The EnvironmentaLIST: 11 Really Good Reasons to Support Peaceful Protest Today

by Cassady Craighill

October 2, 2013

This has been a particularly active week for exercising your right to peacefully protest from workers all across the country protesting the government shutdown to several activists now charged with piracy after taking action on climate change. Coincidentally, this week marks Ghandis birthday as well as the UNs International Day of Non-Violence. In case youve considered exercising your right to peacefully protest, you can start today by standing in solidarity of the activists in Russia.

Here are some reasons why.

11. Occupy Wall Street did more than just carry signs. Maybe you think of this group as freeloading-hippies spending their days in the park. However on top of raising national attention to the shameful wealth disparities in this country with peaceful protests, Occupy Wall Street activists led a mammoth relief effort after the devastating Hurricane Sandy last year.

10. We owe the Quakers for their founding principals of bearing witness. George Fox started The Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers in the seventeenth century with the belief that it iseveryones duty to bear witness to truth and to stand in front of evil. They actively worked for an end to slavery and for living condition improvements for inmates and people in mental institutions.

9. Without civil disobedience, women still couldn’t vote. With the combined efforts of the National Women’s Movement and the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and powerful women leaders organizing pickets and protests, the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920 enabling women to vote.

8. The United Farm Worker’s Association showed us the power of the boycott. By initiating one of the largest boycotts in American history by boycotting grapes in the late 1960s, the UFWA’s organizing efforts resulted in a strong union with rights and benefits for agriculture workers.

7. Rosa Parks. Enough said. RosaParks

It seemed simple enough. She just refused to give up her bus seat because she was tired. The story of Rosa Parks, however, is one of the strongest in non-violent action history, a strategic moment in the Civil Rights Movement.

6. Undocubus reminds us that a large part of the population are in a constant state of civil disobedience-just be living. Using the tagline “undocumented and unafraid,” the rolling call to action for immigration activism, the Undocubus toured through the Southeast last year from Arizona to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina raising awareness on unjustified immigrant crackdowns.

5. Bayard Rustin wasn’t afraid to fight for human civil rights-all of them. Known for being one of the key leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, Rustin, a gay man himself was also a vocal champion of gay rights in an era when other civil rights issues took the spotlight.

4. A network of local efforts in 1937 combined into the union of one of America’s largest industries. By staging a sit-in in December of 1936 at the Flint, Michigan General Motors plant. The strike ended with international attention and the United Automobile Workers recognized as the exclusive bargaining representatives for General Motors employees.

3. “There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair.” The quote above is from the open letter Martin Luther King Jr. sent from a Birmingham jail in 1963 when he was imprisoned for a peaceful march. The letter, often called “The Negro is Your Brother” stands as an important reminder of why civil disobedience was critical.

2. Non violence can itself be the most powerful weapon. Often perceived as the founder of the peaceful protest movement, Mahatma Ghandi truly exemplified the power of mass disobedience. He claimed, non violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It ismightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by theingenuity of man.” October 2nd marks his birthday and also the United Nation’s International Day of Nonviolence.

1.There are 28 international peaceful activists and two freelance journalists facing 15 years in jail that need your help today.

Greenpeace activists protest outside the Russian embassy in Oslo.

Greenpeace activists protest outside the Russian embassy in Oslo.

After a peaceful action to stop climate change and protest oil drilling in the Arctic by Russian oil giant Gazprom on September 18, Russian authorities seized the Arctic 30 and Greenpeace’s ship, the Arctic Sunrise detaining them without charge for several days pending a piracy investigation. As of now, 12 activists have been charged with piracy. We’re sending petitions to the Russia’s US ambassador asking for the release of these peaceful activists who were simply taking action for our future.

Take action today to release the activists!

Already signed? Sign up today to host a solidarity vigil to show global support for the Arctic 30 and peaceful protest everywhere.

Cassady Craighill

By Cassady Craighill

Cassady is a media officer for Greenpeace USA based on the East Coast. She covers climate change and energy, particularly how both issues relate to the Trump administration.

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