A Lesson In Direct Action

Direct action is activity undertaken by individuals, groups, or governments to achieve political, economic, or social goals outside of normal social/political channels. (Wikipedia)

England has begun to bring closure to the events of January 30th, 1972, also known as "Bloody Sunday". On that day 14 people were killed and 12 wounded by the British military during a non-violent protest. The Saville Inquiry (1998-2010) has concluded that what the soldiers did was "unjustified and unjustifiable". This country had its own "Bloody Sunday" on March 7th, 1965 as police beat 600 peaceful protesters during a march for voting rights for Blacks. Then, on May31st, of this year nine people were killed by Israeli soldiers as the civilians attempted to break through a blockade in order to deliver humanitarian aid to the residents of the Gaza Strip. The fact of the matter is that holding a non-violent demonstration doesn't guarantee that the police and military won't initiate violence.

In lieu of the violence that is perpetrated by the police and military of different nations against peaceful protesters and those delivering aid, one is left to wonder why anybody anywhere would take any such risk. It's definitely one of life's tougher choices; but, when faced with the option of performing a direct action that might result in violence on the part of the police or enduring long-term mistreatment and inequities, the choice should be clear. And history has shown us that, more times than not, people take their chances standing against the police and government.

While such incidents don't serve as the best segway into an announcement about an upcoming direct action, they do remind us of the grim realities surrounding direct action. And, as the most recent incident has taught us, even attempting to deliver the most basic human needs to an isolated, marginalized people can draw the ire of a national government. This truth hits close to home as "Take Back The Land DC" plans a direct action that will begin on July 10th. The "intentional community", as it is being called, is intended to bring attention to DC's housing crisis and to give voice to our demand for more affordable housing in the city. Furthermore, it too aims to assist an isolated, marginalized people -- America's homeless community.

As a previous blog post indicated, the poor and homeless often fail to stand up for themselves because they are receiving some degree of government benefits such as food stamps or SSI and don't want to lose that by going to jail. After all, that would add insult to injury. However, tolerating mistreatment and inequities in order to retain such meager benefits makes one as masochistic as Pavlov's dog. It is this apparent ambiquity that has caused our plans to be drawn out, revised and postponed. Nonetheless, we've settled on a set of plans and a date and have no intentions of changing our minds. However, in an effort to keep the local government from shutting us down before we get started or soon thereafter, we are being careful about what information we disclose. What's more is that we will precede our secretive direct action with a well-publicized block party:

WHAT: Block Party
DATE: July 10th, 2010
TIME: Noon to 5 PM
PLACE: 600 block of "S" street, NW, Washington, DC

NOTE: We are in dire need of at least $2,000 in order to make the block party and the direct action a success. We also need various used supplies and volunteers/participants. We encourage you to help in any way that you can.

For more information, contact:

Rosemary Ndubuizu: rndubuizu@onedconline.org or call (202) 368-9255
Eric Sheptock: ericsheptock@yahoo.com or call (240) 305-5255
ONE DC: www.onedconline.org or call (202) 232-2915

Even as the planning for this direct action enters its final phase, tens of thousands of people (myself included) are preparing to go to Detroit, Michigan for the U.S. Social Forum which will take place from June 22nd thru 26th, 2010. They will organize for change on many fronts -- women's rights, poverty issues, healthcare reform, homelessness/housing issues and many more. As it turns out, our direct action is one of many in a growing movement:

Social movements are a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals and/or organizations focused on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change. (Wikipedia)

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