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B4. Radical Ecology

How worker ownership builds community wealth and a more just society

Waging Nonviolence - Fri, 02/03/2023 - 09:35

A recent help-wanted ad for a laundry worker in Cleveland contained some unusual language, asking prospective candidates: “Have you ever wanted to work for a company that is 90 percent employee-owned? What about a company that offers a program to help you become a homeowner?” The ad went on to identify Evergreen Cooperative Laundry as the only employee-owned commercial laundry firm in the country, citing a commitment to building the wealth and careers of its employees.

Founded in Cleveland in 2009, Evergreen laundry lies at the heart of a movement that has now spread around the world. This attention to community wealth building is providing a 21st century model for Gandhi’s “constructive program,” which — along with nonviolent direct action — powered his overall campaign to overcome the political and economic oppression of colonialism.

The cooperative movement in the Rust Belt city of Cleveland has deep roots in community struggle for shared wealth. Its earliest origins are in the Mondragon co-op movement of the Basque Country in northern Spain, where tens of thousands of workers are organized into a vast co-op network that has flourished since the 1950s. Here in the U.S., when steel companies were closing down throughout the Ohio Valley in the 1970s — and moving to non-union, lower-wage regions in the south, and then overseas — a small band of activists promoted the idea of worker ownership.

Previous Coverage
  • It’s time for a new political and economic system – A conversation with Gar Alperovitz
  • Gar Alperovitz, a key player in that campaign, traces its origins to the 1977 shuttering of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube steel mill, which threw 5,000 steelworkers onto the streets, with little retraining help and no other jobs available. A plan by an ecumenical religious coalition for community-worker ownership of the giant mill captured widespread media attention, significant bipartisan support and an initial $200 million in loan guarantees from the Carter administration.

    According to Alperovitz, “Corporate and other political maneuvering in the end undercut the Youngstown initiative. Nonetheless, the effort had ongoing impact, especially in Ohio, where the idea of worker-ownership became widespread … because of all the publicity and the depth of policy failures in response to deindustrialization throughout the state.”

    Now, nearly half a century later, the Evergreen laundry and its sister solar and greenhouse coops are at the heart of the model around which the theory and practice of community wealth building have grown. Developed by the new economy research center Democracy Collaborative, the model is a simple one: First, identify anchor institutions — hospitals, universities, seats of government — that are not going to relocate in search of higher profits and incentivize them to do their procurement of supplies and services locally, so that those dollars stay at home. Then, make regulatory, financing and policy changes that support the growth of cooperatives to supply their needs, so that the business profits stay with the workers. This model has been quietly gaining attention and putting down roots in other places — starting with a jump across the Atlantic Ocean.

    Community wealth building in the UK

    In 2012, it seemed like the run-down industrial city of Preston, in northern England, had come to the end of the road. Its economic base had been bleeding away for years, and the last gasp attempt — a deal to lure in a mall developer — had fallen through. Fortunately, a deep-thinking member of the Preston City Council, Matthew Brown, had heard of an innovative model of community wealth building based in Cleveland, Ohio.

    “Crucially, we need to have more democracy in Preston’s economy — we can’t be at the whims of outside investors who’ll want to extract as much wealth from our community as possible,” Brown told the Lancashire Post. He reached out to Ted Howard from the Democracy Collaborative and, looking back on the last 10 years, the resulting collaboration can be seen as transformative.

    Preston City Council started by working with its own anchor institutions, getting them to prioritize contracting with local companies. It began creating worker cooperatives and paying a real living wage. The city’s government pension fund is now investing locally. Plans for a community bank are in the works. Employment and affordable housing rates are up; child poverty is down.

    Procurement dollars that stayed within the city have risen from $46.8 million to $138.4 million; anchor institutions are more connected to the local economy; and its residents and experience in supporting the development of new businesses and cooperatives have grown. According to Ted Howard of the Democracy Collaborative, the impact and potential of these combined efforts is “creating an ecosystem of change that will be the engine for a new, fairer economy.” 

    In a stunning turnaround, Preston was named the most improved city in the U.K. in 2018, and the “Preston Model” has become a household word. The Centre for Local Economic Strategies, or CLES, which was active in Preston, is now working with dozens of local authorities, anchor institutions, and U.K. nations to develop community wealth building approaches that are appropriate to the context of their place. At the same time, it is also supporting similar efforts across Europe and as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.

    Keeping small businesses alive in Denver

    Back in the U.S., where similar models are spreading, Denver’s Center for Community Wealth Building, or CCWB, has just received a $360,000 economic development grant for a three-year initiative to launch six to nine new cooperatives in Denver and neighboring Aurora. Such worker cooperatives can stabilize jobs and income for those who might otherwise be displaced by gentrification, while also help to keep small businesses — the heart of these communities — alive.

    CCWB Executive Director Yessica Holguin was first hired as a fellow to work on building opportunity in low-income neighborhoods. Coming from a community organizing background, her first step was to go out and talk to the community. “I wanted to understand the experience of gentrification from the perspective of the residents. And I wanted to hear what solutions resonated with them,” Holguin explained in a press release. “When people own their jobs, when they own their businesses, own their lives, the ripple effects are felt throughout the community.”

    Worker co-ops clearly resonated, and she jumped in to help launch two of them — both of which remain successful today: Mujeres Emprendadores, a catering service started by immigrant women, and Satya Yoga Cooperative, a yoga school run by and for people of color.

    CCWB’s three-pronged strategy is modeled on the Evergreen co-ops: democratize ownership through worker co-ops, strengthen entrepreneurial opportunities for people of color and encourage anchor institutions to become local economic engines. To help the University of Denver shift its spending on catering from national chains, for example, CCWB organized a tasting event where over a hundred university event planners met and began building relationships with 11 community caterers.

    To ensure that cooperatives can flourish, CCWB has developed a roadmap to guide various city departments to support awareness, skills and access. “It’s not just potential worker-owners who need to see the benefits of cooperative businesses” Holguin said. “We want the community to understand how widespread democratic ownership will benefit everyone.”

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    An economy like a little stream

    This approach is proving flexible, resilient and effective. It is putting down roots and beginning to have an impact not only in Cleveland, Preston and Denver, but in an ever-growing number of cities around the world. It consistently supports both political and economic democracy, while also addressing the needs for better pay and a sharing of our common wealth.

    We can use the analogy of water to think about how money moves in an economy. One model is like a storm water system, efficiently gathering water from many small sources, with the goal of consolidation and steady movement toward a central location. A very different model is like a little stream meandering through a wetland, cleansing and nourishing everything it touches — an integral part of the ecosystem, not trying to get anywhere else.

    In our current economic system, money functions like the former, steadily being siphoned from the hands of individuals and communities into those of great financial interests. Community wealth building is all about the latter — circulating and recirculating money in the local economy, in no hurry, allowing its benefits to serve all.

    By offering a powerful framework and lever for moving toward greater local control over wealth, community wealth building is simply another way of getting to the roots. It provides an alternative to moneyed interests being in control and their bottom line trumping the common welfare.

    Reflecting on the role of the Evergreen Laundry — established in a neighborhood of Cleveland where the average income is lower than 93.4 percent of U.S. communities — Howard told The Guardian: “A job is not enough. For people to stay out of poverty they need to be able to acquire assets.” Along with a job, the co-op offers pension payments and profit sharing, and has brought the possibility of home-ownership within reach.

    From a new homeowner in Cleveland, to growing connections between university staff in Colorado and local catering co-ops, to the turnaround of a struggling city in northern England and beyond, the promise of community wealth building appears boundless. Bringing together Gandhi’s strategy of nonviolent direct action to confront injustice with a constructive program of steadily diverting resources from the powers-that-be back to the people, this model offers a powerful framework for reclaiming our democracy and our economy.

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    Atlas Office Attacked With Powerful Stench Agent

    Earth First! Newswire - Thu, 02/02/2023 - 10:46

    from Scenes from the Atlanta Forest

    LAST WEEKEND WE SMASHED ALL WINDOWS AND THE GLASS DOORS OF THE ATLAS OFFICE IN HIGHLAND, IN, AND ATTACKED THE INTERIOR WITH A POWERFUL STINK BOMB, LEAVING THE OFFICE PERMANENTLY INOPERABLE. SIX ATLAS VEHICLES PARKING OUTSIDE OF THE OFFICE WERE ALSO VANDALIZED.

    UNTIL THE MURDER OF TORTUGUITA, NO COP OR CONTRACTOR WAS INJURED AS A RESULT OF ACTIONS IN DEFENSE OF THE WEELAUNEE FOREST. NOW, THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT MAY HAVE TO CHANGE. ATLAS TECHNICAL CONSULTANTS, AS WELL AS ITS SUBSIDIARY LONG ENGINEERING, HAS PHYSICALLY ATTACKED THE WEELAUNEE FOREST AND IS STILL COMMITTED TO BUILDING COP CITY. UNTIL ATLAS PUBLICLY ANNOUNCES THAT IT WILL NO LONGER WORK ON THE PROJECT, THE COMPANY, ITS EXECUTIVES. AND ALL OF ITS PROPERTY ARE LEGITIMATE TARGETS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COP CITY AND THE HOLLYWOOD DYSTOPIA.

    THERE ARE THREE ADDITIONAL ATLAS OFFICES WITHIN AN HOUR DRIVE OF THIS ONE. THERE ARE ATLAS OFFICES IN EVERY STATE. THE NAMES AND ADDRESSES OF ATLAS EXECUTIVES, AS WELL AS OTHER COMPANIES IMPLICATED IN COP CITY AND THE MURDER OF TORTUGITA, ARE LISTED ON STOPREEVESYOUNG.COM.

    THE ENEMIES OF THE WEELAUNEE FOREST ARE TERRORISTS WHO DO NOT DISTINGUISH BETWEEN PEACEFUL AND MILITANT PROTESTORS, NON-HUMAN AND HUMAN LIFE. WE WILL NOT CEDE A SINGLE INCH OF THE FOREST AND WILL NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS, BUT THEY HAVE THE POWER TO STOP THIS TRAGIC AND UNNECESSARY ESCALATION OF FORCE BY SIMPLY DROPPING THE PROJECT.

    WE WILL NOT STOP UNTIL YOU DROP COP CITY. EXPECT US.

    -TORT’S REVENGE
    Submitted anonymously over email

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    Climate Justice Forum: Idaho Riverside Gas Lease & Urban Coyotes, Logging Collaboratives, GTN Xpress Pipeline Hearing, Keystone & Mountain Valley Pipeline Permits, Asteroid Approach 2-1-23

    Wild Idaho Rising Tide - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 12:00

    The Wednesday, February 1, 2023, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activists collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features news, music, and reflections on the lunar new year and traditional early spring celebrations, a close asteroid approach to Earth, proposed Idaho oil and gas laws and city leases of riverside well gas, U.S. Forest Service collaborative collusion of environmental groups for logging projects, north Idaho urban coyotes chasing and biting skiers, planned GTN Xpress fracked gas pipeline expansion, its Northwest opposition, an upcoming people’s hearing, a U.S. Senate committee request for increased Keystone pipeline pressure and spill oversight, and a petition against national forest permits for the Mountain Valley pipeline in Appalachia.  Broadcast for eleven years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots, frontline resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to generous, anonymous listeners who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.

    New Moon, July 26, 2015 Alice Di Micele

    A Recently Discovered Asteroid Had ‘a Very Close Encounter’ with Earth, January 27, 2023 National Public Radio

    Imbolc 2023, January 31, 2023 Daily Kos

    Lawmakers Must Protect Our Water! (excerpts) January 31, 2023 Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability

    Fruitland Denies Leasing Agreement for Its Mineral Rights, January 31, 2023 Independent Enterprise

    Ground Truth: Guest Author: Excerpted from ‘This Land’, December 17, 2022 Christopher Ketcham/Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics

    Coyotes Chasing Skiers at Schweitzer, One Female was Bitten, January 30, 2023 North Idaho News

    Stop GTN Xpress, January 31, 2023 Rogue Climate

    People’s Hearing Outreach E-Blast Template, January 31, 2023 Stop GTN Xpress Coalition

    (forthcoming WIRT facebook post link)

    February 13: Senator Merkley Joins Community Members and Activists in Condemning Controversial Plan to Expand a Fracked Gas Pipeline, January 30, 2023 Stop GTN Xpress Coalition

    (forthcoming WIRT facebook post link)

    Letter to the Editor: GTN Xpress Pipeline is Dangerous and Unnecessary, January 30, 2023 The Reflector

    Cantwell Calls for Increased Oversight After Keystone Pipeline Spills Nearly 600,000 Gallons of Tar Sands, Largest Onshore Spill in Nearly a Decade, January 9, 2023 U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

    Tell the U.S. Forest Service to Deny Permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline!, January 25, 2023 POWHR Coalition and People vs. Fossil Fuels

    (forthcoming WIRT facebook post link)

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    Italy: Forty-One Arrested After Demonstration in Solidarity with Alfredo Cospito

    Earth First! Newswire - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 10:05

    from Anarchist News

    Clashes and demonstration in Trastevere in solidarity with Alfredo Cospito on 101st day of hunger strike (Rome, Italy 28th January 2023)

    We are publishing a short contribution on the demonstration held Saturday 28th January in Rome in solidarity with comrade Alfredo Cospito 101 days from the beginning of the hunger strike.
    Near the gathering in piazza Trilussa – which lasted several hours and from which a demonstration had been unable to set off – after some of those present had slipped out of the encirclement, there were some clashes with the repressive forces, they soon found themselves in difficulty due to being partially surrounded and to the determination of comrades to hold the streets (but they managed to stop a comrade near Piazza Trilussa). After the clashes, a demonstration was held in the small streets of Trastevere.

    At the end of the demo a few dozen comrades were stopped by the DIGOS, police in riot gear and carabinieri. All 41 people apprehended during the day, taken to the police station and released without restriction from the early hours of Sunday 29, were charged with Article 337 of the Criminal Code (resisting a public official). Below is a brief informative note issued on 29 January itself.

    In these days when the comrade’s health condition is rapidly and dramatically worsening, with this initiative the comrades present affirmed the importance of a presence and consequent conflictual practice to be held in the streets, in solidarity with Alfredo in support of the hunger strike. We continue the struggle with rage and determination. Alfredo out from 41 bis!

    * * *
    Yesterday in Rome struggle in the streets against 41 bis and life imprisonment without parole, with Alfredo Cospito 101 days on hunger strike. The police wanted to surround the demonstrators, they were surrounded. The riot police in total confusion charged the DIGOS twice, managing to send one of them to hospital. The boss of the square wanted to prevent a harmless demo, he got two hours of wild demonstration in Trastevere, which resisted by barricading itself and repelling numerous charges in the alleys.
    While it is true that most of the 41 arrested could have been avoided if it had been realised a few minutes earlier that the party was coming to an end, this does not detract one iota from the message of anger at the imminent execution of our comrade coming from the streets. If anything, it reinforces it.

    A big thank you to all the rebels and solidarity with all those accused.

    Long live anarchy!

    via: Lanemesi translated by Act for freedom now!

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    1,300+ US Groups Demand Atlanta Mayor’s Resignation Over Forest Defender Tortuguita’s Killing

    Earth First! Newswire - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 13:27

    by Julia Conley / Common Dreams

    Demonstrators protest the death of environmental activist Tortuguita on January 21, 2023 in Atlanta.

    A coalition of more than 1,300 climate and racial justice groups from across the United States on Monday joined a call for an independent investigation into the police killing of forest defender Manuel Paez Terán earlier this month, and demanded the resignation of Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.

    Nearly two weeks after the fatal shooting of the 26-year-old activist and medic—known as Tortuguita—Dickens “has still failed to condemn the killing,” said the groups, and has instead opted “to condemn protestors and parrot the rhetoric of extreme right-wing governor Brian Kemp.”

    Tortuguita was shot and killed on January 18 when a joint task force including Atlanta police officers raided an encampment at Weelaunee forest. The forest is the site of a proposed $90 million police training facility known as Cop City.

    “His championing of Cop City occurs against the backdrop of a continued investment in the gentrification of Atlanta and a continued disinvestment of affordable housing for a city identified as having the country’s highest level of wealth inequality.”

    Over the weekend Dickens, a Democrat, condemned people who have protested Tortuguita’s killing in Atlanta, accusing protesters of traveling to the city to “wreak havoc” at demonstrations that were overwhelmingly peaceful.

    “Within a few hours of the shooting, Dickens tweeted support for [an] injured state trooper and completely ignored the death at the hands of a task force which included Atlanta police officers on his watch,” wrote the groups, which include People vs. Fossil Fuels, Jewish Voice for Peace, Climate Justice Alliance, and Oil Change International. “As a growing number of Atlanta residents, national and global news outlets, and human rights and environmental organizations worldwide call for an investigation of the police narrative of Tortuguita’s death, Dickens has dismissed their concerns. He has refused to bring any scrutiny to the one-sided and unsubstantiated recounting of events. Dickens has yet to offer condolences to the slain protestor’s family.”

    The groups noted that Dickens and the Atlanta City Council have the authority to terminate the land lease for Cop City in the forest and called for the mayor to do so immediately, denouncing his strong support for the Atlanta Police Foundation’s proposal.

    “His championing of Cop City occurs against the backdrop of a continued investment in the gentrification of Atlanta and a continued disinvestment of affordable housing for a city identified as having the country’s highest level of wealth inequality,” said the groups. “Mayor Dickens can somehow find $90 million dollars for Cop City, one third of which will come from taxpayer money. Still, he can’t find money to keep our already overwhelmed hospitals open or to finance much-needed affordable housing.”

    Ikiya Collective, a signatory of the letter, noted that the training slated to take place at Cop City “will impact organizing across the country” as police are trained to respond to popular uprisings.

    “This is a national issue,” said the collective. “Climate justice and police brutality are interconnected, which is why we are joining the Stop Cop City calls to action with the frontline communities in Atlanta.”

    “It is imperative that we demand an independent investigation into the police murder of Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Paez Terán,” said Ikiya Collective. “We join calls for the termination of the lease and for Mayor Dickens’ resignation.”

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    Army Corps of Engineers Schedule Massive Dredging Project Despite Public Health, Environmental Objections

    Earth First! Newswire - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 10:03

    from Center for Biological Diversity

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico— The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Puerto Rico Ports Authority announced an agreement today to proceed with dredging in San Juan Bay, Puerto Rico. The project will deepen and widen shipping channels to allow massive liquefied natural gas and long-range oil tankers to import foreign fossil fuels. A lawsuit pending in federal district court challenges the Army Corps’ dredging project.

    “The Corps failed to consider the harmful impacts of the huge dredging project on already overburdened communities on the southwestern part of San Juan Bay,” said Federico Cintrón Moscoso, director of the organization El Puente-Enlace Latino de Acción Climática. “The project is a terrible waste of federal funds that could go instead to investing in distributed renewable energy like rooftop solar and storage, as recommended in multiple studies like DOE’s PR100 Year One Update Report released earlier this month.”

    The project locks in Puerto Rico’s dependence on foreign oil and gas imports at a time when Puerto Rico has committed to transitioning to 100% renewable energy. The Army Corps completed the project’s fast-tracked environmental assessment in 2018, shortly after hurricanes Irma and Maria caused severe disruption in electricity, communications and food and water throughout Puerto Rico. The hurricanes demonstrated the vulnerability of an energy-generation system dependent on imported fossil fuels, and the subsequent hasty decisions impaired the ability of citizens to engage in energy decisions.

    “The Corps’ decision to push this dredging project forward is a huge disappointment. The agency is ignoring local opposition and the clear danger from massive oil and LNG tankers moving through the area,” said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The dredging project and the fossil fuels brought in by these tankers will pollute neighborhoods, kill corals and damage the climate.”

    The pending lawsuit challenges the Army Corps’ failure to consider the impacts of the project on environmental justice communities near the petroleum terminals. These communities will suffer a disproportionate burden from air pollution.

    The San Juan Bay dredging — which will occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 14 months — will remove 2.2 million cubic yards of sea floor and dump it into the ocean. The project will harm acres of seagrass that feed manatees and sea turtles, and this habitat loss will not be mitigated. The Corps also did not incorporate lessons learned from dredging off Miami between 2013 and 2015 that likely killed more than half a million corals. The lawsuit seeks to overturn the environmental review of the Puerto Rico project and send it back for revision.

    In October 2022 the Puerto Rico Planning Board formally objected to the federal government’s plan to dispose of dredge waste in five ocean sites around Puerto Rico without further environmental studies. The board did not find the dredge spoil disposal plan to be sufficient for preventing harm to coral reefs, which play a role in preserving fisheries and protecting communities and infrastructure from severe storms.

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    What determines the success of movements today?

    Waging Nonviolence - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 07:45
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    Anyone who has come across “Why Civil Resistance Works” by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan will be familiar with the idea that size matters for social movements. Their highly cited “3.5 percent rule” says that once movements actively involve at least 3.5 percent of the population they will inevitably succeed. 

    The idea that this is a cast iron rule has been contested — including by Chenoweth — on the basis that it was a description of the past rather than a prediction of the future. Others have shown that the rule has been broken in at least two cases. And although it was extracted primarily from a Global South context for countries resisting regimes, it has since, controversially, been applied to the strategy documents of prominent activist groups like Extinction Rebellion and been widely quoted in the media, including by the BBC, The Guardian and The Economist

    Far less contested, however, is another of the book’s major takeaways, which is the idea that nonviolence brings a higher success rate. Looking at civil resistance focused on regime change between 1900 and 2006, they found that nonviolent campaigns were more than twice as likely to succeed as violent ones: 53 percent of nonviolent campaigns led to political change, while the same was true for only 26 percent of violent campaigns. 

    As a nonprofit that helps inform advocates, decision-makers and philanthropists on the best ways to accelerate positive social progress, Social Change Lab was interested in seeing how the Chenoweth/Stephan findings hold up in today’s movement landscape. We wanted to see if the evidence from their historical data translated to the present, particularly as it relates to campaigns focused on more limited, area-specific goals rather than the high level goal of regime change. We also wanted to see what other factors might help bring about protest movement wins. 

    Our team has spent the last six months researching these questions. We did public opinion polling; interviewed academics, social movement experts and policy makers; and reviewed the literature. What we found — and published in our full report — not only underscores the recommendations of Chenoweth, Stephan and other movement strategists, but also builds upon them, offering insights into other key factors that determine the success of movements today. 

    What are the most important success factors?

    Movements or social movement organizations optimize for different outcomes  — whether it is changing public opinion, campaigning on a particular policy, prompting public discourse or something else. So a “success factor” is variable, and it can be hard to compare them. 

    Nevertheless, we wanted to try to give a sense of the relative importance of different ingredients of success — so we did this by combining and weighing evidence from multiple sources, beginning with data from existing experimental studies. We weighted our estimates based on the strength of evidence behind them. For instance, if most studies on a particular topic had similar results — and our experts also agreed — that would be strong evidence. Less agreement between studies, or a lack of studies, or disagreement amongst experts would be weak evidence.

    What emerged from our findings were two tiers of success factors: one that showed a clear and distinct impact on a successful outcome and another whose impact was, though still important, less decisive.

    The top three factors

    1. Nonviolent tactics. Even though there is historical evidence for nonviolence being the best way to go, this tactical question is still widely discussed within social movements. Many activists are tempted to adopt more violent tactics because they think it’s a more expedient way of addressing the urgent problems we’re facing. There’s also debate about what other types of tactical actions might be most effective. Our own research has suggested that having a radical flank that uses more shocking tactics (like throwing soup at paintings) can actually increase support for more moderate groups focused on the same cause. 

    Previous Coverage
  • Radical tactics are likely to help the climate movement, not hurt it
  • Our research here suggests that nonviolent tactics are more likely to lead to successful outcomes relative to violent outcomes. The experts we consulted were reasonably confident that violence is a less effective approach and the literature supported their view.

    Omar Wasow, at Princeton University, published research in 2020, based on studying civil rights protests in the U.S. from the 1960s. He found that states where nonviolent protests occurred went on to see increased votes for Democrats (more-or-less in line with what protesters were aiming for). Violent protests, on the other hand, led to increased votes for Republicans. 

    Ruud Wouters, from the University of Amsterdam, used Charles Tilley’s Worthiness, Unity, Numbers and Commitment framework to conduct empirical research. In this framework, “worthiness,” which is a measure of “the absence of disruptiveness,” is a rough equivalent of nonviolence. Wouters’s 2019 study looked at support for asylum demonstrators in a sample of Belgian citizens and found big differences in support depending on whether protesters were seen to have “high” or “low” worthiness. He suggests that low worthiness alienates the public. A further Wouters study showed a similar effect — of the greater appeal of nonviolence — on elected representatives. 

    The violence/nonviolence question has been widely studied by academics, and most studies reach similar conclusions, which is why we give this finding strong weight. 

    2017 Women’s March in Washington, DC. (Flickr/Vlad Tchompalov)

    2. Larger numbers. Again, we found our evidence supported Chenoweth’s idea that size is really key, with bigger protests meaning a better chance of policy changes and other desired outcomes. Some interviewees suggested that although politicians invest a lot in learning about public opinion, they often don’t really understand the public — so big numbers at a protest give them a clear signal of public opinion. There might also be a virtuous circle here: As a protest gets larger, people think it’s more likely to succeed, so they feel more enthusiastic about joining it. So it gets larger, more people join and so on. Whether or not this is the explanation, we think the evidence for size being important is causal: A larger protest really will increase your likelihood of success.

    In 2017, Ruud Wouters and Stefaan Walgrave looked at the attitudes of elected officials in response to protests. They found that officials were much more likely to take a position closer to the protesters when protest numbers were high. This change in their thinking also translated into behavior change and taking action, such as proposing a bill or asking a question.

    Bouke Klein Teeselink and Georgios Melios also considered whether mass mobilizations bring about social change — this time by looking at the effect of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, following the death of George Floyd. Their research found that wherever large numbers participated in protests, the result was a greater increase in the Democrat share of the vote. In fact, for every 1 percent increase in the fraction of the population who protested, there was a raise in the Democratic vote share of 5.6 percent. Another study found that killings by police decreased by as much as 20 percent in municipalities where BLM protests occurred, and that police departments were more likely to adopt body cameras and community-policing initiatives.

    In 2012, Stefaan Walgrave and Rens Vliegenthart looked at Belgian protests that had taken place between 1993 and 2000. Their analysis included more than 4 million people participating in almost 4,000 demonstrations. They too found a highly significant impact of protest size on legislation outcomes, suggesting this effect comes in part through bigger protests being associated with more media coverage.

    3. Favorable sociopolitical context. There are other factors more outside the control of protesters — things like pre-existing public opinion, the response of the media, whether there are elites (like politicians or celebrities) who support the cause, as well as blind luck. This isn’t great news in terms of actionable evidence, as it can be hard to know what constitutes the right conditions and even harder to judge best timing. On top of those uncertainties, movements themselves have their own seasons and cycles, as Carlos Saavedra from the Ayni Institute has noted. There is little direct evidence on the effect of elite allies, but few would argue with a “best bet” of trying to win over influential people to your cause. Our experts agreed that winning a positive reception from elites was a really important factor — one even claiming that this factor alone explained 80 percent of the variance in outcomes. 

    Previous Coverage
  • Movements and leaders have seasons — it’s important to know which one you are in
  • Some researchers have tried to get a firmer empirical handle on the influence of elites, such as Marco Giugni and Florence Passy in Switzerland. Their 2007 research looked at the impact of elite allies and the effect they can have, over and above that of public opinion. They found that it was a combination of protest, supportive public opinion and the presence of political allies that led to policy wins. They also found that this combination of factors led to increased spending on environmental protection and reduced spending on nuclear energy (in line with protester demands).

    Legislators adapt their policies and positions in response to public priorities — and the typical way to represent public priorities is through surveys. But protests offer another way to represent public views, and protests can also amplify public priorities. Luca Bernardi, Daniel Bischof and Ruud Wouters analyzed a data set covering nearly 40 years in four Western countries, looking at policy maker agendas, protests and public opinion. They concluded that it is very rare for protest alone to have an effect on legislators. Only when protests interact with the priorities of the public will legislators be moved to change their agendas. 

    Beyond the top three

    So we know that numbers, nonviolence and a conducive climate are crucial ingredients for success. But there were other — albeit less well-evidenced — factors that also emerged as potentially important and worth the consideration of social movements.

    Students on climate strike. (Unsplash/Callum Shaw)

    Diversity. Striking school children are not something you see every day. According to our experts, the arresting images of children waving banners gave a particularly strong signal to politicians. Protests felt inherently less political given that it was children, rather than experienced activists, who were protesting. These were not the “usual suspects.”

    The school strikes were a particularly strong example of diversity of protesters (diversity, in this case, from protester norms), but more generally we also found that greater diversity is likely to increase the chance of protest success. This might be because greater diversity appeals to more of the public — meaning there’s more chance they will support or join a movement. It also gives a clear signal to policy makers that the issue has broad public support. 

    We think it’s interesting that — while most of the social movement experts we interviewed didn’t talk about diversity — all the policy makers thought that it was important. The three U.K. civil servants thought diversity was the second most important protest factor after size. They also felt that unexpected protesters — or people who don’t often protest, like school children — give a much stronger public opinion signal than so-called typical protesters. 

    A nonviolent radical flank. The “radical flank effect” refers to the influence that a radical faction of a movement can have on support for more moderate factions. It can be positive or negative. Overall, we believe a violent radical flank is likely to have negative overall consequences, while the effects of a nonviolent radical flank are more likely to be positive. 

    Evidence from a recent 2022 experimental study from Brent Simpson, Robb Willer and Matthew Feinberg supports the idea that radical flanks can have positive effects. They found that having a radical flank that uses radical tactics leads to a better impression of a more moderate flank, whereas a flank with a radical ideology (but not radical tactics) has no impact on the more moderate flank. 

    Other research by Eric Shuman and colleagues at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands found that actions that break social norms — like being disruptive or radical — may be the most effective way to persuade those who are resistant to change. They tested this idea of “constructive disruption” in a variety of experimental settings and found that it was more persuasive than either violent or typical (non disruptive) nonviolent actions. Evidence that radical flanks can also carry a cost comes from work by Elizabeth Tompkins. She found that a radical flank increases state repression, which in turn decreases mobilization — though she also points out that these effects are not “necessarily detrimental” to the overall success of a campaign. 

    Trigger events. These highly visible, often shocking actions that vividly reveal an existing problem to a wider public can have a significant impact. The arrest of Rosa Parks in 1955 and the murder of George Floyd in 2020 were very potent trigger events, both of which led to dramatic widespread protests. This suggests that it is important for protest groups to build the groundwork so that if an opportunity comes, they can grasp it and use the chance to build momentum. 

    There is very little direct research on trigger events, partly because their unpredictability makes them hard to study, but many of the experts we spoke with mentioned their importance. If they are right, social movement organizations would be wise to plan and organize for the need to respond speedily and convincingly, mobilizing in large volume at short notice. 

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    Numbers really count… but they’re not the whole story

    In their 2016 book, “This Is an Uprising,” authors Mark Engler and Paul Engler wrote persuasively of the impact mass movements can have when pursuing strategic nonviolence. Our previous research has also found that social movement organizations that use protest as a main tactic can significantly impact public opinion, voting behavior, public discourse and to a lesser degree, direct policy outcomes. 

    If protest is an important tool of influence, it is important to think about how best to go about it. Some of our key findings are not a total surprise: numbers matter and nonviolence is the best strategy. These findings support recommendations of many social movement thinkers and help to build a clear set of guidance as to some of the key decisions social movement strategists should take to make their campaigns effective. Our evidence also points to some less well known factors that are worth considering. Being able to act on trigger events, adding to the diversity of your protester base and expanding your movement to incorporate a nonviolent radical flank might all be valuable strategic additions.

    One important note, however: Our research is not an exhaustive guide to what protest movements should do to be successful. Instead it should be seen as a summary of the current available evidence. Some factors are easier to measure than others. For example, it is a lot easier to get an idea of protest size than it is to assess an organization’s internal culture. So, there could be a bias towards some factors in the research. 

    Additionally, there are some pieces of evidence that are hard to act upon. The importance of timing, external factors and luck certainly leave some open questions. And while social movements may ebb and flow in cycles, it’s not clear what grassroots organizations should be doing in their fallow periods. Should they be focusing on internal organizational improvements or concentrating on building the sort of supporter base able to mobilize at short notice? These are areas where we think we could explore further.

    As protests grow and spread around the world, becoming an ever more popular tactic for achieving social change, we need to understand them better. We hope that our research has added value in addressing some unanswered questions about the best approaches for protest movements in their efforts to improve the world.

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    UNITE FOR JUSTICE: Extinction Rebellion, Netpol, Just Stop Oil and others join forces to take action at Royal Courts of Justice

    Extinction Rebellion - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 04:31

    Email: press@extinctionrebellion.uk
    Phone: +44(0)7561098449
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    #ExtinctionRebellion #UniteforJustice

    • People from over 25 social justice groups – including Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, and Netpol – gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice to highlight the failure of the justice system to protect the rights of people and planet 
    • A 3m high ‘Justice Arch’ with a banner stating ‘Unite for Justice’ was erected in front of the Royal Courts. The arch was topped with scales holding the Earth on one side weighed down by piles of money on the other. 
    • A table of ‘climate criminals’ was set up and actors representing Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson, and Rupert Murdoch, partied with faceless individuals bearing the logos of polluting corporations like Shell, BP, Vanguard, Monsanto, and Barclays 
    • The action marks the 80-day countdown to ‘The Big One’ on 21 April 2023, when Extinction Rebellion will bring 100,000 people to stand together at the Houses of Parliament 

    At 11.30 today, Extinction Rebellion have joined over 20 other groups – including Just Stop Oil and Netpol – outside the Royal Courts of Justice to highlight the justice system’s failure to protect the rights of people and planet.  

    The group set up a table outside the Courts of Justice where ‘climate criminals’ wearing Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson, and Rupert Murdoch masks partied with faceless representatives of polluting corporations bearing the logos of Shell, BP, Monsanto, McDonalds, Vanguard, and Barclays. 

    A 3m high ‘Justice Arch’ was erected in front of the court with a banner reading ‘Unite for Justice’. The arch was topped with scales holding the Earth on one side weighed down by piles of money on the other. Two individuals dressed as ‘Lady Justice’ – stylised as the justice we have now, and the justice we need instead – stood under the arch. 

    The action aims to highlight the UK justice system’s failure to hold those responsible for the destruction of our planet legally accountable. It also honoured Earth and human rights defenders around the world, many of whom have a disproportionate price – from incarceration to death – for taking action.   Legal cases fighting corporations, governments and the law itself were spotlighted.

    Speaking on behalf of Extinction Rebellion, Melanie Nazareth, Lawyer, said:The legal system is failing us, both here in the UK and around the world. The scales of justice, thrown out of whack by powerful vested interests and corporate might, are no longer in balance. We’re highlighting the injustice of a legal system that is too-often prepared to side with the rich and powerful, instead of defending the rights of ordinary citizens and the planet. 

    “Our world is being destroyed before our eyes, yet Lady Justice is frequently willing to look the other way. As Booker Prize-winning novelist Ben Okri recently asked: ‘“Why is it easier to punish people who are trying to save our world than to face the causes of the environmental disaster hanging over the human race?’” [1]

    Representatives from more than 25 different activist groups brought symbols of their struggle to find justice and delivered short speeches under the arch. Violet Coco, an Australian climate activist, had a symbolic burnt teddy bear, destroyed during the country’s devastating wildfires, presented on her behalf. 

    The event ended with a display of photos of activists who have lost life or liberty in their struggle to protect people and planet. Blank placards were held up to honour those whose lives are currently too at risk to be named publicly.

    Monika Sobiecki, 34, barrister and partner at Bindmans LLP, and member of Lawyers Are Responsible, said: “As the climate, ecological and biodiversity emergencies intensify, ordinary people are following their consciences and taking non-violent direct action. Many of these conscientious protectors are paying a terrible price – from incarceration to death. 

    “Meanwhile, the courts and the legal system continue to take harsh measures against peaceful protestors and are unwilling or unable to punish the real wrongdoers. There is still no international crime of ecocide, allowing individuals and corporations with money and power to irreparably damage the biosphere with impunity. 

    “Last year I and more than 250 other legal professionals, from juniors to King’s Counsel, signed a letter warning that to breach the 1.5C global warming threshold set out in the Paris Agreement would threaten mass loss of life, disorder and the end of the rule of law. This was far from enough. Now it is time for more lawyers to take a stand of conscience. We are Lawyers Are Responsible – and we are determined to make the legal profession look long and hard at themselves and their practices, to stop lawyers being perpetrators of and bystanders to the climate and ecological crises. If this chimes with you and you want to stand with us – join us.”

    Amber Rose-Dewey from Campaign Against Arms Trade said:”Justice rarely plays a role in the international arms trade. The UK government licenses billions of pounds worth of arms to human rights abusing regimes without thought to the death and misery they are causing. Profit is more important than human rights or war crimes.

    Earlier this month, Extinction Rebellion announced its ‘100 Days’ campaign, which aims to mobilise 100,000 people to stand outside the Houses of Parliament on 21 April for ‘The Big One’. Today marks the 80 day countdown to that event as Extinction Rebellion continues to build bridges with people and organisations for April. Extinction Rebellion’s official ‘ticker’ count currently shows over 10,500 people have pledged to be there.[3] 

    NOTES TO EDITORS

    [1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/06/writers-sign-letter-solidarity-jailed-uk-climate-activists

    [2] https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/lawyers-should-have-ethical-obligation-to-advice-on-climate-risks

    [3] https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-big-one/

    ABOUT EXTINCTION REBELLION

    Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, and the societal collapse and mass loss of life that that implies. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts. 

    Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

    Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

    1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
    2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
    3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

    The post <strong>UNITE FOR JUSTICE: Extinction Rebellion, Netpol, Just Stop Oil and others join forces to take action at Royal Courts of Justice</strong> appeared first on Extinction Rebellion UK.

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    UK: Front Doors Smashed at University of Cambridge’s Chemical Engineering Department

    Earth First! Newswire - Mon, 01/30/2023 - 14:48

    from This Is Not a Drill

    HIT REPORT. Over the weekend, environmental activists smashed the glass doors at the University of Cambridge Department of Chemical Engineering’s main entrance. They took this action in protest of the department’s fossil fuel research, funding and lobbying. The activists also spray-painted the words “THIS IS NOT A DRILL” on the building’s main walkway in red.

    In a report to climate action reporting website This Is Not a Drill, the activists gave two reasons for targeting the department. “This department was founded with money from Shell and it’s committed to keeping up its fossil fuel connections over the years – including collaboration with BP, Exxon and Schlumberger. Because of this, Chemical Engineering staff lobbied against against a recent vote to cut fossil fuel research ties at the University of Cambridge. It shows how completely corrupt they are.”

    According to Fossil Free Research, partnerships such as those maintained by the Chemical Engineering department bias research outcomes. The vote referred to is the recent motion (also known as a Grace) which was blocked by the University of Cambridge’s governing body from going to a full vote after intervention from fossil fuel funded scientists, including several from the Department of Chemical Engineering.

    A member of the protest group spoke about why they broke the glass: “Companies like Shell and Exxon have profited from murder and the theft of land, and the University of Cambridge doesn’t just work with them – it actively protects them. If votes and conversations won’t change that, maybe direct action will.”

    The protest follows several notable climate actions reported by This Is Not a Drill in the last three months:

    • In October, the front windows were smashed at fossil fuel giant Schlumberger’s oil research centre in Cambridge, which hosts a test oil drill on University of Cambridge land.
    • In November, Cambridge’s Department of Engineering was targeted for its research collaborations with BP and Shell, as well as its doctoral training centres funded by fossil fuel companies. Protestors shattered its rock-shaped advertising screen in multiple places, which still hasn’t been fixed.
    • Most recently, at the start of this month, the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies was spray-painted to highlight its sponsorship by numerous fossil fuel companies and the oil company executives on its board.
    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    US Bank and Wells Fargo Smashed for Tortuguita and Tyre Nichols

    Earth First! Newswire - Mon, 01/30/2023 - 10:33

    from Scenes from the Atlanta Forest

    1/29/2023

    In response to the murders of Tyre Nichols and Tortuguita by fascist pigs, militants from occupied Dakota/Lakota/Anishinaabe land -so called Minneapolis- attacked two banks on the south side. US Bank and Wells Fargo were chosen due to their funding of “cop city” in the Weelaunee forest.

    Militants tagged bank windows with “defend the forest”, “fuck 12”, “eat shit Frey” and “rest in peace Tortuguita and Tyre Nichols”.

    Our message of solidarity extends past written words to the shattered windows and broken ATMs in our wake.

    We appreciate the work of the bloc tonight in Minneapolis. Drawing the attention of and keeping distracted an entire city’s pig department is no easy task in these freezing temperatures. Your bravery is radiant.

    Long Live the Forest
    Rest in Power Tyre Nichols and Tortuguita
    Eat Shit Frey
    This is only the beginning <3

    Submitted anonymously over email

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    ‘Defend Human Rights’: Extinction Rebellion and Kill the Bill call on House of Lords to reject Public Order Bill

    Extinction Rebellion - Mon, 01/30/2023 - 10:06

    Email: press@extinctionrebellion.uk
    Phone: +44(0)7561098449
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    #ExtinctionRebellion #KilltheBill

    At 5pm today, crowds gathered outside Parliament as “draconian” anti-protest laws in the Public Order Bill reached a crucial stage in the House of Lords. 

    Twelve protesters from Extinction Rebellion disrupted proceedings from the public viewing platform in the Peers Chamber during the debate, wearing T-shirts printed with the words: ‘Defend Human Rights’. No one was arrested.

    Attending the debate, Marion Malcher, 67, from Woking said: “This draconian legislation severely infringes on our human right to peacefully protest. Never in my lifetime have I seen the government push through such oppressive laws with such a low threshold for criminality.”

    Biologist Alex Penson, 39, from London said: “I’m terrified that the government is rapidly shutting down all ways to hold it to account, especially on issues of inequality and the climate and the ecological emergency. The right to protest and the right to strike is crucial for a free and sustainable society.”

    Jane Leggett, 72, from London, said: “I spent 35 years mainly teaching English to 16-19 year-olds in Hackney and Islington. Only the dystopian, post-apocalyptic literature we studied could describe the society young people can look forward to as envisioned by this vicious Tory Public Order Bill, and by successive governments’ inaction on effectively addressing the climate and ecological emergency.”

    Introduced by the former Home Secretary, Priti Patel, in May 2022, the Public Order Bill is widely criticised by campaigners, lawyers, the policing inspectorate (HMICFRS), and the police and the Home Office themselves for threatening civil liberties in the UK.

    New measures called Serious Disruption Prevention Orders (SDPOs) are alarmingly far-reaching, with reduced thresholds and legal standards. Clause 20 would allow a lower, civil standard of proof to be used to impose criminal sanctions on individuals who have not even been convicted of an offence. 

    Clauses 10 and 11 of the Bill could exacerbate police racism with expanded stop and search powers. Previously reserved for protecting against only the most serious violence and acts of terrorism, these powers would now apply to non-violent, (currently) legal activities.

    People of colour are at least nine times more likely to face Stop and Searches than white people. Fifteen per cent of these are conducted without reasonable grounds for suspicion. With less than 3% of Stop and Searches resulting in arrests, it is clear that officers are already abusing their powers. 

    Anyone could be stopped and searched without suspicion, for being in any way associated with protest or carrying a vast array of everyday items, like bike locks or glue.

    The threshold for applying these powers is so low that it could capture nearly anyone – not only peaceful protesters but unknowing passers by. It would mean so many more people will be exposed to this invasive, often traumatic experience, where police are empowered to use force.

    ABOUT EXTINCTION REBELLION

    Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, and the societal collapse and mass loss of life that that implies. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts. 

    Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

    Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

    1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
    2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
    3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

    The post ‘Defend Human Rights’: Extinction Rebellion and Kill the Bill call on House of Lords to reject Public Order Bill appeared first on Extinction Rebellion UK.

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    Extinction Rebellion posts blue plaques for MPs who voted against protection for rivers

    Extinction Rebellion - Sat, 01/28/2023 - 02:32

    Email: press@extinctionrebellion.uk
    Phone: +44(0)7561098449
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    #ExtinctionRebellion

    Over 80 blue plaques in the style of English Heritage’s London blue plaques have appeared on UK beaches and rivers on Saturday 28 January.[1] The plaques hoped to highlight the decision made by UK politicians to block a law that would see better protection for rivers from raw sewage dumping.[2] The plaques have been installed around the UK by various environmental groups including Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Surfers Against Sewage. Some blue plaque unveilings will be accompanied by actions and protests.

    The blue plaques read ”The UK government voted to block a law requiring the water companies to dump less raw sewage in our waterways and seas – 20 Oct ‘21”. Some plaques in constituencies of the politicians who voted to block this law will be naming the individual MPs.

    20 October 2021 refers to the date when MPs blocked an amendment to the Environment Bill, which would have forced water companies in the UK to properly clean up sewage before discharge. Instead, it was decided to incentivise them to make improvements or be fined. Since privatisation, water companies have done little to prevent sewage spills, despite making £2.8 billion profit in 2021.[3] Last summer alone, over 90 beaches were closed to the public [4] after water companies discharged sewage into the waters which left beaches contaminated with human sewage. In December 2022 the Environment Agency announced it was pushing back targets [5] to clean up England’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters from 2027 to 2063, adding further risk to vulnerable ecosystems and precious water resources.

    In Northamptonshire, six MPs including Kettering’s Philip Hollobone, voted to allow water companies to continue dumping raw sewage into waterways. Blue plaques dedicated to these MPs will be installed on Deeble Road Bridge in Kettering and two more will be unveiled in Northampton. In Shrewsbury, the group Up Sewage Creek is teaming up with XR for their local Dirty Water protest.

    At St Agnes in Cornwall, XR members are organising an event with Surfers Against Sewage at 2pm on Saturday 28 January 2023 to unveil their blue plaque on the local beach. St Agnes Marine Conservation Group will be running a stall, a mass dip into the sea, and a mass surfing paddle.  

    Kawita Sharp, a local XR activist, said: “I am a mother, surf lifeguard and GP; I strive to keep my family and community healthy. Raw sewage dumping is a disgrace from a human and planetary health perspective; the government and industries responsible need to be held accountable for their actions”

    Etienne Stott, retired Olympic Gold Medal canoeist who still canoes on the River Trent when he can and member of Extinction Rebellion, says: “The Government will say that the level of untreated sewage in our waterways is unacceptable, but their actions show insufficient urgency. They will point to record levels of fines recently levied on water companies, but all that shows is how little action was taken and how few fines were given out in the past. Less money is being invested than is being paid out in dividends to shareholders. Both the water companies and the Government simply must do more and more quickly”.

    In Morecambe, swimmers reported that they saw the sewage in the water, which had been release by United Utilities, the local water company. On Saturday a town crier will announce the pollution problems after which the local community will unveil their plaque.

    Matt Panesh, a local swimmer said: “I go swimming regularly in Morecambe Bay, but I can’t when the water companies are releasing so much untreated sewage. I’m not sure which is worse, swimming in my own sewage, or swimming in that of my neighbours!”

    This is the first of a series of Dirty Water actions planned across the UK.  Extinction Rebellion is asking anyone who cares about our rivers and seas to join the Dirty Water coalition campaign and speak out. 

    Notes to editor

    Images: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1zU-b9KUmIh4EJihd3GfVMYAbrpzhrSGl?usp=share_link  More images will be added on 28th January 2023. Contains images of Brighton Dirty Water and Somerset Mog-Watch Blue Plaque Actions. 

    Links:

    1. About the original Blue Plaques scheme: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/about-blue-plaques/ 
    2. Environment Bill passes following lengthy battle over sewage – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-59225648 
    3. Fury as water companies make £2.8BILLION in profits amid scandal of dumping raw sewage in rivers – https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10503873/Fury-water-companies-make-2-8BILLION-profits-amid-scandal-dumping-raw-sewage-rivers.html 
    4. Around 90 of Britain’s beaches have suffered from sewage pollution this summer, alerts reveal – https://inews.co.uk/news/britains-beaches-sewage-pollution-summer-1811314 
    5. Target date for cleaning up England’s waterways pushed back by 36 years – https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/target-date-for-cleaning-up-englands-waterways-pushed-back-by-36-years-340952/ 

    ABOUT EXTINCTION REBELLION

    Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, and the societal collapse and mass loss of life that that implies. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts. 

    Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

    Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

    1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
    2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
    3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

    The post Extinction Rebellion posts blue plaques for MPs who voted against protection for rivers appeared first on Extinction Rebellion UK.

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    Three More Actions in Solidarity with Atlanta Forest Defenders

    Earth First! Newswire - Fri, 01/27/2023 - 10:19
    Durham Wells Fargo Tagged

    from Scenes from the Atlanta Forest

     

    Alta Vista Office Attacked in Lenapehoking

    from Scenes from the Atlanta Forest

    In the early hours of January 25th, the New York City office of Alta Vista, a subsidiary of Cop City collaborator Atlas Technical Consultants, was attacked in revenge for the killing of a beautiful queer Afro-Indigenous revolutionary some of us knew by the name Tortuguita. Alta Vista’s glass lobby doors got smashed—we hear for the second time—and messages were left in spray paint: Avenge Tort, Stop Cop City

    Tortuguita should be here. It is unbearable that they are not—biking through the forest; cracking jokes about kratom; excitedly debating anarchist theory; organizing to sustain life in their communities; meeting all power and borders with unwavering hostility. We will never forget how these monsters took our friend’s precious life. We will make sure they never forget either.

    May Tortuguita’s smile be the flame we carry to set this civilization on fire, and may it be the light that reminds us to love each other over the ashes.

     

    Portland Oregon Solidarity Action With Atlanta and the Atlanta Forest Defenders from Rose City Counter-Info

    “On 1/20/23 anarchists in Portland, Oregon went after the UPS shipping center in Portland in retaliation after a comrade was recently murdered by the Atlanta Police.

    Anarchists broke somewhere between 10-15 large windows and started multiple small fires within the building. UPS is one of the biggest companies currently donating to the Cop City Project in Atlanta.

    On 1/18/23 Atlanta police attempted a raid in the forest that was being protected by forest defenders and once they showed up they opened fire and killed a forest defender.

    We want to express our love toward Tortuguita who was also known as Cami, as well as to all their comrades and loved ones.

    Atlanta police stole a comrade and friend to many people from us on 1/18/23. few broken windows will never undo what the Atlanta police did but hopefully continued actions can bring the change that Cami wished for and hoped to see one day.

    We call for more actions directly toward the companies that are donating to and funding the Cop City project in Atlanta. Forest defenders have a right to stay in the forest, and groups will continue to retaliate until the Cop City Project is cancelled.

    Love from PDX to ATL”

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    BREAKING: Barclays 7 given 2 years unconditional suspended sentence for breaking glass during an emergency

    Extinction Rebellion - Fri, 01/27/2023 - 09:16

    Email: press@extinctionrebellion.uk
    Phone: +44(0)7561098449
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    #ExtinctionRebellion #Barclays7

    At 4.30pm this afternoon, seven women attended sentencing at Southwark Crown Court in London for carefully cracking windows at Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf, to draw attention to Barclays’ financing of fossil fuels and to call on the bank to stop accelerating the climate emergency. All seven women were given two years unconditional suspended sentences. 

    The defendants – Rosemary Annie Webster, 64, Cazzie Wood, 53, Gabby Ditton, 28, Lucy Porter, 48, Sophie Cowen, 31 and Zoe Cohen, 52 and one other – were found guilty during a two week trial last November after being charged with just under £100k worth of criminal damage at Barclays HQ in April 2021.[1] Webster, Wood, Ditton, Cohen and one other received 8 months suspended for 2 years; Porter received 7 months suspended and Cowen received 6 months suspended. All of them will pay £500 each towards prosecution costs to be paid within 1 year. A Crowdfunder has been started to support them.

    Sophie Cowen said: Sometimes we have to make difficult decisions, and sometimes we have to go beyond what we see as the norm. I certainly did when I took this action. I wasn’t sure whether it might put the social enterprise I built from scratch into jeopardy. But I also knew that I had to do something. I had to do something more than a traditional campaign. I had to do something more to break them out of business as usual, to stop the harm, to wake them up from their relentless cycle of fossil fuel funding. To help them to make the decisions that they know, in their hearts, beyond the profits, beyond the reputation – are the ones that will support life.

    “The decisions we make today will shape our tomorrow. The climate crisis isn’t ‘our belief’ or ‘our opinion’. It’s the truth. And it’s here. We can only solve the climate crisis if we, together, question what we’re told can’t change, and together, write a new history.”

    Zoe Cohen said: “146 million people across Africa are facing extreme hunger caused by climate drought – that’s more than twice the entire population of the UK. Imagine you, your family and your whole community literally starving. This is now, and this real life horror story is currently only going one way. Mass hunger and cold here in the UK is also a result of banks, government and corporations addiction to fossil fuels and short term profit above all else.

    “Banks like Barclays have funded this death project. This is not an accident. The people on the Boards of Barclays and the other major ‘investors’ have made these decisions. They have put short term gain for the already rich above the lives and health of billions, even above the continuation of organised human civilisation. I stand by my actions, and I was will to take the consequences. It is blindingly obvious that it is Nigel Higgins, the Chair of Barclays, and the rest of the Board members who should be in prison and not the ordinary women trying to stop this genocide.”

    Cazzie Wood said: “I’m just a working class mum desperately trying to protect my daughter’s future from irreversible and catastrophic climate breakdown. We have less than 1,000 days to do this. We need to act on the science now!”

    This morning more than 100 women dressed as suffragettes marched from the Bank of England to the court with banners and placards saying ‘Barclays are the Real Criminals’ and ‘Barclays Profit while the World Burns’ to show their support and read speeches in solidarity. When there, the defendants were joined by Helen Pankhurst, great granddaughter of Suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst; actor Juliet Stevenson; campaigners Phoebe Plummer, an activist with Just Stop Oil who recently threw soup over a painting; Pragna Patel, the founder of Southall Black Sisters, and Clare Farrell, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion.

    Helen Pankhurst, great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, said: “It takes courage to challenge the status quo, to risk prison for a cause and to speak truth to power. I’m here in support of the Climate Activists being sentenced today, and in memory of my grandmother and great-grandmother and all the suffragettes who did likewise, over a century ago.”

    Pragna Patel, founding member of Southall Black Sisters and campaigner for race and gender justice said: “Throughout history, we have seen that the right to protest and dissent is vital in any movement for social justice: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and many others have taught us that civil disobedience and non-cooperation lie at the very heart of struggles for democracy and social justice. 

    “This is why our right to protest is under attack everywhere. We understand this as women who have had to struggle for survival in the face of abuse at home and on the streets, and we know we have to stand by the climate justice activists in the face of these show trials: we stand together, because we may be in the dock in their place tomorrow.”

    Juliet Stevenson, actor said: “Nonviolent protesters are today facing the prospect of prison. But we all know who the real criminals are. They are those in government, in fossil fuel companies and in banks who are refusing to take action on the climate emergency and are condemning our children and grandchildren to an unlivable future. I am glad to be here today in solidarity with those who are standing up for the environment with deeds and words.”

    The women who were sentenced aimed to increase public awareness of Barclays role in climate change. Barclays is the UK and Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels. Since 2021, when the International Energy Agency concluded there could be no new oil, gas or coal development if the world was to reach net zero by 2050, Barclays has invested over $19 billion in fossil fuels. Since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, their total investment in fossil fuels is over $166 billion.[2[[3][4]

    Extinction Rebellion is recommending that local residents who use Barclays switch their accounts to a more ethical bank using information services such as: https://www.switchit.green/about.

    EDITORS NOTES

     [1] The “Barclays 7” – Rosemary Annie Webster, 64, Cazzie Wood, 54, Gabby Ditton, 28, Lucy Porter, 48, Sophie Cowen, 31, Zoe Cohen, 52 and one other – were charged with just under £100k worth of criminal damage at Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf in April 2021.
    https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2022/12/05/breaking-judgement-validates-barclays-deadly-support-for-fossil-fuels-in-xr-vs-barclays-case/


    [2] International Energy Agency: Net Zero by 2050 https://iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/deebef5d-0c34-4539-9d0c-10b13d840027/NetZeroby2050-ARoadmapfortheGlobalEnergySector_CORR.pdf


    [3] ] Banking on climate chaos report, 2022:  https://reclaimfinance.org/site/en/2022/03/30/banking-on-climate-chaos-report-2022/

    [4] “Climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying, and some trends are now irreversible, at least during the present time frame”
    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
    https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/08/1097362

    [5] https://www.switchit.green/about


    ABOUT EXTINCTION REBELLION

    Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, and the societal collapse and mass loss of life that that implies. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts. 

    Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

    Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

    1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
    2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
    3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

    The post <strong>BREAKING: Barclays 7 given 2 years unconditional suspended sentence for breaking glass during an emergency</strong> appeared first on Extinction Rebellion UK.

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    Germany: People Torch Strabag Construction Vehicle in Solidarity with Lutzerath

    Earth First! Newswire - Thu, 01/26/2023 - 09:53

    from Unoffensive Animal

    Note: photo not associated with action

    The Strabag construction group runs a dirty business: highway and jail construction. In addition, the company cooperates intensively with the energy company RWE on the opencast mines in the Rhenish lignite mining area, also directly near Lützerath. Now we have joined the action campaign against Strabag and continue the fight against the mining of the extremely climate-damaging lignite in a decentralized way! Lützerath is everywhere and wherever we are, our resistance can unfold in many ways!

    The small hamlet of Lützerath has made it to worldwide fame after its occupation, although this place had been doomed for a long time. The fight against the eviction and the brutally enforced capital interests of RWE, Strabag and Co. was magnificent, although the destruction of the place could not be prevented. Lützerath is currently the symbol of resistance against the deadly energy policy of the government at the federal level and in NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia). Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, have made it clear that something has to change fundamentally and that the state and its police do not bring justice, but rather help capital achieve its objectives in the most brutal way.

    Lützerath is lost, but the battle can now be fought with renewed fires! In any place!

    With our small contribution and very simple means, we see ourselves as part of an alliance with all forms of struggle of the anti-capitalist climate movement. Demonstrations, sit-ins, discussions, attacks, gluing, sabotage, lock-ons, occupations and tunnels – anything that helps in our counterattack for the good of all life!

    Much love to all the injured and the prisoners.
    source: https://de.indymedia.org/node/252737
    translated by Nae Midion

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    How Russians, Indigenous people and Belarusians are uniting to resist the war in Ukraine

    Waging Nonviolence - Thu, 01/26/2023 - 07:37

    Anastasia Witts, a U.K.-based arts producer, wasn’t yet out of bed on the morning of Feb. 24 when her phone buzzed with news notifications of Ukraine being invaded. Despite the shock, the first thing she did was post on Facebook: “This war is not in my name.” Looking back, she said she felt “compelled to react immediately, to show I understand what is going on, and I am not part of it.” 

    Witts left Russia years ago, after Putin became president, knowing what an ex-KGB officer in power meant for the future of the country. In the U.K., she found herself straying from the everyday politics of her homeland. “Half of my life is in Britain, I don’t ‘feel’ Russian on a daily basis. I am only reminded if someone asks where my accent is from.” 

    This understanding quickly eroded as bombs fell over Ukrainian cities. Witts soon became entangled in a situation where her identity as a Russian carried a different weight now, and she decided to act. Within a month of the war, Witts had set up The Voice Of Russia, or TVOR — a nonprofit comprised of Russian creatives around the world, standing united against the war in Ukraine.  Witts also volunteers with Ukrainian refugees in the U.K. with the “Homes for Ukraine” project.  

    Witts is hardly the exception among Russian expats scattered around the world. Even as diaspora Russians often find themselves on the receiving end of scornful sentiments, many are joining with antiwar activists in Russia and neighboring Belarus to form a growing global network of resistance that’s gone largely overlooked. Despite the intense repression — where even a city council official can receive a 7-year prison sentence for criticizing the war —  antiwar Russians and Belarusians can be found everywhere, engaging in resistance activities under the unifying phrase of “Free Russia, victory to Ukraine, justice for Belarus.” It’s these demands and a strong belief in people power that keep the movement alive despite adversity.

    Anastasia Witts speaking at a protest in the U.K. (WNV/Anastasia Witts)

    Polling dissidence  

    With Russia’s best weapon being its control over the narrative, activists gather evidence to counter disinformation. Alexey Minyaylo is an opposition politician who has been detained for his activism in the past, but that hasn’t slowed him down. On the day the war started, Minyaylo called friends and colleagues to make plans. “People wanted to rally in Moscow,” he explained. “I persuaded them not to go because it was dangerous. We took the responsibility to do something more than going to street protests.”  

    Ever since, Minyaylo and his colleagues have been collecting statistics and scoping public opinion for the Chronicles project they founded. The idea was conceived out of the need to address Putin’s propaganda and weaponization of false polls, which has led to the Kremlin falsely citing that 70 percent of Russians support the war. According to Minyaylo, this number is significantly inflated due to the inclusion of troops sent to the frontline and those who fear the consequences of saying otherwise. “Dictatorships rely on the ‘illusion of majorities,’ and people think the majority shares the goals of the state, approving its actions,” said Minyaylo, whose project has enabled antiwar Russians to address the Kremlin’s false consensus. 

    Alexey Minyaylo

    Since February, the Chronicles team has conducted seven polls, with findings that paint a very different picture. The data was collected by questioning a representative sample of 1,800 people each time. In the Chronicle polls, when those who said they support the war were asked “should the special operation end as soon as possible without reaching military goals or should the Russian army fight until Ukraine is defeated,” only 36 percent said that the “special operation” should continue. “After multiple experiments, we found the real level of support being somewhere around 25-35 percent, which is a more realistic level of declared support for the war,” Minyaylo said.  

    Crucially, since March, Chronicles has noted a turnaround in people’s attitudes towards the war. “Support is dropping, and we don’t see any factors that would change this,” Minyaylo said, noting that supporters have indicated prolongation of the war or incompetence might change their attitude. “Every day the war gets longer, and people see the incompetence, if not crimes.” This is also corroborated by recently-leaked Kremlin documents showing that support for the war is fading.  

    While Chronicles sparked discussions domestically and abroad — receiving quite a bit of publicity as a result — Russians, in particular, have shown their support. “It’s heartening for people to know they’re not alone,” Minyaylo said, recognizing that amid the propaganda, it is hard to know what the next person is thinking.  

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    Diaspora at the front lines of dissent 

    Diaspora groups are essential in coordinating antiwar action. Among them is the young activist Vladislava Petrova. Although her family left Russia in the 1990s for Italy, she was always connected to Russia, being vocal on issues such as LGBT discrimination. It was when the war started that Petrova became an “all-out activist.” As she explained, “Everyone with a glimpse of consciousness couldn’t just stay silent. So many of us started organizing without prior knowledge of how to do so.” She is now co-organizing the activities of the Russian Democratic Society, which — since February — has led protests, supported fundraisers and facilitated a global network of antiwar Russian groups “from New York to Seoul,” as Petrova described it.  

    Previous Coverage
  • ‘A flame was lit in our hearts’ — How Ukrainians are building online networks for resistance and mutual aid
  • Initially, Russian activists were joining protests organized by Ukrainian diaspora groups, but eventually they decided to conduct their activities separately — in part because, as Petrova explained, “We understood it might be painful for Ukrainian people to see us there.” These diaspora groups are able to connect to each other and pursue action away from the suppression they’d be facing inside Russia. Petrova said this is unprecedented because Russian emigrants don’t have a culture of “sticking together” and lack strong community structures abroad. Given that the war came as a shock to many, they had to mobilize quickly to create these networks from scratch. “We’re more united than ever,” she said. “It makes me sad this had to happen as a result of war, but I hope it means change is coming.” 

    These networks are important for providing a much-needed common space. Petrova shared her experience of attending antiwar meetings in Italy where Belarusian, Ukrainian, Russian and local groups came together under one roof, which left her with a feeling of empowerment. Similarly, Witts also found a way to help amplify the voices of Ukrainian artists by helping with the publication of a special issue for a Belgian magazine dedicated to Ukrainian artists. “We don’t leave our footprint on this project,” Witts said.

    In these spaces, Russian Indigenous and ethnic minority groups have a strong presence. Tuyara is an ethnic Sakha from Yakutia, Siberia. [Her real name has been withheld for safety reasons.] While studying in Moscow, the racism and discrimination Tuyara faced, played a part in her decision to leave the country. She initially joined the protests of other Russian groups, but after seeing the devastating impact of  Putin’s mobilization on minorities, she decided ethnic people should organize separately to bring attention to their cause.

    The Free Buryatia Foundation found that ethnic Buryats are eight times more likely to be killed in the war — and Tuva people 10 times more likely — than Slavic Russians.“ Seeing other ethnic minorities face the same problem means we must be united,” said Tuyara, who set up the London branch of Indigenous Minorities of Russia Against the War along with other minority individuals living in exile. “A lot of ethnic women went to protest because if we don’t speak out the Russian army will take our men. We go by the saying ‘It’s 10 or 10.’ Either 10 years in prison or 10 minutes in the war,” Tuyara said. For some, cooperating with other Russian antiwar groups is important to their cause. “The relationship between us is great, and when we organized our first protest, the other groups supported us a lot.” They spread the word, brought microphones and speakers, took photos and provided a steward to ensure everyone kept safe. 

    Indigenous people in exile — apart from protesting outside Russian embassies — also organized various international actions such as “Salam of Peace and Friendship.” Inspired by ancient Indigenous traditions, they tied multicolored ribbons on a rope with the word “peace” in the different languages of the peoples of Russia. Recently, Indigenous groups sent an appeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, bringing attention to the threats facing Indigenous antiwar activists.  

    Vera Horton at a Belarusian diaspora women’s protest in London last year. (WNV/Vera Horton)

    Antiwar Belarusians are facing a similar situation, as the country’s dictator Aleksander Lukashenko is supporting Putin while intensifying opposition crackdowns within Belarus. Many activists have been forced out of the country and are now compelled to operate from exile. One such person is Vera Horton, a U.K.-based Belarusian actress, who, like Witts, had left much of her homeland life behind. Horton’s life as an activist started two years earlier when Belarus was shaken by anti-regime protests. They were a culmination of the very reasons she left in the early 2000s: fizzled out post-90s reforms, crushing authoritarianism, dependence on Russia and no real hope for change. “In 2020 my belief that Lukashenko will remain in power forever ended as Belarusians fought for freedom,” Horton said. “A new generation has grown wanting change, including the diaspora. My idea ‘we shouldn’t worry about it’ completely transformed into me becoming an activist.”  

    Since then, Horton has gotten involved with opposition groups in exile, such as Our House, a collective of Belarusian civil rights defenders campaigning against Belarus’s involvement in the war, while also supporting Ukraine. “Russian aggression in Ukraine opened the eyes of many because we suddenly realized we are already occupied and our establishment is dominated by Russia.” Belarusians have been attending marches and protests organized by Ukrainians and helping with other cultural actions, such as readings, theatrical performances and exhibitions. Moreover, Belarusian activists in exile — including those in Ukraine — also preoccupied themselves with fundraising or volunteering. “Belarusians help Ukrainians despite their government’s stance,” Horton said. “We’re united in how we see the situation.” 

     Supporting resistance inside Russia and Belarus 

    In order to circumvent online repression, activists like Minyaylo and his team have leaned on tactics that allow Russians to take a stand without opening themselves up to prosecution and detention, such as sending antiwar appeals to local deputies. The first such appeal was launched in April 2022, urging deputies to accept a law that conscripts won’t be sent to the “special operation.” The second appeal, launched in July, was about helping refugees. They created a database of 6,000 regional deputies and more than 45,000 letters were sent through this platform. “We formulated the appeals in a way the police could not use them to start a criminal case,” Minyaylo said.  

    Similarly, Witts’s TVOR project also aims to maintain the links of communication with Russians inside the country. “We received massive support from Russian people, who were delighted that we talk with the rest of the world on their behalf and kept this thread of communication for them,” Witts explained. She added that there are many artists who sent TVOR work to publish because they couldn’t do so back home, or many who approached them just to help with the project. “I want to hear from everyday people living with the shame of the war and need to protest. It’s important to support them and show them they’re not alone. I am proud of what we’ve done because someone somewhere will be able to say ‘When I felt forgotten I had this channel.’”  

    Meanwhile, Indigenous groups protesting within Russia have created a network of support with minority groups in exile. These organizations are a lifeline for Indigenous people at risk. Their activities involve educating people about their rights, spreading real time information about the war and mobilization for military conscription — such as how to avoid it or how to convince their close ones not to enlist. Some groups also help evacuate people in risk of conscription by providing logistical and financial support.  

    Previous Coverage
  • ‘Poison for the people’ — How an exiled activist is countering Russia’s propaganda machine
  • Spreading this information has been challenging due to media censorship, making it almost impossible for people in the Indigenous regions — known as the Republics — to read anything other than Kremlin-controlled news. Still, some use VPNs to access social media, which is one place where activists can try to get their attention. “Our priority is to inform as many people as possible. We circulate these materials not only because they can help someone in need but also to ring the alarm for those who avoid reality, thinking the war won’t affect them,” Tuyara said.  

    In Belarus, even Lukashenko supporters acknowledge the risks of sending their kids to war — and war, according to Horton, is one thing most Belarusians agree they don’t want. However, with Russian recruiters overpromising lucrative salaries or easy pathways to Russian citizenship, many were tempted to enlist. “For us, this situation is a new Afghanistan,” Horton explained. “The ‘80s Afghan war hit Belarus severely. I remember coffins coming in the neighborhood blocks and cemeteries filled with the bodies of young boys.” As a result, many Belarusian groups are waging an effort to prevent others from going to war, such as Our House, which started a campaign around denying forcible conscription called No Means No. There are also groups that help deserters or conscripts run away. “We do anything possible to make sure people who don’t want to go to war won’t go to war,” Horton said.  

    Another sustaining component of the antiwar movement in Russia and Belarus is the effort to support political prisoners. Both Horton and Tuyara gave accounts of Putin and Lukashenko going not only after activists but also their families, with the prison complex and judiciary being weaponized to suppress the movement. Groups such as the Yakutia Foundation and OVD-Info are invaluable resources for those detained due to their participation in antiwar activities. Russian Democratic Society also regularly fundraises for these groups, organizing letter-writing sessions for political prisoners in Russia and helping to raise awareness of their condition. At the same time, Horton and her community also organize public protests demanding freedom for political prisoners. 

    What is standing in the way?  

    Amid this oppressive reality, morale is low. According to Minyaylo, “The main problem is not that Russians are ‘blood-thirsty’ but that Russians do not believe they can change anything.” Witts also sees these tendencies in many Russians, even those who oppose the regime and the war. “They feel that nothing depends on them, and they succumb to this sentiment.”  

    While Horton also acknowledged this trend, she was quick to point out that “Belarusians were in a similar situation prior to 2020, so Russians might also wake up.”   

    Vladislava Petrova at one of the first Russian protests in front of Russian Embassy in London last April. (WNV/Vladislava Petrova)

    One thing that isn’t helping is the loss of experienced activists — via imprisonment and exodus — who can guide younger activists within Russia and Belarus. Communication links are thinning out, leaving those inside the country with slimmer resources to pursue antiwar activities. Symbolically, one of the last major actions the Kremlin took before the war to was shut down Memorial, a prominent human rights organization that kept inquiring about Russia’s conduct during military operations abroad. Reflecting on the situation, Petrova said, “The generation born in the 2000s never knew anyone in power other than Putin or what it is like to live without a dictator.” Petrova, for example, was four when Putin was elected, and now she is 28. “It’s a really long time, and now young people don’t have anyone to guide them because everybody who was experienced is in jail or in exile.”  

    Similarly, polarization obstructs activists trying to concentrate their efforts as a group. Witts says she is pessimistic about the unification of the antiwar movement. “Russians have a lot to learn from the Belarusian and Ukrainian opposition managing to drop their differences for the sake of a united action.” She traces this issue to the lack of national unity, a byproduct of deep divisions within Russian society, embedded in social, economic, political and historical structures. 

    “To put it crudely, half of the country’s ancestors were gulag prisoners and the other half’s ancestors were the ones guarding them,” said Witts, who added that there has never been consensus on how to act even among democratic forces. Beyond activism, divisions are exacerbated by the people who are “inbetween,” as outside hostility has given Putin an opportunity to swing them to his side by instilling in them the notion that the West hates them. 

    Things are slowly changing thanks to efforts to bring people under one umbrella. “Younger generations start from grassroots movements, uniting on the basis of feminism, LGBTQ rights or democracy,” Witts said. “I think younger Russians show more ability to self-organize and come to terms with their differences. I hope they will push things further than my generation of the ‘90s did.” 

    Still, structural issues are enormous barriers to movement-builders operating from within Russia or Belarus. Petrova explained that while a lot of organizations have horizontal structures — meaning if one person gets detained the whole organization won’t cease to exist — the main problem is the need to be secretive because the Federal Security Service has insiders everywhere. “You can only achieve things when there is trust,” she said. “Those who were trust-worthy have mostly left Russia. The ones left behind can’t be sure about the next person. It’s hard to organize on a mass-scale when much energy and resources are spent on verifying those around you aren’t spying.”  

    In Belarus, activists also face structural paralysis over how to proceed in an environment of uncertainty. According to Horton, Lukashenko’s stance on the war is inconsistent and while he doesn’t want to be part of it, he is subservient to Putin and relies on him to stay in power. “We try to go toward elections even from exile, so we can form a group of elected reps,” Horton said. “We can’t make Lukashenko step down without having someone to replace him.” The uprising of 2020 continues despite repression, but according to Horton, Belarusians don’t communicate as much as they should — meaning those who move in political circles make different kinds of friends, and the movement remains divided with multiple different actions happening simultaneously.  

    Vera Horton marching against the war in London last year. (WNV/Vera Horton)

    Broken glass too sharp to pick up

    The war has tremendous consequences on how activist communities interact. People inside Russia have no contacts with the Ukrainian side because it is dangerous, according to Minyaylo. Many Ukrainian activists also consciously decided not to engage with Russians. Though understandable, Horton said, “It is difficult to get across the notion that there are people in Russia who oppose the war and stand with Ukraine.”  

    Outside of Russia, Witts said her community does experience examples of solidarity with some groups of the Belarusian and Ukrainian diaspora, which is surprising to them. “It is necessary to continue trying to approach Ukrainian people, carefully and with honesty,” she explained. “One must be prepared to hear certain unpleasant things or walk away when they’re asked to.” 

    As for Belarusians, dealing with Russians is complicated. “I’m personally happy they’re there despite how things stand at the moment,” Horton said, explaining that while many Belarusians disagree with Russian politics, they do think that somebody needs to influence the situation. “I believe we should encourage antiwar forces in Russia. We can teach them, because Russian activism, in terms of organizing, is two years behind us.”   

    However, like Ukrainians, Horton believes Belarusians will also go their separate way, and working with the Russian opposition will remain an undercover activity only few will be willing to do. “The war has awakened in us a ‘genetic memory,’” she said. “We’re uniting against Russia as our ancestors did. Russians — activists included — don’t understand why they’re treated as an ‘enemy’ because they don’t consider themselves one. They believe Putin is the enemy of the Russian people as well. They have a long way to go.”  

    Relations among Russian people aren’t much better than those described above. Petrova observed how the war has only widened gaps. “My friends hold the same views,” she said. “Yet, we had to cut ties with a part of my family in Russia because they believe in Kremlin propaganda, and we couldn’t convince them otherwise.” With many activists having similar experiences to share, Witts noted that Russians who condemn the war often do not want to even acknowledge those who support it. However, she explains for Russia to move on from these atrocities they should be considered. “Without understanding and working with these complexities we won’t find a way out.”  

    An ethnic Sakha protests the war in Ukraine in London. (Indigenous in London/Anita Berkhané)

    Minority groups within Russia also saw relations altered in various ways. According to Tuyara, minorities see Russia as a multicultural state — even though many don’t share this view because they have never been in the Republics. “I believe the war started because of the Russian imperialist mindset,” she said. “Russia has a long history of colonization, but no one talks about it or knows the facts.” As a result, Indigenous groups must battle erroneous narratives about why Russia is fighting in Ukraine, with some seeking to blame ethnic minorities for war crimes committed. “They’re saying that we’re ‘uncivilized village-dwellers.’ They’re once again throwing our people under the bus.”  

    Yet, the war has also strengthened solidarity among Indigenous people and their sister nations in the post-Soviet bloc. “We believe in the values of community and helping each other,” Tuyara said. She acknowledged that Central Asian and Caucasus countries help Russians escaping conscription, even though in these countries there are still people who have memories of Russian repression. Nevertheless, they understand the position Russian minorities are in and unite across borders to support them.  

    Petrova also reiterated that there needs to be big structural change on how Russia deals with its colonial legacy. “Russia needs to acknowledge its mistakes,” she said. “Countries like Kazakhstan support us by letting in Russian people escaping conscription or persecution, and I am sad Russians haven’t returned this kindness. Decolonization is a generational project.” 

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    The way ahead  

    The legacy of this war will be a hefty burden, and with no end in sight, activists prepare for any scenario. According to Horton, many people are waking up from Russian propaganda, and the war reminded them why they must fight to break free. “This is a new beginning because the generations before us didn’t think that way. Belarusians needed time to recognize themselves as occupied people because if you have handcuffs on and you don’t move your hands, you don’t realize they’re there.”  

    This also means that Belarusians can flip the narrative against Russian propaganda. As Horton noted, there needs to be more discussions initiated by antiwar forces and communities of the post-USSR bloc since Putin has already gone to extraordinary lengths to set up his propaganda machine. “He has created this Russian narrative that completely overtook anything else. We should talk about how everyone in the Eastern bloc is now helping Ukraine.” 

    Many antiwar Russians themselves count on a Ukrainian victory. For Petrova, it’s the only way she can return to her home country “without risking detention.” Meanwhile, as Witts explained, “A Ukrainian victory is necessary for Ukraine and for Russia. Russia needs to go through that pain to be reborn and, believe me, I do not wish this lightly: Reparations must be paid.”

    Despite oppressive pessimism, in a plea to people still in Russia, Horton urges them not to give up. “Despite the pressure, I hope none of the people I care for will have to compromise their conscience to stay alive and out of prison.” Importantly, Minyaylo believes that supporting the democratic forces of Russia is the only hope for peace. “People will fight harder for democracy if they see support,” he said. “Saying ‘all Russians are Putin’s accomplices’ slows down the efforts of those risking their freedom and lives to stop Putin. Any democratization efforts should happen from the inside, and this isn’t possible without constructive dialogue with Western and Ukrainian leaders.”  

    For Indigenous and ethnic minorities like Tuyara, supporting antiwar voices in Russia also becomes a matter of survival. “Ethnic minorities don’t have a voice, and no one is going to fight for justice on our behalf,” she explained. “Our local governments support Putin, contributing not only to the genocide of Ukrainians but also to the ethnic cleansing of native populations in Russia. If this doesn’t change, Russia will remain a threat for the world.”

    Ultimately, in terms of ending the war, Witts concluded that “it’ll take years of selfless and methodical work,” and they will succeed only if “the antiwar forces can unite.” Along the way, people will also need to realize that small actions performed by many will make a difference. “It’ll mean we’ll have preserved our ability to resist and created a society that cares. Preserving humanity is the most important action one can take in impossible situations like this.”

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    Climate Justice Forum: Fossil Fuels Resisters on Joye Braun, Atlanta Forest Defender Murder, Idaho Timber Sale & Silica Mine, Greta Thunberg Arrest, Fossil Fuels Treaty 1-25-23

    Wild Idaho Rising Tide - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 12:00

    The Wednesday, January 25, 2023, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activists collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features People versus Fossil Fuels coalition organizers talking about the legacy of indigenous water protector and pipeline opponent Joye Braun and supporting the day of action in her honor.  We also share news, music, and reflections on the raiding police murder of a protester defending an Atlanta forest from planned cop training center development, a proposed north Idaho lakeside timber sale around exploratory silica drilling, the arrest of climate advocate Greta Thunberg at a German coal mine protest and an international treaty protecting fossil fuels invasions, and the final live performance and death of rebellious musician David Crosby.  Broadcast for eleven years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots, frontline resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to generous, anonymous listeners who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.

    Jason Isbell and 400 Unit 2-26-22 “Ohio” w/David Crosby and Shawn Colvin, Santa Barbara, February 27, 2022 David Wilcox

    David Crosby’s Final Live Performance was a Blistering ‘Ohio’ with Jason Isbell, January 19, 2023 Rolling Stone

    Protester Shot and Killed by Officers during Raid on Atlanta Forest, January 18, 2023 Unicorn Riot

    Solidarity with the Movement to Stop Cop City and Defend the Weelaunee Forest, Defend the Atlanta Forest

    Call for an Environmental Impact Statement for the Chloride Gold Timber Sale!, January 24, 2023 Paul Sieracki/Wild Idaho Rising Tide

    Neighbors Worry about Exploratory Silica Drilling on Lake Pend Oreille, February 5, 2018 KXLY

    Greta Thunberg’s Arrest Demonstrates Why Energy Charter Treaty Must Be Abolished, January 22, 2023 Truthout

    Virtual Rally: Spark Joy(e), Extinguish Fossil Fuels!, January 12, 2023 Morgan Brings Plenty/People vs. Fossil Fuels

    Spark Joye, Extinguish Fossil Fuels: Virtual Kick-off Rally, January 19, 2023 People vs. Fossil Fuels

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    Germany: Call for Anarchist Days Leipzig

    Earth First! Newswire - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 11:15

    from Anarchist News

    This is an invitation to the Anarchist Days around the first of May. Come by, participate, network and educate, join in, get involved. We look forward to seeing you!

    But is there any potential at all for a livable togetherness despite all the crises in which this form of society finds itself, despite the worldwide trend towards authoritarianism? Anarchists say: yes. Because it is the existing hierarchical order in which people are exploited, subjugated and alienated. We need fundamentally different ways of living, producing, consuming, organizing, orienting, exchanging, relating and engaging with each other. Climate change, patriarchal violence, border regimes, pandemics, wars, inflation, gentrification… We don’t even know where to look first to understand the dead end this system has navigated us towards. That’s why the demand to build a radically different form of society seems to be a realistic option that interests far more people than we sometimes think.

    We think anarchists do many exciting things to become capable of acting despite the imposed contradictions and to search for alternatives. By this we refer to long and global history where people have stood up to fight for their dignity. No matter how fucked up the world is right now. There are thousands of valuable experiences and reflections in anarchism that inspire and motivate us to strive for something new. We should bring them to the outside world. But to do that, we need to know our own foundations and expand and deepen our networks. This also applies to Leipzig. It is true that there are comparatively many anarchists here, whose various activities we value. But we also see potentials to bring them together for common actions and to encourage each other in this fight.

    With the second Anarchist Days we want to gain awareness about ourselves again. We learn about what anarchism was and is concretely today by meeting and getting to know each other. Anarchists fight for everyone to be self-determined and self-fulfilling. With advancing digitalization, lack of time and isolation, this is becoming increasingly difficult, but all the more we will fight for the self-determination of all. Because this requires building a solidary, free, equal society, we organize ourselves. Our groups serve to empower people, educate them, support social struggles, and bring forth direct action. By doing that we also vividly demonstrate how we are already realizing our own aspirations.

    The key to this is the pursuit of autonomy. Instead of social movements being appropriated and integrated into the existing framework, we are looking for forms beyond nations, parties, majority unions and so-called wellfare society. At the Anarchist Days we will connect different struggles, discuss our anarchist perspectives and develop skills, learn from each other and maybe start one or two actions. And we will do this in a self-confident, self-determined and self-organized way.

    Amore Anarchia, Autonomia!

    Feel free to forward this text to people and groups you think would be interested.

    Mark your calendars for Anarchist Days between April 22 and the first of May 2023 – and get in touch if you want to submit contributions. We see our group as coordinating only to create a common program and framework. The Anarchist Days live from the fact that many groups and people participate. This group can only contact a few groups specifically. People and groups who want to contribute should take care of the communication, spaces and resources of their proposed contributions themselves as much as possible. We will then tie this together into a more or less cohesive program.

    Write to us if you:

    – want to organize your own contributions to the Anarchist Days (lecture, workshop, discussion, film…)
    – want to organize or offer workshops on practical topics (screen printing, lock picking, etc.)
    – you want to make a cultural and/or social contribution (bar evening, reading, concert, party, film)
    – want to be part of the support group (meets in advance to take care of different tasks, e.g. shopping, bar shifts etc.)
    – any other ways you can support us during the days (sleeping places, child care, awareness, Küfa, bar shifts…)
    – …

    Contact us: anarchistische_tage_leipzig@riseup.net (key for encryption on demand)

    We want to connect different realities of life and points of view instead of getting lost in a scene bubble. We are aware that we ourselves are part of a hierarchical, patriarchal class society formed by supression. For us, emancipation means seeing ourselves in a process in which we reflect on relations of hierarchies and change our ways of thinking and behaving. For this, people have different starting conditions and possibilities, from which, however, they should develop further. In this context, we consider a respectful, appreciative and solidary interaction with each other to be necessary.

    It is important for the contributions that a reference to anarchist perspectives and approaches is visible. When selecting the contributions, we pay attention to intersectionality (= intersections of different forms of supression) and want to represent a plurality in anarchism. Furthermore, we do not only want to convey certain contents, but above all have space to discuss what we can do with them.

    Further information will follow (A)

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    More Actions in Memory of Tortuguita

    Earth First! Newswire - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:52
    Atlas Offices Redecorated in Novi

    from Scenes from the Atlanta Forest

    From so-called Novi, MI:

    On the Night of Rage (January 20) the Detroit MI Atlas offices were artfully decorated with acid-etching paint. Hope you had fun discovering that your windows are totally fucked, you shitheads. Atlas, until you stop supporting Cop City, there will be no safe corner for you on Turtle Island.

    We did this in Tortuguita’s name. We love you, friend, and will never stop fighting. Love and rage to all those fighting in Atlanta.

    -Your friends up north

     

    KPMG Office Vandalized in Boulder

    from Scenes from the Atlanta Forest

    Over the weekend, forest defenders vandalized the Boulder, Colorado office of KPMG, one of the financiers of the destruction of the Atlanta forest. Messages of “Stop Cop City” “Viva Tort” and “KPMG: Divest From Cop City” were left on the office windows in self-etching paint. A nearby UPS box was also hit.

    ¡Viva Tortuguita!

    Submitted anonymously via email

     

    Tucson Group Mourns Protester Killed By Police In The Atlanta Forest

    from It’s Going Down

    On Saturday, a group of about 20 people gathered at the Bank of America building on East Broadway Boulevard in Tucson to express their grief and rage at the death of Manuel Teran, also known as Tortuguita, in the fight to defend the Atlanta Forest.

    “This is the first action of the newly founded Tucson Chapter of the Weelaunee Defense Society,” said Ricky Flowers, a spokesperson for the group. “Across the country, those concerned about climate change, deforestation, and the expansion of police power in our communities are forming chapters of this organization to express their solidarity with the movement in Atlanta and around the world.”

    The group convened around mid-day on Saturday at the northwest corner of Reid Park. From there, a short march brought them to the East Broadway Boulevard branch of Bank of America. Amidst chants of “Stop Cop City,” flyers were distributed contextualizing the recent murder of Tortuguita, the movement to defend the Atlanta Forest and its conflictual relationship against the police. Posters memorializing the murdered protester were additionally hung from the windows of the bank.

    Meanwhile, a small group of protesters broke from the main group and, following a quick scramble up a ladder onto the branch’s roof, a banner was hung. It read: “B-of-A Funds ATL’s Murderous Cops / Stop Cop City.”

    Bank of America is just one out of a number of major national funders donating to the Cop City project.

    “Police in Atlanta think that they can stop the movement by charging protesters as domestic terrorists and now executing protesters in the woods,” said Flowers. “We’re here to tell them that the movement is spreading across the country. Wanting to stop the planet from burning is not terrorism.”

    The Tucson chapter of the Weelaunee Defense Society expressed their intention to continue with similar actions in the coming weeks. “This is not a local struggle,” Flowers remarked. “If the Cop City project is built, it would be used to train police from across the country, expanding the overall infrastructure of repression nationally. This is a struggle that extends well beyond just one part of Atlanta–it affects us all.”

    They noted that although Cop City is tied to a specific Atlanta neighborhood, it is tied to a nationwide infrastructure. “Cop City is everywhere; it can be attacked anywhere.” With this, the group stated that it will grow and expand its pressure campaign against local donors and supporters of Atlanta’s Cop City project. They say that they will keep fighting the project until it is completely stopped — in defense of the forest, in defense of the Earth, and in the memory and honor of Tortuguita.

    Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran was born April 23, 1996. On Wednesday, January 18th, 2023, they were killed by police during a raid of the Weelaunee Forest. Those that knew and loved them describe them as a dear friend, a loving partner, and a proud, fierce anarchist. At the time of their death, Tortuguita spent their time between Atlanta and Florida. In the former, they were focused on defending the forest and coordinating mutual aid; in the latter, they focused on building low-income housing in communities hit hardest by the hurricane. In each account of their life, they are described as a kind, passionate, and deeply caring person who will be dearly missed.

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    How New Yorkers can remove George Santos and root out Trumpism

    Waging Nonviolence - Mon, 01/23/2023 - 11:21

    In the wake of the many lies Rep. George Santos told to grab power, it’s clear that the failure to properly expose and confront Trump Republicans during the election campaign is just a symptom of a larger problem in New York.  

    Across the country, voters who saw this election as a choice between freedom and fascism defied expectations, history and mass voter silencing efforts by keeping Democrats in control of the Senate and flipping several statehouses and governor’s mansions. This is a midterm outcome for an incumbent party that’s happened only twice in the last century.

    The one glaring exception amid all this historic success was New York.

    In contrast to much of the nation, many Democrats in my home state underperformed and lost, jeopardizing the governor’s race and costing Democrats the House by losing seats they should have won, including the one Santos seized on Long Island. 

    So what went wrong in New York and how do we get it right in our state moving forward?

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    I grew up in a multiracial family on Long Island, a battleground region that voted nearly identical to the nation as a whole in the 2020 presidential election. It’s a place where I’ve seen neighbors show up for each other to weather storms and hard times. But it’s also the home where I learned by age 10 to fear for my Nicaraguan father’s safety when a few kids told me he should be deported, repeating the hatred certain politicians stoked against immigrants. And it’s where a powerful few stoked fears and resentment against Black people to justify destroying social supports and programs my white mother’s family also relied on. 

    The crises we face today are in fact the legacy of the laws and lies manufactured by a powerful few throughout our history. Railroad barons removed Montauketts from their homes, wealthy politicians created whites-only Levittown, and unelected power brokers like Robert Moses bulldozed Black and brown neighborhoods and used highways to segregate our communities.

    The truth is there’s always been a supremacist faction here that has tried to grab and hold onto power by controlling who we can be, what we can do and who we can love. So last year, when I saw Trump Republicans like Lee Zeldin and George Santos try to seize congressional districts by supporting those who attacked our Capitol on Jan. 6 — and whipping up racial fears about “violent criminals ruling our streets” — I recognized their playbook.

    At the same time, however, the Long Island I know also holds an antidote to this politics of deliberate racial division and control. After the Black Lives Matter mobilizations of 2020, I worked with friends in my hometown to create Reimagine Babylon, a group devoted to electing leaders who will make Babylon a place where everyone can thrive, no exceptions. 

    In less than two years, we won two Library Trustee seats, elected a new school board member in collaboration with alumni survivors of sexual violence, and made competitive a race for municipal office that others had long written off. By organizing a choir of local leaders to repeat and spread our message consistently — from posting in neighborhood Facebook groups, flyering main street storefronts, and door knocking in every corner of our community — we demonstrated that we could activate our base and persuade the conflicted by rooting ourselves in racial solidarity and inoculating against scapegoating.

    The approach we used in Babylon is based on the Race Class Narrative, a proven messaging and organizing framework that weaves together race, class and gender, advances our progressive worldview, and counters right-wing divide and conquer strategy. This involves mobilizing and persuading people to our cause by following a specific architecture to communication that leads with values shared across identities and backgrounds. We then explain how a handful of villains are deliberately dividing people by race to hoard wealth and power, and close with an aspirational vision we can achieve through cross-racial solidarity. 

    In my day job at the progressive messaging firm ASO Communications, I’ve supported successful campaigns across the country in using Race Class Narrative — first in key battlegrounds in 2020 and again in 2022. 

    In this past midterms election, we worked with Way to Win Action Fund to launch a massive campaign to “Protect Our Freedoms” on the ballot, utilizing a narrative that centered the values that Americans share across race, place and party — and that have been core to progressive efforts from the abolitionist movement to FDR’s four freedoms to the freedom to marry. 

    Hand-in-hand with progressive organizations nationwide, we created a consistent drumbeat of this narrative through campaigning and organizing on and offline. We echoed each other by posting shared content, messages and ads across social media, by engaging celebrities and influencers to amplify and further mainstream our story of the midterms, and most importantly, by engaging with voters in person and in our communities. 

    Activists with One PA rallied rallied in front of the Republican Party’s center in Germantown on Nov. 4. (Instagram/One PA)

    In Pennsylvania, a group we worked with called One PA drove mobile billboards through Philly and Pittsburgh. Referring to civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hammer, the billboards mobilized residents with a call to “Fight like Fannie for Freedom For All,” as part of a larger push that registered thousands to be voters in the election. They also used creative actions along the campaign trail where they hijacked attention from candidates like Doug Mastriano — the GOP’s fascist candidate for governor — to create a clear contrast between voters’ desires and the efforts of Trump Republicans. 

    When Trumpists in Arizona attempted to intimidate and scare voters of color from using drop boxes and early vote sites, local organizers could have focused on raising alarms and amplifying the threats. Had they done so, they would have further cemented voters’ fears and kept folks at home. Instead, our partners at Community Change Action and LUCHA organized joyous visits to the polls. People buddied up to cast their ballots and modeled active defiance for the young, Black and brown voters that MAGA Republicans were hoping to silence. 

    When Democrats replicated our efforts and made their campaigns about protecting our freedoms and confronted Trump Republican efforts to fuel divisions, they won in many tough contests. Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro triumphed by making “real freedom” the core of his argument to voters. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer won re-election by significant margins over a race-baiting, anti-trans fearmonger by emphasizing our freedom to decide when and if to grow our families. And in the Hudson Valley of New York, voters elected Pat Ryan, running on protecting our freedoms, in his swing House district, as well as Sarahana Shrestha, who led a future-oriented campaign rejecting fear and division, to the State Assembly.

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    Unfortunately, elsewhere in New York, such as further down the Hudson, on Long Island, and even in New York City, too many Democrats ceded the terms of the debate to Trump Republicans. They amplified their dog whistles around crime and failed to expose their real motivations, as well as the danger that figures like George Santos pose to our freedoms and families. They ignored the energy of voters demanding our children’s freedom to live, learn and love and relied on simply refuting (and in doing so, repeating) their opponent’s lies.

    The only path forward for New York is race and values-forward. From Seneca Falls to Stonewall, from winning higher wages and workplace protections to creating the food, music and art that defines us today, New Yorkers have stood arm-in-arm to realize liberty and justice for all. We’ve always determined what’s possible — and we have the power now to make clear the criminal conspiracy at the center of the Trump Republican Party, to demand the removal of the likes of George Santos, and to elect new leaders who will govern for all of us. By replicating and expanding upon the successes made in Babylon and the Hudson Valley, we can reshape our island, our state and our nation for the better.

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

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