One of the tools used in nonviolent movements is called the pyramid of violence. It’s a very simple model for a complicated world, but the idea is that each level of violence is built on - and can’t exist without - the levels below it.
It’s useful because - while you might not have been able to stop the fatal shooting of Anthony Hill, an unarmed veteran struggling with bipolar disorder, or the shooting of police officers in Ferguson in the head and shoulder - anyone can weaken the lower levels.
Maybe it’s naive and optimistic to think you can make a difference. But it can’t hurt, and the worst thing that will happen is that you and the people around you will have a better understanding of where everyone’s coming from and what they need, and be less quick to make judgements based only on your own experiences and the media.
So, if you’d like, here are some ways to broaden your perspective on protests and police shootings. Be careful - studies show that when we’re presented with different sides, we sometimes selectively remember the evidence that supports what we already believe. So go into this with an open mind:
- Read an account of being a police officer in New York City and why the police were angry at Mayor De Blasio. By Steve Osborne, an NYPD officer for 20 years.
- Familiarize yourself with the actual Justice Department report on the Ferguson Police Department. Here are annotated excerpts of the main points.
- Follow Deray McKesson on Twitter. Deray is a civil rights activist, traveling across the country to protests and spreading messages of the movement.
- Watch Reverend Jarrett Maupin, a leader in protests against police brutality, go through police use of force training in Arizona.
- Read a post by Kazu Haga on the Ferguson movement and nonviolence. It talks about privilege within the movement itself and includes suggestions for protestor demands. Kazu teaches Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles of nonviolence, and learned them directly from Dr. Lafayette.
- Read posts of people expressing their anger and fear. Here’s my friend Cecelia on Ferguson. Educator Amy Ongiri on Police Violence and Abuse. Resident Diamond Latchison on growing up in Ferguson.