Tag Archives: nonviolent protest

Method 27: New Signs and Names

Before I move on to Method 27, two words:

Brandy Carlile.

61st Annual Grammy Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 10 Feb 2019

Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (10095018ic) Brandi Carlile 61st Annual Grammy Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA – 10 Feb 2019

Carlile’s performance of “The Joke” at last night’s Grammy awards has been on repeat all day. It’s one of the most powerful, timely performances I’ve seen, and I just can’t get it out of my head. Watch the performance.

They come to kick dirt in your face
To call you weak and then displace you
After carrying your baby on your back across the desert
I saw your eyes behind your hair
And you’re looking tired, but you don’t look scared

Artists are leading the revolution.

Method 27: New Signs and Names

IMG_5203Method 27 can take many forms, but the approach is to take signs that have been used against people and to turn them into something new. The signs can be repurposed, they can disappear or be replaced with something new.

When I was researching this method, I came across today’s LA Times, “Last of iconic illegal immigration crossing signs has vanished in California.” After years of debate, the last of 10 yellow “immigrants crossing” signs that once stood on either side of the 5 and 805 freeways near the U.S.-Mexico border disappeared. The department of transportation stopped making the signs and constructed fences to prevent people from crossing highways instead. (See slideshow, below.)

Method 27 was used in 1942 in occupied Poland by a group of young resistors who called themselves “The Little Wolves.” They stole the signs reading “Nur Für Deutsche” (FOR GERMANS ONLY), signs that were posted in front of Warsaw’s best cafes, hotels and theaters. One morning, hundreds of the signs reappeared on city’s lamp posts and trees where the Germans often hung Polish patriots. Overnight, street signs, placards and inscriptions throughout the city were replaced with the names of the heroes of the revolution.

I featured the artist Banksy in Method 26: “Paint as Protest,” and he’s back again today. A warning that the images in the slideshow below are triggering, but they end on a note we can all live by. I recommend listening to Brandi Carlile as you watch. [Listen.]

Let ’em live while they can
Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends
And the joke’s on them.

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3.5% Project




“Researchers used to say that no government can survive if just 5% of its population rose up against it, but what the research showed is that no single campaigns failed during the time period after they’d achieved the active sustained participation of just 3.5 percent of the population.” – Erica Chenoweth

Method 26: Paint as Protest

Tuesday night’s State of the Union was a gorgeous example of the effectiveness of Nonviolent Method 18. The sea of Congresswomen in white couldn’t be overlooked – not by the viewing audience and especially not from the podium.

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The rest of the SOTU caused me to flip between CNN and old episodes of Survivor after my partner asked, “Are you really going to curse at the screen every fifteen seconds?” (Answer: “F*&K YES … the likes of which has never been seen!!!”)

Former CIA Director John Brennan, a frequent critic of 45, said this of the State of the Union address: “I think Donald Trump raised to a new level,” he said, “the demagoguery, the hyperbole, the chauvinism, and even the misrepresentation on a lot of the issues, including on the foreign policy and national security front.”

For more on how how the rhetoric of dictators can bring down democracies, check out this article.

Method 26: Paint as Protest

Paint as a tool of nonviolent resistance can take many forms – as graffiti, on buildings, walls, or bodies, or symbols drawn on official portraits. In August 2017, graffiti resembling the work of the illusive artist Banksy appeared on Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

In June 2018, six new murals appeared in Paris to protest the French government’s anti-refugee policies. The first image in the slideshow below depicts a young girl spraying a pink wallpaper pattern over a swastika on a wall next to her sleeping bag and teddy bear in an attempt to make her patch of pavement more homelike.

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Art historian Paul Ardenne said it does not matter if the murals are by Banksy, but they do “show that the Banksy effect, and its ability to manipulate the media, works.”

3.5% Project




“Researchers used to say that no government can survive if just 5% of its population rose up against it, but what the research showed is that no single campaigns failed during the time period after they’d achieved the active sustained participation of just 3.5 percent of the population.” – Erica Chenoweth

Method 25: Displays of Portraits

I need you to know about Marielle Franco.

On March 14, 2018, the Brazilian LGBT and human rights activist was assassinated  in what many believe was a targeted political attack. After leaving a public meeting, two cars followed the councilwoman’s car, pulled up behind, and shot her through the window.

Ten months later, her murderer has not been found.

Crimes like these increase in places where the divisions around race, class, gender and sexual orientation are stigmatized. There is little hope that the police investigation of Franco’s homicide will continue, because on October 28, 2018, far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro was elected president. This is a man who said that if his son was acting “gayzinho” (a little gay), he would beat him.

This is the man who has been called “The Trump of the Tropics.”


In his victory speech, Bolsonaro said he was a “defender of freedom” who would run a government that protected citizens who “follow their duties and respect the laws.” In the months leading up to his election, Brazil saw a surge in hate crimes.

In the US, hate crimes are up by 17%, rising for the third consecutive year.

Daily, our rights are being taken away, the impact of global warming on our environment is mocked, and our people are under attack.

This is what happens under dictatorships.

This is why I’m blogging these methods.

I’m doing it because they work.

And we need need to start using them.

Last month, Marielle Franco’s fiance and partner of 13 years was interviewed by The Guardian for the short film below. “The scenario is very dramatic. In Brazil, our society has a very racist way of looking at things, and it tends to criminalize those who are black or poor.” – Monica Benicio, The Guardian


3.5% Project




“Researchers used to say that no government can survive if just 5% of its population rose up against it, but what the research showed is that no single campaigns failed during the time period after they’d achieved the active sustained participation of just 3.5 percent of the population.” – Erica Chenoweth

Method 22: Protest Disrobings (CONTENT WARNING)

Note: images at the end of this post may be inappropriate for some work environments. 

My senior year in high school, I was given two weeks of detention after playing a song I wrote on the morning radio show. I cued up “Get Naked,” and then I bolted. I spent the rest of the morning getting screamed into a corner by my advisor:

“For the rest of your life, you will be nothing. You are nothing. No matter what you do from here, this is the best you will ever be.”

I didn’t even GET naked, I just used the word because I knew its power in my hometown of Churchville, New York. It was like my own Footloose moment – I was going out with a bang.

Public disrobing is an effective method of nonviolent protest because it gets people’s attention – but it’s only effective if the wobbly bits draw attention to the intended cause. A recent example of this was on Tuesday night, when Stormy Daniels folded her laundry and listened to Taylor Swift in her underwear live on Instagram for 8 minutes. Exactly 8 minutes – the time it took Trump to “formally” advocate for building a 5.7 billion dollar border wall.

The Russian punk art collective Pussy Riot and activists from the Ukranian group Femen (video above) have been leading the charge against Putin’s repressive state since 2008. Femen regularly stages topless protests against sex tourism, homophobia, religious institutions, and underage marriages. In 2012, they protested against voter fraud in the 2012 Russian elections. (ARE YOU READING THIS?) In 2013, members of Femen disrupted the visit of Russian President Putin and Chancellor Merkel at a tech show shouting obscenities, with anti-Putin slogans written on their bodies.

In 2012, two members of Pussy Riot were arrested for singing the punk protest song Putin’s Prayer in Moscow’s main cathedral. They spent two years in a Russian prison for “hooliganism,” something member Nadya Tolokonnikova described was a time of “endless humiliations.”

After their release, the activists pledged to devote their energies to changing the political system in Russia and improving conditions inside its prisons – but they haven’t stopped protesting. In 2018, members of Pussy Riot crashed the World Cup and were arrested for 15 days.

Public disrobing is not new: in the 1800’s, pacifist Ukranian immigrants called the Doukhobors (“spirit wrestlers) staged naked protests when the Canadian government wouldn’t give them the land they were promised, and this continued into the 1970’s.

The annual Running of the Nudes in Pamplona, Spain, protests the cruelty of the centuries-old tradition of the running of the bulls. PETA’s “Lettuce Ladies” dress in lettuce bikinis and hand out flyers about veganism. Breasts Not Bombs, Naked for Peace, Bare Warning – all protests against war.

Women in Uganda have protested naked because their farming land is under threat of being acquired by the government as a game reserve. For the Acholi people of northern Uganda, a woman stripping in public is more powerful than fighting because it’s believed that these actions bring worst of curses on the woman’s enemy.

Today’s Action Item: #ballstothewall 

Today is Day 22 of the government shutdown. Drop’em, guys. See what you can do about this shutdown. If it goes viral, please send cash.

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“We believe that if women are left with little more than satisfying sexual desires as a life purpose, then our sexuality must become politicised. We are not denying our potential to be treated as sex objects. On the contrary, we are taking our sexuality into our own hands, turning it against our enemy. We are transforming female sexual subordination into aggression, and thereby starting the real war.” – Inna Shevchenko, Femen, for The Guardian

3.5% Project




Method 21: Delivering Symbolic Objects

When Nancy Pelosi was reelected as Speaker of the House for the second time last Thursday, her return to power was symbolized by a return of the gavel. Watch the moment here:

The delivering of symbolic objects is a favorite method of peaceful protest, and has been used throughout history as a way to send a message to those in authority that they’re not backing down. The French are famous for this – farmers are fond of delivering fresh manure and rotten vegetables to government offices to protest depressed wages or overburdensome taxes. When Chicago’s rat problem overwhelmed the city, a housing improvement program piled dead rats against the mayor’s door.


There are risks to this kind of protest – they can contribute to increased animosity between groups – but the message gets across.

On Valentine’s Day in 2017, “Readers are Leaders” hosted the event “Bury the White House in Books on Valentine’s Day,” encouraging people to send books they thought Trump could stand to read. Some suggestions:

  • Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson
  • Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  • The Art of Power, by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, by Masha Gessen
  • The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss: A children’s tale about the environment
  • Night, by Elie Wiesel: An iconic account from a Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate
  • The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair: A piece of investigative journalism that explores the conditions and treatment of poor factory workers
  • Somebody Loves you, Mr. Hatch, by Eileen Spinelli, a children’s tale about the power of kindness

What book would you send Trump?

I know, I know, he doesn’t read – but maybe someone close to him can give him the important points. Let me know if you need the address – I’ll be there on the 19th.


3.5% Project