NC Pastor to Kick Off Second Year of Demonstrations

The Rev. William J. Barber II consults with church member Shyrl Hinnant Uzzell. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

North Carolina’s weekly protests against Republican-backed legislative initiatives last year brought thousands of people to the state Capitol in Raleigh each Monday chanting, “Forward together, not one step back.”

Now the movement is ready to reprise its demonstrations, which recall the tactics of the civil rights era.

The Rev. William J. Barber II and his Moral Mondays team are making final preparations for the kickoff event, dubbed the Moral March, scheduled for Saturday. Barber hopes it will be bigger than the Selma march for voting rights in 1965 that drew 25,000 people.

We Are Unstoppable! Another World Is Possible!

Earlier this month, I boarded a train with my brother-in-law and headed to Chicago to protest the 2012 NATO Summit. If you are asking "why protest?" you can find a substantial list here

Security had been ramped up and no food or liquids were allowed on the train. We met some fellow protesters during the trip and when we arrived at Union Station we hustled to make it to Grant Park on time. In transit to the park the sun was already warming our necks and I found myself reaching for the small tube of sunblock that I had stashed in my pocket. 

We arrived in plenty of time to catch the pre-march rally at Petrillo Bandshell. Many stories were shared by fellow activists from around the world. The air was humid, yet vibrating with the passion of thousands as we prepared to march together for peace.

Amidst a swirl of percussion the crowd was chanting: "We are unstoppable! Another world is possible!"

The Year of the Protester

TIME Magazine's Person of the Year 2011: The Protester

TIME Magazine's Person of the Year 2011: The Protester

I love seeing who is chosen as TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year.

But sometimes TIME's honoree is not just a “Person.” Sometimes it’s “Persons” or even a thing.

Sometimes it’s the biggest news story of the year. Sometimes it encapsulates the zeitgeist,  global urgings, or our collective mood.

This time around, it’s all of those things: A person, a group, a zeitgeist, a news story.

According to TIME, 2011 is the year of “The Protester.”

The Unlikely Voice of a Generation: Dorli Rainey is "Maude" to the Occupy Movement's "Harold"

Rainey is quite a woman. Reared in Nazi-era Germany, she is well known around her adopted city of Seattle for her years of social justice activism. According to the Post-Intelligencer, Rainey even ran for mayor briefly in 2009, and was on her way to attend a city transportation department meeting when, as she was changing buses, she heard a swarm of helicopters over head, figured there was an Occupy demonstration near by and went to investigate.

Whether you agree with the ideology of the Occupy movement or not, Rainey is an inspiration. In an interview last week with Keith Olbermann, the octogenarian activist said that she was energized by the pepper spraying incident and went on to give a shout out to the late Roman Catholic nun, Jackie Hudson (also a life-long peace activist who was arrested several times for protesting at nuclear arms sites), for inspiring her to keep fighting the good fight, even in the winter years of her life.

Rainey recalled Hudson's words of inspiration: "Whatever you do, take one more step out of your comfort zone."

Seattle's 'Disastrous' Response to the '99 WTO Protests Is A Cautionary Tale for NYPD

WTO protests in Seattle, November 30, 1999. Pepper spray is applied to the crowd.

Writing in the Nov. 29, 2011 issue of The Nation, Norm Stamper, who served as Seattle's police chief during the 1999 World Trade Organization protests, says his "disastrous response" a dozen years ago should have been a cautionary tale. "Yet our police forces have only become more militarized."

"My support for a militaristic solution caused all hell to break loose," Stamper writes. "Rocks, bottles and newspaper racks went flying. Windows were smashed, stores were looted, fires lighted; and more gas filled the streets, with some cops clearly overreacting, escalating and prolonging the conflict. The 'Battle in Seattle,' as the WTO protests and their aftermath came to be known, was a huge setback—for the protesters, my cops, the community."



The Latest News on Occupy Wall Street Under Siege: Judge Allows Occupiers Back In, 5K+ books destroyed, Journalists Arrested, Protesters Occupy Church Lot

The Latest News on Occupy Wall Street Under Siege: Judge Allows Occupiers Back In, 5K+ Books from OWS Library Destroyed by Police, Journalists Arrested, Protesters Occupy Church Lot and more. Plus, LIVE STREAMING VIDEO FROM OWS IN NYC inside.

A Confession to the Occupy Movement

A young woman in prayer. Image via Wylio.

A young woman in prayer. Image via Wylio.

As I have read about the Occupy Movement, I have noticed many individual Christians expressing support, but little public support for the movement from the Christian community as a whole.

I have had mixed feelings about this.

Certainly support of the poor, standing up for social justice, most of what the Occupy Movement is about, coincide with what we are called to as Christian people. Yet I think it would be inappropriate for Christians to try to jump into leadership roles when the Occupy Movement is so diverse and when we have so often failed to take a stand on such issues ourselves.

It seems to me that public confession and repentance might be the best way to communicate our support with appropriate humility. 

With this in mind I make the following confession as a person of Christian faith. I hope others will join me in this or similar confessions.

SOJOURNERS EXCLUSIVE: Salman Rushdie at #OccupyWallStreet

Sunday afternoon in Lower Manhattan, I ran into Salman Rushdie, who was walking nonchalantly through Zuccotti Park with his son. The renowned author's presence went largely unnoticed by the thousands of protesters, media and tourists crowding the park observing the Occupation demonstration.

On his way out of the park, Rushdie graciously took a few moments to talk with me about what he'd just witnessed. It was his first visit to the demonstrations and he was clearly moved by what he saw.