From Marches to Direct Action by George Wolfe
On Saturday evening November 11, I attended a Trump Resistance Rally held on the south lawn of the statehouse in Indianapolis. This event was well organized, with efforts made by city officials and police to section off the streets in the downtown area. The 1000 plus people in attendance were allowed to march around Monument Circle making known our objections to Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric and his anti-immigrant agenda.
While demonstrations, protests and marches serve the important purpose of energizing supporters, airing issues and capturing media attention, there comes a time when activists must move forward with strategies of direct action that resist injustice and government policies that discriminate. Henry David Thoreau’s landmark treatise, Essay on the Duty of Civil Disobedience, asserts that when the machinery of government propagates injustice, we must provide resistance, “be a counter friction to stop the machine.” Here are some actions Americans can take to apply active nonviolent resistance to the Trump-Pence machine.
Boycott. Most recently, teams in the National Basketball Association, among them the Milwaukee Bucks, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Memphis Grizzlies, have decided to boycott Trump-owned hotels, with other unnamed teams following suit. This past June, the Latin Business Association called for a national boycott of all Trump–own businesses and products.
Become involved in the Sanctuary Movement. There are numerous organizations listed on the internet that provide aid for undocumented Mexican families and children seeking sanctuary from the violence of drug lords, and Syrian families needing safe haven from the civil war in Syria.
In addition, several cites in the United States such as Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Seattle, Baltimore, Phoenix and Chicago, have declared themselves to be “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with the call to roundup and deport undocumented immigrants. This despite the possibility these cites may risk losing millions of dollars in federal aid.
Police chiefs in Los Angeles, Tucson and other cities say they will not burden law enforcement officers with inquiring about a person’s immigration status unless that person is involved in a serious crime. Steve Mylett, Chief of Police in Bellevue, Washington has emphatically stated, “We don’t want someone who is the victim of a crime to have any fears about talking to the police because of their immigration status.”
Ironically, the sanctuary movement began during the Reagan administration in an effort to provide refuge to people from Nicaragua and other Central American countries fleeing the violence of civil war.
Support churches that are active in resettling refugee families. Most recently, Catholic Charities and Archbishop Joseph Tobin accepted a Syrian family despite Governor Mike Pence’s decision to suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana.
Other Indiana religious organizations, particularly activist churches such as African-American, mainstream protestant and Unitarian Universalist congregations, can offer support to refugees and should be prepared to hide Latino and Middle-Eastern families and children, much like Jewish families and children were hidden from the Nazi’s by the underground resistance movement during World War II.
Support Open Door, Planned Parenthood and other organizations that offer health care services to women. Volunteer to provide rides to women who do not have transportation to clinics that provide for reproductive health care.
Donate to environmental organizations. Serra Club and other environmental groups focus on climate change and efforts to combat global warming.
Patronize middle-eastern and Mexican-owned businesses. Many immigrant families open restaurants, convenience stores, ethnic food markets, or manage motels in your community.
Finally, support multicultural programs in your community. Multicultural concerts and other events an excellent way to educate young people and show the immigrant community they are valued and welcome.
George Wolfe is Professor Emeritus and former director of the Ball State University Center for Peace and Conflict Studies. He also chairs the Muncie Interfaith Fellowship, is a trained mediator, and the author of The Spiritual Power of Nonviolence: Interfaith Understanding for a Future Without War.