by Daniel Hunter
Welcome to the world of nonviolent action. This training manual is less a detailed “how to” and more a big picture approach to direct action. It breaks down some of the myths of nonviolent action and explains the value, power, and rationale for direct action.
To start off, let’s tackle one myth that’s been hanging around our movement for a while: In April 2007, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that “Opponents will continue their efforts to block casino development in Philadelphia - even it means lying in front of bulldozers in the future - regardless of whether the state Supreme Court permits a May 15 anti-casino referendum, activists said yesterday” (Casino opponents to continue protests no matter, April 2007). The Supreme Court stripped the referendum from the ballot. And we did continue to prevent casino development on the riverfront.
We have not yet had to lay in front of bulldozers. And there are two good reasons. The first is that the process and the sites have been so bad that more and more people are switching to our position, including politicians. The second is that you don’t lay in front of a bulldozer. That’s nonsense. If you lay down the bulldozer cannot see you and you have terrible visibility.
However, you might stand in front of bulldozers. Though once unauthorized people enter an active construction site, workers are required by law to stop using dangerous equipment and – therefore – the bulldozers will not be moving. So we can end the myth right now that people will be laying in front of bulldozers.
This training manual addresses other myths, too. It explains that direct action is not just for rebels, young people, or as an expression of anger – it’s something regular citizens do. Nor is direct action contrary to the rule of law that we hold in America – rather, direct action is foundational to maintaining integrity in a democracy.
This training manual also takes a glimpse into the moral and legal questions around direct action. It puts a special focus on a set of tactics called blockades – used especially to halt destructive development using one’s own body.
Because this is a manual – as opposed to a book – it is not designed to simply be read through from cover to cover. It is a resource material, to give access to some key documents. It’s especially to be used alongside direct action trainings that Casino-Free Philadelphia offers. Already over three-hundred people have gone through trainings offered by Casino-Free Philadelphia and over fifty have engaged in direct action activities. If necessary, we will continue, by even standing – but not laying – in front of bulldozers.
Thanks for being part of this larger movement – not just against casinos – but against the corruption, public abuse, and the exclusion of the public by government which brought us here.
PDF 40 pages