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NONVIOLENT PEACEKEEPING TECHNIQUES

PEACEKEEPERS:  WHAT THEY ARE, WHAT THEY DO

In numerous demonstrations of the past it has been found that the effectiveness and nonviolence of the action has been greatly enhanced by the participation of people with special skills. These specialized participants, or peace-keepers, perform specific facilit-ating roles for the action. Even if you have not decided to specialize in the role of peacekeeper, however, you may find yourself in a conflict situation in which peacekeeper skills will be useful. In a nonviolent action everyone is, to some extent, a peacekeeper.
         Peacekeepers: help set the tone for the action;  help act as a communication network; help provide emergency medical and legal aid; help maintain the internal self-discipline of the action; may volunteer to act as mediators between authorities and demonstrators.
         Peacekeepers help to maintain the nonviolent self-discipline of the demonstration. Peacekeepers have primary responsibility to the participants in the action, but they should be prepared to protect legal authorities, workers, and non-participants from demonstrators if necessary.

SOME GUIDELINES TO HELP PEACEKEEPERS DO THEIR JOBS:

1.    Be warm, friendly, and helpful. The tone of the demonstration depends on how you respond to your fellow demonstrators, police, the media, and workers. Our attitude should be one of openness, friendliness and respect toward all officials and participants. Peace-keepers are not junior police, and this is no place for authority trips.
2.    Be creative. Nonviolence does not mean being aloof or failing to act. You must be creative in your attempt to inter-vene and resolve a conflict.
3.    Be firm, but not rigid. If you have agreed to be a peacekeeper you must have agreed to uphold the nonviolent principles of the demonstration.
4.    Be forthright. Deal fairly and honestly with people engaged in conflict, no matter what they have done.
5.    Be calm. It is a rare person who does not become angry or afraid under stress. Don’t think that you are weak if you have fears. The important thing in being a peacekeeper is learning how to control your feelings by remembering the overall goal of the action.
6.    Be forgiving. Give up resentment over the wrong you are trying to set right. Gandhi said, “Hate sin, and love the sinner.” This applies to conflicts between demonstrators as well as to conflicts with police, workers, onlookers
7.    Work as a team. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Use and rely on the support you can get from other peacekeepers and from your fellow demonstrators.

SITUATIONS WHERE PEACEKEEPING IS NEEDED

    Below are some situations in which peacekeeping and conflict resolution techniques can be used.  However, whether to use them is an individual choice depending on the dangers of the situation, the type of police presence, the peacekeeper or activist's skill and confidence and other individual judgements: Police are gassing, pepper spraying, beating, kicking, shooting rubber bullets at activists or disruptive or violent individuals; Activists are screaming at cops or people trying to break through blocades, etc. and making them angry; Fights break out between activists and someone trying to get through a blocade; disruptive individuals are advocating that activists or others engage in violence, property destruction, attacks on cops; individuals are spray-painting windows or buildings; individuals are about to break windows or to enter stores to trash or loot them; individuals are throwing firecrackers, other dangerous projectiles at activists or police in the midst of or nearby demonstrators; fights break out between activists and disruptive, property destroying or violent individuals; activists try to beat up such indiviudals or they try to beat up activists; activists or disruptive individuals are trying to try to keep cops away from someone they are trying to arrest or "unarrest" an arrested person, especially if it is a potentially dangerous situation.

TRADITIONAL PEACEKEEPING TECHNIQUES

     Below are a few of the best known and proven traditional peacekeeping techniques. They rely on the principles of moral suasion and, in some cases, the willingness to suffer potential violence for the cause of nonviolence. Nonviolent peacekeepers do not touch, grab, tackle or assault disruptive individuals or those destroying property.  However, in extreme situations of defense of self or vulnerable people (children, the elderly, the ill or injured), individuals must use their own judgement.
     Do not touch a police officer.  This could result in a long prison term.
** LISTENING: What is it the disruptive person is trying to say?  Sometimes just having someone listen to their complaints is enough to calm them down.
** TALKING DOWN: Remind disrupter(s) they are outside the action guidelines; explain how they may be en-dangering others; explain that they might be arrested and what the sentences are if convicted; remind them their acts are detracting from the message. Local D.C. peacekeepers should stress how disruptive and violent actions could turn into civil disruptions throughout the city, ones that would only hurt poor minority neighborhoods, as well as damage D.C. activist community.
** SURROUND AND TALK: Four or more people surround the disrupter to stop the behavior and talk about it. (However, if they attempt to leave the circle, let them, or you could face kidnapping charges.)
** BLOCKADE AND TALK:   Three or more people use their bodies as a blockade to protect a person or property being attacked and talk about it with the attacker(s).

August 20, 2001 version  (c) Carol Moore 2001
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These mostly labor union peacekeepers are more regimented and costumed than those at many demonstrations.