the Weather Underground and confined themselves to symbolic bombings of such targets as police stations and a bathroom in the U.S. Capitol.
In short, the “Days of Rage” shows the ineffectiveness of violent street tactics unless combined with a larger peaceful protest. The Black Bloc anarchists understand this reality, too. They need us as a cover for their actions. Put another way: We don’t need them, but they need us. So, the primary way to deal with those who advocate violent tactics is to isolate them, do everything possible to separate them from the peaceful demonstration. That was one of our goals in 1969 when organizing the November 15 antiwar march on Washington, D.C.
As organizers, we knew that it was not enough to stop potential disrupters. We knew we had to make sure that the demonstration itself would channel people’s indignation with the war more creatively than yet another conventional march and rally. People take to the streets because they are upset, angry or disillusioned. They want to express their outrage as powerfully as possible. Although some people prefer disruption for its own sake, almost everyone else wants to deliver their message so that it leads to positive social change, not make matters worse.
We adopted a tactic first used by a group of Quakers the previous summer. To personalize the war’s impact, that group read the names of the American soldiers killed in Vietnam from the steps of the Capitol. Their weekly civil disobedience action received a lot of media attention, particularly after some members of Congress joined them. Before long, peace groups throughout the land were reading the names of the war dead in their town squares and other public spaces.
For our demonstration in Washington, we planned what we called the “March Against Death.” Here is how Time magazine described it at the time: “Disciplined in organization, friendly in mood, [the march] started at Arlington National Cemetery, went past the front of the White House and on to the west side of the Capitol. Walking single file and grouped by states, the protesters carried devotional candles and 24-in. by 8-in. cardboard signs, each bearing the name of a man killed in action or a Vietnamese village destroyed by the war. The candles flickering in the wind, the funereal rolling of drums, the hush over most of the line of march — but above all, the endless recitation of names of dead servicemen and gutted villages as each marcher passed the White House — were impressive drama.”
First in line was the widow of a fallen serviceman, followed by 45,000 marchers (the number of Americans killed in the war to that date). After walking the four-mile route, the marchers reached the Capitol, where they placed their placards in coffins. The march began the evening of November 13 and went on for 36 hours. No one who was there would ever forget. It also set the tone for the massive march and rally.
While the “March Against Death” was taking place, we were busily training marshals who would oversee the demonstration — that is, essentially be our own force of nonviolent peacekeepers. We were rightfully concerned that groups of Weathermen-style protesters would disrupt our demonstration regardless of how creative our tactics were. The Chicago action had taken place only a month earlier, and we knew that there were many individuals and small groups for whom the appeal of violent street tactics had not diminished.
With the help of several churches that provided us with spaces, we recruited trainers, many with previous experience in nonviolent training. After giving an overview of the march’s objectives and logistics, we had the trainees do several role-playing exercises. For instance, we had a scenario where a group of Weathermen-style protesters tried to disrupt the march by trying to get people to join them in more “militant” actions. One tactic we suggested was to get the marchers to sing the then-popular John Lennon tune “Give Peace Chance” to divert attention from the disrupters. Another was to get the marshals to link their arms to separate the disrupters from the rest of the marchers.
At the end of the two-hour-long session, the newly trained marshals were given a white armband and told where to meet the next day. We trained more than 4,000 marshals who were deployed along the entire route of the march. The armbands were an important symbol to help us isolate would-be disrupters.
Although there were a few incidents after the rally had broken up, they did not detract from the powerful message that the half-million war opponents in Washington conveyed to the public and the nation’s leaders. The war didn’t end the next day, or even the next year, but the peace movement played a major role in stopping it — something that was unprecedented in American history.
Not everyone was pleased with our marshals. In Clara Bingham’s interview of Weathermen leader Bill Ayers for her recently published book, “Witness to the Revolution,” Ayers said: “…the problem with the mass mobilizations at that time was that the militants — us — were always contained. We were pushed aside by peace marshals and demonstration marshals.”
The man in the White House also did not like the peaceful character of our actions. In “Nixonland,” historian Rick Perlstein tells a story that indicates what kind of protest Richard Nixon would have preferred: “A briefing paper came to the president’s desk in the middle of March  instructing him to expect increased violence on college campuses that spring. ‘Good!’ he wrote across the face.”
This anecdote points out another significant lesson from the Vietnam era. Governments invariably welcome violent protests. With soldiers, police and huge arsenals of weapons, they know how to deal with any form of violence. They also infiltrate protest groups with provocateurs to stir up violence — something we experienced repeatedly then and is certainly happening today. The Black Bloc is especially vulnerable to infiltration because of their anonymity. And, as we learned then, those in power will willfully mischaracterize peaceful demonstrators as violent to help turn those in the middle against us.
What makes any resort to violence, including property destruction, on the part of the movement especially dangerous today is the current occupant of the White House. Most of us have seen video clips of the campaign rally last year where Trump said he would like to see a heckler “carried out on a stretcher.”
We can only imagine what this man would do if given any excuse to fully deploy the forces of violent repression against us. Nor can we forget that this man has shown a willingness, if not eagerness, to encourage his gun-toting supporters to turn on his opponents.
The movement must keep its focus on the issues. We must not allow ourselves to get distracted. Too many lives are threatened by Trump’s reckless rhetoric and heartless policies. We can succeed, just as we did in stopping the Vietnam War. It will take time, but we can create a more just and peaceful society. It starts with us.
Zoe Williams is right, we should be doing a lot more marching (Brexit is Theresa May’s Falklands war: a weapon of mass distraction, 6 March). We need to draw attention to the ravaging impact of this government’s continuing and demonstrably failed austerity programme. That is why this coming April, together with a group of social work colleagues and people who use our services and are experiencing the brunt of the cuts and welfare reform, I will be marching 100 miles from Birmingham to Liverpool, to issue the call to Boot Out Austerity! We will set off from the head office of the British Association of Social Workers in Birmingham on 19 April, and arrive in Liverpool on 25 April, the day before our annual conference. To find out more and to join us, go to www.boot-out-austerity.co.uk.
Chair, British Association of Social Workers
• Join the debate – email email@example.comContinue reading...
It was towards the end of her seventh decade when Connie Burkhart attended her first protest march. The journey on this icy day from her small, rural community of Hope, Idaho (population 86), to Sandpoint, the city where the Women’s March was being held, wasn’t easy. As she gritted her driveway, she told the friend accompanying her that the Republicans should be scared by the effort they were prepared to make.
Idaho is a Republican state, (“very red”, says Burkhart) but the numbers attending the Sandpoint rally, held at a theatre, spilled over on to the street. The atmosphere was emotional, she says, because for the first time since Donald Trump’s election win in November, people realised they weren’t alone. This is the most dramatic era Burkhart, 68, has lived through. She’s a Democrat, but has voted Republican in the past, “because I vote for the person who I think is best”. “My first thought when the president was elected – I can’t say his name – was that, for the first time in my life, I have no respect for the president of the United States.”Continue reading...
Nissan workers mobilized thousands of activists, civil rights groups and even Bernie Sanders against companies that obstruct local unionizing efforts
For a mile outside Canton Multipurpose Complex on Saturday, the road was backed up. Many cars sported bumper stickers, pro-Bernie and pro-union.Continue reading...
New York protest, one of many planned around the US by Tea Party group and Gays for Trump, sees around 100 supporters face a smaller band of opponents
Around 100 Donald Trump supporters gathered outside Trump Tower on Saturday afternoon, as part of a nationwide effort to show appreciation for the embattled president.
by Sandra Cuffe
Communities and organizations in northern El Salvador continue to organize referendums in an effort to keep their territories free of mining.
Established by the country’s Municipal Code as a mechanism for community participation, the consulta popular is an official municipal-level referendum on an issue of local concern that can be invoked by petition if residents are able to gather signatures from 40 percent of registered voters. On the books for years, the mechanism had never been used, but it now plays an important strategic role in the country’s movement against metallic mining.
The most recent referendum took place on February 26, when more than half of all registered voters in the municipality of Cinquera flocked to polling stations in four communities. The final tally was along the lines of the four previous referendums on the issue: 98.1 percent of participating registered voters in Cinquera cast a ballot opposing metallic mining exploration and exploitation. The local government will now draw up an official municipal ordinance prohibiting mining in its jurisdiction.
The afternoon prior to the referendum, the village was abuzz with activity in anticipation of the event as the sun began to set behind the hills surrounding Cinquera. A couple blocks from the central plaza, Bernardo Belloso pulled up a plastic chair in a local community association’s open-air meeting hall to discuss the context behind the referendums.
Belloso is the president of CRIPDES, a Salvadoran organization with roots in Catholic liberation theology. The group was founded in the midst of the 1980-1992 armed conflict in El Salvador that left 75,000 dead and another 8,000 people disappeared. Approximately one quarter of the country’s population was displaced.
These days, Belloso has been accompanying and supporting resettled communities in northern El Salvador in their struggles to keep their territories free of mining. On the eve of the referendum in Cinquera, the first to take place in the department of Cabañas, he spoke about the recent history of anti-mining struggle in the neighboring department of Chalatenango, as well as national-level organizing for a legislated ban on mining in El Salvador.
Could you explain, in a nutshell, the history of CRIPDES?
CRIPDES arose in 1984 as the Christian Committee for the Displaced of El Salvador. [It has since changed its name to the Association for the Development of El Salvador, but the acronym remains the same.] It was founded with the objective of denouncing the repression, killings, forced disappearances and massacres that the army was carrying out during that period. Over time, CRIPDES was one of the trail-blazing organizations at the national and international levels in terms of reporting and condemning human rights violations in the country.
Later on, in the lead-up to the Peace Accords, CRIPDES played a very important role in the return of the populations that were refugees and displaced in other countries here in Central America. CRIPDES accompanied their return to El Salvador, creating human settlements in different parts of the country. An organizing mechanism was also established in all of those communities, transforming them into community structures for the self-governance and development of their own communities.
From there, CRIPDES has been doing accompaniment and support work, strengthening community organization through the ADESCOs [Communal Development Associations], and — of course — working with women, youth and other sectors of the population.
Communities in Chalatenango, where the first four referendums took place, have engaged in different activities and actions with regard to mining over the years. What’s the backstory to the referendums?
The process of the referendums has a fairly complicated history because in El Salvador, until 2001, the population basically didn’t know what a metallic mining exploitation process entailed. However, in 2001 and 2002, mining companies began a process of exploration along the whole northern strip of El Salvador — including the department of Chalatenango, particularly its northeastern area, where we have an organizing process developed by CCR [the Association of Communities for the Development of Chalatenango].
When people there began to see workers carrying out exploration activities, especially in lands that belonged and belong to community residents, they began to investigate to see what those workers were up to. What really troubled the communities and people was that the workers were putting markers in the people’s lands, and in some cases they also caused damage to crops.
A process of exchange began with other communities, especially in the Siria Valley in Honduras, and people travelled there to see the results of an extractivist model. They saw the poverty, destruction and social conflicts that was the result of the the mining company’s presence. So, in the end, people said, “We don’t want mining here in our country.” They dedicated themselves to kicking out the mining companies, especially from the northeastern area of Chalatenango.
The movement against mining has also been pursuing legal mechanisms, from a law at the national level to the referendums at the local level. Could you explain their objectives?
The population began calling for the creation of legal instruments at the national level to ban metallic mining exploitation. This was of course related to a series of campaigns carried out by the conglomeration of organizations affiliated with the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining, of which CRIPDES is a member, along with organizations like CCR, ADES [the Santa Marta Association for Economic and Social Development] and others. We were demanding the legislative assembly pass a law banning metallic mining. We’ve been demanding they pass a law for more than 10 years, but legislators aren’t responding to this issue that we’re facing in the communities.
In 2012 or 2013, CRIPDES started discussing the creation of a mechanism to be able to inform and empower communities. It started with the idea of empowering communities to defend their territories, and of creating local proposals or documents or legal instruments oriented against the exploitation of the mineral resources that might be found in these municipalities.
That’s where we were at, and we saw fit to review some legal instruments like the Municipal Code. There are articles in there that instruct the population on mechanisms for how people can participate, making certain demands of the municipal council. It’s established in Articles 115-117. People can participate via community assemblies, town hall meetings, campaigns, and, of course, the referendums are also established as a mechanism for the participation of the population. So when we initiate the referendum process, we refer specifically to those three articles.
How has the referendum process unfolded in practice?
The first referendum was in San José las Flores, used as a pilot to see if people would respond, given that they themselves had articulated the demand. When it came time to vote on the day of the referendum, 72 percent of registered voters showed up. And when it came time to tally the votes of that first experience, we saw that 99 percent of the people who voted said no. Only two people said yes to mining. One ballot was void and another was blank.
We used this mechanism so people could see that we carried out an entirely transparent process. Of course, that motivated other municipalities to work and learn about the experiences, particularly of the people. We started to generate that process of awareness in the other municipalities of San Isidro Labrador, Nueva Trinidad and Arcatao — all in the department of Chalatenango. Consolidating the total of all the people who have voted [in the first four referendums, before Cinquera], we calculate that nearly 70 percent of the [registered voters] in that overall territory came out to vote, and of that 70 percent, 99 percent said no to mining.
We want to bring this experience to other municipalities that are being threatened by metallic mining companies. What we’re trying to do is to allow people to decide what it is that they want for their community and for their municipality.
We are living in a world in which the politics of the leaders of two of the world’s great nations – America and Britain – is built on broken promises. During Donald Trump’s election campaign he promised to “take on Wall Street”. So when just weeks later the president announced a cabinet full of banker billionaires, my brother, Senator Bernie Sanders, said: “With all due respect, Donald Trump is a fraud.”
Meanwhile, here in the UK Theresa May took up her post as prime minister on the commitment to “work for all, not just the privileged few”. Well, it is just weeks since our NHS descended into a humanitarian crisis, and we are already looking at another round of privatisation and cuts. Which is why at midday today we will be marching on parliament in support of the NHS.Continue reading...
Invented in 1959 by Gustav Metzger, who has died aged 90, auto-destructive art was about the event rather than the object. It defined the joining of his art and activism, to become a powerful voice in anti-nuclear protest and environmentalism. Its materials, which were often pitted against each other, came from industry as well as the studio.
Auto-destructive art rose out of the shadow cast by the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the cold war brinkmanship that followed. Its first manifestos followed Metzger’s involvement with the Direct Action Committee against nuclear war (DAC) and its actions against missile bases in East Anglia, and coincided with the formation of its successor, the Committee of 100. Metzger was a founder member of this group, which had grown out of the DAC and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, but which advocated direct action. In September 1961 he went to prison alongside Bertrand Russell and 30 other members of the committee for encouraging mass non-violent civil disobedience and refusing to be bound over to keep the peace.Continue reading...
Throughout this troubled decade, people took to the streets to seek fair treatment, the right to work – or just some scraps of food
- Don’t miss the first of the Guardian’s special 1930s supplements, free with Saturday’s newspaper