Nonviolence

In the traditions of Mahatma Gandhi, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day, Utah Philips, and millions of people all over the world, our work for justice and peace is founded in principles and practice of active nonviolence.

Nonviolence Guidelines

Our nonviolence guidelines are one way we practice effective and active nonviolence.

As a participant in a PJALS action, I agree to abide by and reflect upon these commitments:
1. At all times, we will use our anger at injustice as a positive nonviolent force for change. Our attitude will be one of nonviolence, openness, friendliness, and respect toward all we encounter. We will convey this through words, symbols, and actions.
2. We will refuse to return the assaults—verbal or physical—of those who oppose or disagree with us. We will protect those who oppose us from insults and attack.
3. As participants in a nonviolent event, we will follow the directions of the designated coordinators. In the event of a serious disagreement, we will remove ourselves from the gathering.
4. We will refrain from insults and swearing. We will use no violence, verbal or physical, toward any person. We will not carry anything that could be construed as a weapon.
5. We will not run or use threatening motions. We will not damage any property. We will not bring or use alcohol or illegal drugs.

 

As a way to practice our commitment to effective nonviolent action for peace and justice, PJALS holds Peacekeeper Trainings where participants learn nonviolent de-escalation techniques to help make for successful demonstrations. After completing the training, volunteers are eligible to join our Peacekeeper Team for specific events. 

The Role of the Peacekeeper

Peacekeepers are trained demonstrators who accept responsibility for the flow and tone of a demonstration. A Peacekeeper Team will:

  • Facilitate the group achieving the goals of the demonstration in a nonviolent way.
  • Set the tone for action.
  • Maintain nonviolent spirit and discipline.
  • Provide information about the action and logistics.
  • Communicate with demonstrators, organizers and others.
  • Defuse and de-escalate conflicts.
  • Act as buffer between demonstrators and police, counter-demonstrators, hecklers, etc.
  • Keep chants and songs going, or help keep silence, depending on objective.
  • Facilitate movement of people where appropriate.
  • Direct media to media spokespeople.
  • Help people handle their emotions; provide support and empathy.
  • Help marchers move safely through traffic.
  • Hand out and light candles, depending on event.
  • Anticipate potential conflict situations and take pre-emptive action.
  • Limit harm.
  • Call for emergency medical or legal aid or support.
  • Assist the demonstrators, not police them.

You can see more information about The Role of Peacekeepers in this handout..

If you are interested in requesting a training on nonviolent de-escalation for successful demonstrations, please contact PJALS Organizer Shar Lichty at slichty@pjals.org.

If you are interested in a PJALS Peacekeeper Team for a demonstration you are planning, please know it usually takes at least a three-week turnaround to schedule and organize a training for new Peacekeepers and at least two weeks lead time to organize a group of volunteers as a Peacekeeper Team. Here is the PJALS Peacekeeper Agreement we’ve begun to use, which spells out more about roles and responsibilities.

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