What are the ingredients for a revolution? Such a recipe can be combined together in many different ways. History has continually shown that real change that truly educates and empowers everyday people rarely comes from central governments and corporations. There is nothing more dedicated and pure on this planet than a mother’s love for her child. This timeless maternal instinct has given birth to a true revolution unlike anything witnessed in modern times.
Moms Know Best
Children are being damaged by vaccines; this is a fact. Trusting mothers have become activated by a deep desire to rescue their children from a system that has let them down, despite government regulatory agencies that are asleep at the wheel and failing to protect the health of our children. In the face of a mainstream medical community that has lost sight of its ethics and independent thinking, mothers have united through love in a common goal to provide answers for their children when the medical, legal, and political systems have given up on them. The Thinking Moms’ Revolution (TMR) was born out of a deep desire to recover their children.
Starting from the dedicated work of 23 mothers (and one dad) of children harmed by the system, the initial collaboration quickly grew into a revolution. A truly grassroots movement, the Thinking Moms have become a whirlwind of alternative research and new healing methods with a core of continual education to bring new awareness. As more mothers joined, all working without pay, the message became exponentially stronger creating a buzz. TMR, and its non-profit arm, Team TMR, has jointly authored two books (with two more on the way) leveraging their combined experience and knowledge. In addition, TMR cuts across all boundaries on their quest for healing knowledge and truth, where nothing is off limits for healing that works. TMR’s quest has educated other parents about the success of cannabidiol oil, eliminating GMO food from their children’s diet, advanced detoxification methods and much more, all while the mainstream medical community played the sidelines. The group’s presence can always be found at alternative health conferences, medical presentations, protests, regulatory hearings, and state houses to influence legislation. Even the mainstream media has been forced to take notice.
The distinct advantage of this revolution is that it is solely focused on effective, efficient, and healing truth. Mothers of damaged children have no time, energy, or care for politics, egos, and finger pointing. Perhaps this is why TMR has stood the test of time with their focused message. In 1998, the mainstream media and medical community turned their back on the correlation between gut health and the autism spectrum, originally demonstrated by Andrew Wakefield and 12 of his colleagues, when research published in the medical journal The Lancet was retracted. The members and participants of TMR were among those to see the truth behind this research and make intensive efforts toward gut healing with great success. There is no doubt that the efforts of TMR was key to an often stubborn mainstream medical community’s acceptance of revolutionary, game-changing research on gut health, and on vaccines and their connection to autism.
Open Sourced Solutions
On November 1st, TMR is launching the first and only interactive online TV Network, called TMR Nation TV, consisting of 10 channels, all geared toward helping families thrive and achieve health and medical freedom in today’s world. Topics that TMR has always championed on the way to recovering their children’s health will now have the opportunity to be open sourced online for others to weigh in on. Clean food, expert interviews, siblings and family stories, politics, prevention and recovery can be built upon and added to by those with valuable, everyday experience.
The importance and timing of this network and its information is essential. We are living in a time when families and communities are looking for real information that can be implemented today. The fallibility and trust of major medical studies has come under heavy fire in the face of corruption and inaccurate findings. The peer-reviewed process, once thought to be sacred, is crumbling before the public’s eye, often revealing conflicts of interest and theories that don’t always translate into reality. Trust is becoming a scarce commodity among the political and mainstream medical communities as the idea of health freedom is being pressured out of the public dialogue. The age old tradition of everyday mothers and families directly sharing what works can now be supercharged and focused, bringing effective solutions from people embodying healing and medical freedom, minus any corrupting influences such as corporate pressure, political conflicts, and plan old lies.
People Helping People
Team TMR is a 501c3 organization that provides help to families struggling with medical, emotional, educational, and financial hardship due to complex medical needs faced by their children diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities. Mainstream medicine has effectively ignored autistic children and their families with their lack of clarity, answers, and overly expensive treatments. The alternative medical community, thinking outside the box, along with dedicated families, know how to recover autistic children and are doing it on a regular basis. Team TMR is supercharging that effort by handing out grant money quarterly to families in need of these proven treatments. Funds are gathered from TMR’s book sales and donations. See the Thinking Moms’ Revolution Facebook page for more information on TMR Nation TV.
Activist Post | There are very real conspiracies in the world, and those conspiracies are always conducted by people “in the know” against those who are ignorant or naive of back-room machinations.Past slavery was largely based on force (thus was much more obvious), but modern-day slavery is actually more widespread because global slave masters use all of the scientific tools at their disposal to win hearts and control minds, convincing us that our hands and feet are free, so we must be living self-directed lives.
There are signs that the mind-pyramids that technocrats have built to enforce their 21st-century global plantation slave system are crumbling as they press harder upon our cognitive ability to make sense of words and actions. The owners of the shoulders on which the structure of tyranny is supported are beginning to leave in droves. The pyramids are falling as slaves begin to recognize their unconscious effort, and consciously encourage others to find a different line of work.
Here are 10 ways that you can help collapse all of the pyramids of control.
1. Media and Intelligence – Information is knowledge and knowledge is power — this is where it all starts. Turn off the TV, stop passively receiving information that turns you into an idiot at the teat of the “idiot box.” Get creative: start a blog, a neighborhood newsletter, radio show, public access TV or YouTube channel, write encouraging letters to companies you appreciate and nasty ones to those you boycott; DO something; anything to increase awareness. Homeschooling is another great way to help short circuit the negative influences of systematic programming. Even if you don’t agree with homeschooling, or are not able, there are concepts that you can help introduce into your public school to enhance education. Intelligence – there are technologies to thwart constant surveillance, as well as low-tech solutions to high-tech tyranny. The Internet is being used to surveil the public, but it also provides an opportunity for the public to surveil and report the real criminals. Use the system against itself.
2. Health and Agriculture – Why do tyrannical systems always move to declare methods of independence such as farming, vitamins, raw milk, and natural medication like cannabis as underground contraband systems that threaten the health of society? Clearly because this is a cornerstone of freedom. Learn to make your own medicines, trade on the underground, support other states (and countries) who have embraced food freedom, and stand your ground by forming local community resistance against food and health tyranny. Moreover, simply making your mind and body stronger by pursuing what is natural and healthy will give you more power to challenge the system in every other way.
3. Energy and Technology – Support true economic development and pursue open source solutions to all technological problems that can affect humanity on the widest scale. These are the technologies that have been suppressed in the past, their creators destroyed; but now there are too many people pursuing goals to free humanity. Embrace innovation and technology, but only as it leads to self-empowerment, self-determination, and genuinely helps the human and environmental condition. There are reportedly many free-energy patents being kept from the public. These technologies can’t be kept secret forever as long as the Internet remains free and open. Support all efforts to maintain Internet freedom and the right to pursue innovation.
4. Mobility and Flexibility – Always be willing to adapt and move. The structure of tyranny might be global, but there are always pockets of freedom that tyranny ignores — normally based on economic interest. Become adaptable, don’t buy into the “American Dream” of having possessions to define your self-worth. Once you discard the unimportant things, look for specific towns, states, or countries to escape economic decline and those which promote freedom. It’s a difficult decision to pick up and move, especially when extended family comes into play, but discuss your ideas and the evidence for your concerns openly and honestly, and be the first to pioneer the building of a new future — if things begin to collapse in earnest, you will soon be sought after by those who once doubted your “crazy” reasoning.
5. Prepare for the Worst – Along the same lines as being mobile and flexible, make sure that you store enough supplies to get through a few months or more of tough times. The current system relies on your dependence and they can easily control those who live just-in-time lifestyles. Most people don’t realize how much they “need” the system until something like a blizzard knocks out their power and wipes out the grocery store shelves. It’s wise to store back-up food, have the ability to produce food, gather tools and other items needed during power outages or other disasters, and actively pursue any and all other survival prepping and self-sufficiency techniques.
6. Refuse to Pay Unjust Debt – This is a moral decision based on the information that much of what was created to be a “loan” was based on a predatory system. As they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse, and that is duly noted, but when confronted with an enemy that has deliberately contrived devious ways to steal productivity and the fruits of honest labor, then the principle of justifiable self-defense is invoked. Forget about your credit score; it is the invisible chain that keeps you in prison. Refuse to pay debts that you know were fraudulently imposed. Remember, the banks never had the money they “lent” to you in the first place; they created it out of nothing to buy your servitude. If you are hesitant to simply quit paying the criminal banks, then learn how to reduce your exposure to all debts.
7. Create New Banking Systems – We have seeneconomic collapse taking down countries like dominoes across the third world, and now the first. These money junkies cannot and will not stop. It is up to us to develop systems which permit us to completely withdraw our support for the current system and shield us from manipulated collapses. This may be the most productive way to break free from modern slavery; whether it’s switching to local credit unions, storing precious metals instead of cash, engaging in barter systems or using alternative currencies, or supporting full-blown monetary reform.
8. Learn a Skill – Learn as many skills outside of your day job as possible. This can be as simple as giving more attention to your hobbies like fishing, hunting, gardening, painting, blogging, tinkering on cars, building things, sewing, cooking, etc. Whatever useful skill you’re most passionate about, learn more about it, become an expert at it, and acquire the necessary tools to start a side business with it. By doing this, you’ll reduce the dependence on your job and find much more fulfillment in life. Remember, skills are the only form of wealth that can’t be taken from you. Additionally, form clubs or partnerships with your neighbors and share your skills and tools to form a stronger community that will be resistant to whatever the systems of control throw your way.
9. Boycott – Activists have enjoyed many recent victories through boycott, most notably the rapidremoval of “pink slime” meat from major supermarket chains following public outcry once they became aware of the product. It goes to show that the public still holds the power over corporations, but the masses must be educated before they’re moved to action. Not you though. Readers of this post know exactly what companies to boycott and why. Start living your principles and follow through on your knowledge. Voting with your dollars DOES work, but not if the aware crowd refuses to do it.
10. Taxes – Taxes are the most controversial of all — the one that catches the most flak, so the one that must be most directly over the target. How do you feel knowing that money is extracted from you by force to be injected into systems around the world that create violence, rip apart cultures, and put us on a path of complete annihilation and self-destruction? This is slave-like thinking in its highest form of denial. No Constitution of any country anywhere in the world openly recognizes that it is lawful to forcefully extract money you have earned enslaving you for life to kill others with it, upon penalty of imprisonment. It’s the final chain to be broken, and is admittedly the thickest. But how can a machine be built without the funding to build it? The entire prison system we see around us has been built with our own money. Did you authorize it? Did you authorize the preemptive wars, bank bailouts, corporate subsidies, the high-tech surveillance grid that enslaves you?
Significantly, these are all things you can do on your own. You don’t need to influence politicians, or ignite a mass protest, or wait for an uprising. There is no cavalry coming. You are the change you seek. Get out there and become more self-reliant and the system will lose its grip on you. If enough of us do this, the system will fall apart by its own unsustainable making. Refuse to be a slave today and unchain others by sharing this article and implementing the tips on this list.
From left: Henia Belalia, Pancho Ramos-Stierle, Adrienne Maree Brown, Clayton Thomas-Muller, Carlos Jimenez.
Change is coming fast. The brief window we have to turn around the climate crisis, the growing gap between rich and poor, the violence at home and abroad, debt and austerity politics—these are among the most pressing issues facing all of us, especially young people. We asked a group of leaders, all under 40, to talk to us about how they see their lives, their leadership, and their future.
Sarah van Gelder: How do the challenges facing your generation (people under 40) compare with those faced by leaders of the civil rights, women’s, and labor movements? What’s at stake now?
Adrienne Maree Brown: I would say the biggest difference is we’ve increased our exposure to all the suffering and struggle in the world without increasing our capacity to handle it.
The speed of knowledge has increased—now it’s a nearly instantaneous flow of crisis, tragedy, and need, sprinkled with glimpses of triumph, resilience, humanity. And we are supposed to have a coherent opinion on all of it and stay focused on those things we can impact. We need mindfulness practice to come with our smartphones!
Henia Belalia: We’re looking at the frequency and impact of climate-related “natural disasters,” and it’s daunting—how do we take our foot off the gas pedal when we have very few years before we hit a point of no return and it’s game over for the planet?
Clayton Thomas-Muller: I think of our aunties and uncles who were in the American Indian movement, the Black Panthers movement. Back in the day, there was a lot of responsibility on a very small group of leaders, and it was relatively easy for agents of oppression to target those individuals. Whereas today, through social media and digital technologies that can transfer popular education materials to vast audiences, we have a more level playing field.
Carlos Jimenez: Power is becoming more concentrated and more removed from our daily experience.
I assume it never was cool to question capitalism or ask hard questions about systems of oppression. But these days, it feels like we have to stretch in ridiculous ways to question the structures of our society without being seen as radicals or crazy people.
Pancho Ramos-Stierle: In fact, sister Sarah, we are not under 40, we are 13.7 billion years old, our cosmic age, and we are part of an unfolding story of love.
Our pioneer brothers, sisters, and kin of the civil rights movement during the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s didn’t have that gorgeous picture of ourselves, the Earth, from space. And now, we’re able to detect planets outside the solar system that might support life, which is bringing a new sense of our humanity. All of a sudden, all of the nonsense divisions based on the colors of our skin or culture or spiritual practice or religion just vanish, and we’re one sacred living organism that is the wonderful Earth.
Pancho Ramos-Stierle meditates during Oakland’s Occupy protests in 2011. Moments later he and others were arrested as police cleared the plaza of Occupy campers. Photo by Noah Berger.
van Gelder: How do you see where we’re headed as a human community? How does that shape your own choices?
Belalia: One has to believe that another world is possible, but we need to be very real about what that looks like and not just put on Band-Aids.
We’re going to have to make some big changes in how we live. We’re going to have to consume a lot less and give up luxuries. Living in the Global North, in the United States especially, we have a responsibility to the rest of the world to reassess how we live.
How can we create alternatives that are so beautiful that they just naturally are in conflict with a collapsing, broken system?
Brown: In the stories I hear of past generations, we weren’t just moving toward a better world, there was a sense of responsibility to maintain and/or create a better world for the next generations. Right now I think we need to move toward being better and better ancestors.
Thomas-Muller: We need to be talking about a new economic paradigm, not patching up the existing one like some crazed engineer obsessed with patching up the Titanic. For example, green jobs are not created by producing photovoltaic panels under indentured servitude in massive industrial wastelands in China, then shipped to California where young African Americans are hired at minimum wage to install these panels onto rich people’s houses.
If instead we look at the establishment of local economies, the 100-kilometer diet, urban farming, and radicalizing the conversation around the distribution of wealth and land—that’s the conversation that I’m interested in.
Ramos-Stierle: Seeing with the eyes of an astrobiologist has given me an appreciation for technology. Everything can scale up very quickly. Small decisions can have big impacts in all directions—exponentially more so than a few generations ago. Scalable new design principles—local, decentralized, open, non-linear, emergent, biomimetic—all can spread like wildfire today. We not only have the chance now to name a new story, but our generation has the means to live a new story into being.
van Gelder: Can you tell a story from your own experience about how social change is happening today?
Thomas-Muller: We’ve seen the rise of Idle No More, which is being led by the most marginalized group in Canada: First Nations women. Canada is going through a painful process of reconciliation, not unlike what South Africa continues to go through post-apartheid. Idle No More and the tar sands movement and other indigenous struggles have ripped away the scabs of racism. We’re seeing television, print, and radio airing the voices of the most extreme racists against indigenous peoples. What’s kind of beautiful about it, though—as ugly and as painful as it is—it’s driving people to our side of the movement who are sick of the hatred, bigotry, and overall nastiness. So it’s actually expanding our political base of allies and our overall resistance.
Brown: Recently I was involved in facilitating a gathering on black reproductive justice. The folks came into the room with a lot of painful history, and they committed to healing, whatever that took. And it took sitting in that room with each other and listening to each other in new ways, hearing each other’s ancestral stories and current stories. This meeting felt so different. Instead of: “Who’s got the best strategy and the most resources?” it was: “Who’s really committed to transforming inside themselves, how they show up in this movement, and then how we can be together?”
Ramos-Stierle: One of the most revolutionary direct actions I’ve been involved in was building a 20-by-30-foot greenhouse on a third of an acre in San Francisco. We had 100 volunteers show up at the Free Farm to help, and since then, we’ve given away close to 9,000 pounds of local, organic produce.
That greenhouse became one of the main providers of Occupy the Farm a year ago on land administered by the University of California. We planted close to 15,000 seedlings in one day with 300 people, and it was such a celebration to be there disobeying with great love. Children and all the generations stood up for life and beauty.
So how can we create alternatives that are so beautiful that they just naturally are in conflict with a collapsing, broken system?
Patricia Moore, 75, of Charlotte, N.C., is a grandmother concerned about the impact that coal pollution is having on her granddaughter who suffers from chronic asthma. She joined her first protest in November, against Bank of America’s role in coal financing. She and others were arrested after disrupting four bank branches. Photo by Paul Corbit Brown.
van Gelder: Sometimes people working for change get separated into silos. My impression is that those silos are getting less rigid—that people are more open to each other’s perspectives and issues. I’m wondering if you think we’re getting better at working together?
Jimenez: Yeah, I feel like there’s less time spent trying to tell each other what to do and more collaboration, both among members and leaders.
Belalia: For me it’s a systemic change. The corporate powers that are running the world today are all-pervasive, involved in everything from our food to our education to our elections. So for me the systemic is what feels the most authentic.
In our movement, we’re pushing for a paradigm shift that will require connecting migrant rights, economic justice, housing justice, and other social justice issues with the work on runaway climate change.
It feels like we have to stretch in ridiculous ways to question the structures of our society without being seen as radicals or crazy people.
Ramos-Stierle: I’ve heard a lot of people say, “How can you bring peace if you’re not peaceful with yourself?” And then I think, “That’s over!” We need to have both. We need the inner revolution connected with the outer revolution. It’s time for activist people to become spiritual, and for spiritual people to become active.
We need to focus on our means. It really doesn’t matter what you’re doing if you’re making a more violent and resentful world with your brothers and sisters and kin through your work. There’s no reason why we have to wait; we can be making the world more harmonious right now!
Belalia: Part of my own personal philosophy is learning to just be in this moment. What we envision in our minds is part of what we create in the world, so we need to take care of soul and heart, and create a much more tranquil and sane inside to be able to carry out our work on the outside.
Thomas-Muller: Yeah. I share that perspective. Coming from an indigenous perspective, that’s one area where we actually have a bit of privilege: We have only been separated from our relationship to the sacred for a few decades, whereas for other groups, it’s been millennia. The connection we have to the sacredness of Mother Earth has been damaged by the psychotic Western industrial experiment called capitalism. Through re-evaluating our relationship to the sacred and embracing our place in the sacred circle of life, we can fill the gap left by hyperindividualism and consumption.
Activism has to be grounded in something bigger than yourself. However you perceive God, whether that’s through the smile of your child, or by connecting with the sacredness of Mother Earth through hiking in the forest, or going to church, or practicing Buddhism, or being a sun dancer, it’s important to have those elements in your activism so as not to get overwhelmed and to fall. And even with those elements you still fall, because we are facing unimaginable foes in our struggle.
van Gelder: We chose this issue theme now because there’s such urgency around the climate crisis, extreme inequality, and the growing power of the 1 percent. A lot of our change strategies don’t seem to be working in terms of these critical questions. How do you think we can get the real change that we need?
Belalia: Building networks of resistance and resilience is a really powerful way to look at change. From Occupy grew a kind of sustained resistance—the idea that “We’re going to be in a space, and we’re not going to leave until we get something done.”
But Occupy also has done a lot to build sustained resilience. I just spent time in New York with friends who are part of the Occupy Sandy networks, which set up distribution centers after Hurricane Sandy and are still working with those communities. One group I met with is creating workers’ cooperatives.
Jimenez: I’m becoming a big fan of assemblies. Occupy was a space for assembly, but I’m also talking about people’s assemblies like those the social forums tried doing. I can’t emphasize enough how powerful it is when people come together from different walks of life, different traditions, and see that we can work together. I’m thinking a lot about how we can extend invitations and bring in more people so that it’s a bigger assembly every time.
Ramos-Stierle: As brother Carlos was speaking, I was having this vision. Wendell Berry said that if you eat, you are involved in agriculture. I say, if you eat, you’re involved in the movement, like Occupy the Farm, which some of us call Occupy 2.0. Our elder Wendell Berry says, “An economy genuinely local and neighborly offers to localities a measure of security that they cannot derive from a national or a global economy controlled by people who, by principle, have no local commitment.”
Brown: I’m writing and collaborating around speculative and science fiction, which involves strengthening our capacity for vision and for imagining ourselves in a future where we’re experiencing abundance. I’ve been reading a lot of Octavia Butler and trying to get more people to read her work and to write their own work.
And I’m a facilitation evangelist! Facilitation means to make things easy—facil—to make sure that the time we spend in each other’s presence is authentic, invigorating, and healing, and that it leads to real impact.
van Gelder: My last question: When you think about what you’re doing now and when you look to the future, what do you find most daunting, and what is most hopeful?
Brown: The most daunting thing to me is the scale of change that’s needed.
What makes me the most hopeful is that so many people are asking “How do I live my life? How do I spend my money? How do I care for my babies and care for the loved ones in my life?”
People are realizing the front line is within us, and we have to practice. And that makes me hopeful because I can feel that change in myself and see it in the people I love.
Jimenez: It’s the little things that give me hope, like that I’m starting to see people leading meetings and conferences who look like the people I grew up with—who look like my family.
In terms of fears, the scale, as Adrienne said, is really freakin’ scary. The world could literally collapse. It’s daunting that people don’t even realize how grave the crises are.
Thomas-Muller: What overwhelms me the most is patriarchy. Speaking as a Cree man, I fight internally all the time with patriarchy as it plays out in my life. We come from a matrilineal society. In our traditional way, it was the women who made decisions, and the men were told what to say. We were the spokespersons for some really tough old Cree ladies!
The most daunting question for me is, “How are we going to take out this system of predominantly white male patriarchy that’s driving the destruction across Mother Earth?”
And what is most empowering is seeing the rise of strong First Nations women all across Mother Earth who are rising up and leading the movement, teaching all of us what the sacred feminine creative principle is about and what it means to think seven generations ahead.
Belalia: One of the things that’s the most daunting is how closely politicians are working with corporations, and how blind a lot of people are to their own power.
I was recently invited to work on the next U.S. Social Forum, and it’s really inspiring to me that low-income folk, people of color, women, and LGBTQ are at the core of the process.
Jimenez: Thank you for providing a space for us to creatively weave this thread. Even though we’re coming from diverse backgrounds, it’s amazing that we’re saying similar things, and I’m grateful for the space and definitely think that was cool.
Ramos-Stierle: We’re kind of orphans in this generation. We better pay attention to the elders and listen to the re-generativity of cultures that have been living here for millennia and be a little less arrogant. We need to listen to many examples of selfless service and to everyday Gandhis and everyday Emma Goldmans and everyday Dolores Huertas, everyday Martin Luther King Jrs., and everyday Cesar Chavezes. One little star at a time forms a galaxy, and one little drop creates an ocean. And we see these shifts happening everywhere—like the shifts from scarcity to abundance, from consumption to contribution, from transaction to trust, from isolation to community, from perfection to wholeness.
We are overwhelmed by the ways that we put in danger the magnificent biodiversity of our planet. At the same time, we are recognizing that there are small things that we could be doing on a daily basis.
Like, after this call, I just feel that I love you. That’s what I think is happening. I don’t know you physically, and I feel that you are my sisters for real and my brothers, and we’re connecting with this technology that wasn’t there before. And so if this is the last time that we talk, I’d like you to know that I am going to keep this for the rest of my days in my heart to continue this great journey.
Update, June 25: Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled much of SB 1070 unconstitutional, but upheld the law’s most controversial provision: the so-called “show me your papers” component, which directs police to check the immigration status of those they suspect might be undocumented. Puente and other supporters of Barrio Defense Committees say this ruling reaffirms their approach. “We never had faith in the #SCOTUS case,” the group tweeted. “We have faith in our people … WE WILL NOT COMPLY.”
Shortly after the 2010 passage of SB 1070, Arizona’s notorious immigration bill, 20,000 people gathered in Phoenix for a May Day march to protest the new law. Instead of ending with speakers or a formal program, as political marches often do, organizers broke the crowd into small groups and asked them two questions:
How will the new law impact you and your neighbors? What can you do about it?
And with that, a new phase of the migrant rights movement, based on an age-old model of community organizing, was born.
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide very soon whether to strike down SB 1070, but few observers expect that it will choose to do so based on the Department of Justice arguments. That’s one reason local capacity development methods, such as Barrio Defense Committees, are crucial, organizers say. “We went to Congress for reform and were treated like a political football,” says Carlos Garcia, an organizer with the grassroots group Puente Arizona. “We asked the president for relief and instead got record deportations. Now even the courts may give SB 1070 the green light. It’s time we realize we have only each other and start organizing deeper in our own community.”
In the weeks and months after those small group discussions, communities across Arizona formed Barrio Defense Committees, neighborhood-based groups focused on resolving local problems, building resilience in the face of attack, and building organic leadership for broader social movements.
The committees are based on neighbor-to-neighbor relations where people commit to support each other to mitigate the negative impacts of deportations. Families sign power of attorney so that someone is prepared to take care of kids, pay bills, and communicate with an employer in the case of being taken away and placed in detention. They develop neighbor watch efforts to watch for abusive police behavior, warn of check-points, and report abuse. Health projects, English classes, and supportive businesses weave together for self-sufficiency. In addition to survival aspects, committees grow to remedy local issues like landlords refusing to make repairs or discrimination within schools. These daily building blocks lay a foundation for dealing with big problems like the anti-immigrant laws.
“Coming out was our only option.”
That 2010 march represented a fundamental change from the way advocacy groups had been approaching immigration reform: hammering out compromises in an effort to pass an omnibus piece of Congressional legislation. After that effort failed, many concluded that the compromise effort had conceded too much ground, ushering in new anti-immigrant measures, more border militarization, and a harder road to legalization.
Migrant families in Phoenix and across the state refused to run. Instead, they responded to the new law with a groundswell of public participation in civic life and a celebration of the cultures the state was set on banning.
Diana Perez Ramirez of Puente Arizona, explains, “SB1070 was a symbol of how far to the right the needle on immigration had moved. It was a wake up call that we needed to do something big to haul it back toward something sensible.”
Francisco Pacheco, an organizer for the National Day Laborer Organizing network and a former participant in Salvadoran social movements who migrated to the US after that country’s civil war, is a driving force behind the Barrio Defense model. He explains, “The committees are built off the model of movements in Latin America where people come together to resolve their local problems and join peaceful resistance efforts. By focusing on local problems, local leadership is created. The protagonist shifts from an elected official to the mother or worker next door.”
“For a long time we would only go take the kids to school, to work, and run errands,” said Leticia Ramirez, an undocumented mother of three. “Other than that we had become prisoners hidden in our own homes. But with the laws they were passing, even that wasn’t safe anymore. We realized the only safe community is an organized one. Coming out was our only option.”
The power within
Since 2010, the harsh model of SB 1070 has spread to other states—but so has the barrio defense method of responding to it. After Georgia passed HB87, a copycat of Arizona’s law, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) responded with a series of actions to empower immigrant communities. The group partnered with day laborer networks for a “human rights summer” that included mass mobilization and the establishment of local comités populares of mutual support. They also organized businesses and institutions to publicly declare themselves “Sanctuary Zones” that would not allow law enforcement to enter to check migrants’ papers without a warrant.
How young immigrant activists are learning from the the civil rights campaigners who came before them.
In January of this year, committee members from ten Georgia towns gathered for a state-wide assembly. Together they decided that the pathway to immigration reform should be through challenging local officials who take advantage of its absence. Adelina Nicholls of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights explains that, “We don’t have to wait for Congress to stop police from mistreating our community and real reform is unlikely as long as we allow that mistreatment to continue.” In Fayetteville, outside of Atlanta, a hundred people marched to the police department to demand that daily checkpoints, erected under the guise of fighting crime and drugs but frequently used to check papers, be taken down.
As in Arizona, the committee model has turned people from a strategy of hiding in their homes to taking to the streets with clipboards and cameras to monitor and turn back abuses. The idea is to transition from challenging the powers that be, and instead cultivate the power within.
Because the process charges those affected by the laws with combating them, a new form of leadership tends to develop, says Pacheco. “Instead of asking people to attend a march, members of committees are asked to assess the moment, decide when a march is necessary, and plan accordingly. Through that process people’s political development is sharpened. They become more critical, more lucid. It makes strategists out of all of us.”
In the Puente office in Phoenix, where committees meet on a weekly basis, hangs a sign with a quote by the legendary organizer, Cesar Chavez: “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”