This resolution was adopted by the Occupy Petaluma General Assembly and printed in the Petaluma Argus Courier on 2-16-2012.
The Occupy Movement is facing a defining moment as it responds to recent confrontations between Occupiers and police in several cities. If we hope to mature as a movement, and achieve the support of the majority of people who are suffering from economic inequality and the corruption of our democracy by the 1%, it is imperative at this critical juncture to reaffirm our commitment to nonviolence.
The vast majority of cities and towns in the Occupy Movement have adopted and steadfastly adhered to an agreement of nonviolence, but there has been a lack of clarity on and commitment to nonviolence by some general assemblies in the Occupy Movement. Therefore, to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of the movement, we urge every general assembly to adopt a resolution that affirms nonviolence.
Occupy Petaluma has passed a simple statement, which reads:
“Occupy Petaluma is committed to nonviolence and condones neither violence nor intentional acts of property destruction. We are resolved to express our grievances with the financial system, corporations and government through democratic means, including peaceful protest, creative nonviolent direct action and community building.”
Our commitment to nonviolence does not mean that we are blind to or condone the brutal, excessive and illegal use of force by police. We condemn municipal governments that attempt, often in collusion with federal authorities, to deny the Constitutional and human rights of people who are engaged in public acts of protest. While recognizing the complexity of this issue, we believe that the immoral and unlawful tactics sometimes employed by the police must never be used as a justification for an escalation of confrontation and tension that will inevitably lead to an erosion of public support for the Occupy Movement.
One of the greatest contributions that can be made by this movement is to break the cycle of violence through an enduring commitment to nonviolence. The state’s capacity for violence will always be superior to that of the governed. Only nonviolent actions render the state and the 1% powerless. We believe that the spirit of nonviolence in the Occupy Movement is the source of its strength, creativity and unity – and the only way we can achieve the full support of the 99%.
While recognizing the extraordinary diversity of perspectives in the Occupy Movement and the difficulty of achieving consensus on this issue, we believe that our solidarity will only mature through a common agreement on nonviolence. Uncritical solidarity with groups that engage in or refuse to condemn acts that depart from a commitment to nonviolence is a path toward disintegration not growth of the movement. Genuine solidarity arises from a shared respect for all life. This is the perspective from which nonviolence is manifested as a daily practice and strategy for the Occupy Movement.
Finally, at this critical juncture, we recommend that every city and town in the Occupy Movement, which has not already done so, affirm an agreement of nonviolence through the passage of a general assembly resolution. We recognize that in those locations where a consensus on nonviolence has not yet emerged, the majority of Occupiers have made numerous efforts to pass resolutions supporting nonviolence in their general assembly meetings. We applaud those efforts and hope that recent events will tip the scales in favor of nonviolent resolutions soon being passed in all locations nationwide.
As we work to dismantle structures of injustice and war, we strive to build what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the beloved community” through a common commitment to nonviolence. This commitment will allow the Occupy Movement to create a broad path of nonviolent social change for the millions of people who languish under a ruthless and corrupt economic and political system. Our vision of a broad path leading toward justice and peace will overcome the violence of a dying order by uniting people in a solidarity that reaches into every city, every neighborhood and every heart.