This webinar was presented by Pastor Cori Bush, Kingdom Embassy International; Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Civil Rights Activist and Distinguished Senior Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University; Dr. David Ragland, Visiting Professor at Bucknell University; and Barbara J. Wien, Professorial Lecturer at American University.
Watch the webinar below:
Introduction of Speakers (3 minutes) View on YouTube
Police Militarization and Brutality (22 minutes) View on YouTube
Movement Strategy, Tactics, and Nonviolent Discipline (26 minutes) View on YouTube
From Selma to Montgomery to Ferguson and Beyond (14 minutes) View on YouTube
Live Q&A with Webinar Attendees (25 minutes) View on YouTube
Police brutality and militarization have reached crisis proportions for people of color in the United States. Youth, students, clergy, educators, lawyers, civil rights leaders, and hundreds of community grassroots coalitions and national organizations have come together to nonviolently resist repressive violence and a lack of accountability through mass organizing, rallies, teach-ins, protests, speakouts, and marches. Consciousness and mobilization are spreading and scaling-up, particularly on college campuses.
The narrative and discourse about policing and laws are changing in cities and towns across the nation. What is the vision of this peaceful civil resistance movement? What strategies, goals and methods are being tried in the Ferguson-St. Louis area of Missouri? How can the movement ensure nonviolent discipline among its participants? What is this movement seeking as redress against police repression and overreach? What is the movement’s real adversary? How must the movement define its interactions with the police? What cutting-edge, long-term solutions will keep our communities safe and united?
This webinar will aim to address these questions in addition to discussing community dialogues and truth telling hearings (see http://www.thetruthtellingproject.org/) that have been organized in St. Louis, Missouri for March 13-15th, 2015, following a historic 50th Anniversary march on the bridge in Selma Alabama.
Further Participant Questions
Questions not addressed during the webinar recording itself.
Re: Police Militarization and Brutality
Follow-up question from a viewer: Dr. Ragland raised an interesting point about scapegoating of the police. To what extent do you think the movement should be trying to win over police as allies? In what ways is this possible, and in what ways do relations with police need to be more antagonistic?
Response: Many officers are already allies and are trying to participate in peacemaking and restorative justice circles, community conversations and peace dialogues. The fact that 84% of U.S. police say that have witnessed excessive use of force by their fellow officers, but were afraid to speak up (according to U.S Dept. of Justice study), indicates that police want to change their own culture. Citizen oversight advisory boards can help.
Follow-up question from a viewer: How can we best reach those in the United States who are unaware of civil rights conflicts/police brutality?
Response: Through discussions and trusted friendships, by requesting your local newspapers and TV stations carry more information, and by getting involved with your community and local police force for oversight and accountability.
Follow-up question from a viewer: How can we utilize social media as a conflict intervention for the current civil rights conflict and exposing police brutality (with the target audience being those that aren’t aware of the conflict)?
Response: Speak the truth in a straightforward, respectfully manner in as many venues as possible so that unaware citizens can relate and understand. Make it a question of fairness.
Re: Movement Strategy, Tactics, and Nonviolent Discipline
Follow-up question from a viewer: Does the movement have a serious power analysis? Is non-violence a principle or a strategy for you all?
Response: Yes, we have a serious power analysis. Among the major pillars holding up police brutality and militarism in the U.S. are – – greed and profits; fear of “the other”/racism; an ideology or cultural belief system in the U.S. which says violence “works”; patriarchal control & male domination,; habit; ignorance; and lack of critical consciousness across the society.
Follow-up question from a viewer: What ideas/experience do you have about working with police to thwart violence and police provocateurs, and to change to nonviolent tactics that we could use?
Response: One idea is to deploy unarmed civilian peacekeepers (using models from Nonviolent Peaceforce, Gandhi’s Shanti Sena approach). We are using such nonviolent tactics and strategies in U.S. inner cities. We have peace teams on the ground in Washington D.C. who bear witness and stand in solidarity if Black youth are stopped by police. I was part of peace patrols in my neighborhoods in Harlem and Columbia Heights D.C. to befriend youth, organize midnight basketball, help teens find jobs, and make the streets safe for kids.
Follow-up question from a viewer: What has been effective in roles of peace team groups such as unarmed civilian peacekeepers, like the Michigan Peace Teams, Meta peace teams, Metta Center for Nonviolence Shanti Sena peace teams, and the Nonviolent Peaceforce?
Response: The answer to this question takes a long time. Here are just a few of the ingredients for successful peace teams #1 Longevity and permanence. Teams need to stay for a long time to build trust. They cannot be a flash in the pan, here today, gone tomorrow; #2 They must conduct a thorough analysis of the forces driving the violence in order to apply an effective intervention; #3 Training and extensive preparation of the peace teams; #4 Communication with a wide variety of area residents and community members.
Re: From Selma to Montgomery to Ferguson and Beyond
Follow-up question from a viewer: Living far away (Norway) from most of the grave breaches of human rights in the world, I wonder what sort of solidarity is the most useful. How can we help from far away?
Response: Reach out to friends, family, co-workers and anyone you know in the U.S. who trusts you, but is unaware of the disproportionate number of unarmed African-Americans being killed by police. Share the recording of the ICNC webinar with them. Spread information. Please educate everyone that there are many of us in the U.S. standing up against violence and brutality.
Follow-up question from a viewer: How can I, as a college student in DC, create truth telling sessions in my area?
Response: We will help you with resources and protocols for living room dialogues being used currently in the St. Louis area, and we will send you the report from our St. Louis conference after March 15th, 2015.
Follow-up question from a viewer: How can use education as a tool to spread awareness about the civil rights conflict?
Response: Use materials from Teaching for http://www.teachingforchange.org/ and the Southern Poverty Law Center (Teaching Tolerance http://www.splcenter.org/what-we-do/teaching-tolerance)
Follow-up question from a viewer: It seems like anger is an appropriate response to killing unarmed Black men. Could radical/confrontational nonviolent actions be a way to channel this anger more effectively than burning and looting? Have you discussed more forceful actions for those who need more than marching with signs?
Response: If you mean by forceful action – boycotts, strikes, walk outs, law suits, and more, Ferguson residents have been doing all those things for 20 years. They have shut down the interstate surrounding the city on numerous occasions. They have called for special independent prosecutors. Citizen protestors are not the ones burning and looting. White supremacist groups operate in the area and try to frame the Ferguson residents. The pastor for Michael Brown’s family received 71 death threats and then his church was burned down. See the following Washington Post article for further evidence of that http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/the-brown-familys-pastor-tries-to-make-sense-of-fire-that-gutted-his-church/2014/11/28/15520f3e-7711-11e4-a755-e32227229e7b_story.html
Just suffice it to say that peace and anti-violence works has many, many allies. Those who work to stop child abuse, wife beatings, rape, sexual violence, environmental destruction, war, poverty, economic exploitation of immigrants, corruption, human rights abuses, and police brutality are all part of a worldwide peace movement. If we connected the dots, we would be greater than the sum of our parts.
Pastor Cori Bush – Born and raised in the St. Louis Missouri area, Cori is the pastor of Kingdom Embassy International, events chairperson of Better Family Life Inc.’s Membership Association, part of Ferguson’s Women’s Caucus, and an active Ferguson frontlines activist. Pastor Cori is a registered nurse, supervising nursing services for several mental health facilities in St. Louis city that serve the homeless, underserved, and uninsured. She has been on the frontlines of the Ferguson citizens’ movement as a protester, as clergy, as a medic and as a victim of police assault on the day of the announcement not to indict Darren Wilson. She has been interviewed numerous times by several local and national media outlets. Pastor Cori plans to continue to stand along side the youth of today in the fight for justice.
Dr. Bernard Lafayette – The Rev. Dr. Lafayette, an ordained minister, is a longtime civil rights activist, organizer, and an authority on nonviolent social change. He co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960, and he was a core leader of the civil rights movement in Nashville, TN, in 1960 and in Selma, AL, in 1965. He directed the Alabama Voter Registration Project in 1962, and he was appointed by Martin Luther King, Jr. to be national program administrator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and national coordinator of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign.
Dr. David Ragland grew up in North St. Louis, a few miles from Ferguson, Mo. Dr. Ragland is the co-director for the Truth-Telling Project in St. Louis, Mo and a Visiting Professor at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. Dr. Ragland’s research focuses on School Violence (the school to prison pipeline), Peace Education, Philosophy of Education and Critical Race Theory. Dr. Ragland is also on the board of the Peace and Justice Studies Association and Serves as the United Nations Representative for the International Peace Research Association.
Barbara J. Wien is a peace educator, human rights activist, author, and trainer. She has protected civilians in war zones, led 8 peace organizations, and taught at 6 universities. From 2003-2008, Barbara directed Peace Brigades International, which walks side-by-side with villagers as “unarmed bodyguards for human rights” to stop massacres in Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, and 12 other areas. From 2001-2003, Barbara worked for the playwright Eve Ensler at the V-Day Foundation to end sexual violence against women. She organized labor delegations to El Salvador to stop the killing of priests, teachers and union activists by the army in the 1980s. Barbara was awarded for her moral courage by 4 foundations and academic societies. She is named in Amy Goodman’s book Exceptions to the Rulers, and The Progressive magazine for speaking truth to power. She is the author of 23 articles, study guides and books and was interviewed by the National Public Radio, The Washington Post, NBC Nightly News, Australian Public Broadcasting, Defense One, and Nuclear Times magazine.
Further readings on civil resistance in the U.S.
- Bloch, Nadine.”The Art of #BlackLivesMatter.” Waging Nonviolence, January 8, 2015. Available online
- Boyd, Andrew. Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution (Pocket Edition). OR Books: London (2013). Buy the book
- Conser, Walter H. “The United States: Reconsidering the Struggle for Independence, 1765-1775.” In Recovering Nonviolent History: Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles. Maciej Bartkowski, ed. Lynne Rienner Publishers: Boulder, CO (2013). Learn more
- “Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign.” Children’s Defense Fund. Available online
- Dey, Andrew et al. “Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns” 2nd edition, War Resisters’ International. First edition. Second edition
- Driver, Alice. “Freedom Summer and the Unfinished Work of the Civil Rights Movement.” Al Jazeera, June 25, 2014. Available online
- Engler, Mark and Paul Engler. “When Martin Luther King Gave Up His Guns.” Waging Nonviolence, January 15, 2014. Available online
- “Fighting Police Abuse: A Community Action Manual”, American Civil Liberties Union, Dec. 1, 1997. Available online
- Harris, Fredrick. ”Will Ferguson be a Moment or a Movement?.” Washington Post, August 22, 2014. Available online
- Madar, Chase. “Why it’s Impossible to Indict a Cop” The Nation, November 24, 2014. Available online
- Mothers Against Police Brutality (webpage)
- Schneider, Nathan. “The Future of Protest According to Vice.” VICE, January 15, 2015. Available online
- Sun, Rivera. “Nonviolent Activists Shape American Identity.” CounterPunch, February 16, 2015. Available online