Dan Lustick & Taro Tomisawa
Waging Nonviolent Struggle

The Principles of Waging Nonviolence
    While the success of a violent struggle is often debatable, the
success of a nonviolent struggle is often much more obvious.  This
paper will focus on three particular cases: a 2003 anti-war protest in
Colorado Springs, Colorado, a 2007 St. Patrick's Day parade in
Colorado Springs, and a 2007 immigration rally in Los Angeles,
California.  The three critical elements of any successful nonviolent
struggle—unity, planning, and discipline—were not always sufficiently
developed at all of these events, and as a result all three of these
events deteriorated rather quickly.  While unity, planning, and
discipline are paramount to making any nonviolent struggle successful,
they are also key components for the police to embrace to maintain the
nonviolent aspect of the struggle.  The police play a crucial role in
all three of the critical elements and when the communication, both
amongst the police and between the police and the organizers, breaks
down, so does the success of the struggle.
    Over the past hundred years there have been numerous nonviolent
struggles—all have involved local police on some level.  Those who
have studied nonviolent strategy and had practice, know that police
are working class citizens just like the protestors; the key is to
separate the police from the higher political power structures and
show them that they should align with you.  The two classic examples,
which define the two ends of the spectrum, of police responses to this
are the Amritsar Massacre and the Serbian Revolution in 2000.  The
Amritsar Massacre was in India on April 13, 1919—it lasted ten
minutes.  British Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer ordered his soldiers
to surround and murder hundreds of innocent men, women, and children
to "teach them a lesson".  During the Serbian Revolution, activists
had such a strong impact on the police, that when Milosevic ordered
the police to shoot the activists, the police put down their arms and
let the activists pass them.  Both these examples show the result of
police officers acting on their own accord and the repercussions of
doing so.

The first key element of nonviolent struggles is unity.  Numbers are
critical to influence the power; the more people that are
demonstrating, the more powerful the movement becomes.  People must be
unified in the ideology and practice of strategic nonviolence.
On Saturday, February 15, 2003, 3000 peaceful demonstrators attended a
Colorado Springs protest of the Iraqi war; this protest was one of
over 600 protests worldwide that day.  Colorado Springs' protest was
one of only two protests to turn violent—the other was in Athens,
Greece .  According to all accounts, the protestors—from all over
Colorado—remained peaceful and obeyed all police orders and permit
restrictions until 1:20 pm when a group of about 100 self-proclaimed
"anarchists" arrived from Denver.  When the "anarchists" arrived, they
knew the power of unity and that their power as anarchists would be
much stronger if they could get members of the 3000-person rally to
join them.  As a result they worked hard to rile up the crowd and get
them to turn on the police.  Had the unity of the other protestors not
been so great, the anarchists would have succeeded in "converting" the
protestors, and things would probably have turned violent much sooner.
The protestors continued their march down the street, remaining on the
sidewalks as they were instructed by the police.  Because of the
overwhelming turnout at the protest, the police closed the street.
The protestors saw this as the police attempting to keep passersby
from hearing their message; regardless, the protestors flooded the
street as it was now closed and they did not see the need to remain on
the sidewalk.  At this point the CSPD Tactical Unit, in full riot
gear, came on scene.  The protestors turned around and began heading
back towards Palmer Park where the protest had originated and where
their cars were parked.  At 1:48, an order to clear the street was
supposedly given from a patrol car loud speaker, but the demonstrators
had already begun to disperse themselves amongst the park to head back
to their cars, and very few heard the order.  Everyone was either
leaving or preparing to leave, with the exception of twelve protestors
who remained on the sidewalk facing the riot police and calling out
that they were nonviolent.
At 2:27 the police declared the assembly illegal and told everyone to
disperse or gas would be deployed.  The warning was inaudible to most
of the people in the parking lot, those who did here the order did not
think it was targeted at them as they were getting in their cars to
leave.  Less than a minute after the order was given, police fired 3
canisters of tear (CS) gas onto the sidewalk and the plumes of gas
were blown into the parking lot.  Within five minutes, the police
fired two more rounds bringing the total number of canisters fired at
the crowd up to about eleven.  By choosing tear gas as their method to
disperse the crowd, the police chose to treat the crowd as a unified
mass, and not as individuals.  After the event, CSPD Chief Luis Velez
acknowledged the problems with using tear gas: "Tear gas is
'indiscriminate'…there were other people who were peaceful
demonstrators who also got a taste of that gas."  Many were taken from
the parking lot and pepper-sprayed and/or violently arrested.  "Among
the 'lessons learned' from the even is to use more 'selective and
discriminating technologies,' such as stun guns in the future…We're
going to identify individuals in the crowd and we're going to go after
just them."   To date, tear gas has not been used since in Colorado
On May 1, 2007, tens of thousands of protesters marched through the
streets of Los Angeles to MacArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles for
an annual immigration rally.  The demonstration ended with clashes
between police and demonstrators in MacArthur Park.  Police fired 240
rubber bullets, shot tear gas, and beat protesters and journalists
with batons.  Even though only ten people were sent to the hospitals
via ambulance, many more were injured, but were unable to receive
proper medical treatment because of their immigrant status.
According to the demonstrators and the organizers, youths who were not
affiliated with organizations protesting confronted the police at
least one block from the park. By some accounts, the youths threw
rocks and bottles at them .  It appears that the police viewed the
young anarchists as members of the larger rally and treated them as
such.  According to police, when members of the rally left the
sidewalks for the streets, they reacted by redirecting them back into
the park. When police attempted to disperse the demonstrators who were
off the sidewalk and on the street, some of them started throwing
plastic bottles and rocks at officers.  Then several police with
helmets and batons started clearing the park, firing rubber bullets
into the crowd.  The majority of the demonstrators had no intention of
attacking police.  The police targeted individuals in park
indiscriminately—hitting women, men, elderly, and reporters with
rubber bullets and batons.
Bob Baker, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League,
claims that the clash had started after the demonstrators threw rocks
and bottles. "Our officers gave a legal dispersal order and were met
with violence" .  However, it is questionable whether police took
appropriate action toward the demonstrators.
Gerardo Gomez, counselor and homeless right activist who was shot
twice at the protest, claims that police are trying to blame it on the
young anarchists. "They are trying to find someone to blame it for.
So it's easy for them to say, 'Oh let's blame it on young anarchists'"
.  He advocates that police always seem to act against
protestors—there is often little hesitation to use excessive force.
    The violent consequence of the rally shows that it lacked unity of
the demonstrators.  If no one used violence towards the police, then
the police probably would not have reacted with violence, and the
protest would not have turned to turmoil.  Those who threw bottles and
rocks were not a part of the demonstration, but people who were
committed to the rally maintained their nonviolence discipline.
However, once someone in the crowd uses violence, it disrupts the
unity of the demonstration.  In the case of MacArthur Park, there had
to be more communication and training among people including both the
active members of the demonstration and non-members who happened to be
at the park.
    Large numbers of demonstrators can influence the outcome of a rally.
The immigration rallies in Los Angeles were much smaller this year
compared to those of last year.  About 35,000 people turned out at the
rallies this year, which is greatly smaller than the 650,000 who
turned out last year .  Had there been more participants at MacArthur
Park, the police might not have been successful at dispersing the
demonstrators.  They probably would not have chosen to use the same
methods of excessive force against such a mass demonstration.

    Planning is the second critical element of any successful nonviolent
struggle.  Without planning, it is impossible to organize effective
demonstrations that influence people and the political power.
Planning was a big issue when it came to the Palmer Park rally in
2003.  Chris Wade of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center
writes, "it was very obvious that [the police] were outnumbered.  Had
we wanted to get violent, they would have had a rough time of it.  But
we didn't…We were complying with what they wanted.  However, they
weren't in control of the situation, and that seemed to make them very
uncomfortable"  .  It seems that the police were not prepared for the
extensive turnout at the rally and were thus understaffed.  As a
result, it appears that they needed to exercise excessive violence and
force in order to show that they could control the situation.  At a
hearing on May 4, 2007, CSPD Deputy Chief Steve Liebowitz commented on
the situation saying that his police force does indeed need much more
training and that this event is a great training tool.   However, just
as a doctor practices only what he/she has been trained to do—so
should a police officer.  A lack of training is no excuse for poor
performance—in many fields it is considered negligence or malpractice.
In addition, Liebowitz stated that the current average time on the
CSPD is four years, as if inexperience is an excuse to put innocent
people's lives and rights in jeopardy.
Conveniently, a Denver-based organization, CopWatch, whose job it is
to monitor police performance and actions, had five members present at
the rally.  "CopWatch has determined that the use on February 15 of
the OC spray…was in violation of the Colorado Springs Police
Department's own protocol rules.  According to the CSPD General Order
710.20, OC spray may only be used 'to defend self or others against
unarmed attack, to prevent a suicide attempt, to subdue a person who
is resisting or interfering with an arrest, to subdue animals when
circumstances warrant.' Additionally, 'chemical agents shall not be
use indiscriminately or against non-combative persons'" .  Had there
been proper planning and training on the part of the CSPD, the
escalation in violence might never have occurred.
On the other side of the situation, the protestors had mixed responses
and reactions to the presence of the police officers.  Wade writes,
"There were several in our crowd who jeered at the police.  Some
shouted insults…this is unproductive and unwise…you cannot create
peace by inciting conflict…when you're protesting against the concept
of preemptively striking another country on the grounds that they
might be an aggressor, it makes no sense to preemptively insult the
cops on the grounds that they might try and hurt you".  Wade goes on
to say, "There were even several who made it a point to tell the
police, in various ways, that we were not their enemies and did not
consider them ours" .  Had there been better planning and had the
Peacekeepers had better training, protestors could have been alerted
to this idea of befriending the police officers instead of instigating
their violence.  It was this notion of befriending the police that
made the Serbian movement so successful.
Simultaneously, on the other side of town at Peterson Air Force Base,
east of Colorado Springs a planned act of civil disobedience was
taking place.  Ten protestors had crossed a line onto the Base and
been ceremoniously arrested by CSPD.  By 3:30 it was apparent that the
Peterson demonstration, which had consisted of 200-300 spectators, was
over.  The parking lot was empty except for a few cars of people who
were eating in the nearby Dairy Queen and the police cars.  When
Rolando Garibotti, who had not been at the protest, crossed the
parking lot to use the Dairy Queen restroom, he was questioned by
three officers.  He told them he was using the restroom and when he
refused to go back to his car, they arrested him.  Others in the
parking lot were arrested for similar reasons, and when Eric Doub
stepped out of line at Dairy Queen to see what was going on in the
parking lot, he too was arrested.  The family of the man arrested in
Dairy Queen was waiting in their mini van in the parking lot—he had
the keys.  When the police ordered them to leave, they explained they
did not have the keys, and they were all arrested (this included a 51
year old female kindergarten teacher who was dragged out of the van
and handcuffed and a 67-year-old Bill Doub, Eric's father).  In all,
twelve people were arrested in the Dairy Queen parking lot—the group
has since become known as the "Dairy Queen Dozen" .  Charges were
ultimately dropped, as they were arrested outside of CSPD
jurisdiction.  For those arrested at Palmer Park, Magistrate Judge
Michael J. Watanabe of U.S. District Court in Denver said, "It appears
that many of you were erroneously arrested while attempting to follow
police orders to leave the area" .
    Another example of the Colorado Springs Police not having sufficient
officers working is during the 2007 St. Patrick's Day Parade.  Chief
Richard Myers said, "Police at the parade included 34 officers and one
sergeant supervisor.  More supervisors spaced throughout the parade
could prevent a conflict".  In addition, Myers stated, "Police have
tended to provide the 'bare minimum' number of officers for security
at such events rather than consider the number needed" .  During the
parade, police arrested seven marchers as they marched for peace with
a legal permit purchased from the city.  The police stated that
marching for peace was a violation of the Parade's ban on social
issues.  The police dragged Eric Verlo out of his van, known as the
Bookmobile, dragged Elizabeth Fineron, a sixty-five year old woman who
has had two hip and two knee replacements and needs a cane to walk,
off the street, used what appeared to many to be an illegal choke hold
on Frank Cordaro, a visiting former Catholic priest, who sat in the
street and said he could not in good conscious abandon his march for
peace, and finally they used a taser for crowd control .
While in this instance, the police did not react to everyone on site,
only those they believed to be breaking the law, they did act with
excessive force—especially considering that most of the people
arrested were senior citizens and all were completely nonviolent and
non-combative.  More spectators than expected showed up, and when
parade organizer John O'Donnell realized that there were so many
people present at his parade in the predominantly right wing, military
mecca Colorado Springs, he "felt that the speech of peace expressed by
the group might incite a riot from the crowds" .  He ordered the
police to disband the activists, most of whom were affiliated with the
Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission.  CSPD later commented on the
situation stating that the police were "thrust into the middle" of a
dispute .  Fourteen of the thirty-five officers working the parade
responded to O'Donnell's request  and quickly and with nearly lethal
force disbanded the group of predominantly senior citizens.  The
CSPD's reason behind the disbanding of the group, and the subsequent
seven arrests, was that "the anti-war message violated written policy
banning 'social issues' at the parade".  O'Donnell stated that when
Verlo bought his permit, it was under the pretenses of the Bookman,
his van that he drives to give books to under-privileged children, and
that his application said nothing of anti-war messages.  Verlo
contests that his group was clear in their intentions from the start,
and had marched under the same ideology and message the previous year
    Had there been proper planning and communication on the part of Eric
Verlo and the CSPD, this incident might not have escalated to the
point where the police felt forced to drag a 65-year-old woman off the
street and put a fifty-six year old man in an illegal chokehold.
(This chokehold was made illegal by most police departments because
"when faced with imminent death, or a lethal situation like becoming
unconscious from lack of air, [a person] will struggle and fight for
all they're worth. The most dedicated pacifist will automatically
fight as consciousness starts to leave them.  The police know this,
and use the chokehold to stimulate what they will charge as resisting
arrest" .)  In addition, the other question that arises from this
incident is whether or not it is appropriate for the police to act as
"personal security" for an individual, John O'Donnell.  O'Donnell told
the police that the Pike Peak Justice and Peace folks were violating
their permit.  It appears that that the police acted on this without
first looking into whether or not this was true and whether or not
arresting the "violators" would be a violation of their First
Amendment Rights.  CSPD Chief Myers said of the incident, "City policy
is unclear on the role of police in monitoring privately funded events
such as the parade.  Event sponsors pay for police protection, but
coordination among officers, sponsors and other parties was
insufficient" .
The case of the Los Angeles immigrant rallies also shows that planning
is essential for successful non-violent struggle. The rallies did not
happen simply because people willed it.  There were extensive
preparations and negotiations with the police before the rally.  The
rallies ended up with violence because preparation was not enough to
prevent violence. There could be miscommunication between organizers
and police. However, organizers of the rally say, "They did not follow
the agreed-upon procedure in case of a disturbance."   They argue that
police did not follow agreement and advocate that police were not well
prepared.  Police had to be trained better in case of violent actions.

    Nonviolent discipline is the third critical element of any nonviolent
struggle.  When someone employs violence as a means to achieve an
ends, it undermines his/her legitimacy.  For the most part, we all try
to avoid violence as it is rarely seen as a positive step—it is
usually seen as the last resort—it takes unending discipline to use
nonviolence as both the first and final responses to violence.
    In the Palmer Park case it is clear that all the protestors, with the
exception of the anarchists, wanted the event to remain nonviolent.
Everyone obeyed the police's orders, but still the police attacked
them.  The only protestor who retaliated against the police's actions
was the one man who threw a tear gas canister back at the police and
was immediately hit with a rubber bullet and a taser.  When the police
exercise their power over a situation and a group of people, it is
very easy to fight back, but because of the nonviolent discipline of
the protestors, the protestors did not fight back and consequently,
their message spoke even louder as it got much more media attention
than originally expected.
    Similarly, media attention enabled the St. Patrick's Day events to
unfold internationally within forty-eight hours.  Most of those
arrested during the parade were affiliated with the Pikes Peak Justice
and Peace Commission—they were all trained in nonviolent conflict.
The police, no matter the force they exerted, did not intimidate these
people.  When marcher Frank Cordaro saw the events unfolding before
him, he sat on the street and when an officer told him to move he
said, "I'm sorry, I can't in good conscience move."  When the officer
heard this Cordaro says, the officer "immediately put me in a
headlock.  Of course I complied with the guy, as he had me almost
lifted off the ground around my neck.  He had his finger in my temple.
It was excruciating pain" .  Similarly, because of 65-year-old
Elizabeth Fineron physical ability, she was not able to keep up as the
police pulled her, and she consequently fell.  While their group was
small, the nonviolent discipline shown by these individuals in the
face of such brutality is remarkable.
    The rally in MacArthur Park left us with a question about police
discipline.  When the police attempted to disperse the demonstrators,
the order was given only in English.  Many of demonstrators were
Hispanic and not able to understand the order.  Furthermore, the
excessive force was towards the demonstrators who nonviolently refused
to leave and towards those who did not understand what was going on.
Police shot 240 rubber bullets into the crowd of men, women, children
and reporters.  Those who resisted were beaten with batons.  Jorge
Hustamante, U.N. Human rights expert, says, "The way the local police
physically abused marchers represents right there a violation of human
rights" .
At the rally in Los Angeles, police struck peaceful demonstrators with
batons and rubber bullets, but no one fought back.  They tried to
persuade police that they had a permit and a right to protest at the
park.  A man who was shot twice with rubber bullets said, "I'm not
leaving, you can kill me!"  When reporters told police that they were
reporters and not demonstrators, the police seemed not to listen and
treated them as demonstrators.  One demonstrator repeatedly told
police, "this is police brutality" until the police pushed her out of
their way.  Telemundo had live coverage of the scene, which shows
police attacking people indiscriminately.

Power Struggle – Media and Communication
Throughout history, people have found protests and demonstrations to
be a successful way of showing their discontent with their
government's actions.  Protests and demonstrations are a way for the
general public to try and bring change to a society and to influence
the political power.
Power in society is expressed through institutions, which are groups
of people who support it.  These institutions, which hold up the
power, can be referred to as the "Pillars of Support" for the
government.  Police are an essential part of the Pillars of Support
for political power.  They not only aim to serve and protect, but also
defend the legitimacy of the power structure.
Two ways to influence the Pillars of Support are push and pull.  If
people act against police with violence, police would defend
themselves with arms.  They are pushed into the center of the pillar,
and thus, the pillar becomes stronger.  On the other hand, if people
act with strategic nonviolent discipline, police will become their
supporters.  In other words, the police must be pulled out of their
pillar .  In the case of Serbia, police and military force stopped
acting against strategic nonviolence resistance because they realized
that they are also people just as the demonstrators on the streets.
Therefore, police are pulled out from the pillar, and the political
power begins to disintegrate.
In order to pull the police out from the pillar, communication and
media play a critical role.  These three cases show that
miscommunication between police and organizers will lead to violent
consequences that could be avoided if police act in a way to support
demonstrators' freedoms and rights to voice their concerns.
On the surface, all three demonstrations appear to have ended as
failures because of their disastrous outcomes.  The public paid more
attention to the violence itself and not to the message and issue that
the demonstrators attempted to bring to the fore.  The other side is
that because of the excessive force on the part of the police
departments, the media captured the police violence and the
demonstrators' nonviolent responses.  The protestors received media
and press attention because of the violence, and as a result, they
also received the opportunity to raise various issues and concerns.
In order to understand police, it is important to understand why
police behaved in such violent manners in these three cases.  Some
demonstrators might have thrown bottles and rocks at police before the
turmoil, if these people were even involved in the demonstrations at
all.  However, there is no reason for the police to attack the
innocent civilians who were in the park.  They could have tried to
evacuate only the demonstrators who used violence or have evacuated
all the demonstrators without firing their weapons and hitting people.
Chris Wade, of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, states,
"Just as a few ill-mannered activists can render an entire movement
sour in the eyes of some cops, a few bad seeds, or bad departments…can
render all cops as 'the enemy' in the eyes of those who would protest
on their behalf, and who didn't come to fight them" .
    It is clear from these three cases that police need to make their
expectations and their orders more clear.  As seen in these cases,
unity, planning, and discipline must be present and persistent not
just amongst the protestors, but also amongst the police.  Ultimately,
one must remember, no matter the circumstances, "it pays to comfort
those who feel threatened by us, even though we know ourselves not to
be a threat" .

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