Working for peace & justice through nonviolence since 1915.
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Strategic nonviolent movements are one of the most potent forces in the world. They oust dictators, change policy and realize the hopes of communities. For over 100 years FOR has strengthened the movements that reshape society through our work in Black Lives Matter, training in Nonviolent Civil Disobedience, training in Jail Support and Fiscal Sponsorship.
Relationships established through strong communities are the glue of our work. We ground ourselves in relationships of accountability and a spirituality that spans faith traditions. We help build communities that reflect our vision of Beloved Community through our Chapters, Networks & Affiliates, Interreligious Engagement & Understanding, Intentional Communities and Retreats for Movement Leaders & Activists.
We see nonviolence as a way of life, a moral commitment, and a social tool. As a branch of IFOR's international network we work with partners around the world to end militarism in all of its forms, working through the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, United Nations Advocacy, Demilitarizing Communities, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, Anti-drone Initiatives and #GiveRefugeesRest.
Right now, FOR National Council member Sahar Alsahlani, former National Council member Rick Ufford-Chase, FOR executive assistant Juliette Suarez, and I are traveling to the Standing Rock Sioux nation in North Dakota to join more than 350 faith leaders from across the United States. Tomorrow we will participate in a collective nonviolent clergy action against the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL.
Just last night, President Obama spoke about the issue, saying that “re-routing the pipeline was a possibility," but that he would “let it play out for several more weeks.” So now is the time to keep up the pressure.
Read on to learn more about the issue — and how you can take action on behalf of Indigenous rights and environmental justice!
Since April, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have been fighting the 1,172-mile, four-state, Dakota Access Pipeline construction by setting up camp along the banks of Lake Oahe in North Dakota. There are several camps currently in place, including Oceti Sakowin, Sacred Stone and Red Warrior.
The pipeline was originally planned to go near Bismarck, a predominantly white town. After understandable backlash against an oil pipeline being routed through their neighborhood, the Army Corps of Engineers, the State of North Dakota and the Energy Transfer Partners decided to risk the safety and health of a Native community instead.
Oil leaks are hardly unprecedented: just this Monday, there was a major pipeline explosion in Alabama (now affecting gasoline access throughout the Southeast); and this summer, elsewhere in North Dakota, 20,000 gallons of oil spilled from a pipeline before being fixed. The DAPL pipeline, which would transport crude oil from fracking, poses the same human and environmental threats as the Keystone XL pipeline.
And so, along with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Yankton Sioux Tribe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is ultimately responsible for granting the construction permits.
In a parallel movement, local Indigenous activists have organized under nonviolent principles as Water Protectors, putting their bodies on the line to prevent construction.
As a result, they have been met by unprecedented violence by both state police and private security contractors using attack dogs and pepper spray.
Last week, law enforcement escalated the violence by using riot police to arrest 141 nonviolent Water Protectors and confining them to dog kennels.
Given that Native Americans and Alaska Natives are killed by police more than any other group, this coordinated attack by law enforcement is particularly disturbing.
Water Protectors have been subject to numerous death threats, and earlier this week, a suspicious fire was purposely set near Oceti Sakowin Camp, making those threats real.
While the #NoDAPL movement is centered on Indigenous self-determination and confronting colonial violence, the climate change implications of a major oil pipeline are also clear, which is a major reason why environmental organizations like the Sierra Club, 350.org, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Earthjustice, and Food and Water Watch oppose the project.
But you don't need to take our word for it — you can listen to voices from Standing Rock to hear from the Water Protectors directly.
As Sahar wrote earlier this week:
Our Indigenous brothers and sisters of Standing Rock are calling on clergy and faith leaders to join them in the next coming weeks. Imagine if this oil pipe line was going through Vatican City, Bethlehem, Mecca, Medina, Najaf, Karbala, Jerusalem, Varanasi, Bodhgaya, Lhasa, Haifa, Salt Lake City, Pushkar, Anandpur Sahib, Stonehenge, Nazareth, Galilee, the Pyramids of Gaza, Manchu Picchu, Qufu, Yawata, Qum, Jaipur, Udvada, the Wudang Mountains, Babylon, Zion, Canterbury, or any other sacred site.
If you'd like to watch the clergy action tomorrow online, be sure to follow the FOR Facebook and FOR Twitter accounts. Although Internet access is sometimes difficult to find on site, if any live streams are available we will share them there. You can also check the Unicorn Riot live stream, which has managed to transmit many of the actions at the camp.
We focus on building movements and peace networks by acting as a resource hub for activists, organizers and communities. Through our network of chapters and affiliates we connect movements at the grassroots level.
We provide workshops, educational resources, strategic consulting, and speaking engagements for diverse audiences. We run young adult leadership development programs and nonviolent direct action trainings for front line movements.
We're part of a global Fellowship growing a vibrant, creative, international and intergenerational peace and justice movement. More than 70,000 consituents in the US participate in our base-building work. Join us!
For over 100 years FOR members have led the strategic application of nonviolence to political and social change movements worldwide. We honor and count among our number Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King, Thich Nhat Hanh, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Muriel Lester, Sulak Sivaraksa, James Lawson, Jean and Hildegard Goss-Mayr, Andre and Magda Trocme and many more.
FOR recognizes individuals and organizations who make exceptional contributions to peace, justice and reconciliation. We honor unsung grassroots activists with the Local Hero Award, US justice leaders with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, and international peacemakers with the Pfeffer Peace Award.
Since 1918 FOR has produced publications and a national journal to shape and reflect learning on the power of nonviolent social change. Since 1934 that award-winning journal has appeared under the title Fellowship, now issued twice yearly in summer and winter. FOR's national newsletter, Witness, is produced in spring and fall and provides highlights of campaigns and projects led by grassroots FOR chapters and affiliates.