By Rusty Tomlinson
One of the principles of the Green Party is nonviolence. We believe strongly, and research shows, that it is a much more effective tool for change than violence. We are concerned with the degree to which violence is being manifested in the BLM protests, therefore, we the Green Party Peace Action Committee (GPAX) offer this position paper, a collection of suggested defenses against and alternatives to violence.
The police must be held accountable for their use of brutality, chemical and impact weapons and their failure to protect protesters and others against assailants. The use of tear gas against military enemies is illegal; it should not be used against Americans exercising their First Amendment rights. Rubber bullets and beanbags are potentially lethal. Protesters and others should keep their cameras ready to document any brutality or other misdeeds by police. Any misdeeds should be reported to the police Internal Affairs Division or, if necessary, the state police. If that doesn’t work, there is litigation. The people should continue to push for the establishment of citizen’s review boards, with the power to investigate and hold the police accountable.
The push to defund the police must continue. Of particular importance is to demilitarize the police, taking away their military weapons and combat armor. If police show up in their dress uniforms, there will be much less violence!
Trump used active duty personnel, the 82nd Airborne, to clear protesters from Lafayette Park, so that he could walk to a church for a photo op. They used chemical weapons and physical abuse to clear the park. Trump made noises like he was going to enact the Insurrection act, which would have made his use of active duty troops legal. As it was, his use of them was illegal. Trump later backed off on the use of active duty troops, and none have been used since then, but if any are ever again deployed, they must be reminded that they took an oath not to obey any illegal orders. Many military members have expressed displeasure at being deployed against protesters and we believe many would step down and maybe join the protesters. If any obey orders to deploy against protesters, they and their chain of command must be held accountable for deploying illegally and for any violence or brutality committed against the protesters.
Unlike the use of active duty forces, the use of National Guard forces is legal, but we feel it is immoral. We believe that a good percentage of the National Guard have more in common with the protesters, than they do with the militaristic mindset of the National Guard. Therefore, we call on the members of the National Guard to break the law, stand down and join the protesters. We realize that any members who take our advice will face some immense legal problems and we will refer them to organizations who can help, such as the GI Rights Hotline, Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Stand Down! Refuse to Deploy!. As always, National Guard who do not take our advice and who deploy against the protesters must be held accountable for brutality, chemical and impact weapons, so, as always, keep your cameras ready.
The Trump regime initiated what they named Operation Diligent Valor, threatening to send a coalition of personnel from different Department of Homeland Security divisions, who were trained in special operations and SWAT tactics, along with US Marshals. They soon became infamous for pushing non-offending protesters into vans and employing chemical and impact weapons. Organizers in Portland, OR proved very adept at devising non-violent responses, such as the Wall of Moms, who would place themselves between the protesters and the federal law enforcement personnel, the Wall of Dads, who brought leaf blowers to disperse the tear gas and the Wall of Vets. The DA in Philadelphia swore that any of the federal personnel who broke the law in his city would be arrested. The Facebook group Stand Down! Refuse to Deploy! tweeted the DAs in the other cities threatened by the Trump regime, asking that they swear similar oaths. Once again, accountability is essential.
And yet another threat has appeared. Right wing, racist militias, often armed, have started appearing at the BLM protests. Confrontations between protesters and militia have resulted in at least five shootings and four deaths. When armed militia show up, the most important thing is to avoid angry confrontations and taunts. Use your cameras to document police interactions with the militia. Are they working in concert with the militias? Are they allowing militia members to commit violent acts and walk away freely, while the police harass non-violent protesters? Use cameras, legal observers and the press to document such behavior. If you know where the militia will be, schedule your event where they are not. It is a lot easier to stay on message, when there are no violent counter-protesters.
Remember, that BLM is a movement OPPOSING violence. Agent provocateurs try to sabotage our message by committing violence against people and destruction of property and making it appear that we are doing it. Let’s not help them. Leave your firearms and firebombs at home.