A 2014 march in Portland, Ore. to protest the lack of a grand jury indictment in the death of Mike Brown. (Sarah Mirk / CC 2.0)
Protests seemed to dominate American politics throughout the week, though many in the mainstream media continued to ignore some sizable demonstrations. Let’s take a quick look at the variety of activist efforts that are going strong.
First, demonstrations in North Dakota remained peaceful, even in the face of a highly militarized police raid. Activists fighting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline were met by police, helicopters and military-grade vehicles during a prayer session. Twenty-one people were arrested.
Although this crucial standoff between indigenous activists and the government has been underway for months, most in the mainstream media have provided little coverage. “Despite a virtual mainstream news blackout, this story continues to seep into every corner of the earth and has sparked a mounting groundswell among various grass-root movements,” writes Truthdig contributor Jerome Irwin. “[T]he lack of news reporting by major television and newspaper networks means that much of the story remains invisible to the general public.”
And, Irwin notes, the media are accountable in another respect regarding the controversial pipeline: failing to question the presidential candidates. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton participated in the first of three presidential debates on Monday, but “[m]ainstream news networks also have failed to press each presidential candidate to explain where they stand on this conflict,” Irwin notes. “DAPL should be a seminal issue in the 2016 presidential election, as it relates to the larger issue of climate change, but all we hear from the mainstream media are crickets.”
Another key struggle has been similarly ignored by mainstream media and presidential nominees alike: a prison strike at the Holman Correctional Facility in rural Atmore, Ala., which is making history for its scope and high level of participation. “Last Saturday night, the Holman prisoners were joined in their strike by some unlikely allies: the prison guards themselves,” write Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan of Demcracy Now!. “The national scope of the prisoner strike, with actions in 40 to 50 prisons around the U.S., is truly historic, as is the solidarity demonstrated between the prisoners and the guards at Holman this week.”
Meanwhile, activists throughout the country continue to meet to demand racial justice. Over the week, all eyes turned to El Cajon, Calif., where police fatally shot a mentally ill, unarmed, African-American man named Alfred Olango.
The issue of racial injustice has become too prominent for presidential nominees to ignore. Clinton and Trump addressed police violence during Monday night’s debate; Trump argued for stop-and-frisk policies, while Clinton urged stronger gun laws and better police training.
Over the past several weeks, both peaceful and violent protests have erupted as a result of the recent spate of police shootings. Some Black Lives Matter activists are advocating for an economic boycott—a topic we asked you about in our most recent poll.
On this week’s “Live at Truthdig” segment, our team sat down with Los Angeles Pastor Jean Marie Cue to discuss what steps need to be taken to address racial inequality. The conversation revolved around dismantling structural forms of racism, and Cue argued for reforms such as improvements to the American mental health care system.
Ultimately, however, he made a plea for compassion. Regardless of one’s faith—or lack thereof—acts of compassion are a simple starting point for many Americans looking to combat injustice.
Every day, dire new problems threaten humanity: environmental catastrophes, reckless corporate power, racial and social injustice, disastrous trade deals and violent international relations, to name a few. Impassioned citizens often want to make an impact, but the question is always “how?” Peaceful demonstrations? Violent protest? Economic boycott? Civil disobedience? Or some other form of resistance?
We turn to you, Truthdig readers, for the answer. For activists looking to make a serious impact, what is the most effective form of resistance? Several choices, based on activist efforts from the past week, are listed in the poll below, but you also can select “Other” and type in your own answer—we want to know what we’ve missed! One vote per person, please. (Make your selection and then click on “Vote.” To see results of the polling, click on “Results.”)
—Posted by Emma Niles