Categories
Civic Engagement

Intro to Civil Disobedience – Plan a Die In

It isn’t nice to block the doorway, It isn’t nice to go to jail, There are nicer ways to do it, But the nice ways always fail.

Non-violent civil disobedience is about moving from nice to good. It’s not nice to sit at lunch counters when the restaurant owner wants you to leave. But good people did it anyway. It takes good people exposing unpleasant but true things to undo evil. It’s not nice to go to Scribner and tell the city council that it’s racist and mean-spirited to create an immigration ordinance that solves none of the town’s problems and will create new ones. It’s not nice that people said true things loud enough for Jeff Fortenscary to hear at his public meeting. However, he needs to know we’re not happy and should start packing up his office in DC. It’s not nice to go to Pro-Death Pete’s church to remind them that he’s planning to kill a man in just a few days.

The 1980s gives us a great organizational model of civil disobedience; Act Up, AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. Watching men die while the government and healthcare industry did nothing, they organized and pushed back. They have an entire manual with history, training, tactics, and how to interact with police.

College students and faculty hold a die-in against racist police.

A protest that is becoming popular due to its simplicity and relatively low risk of arrest is a die in.

ANYONE can pull off this type of protest. Your target may be an elected official or establishment that profits from suffering in the community. This is an easy protest to put together and takes very little planning time.

If you do a die in – here are the steps:
1. Gather a group of people, 5 or more is a good number

2. Agree on a day/time

3. Write up something to send to media and social media

4. Show up and lay on the floor. You can be silent, sing a song or do a chant.

5. Someone should live stream the event (facebook has free live stream)

6. When they ask you to leave, you need to leave, or be willing to be arrested for not leaving. Either way, decide as a group what you will do ahead of time.

Extra Credit – coordinated clothing, signs, or props

Example of what you might write up:

We are #### from Nebraska. We’re angry that you have done “######### and expect you do ##############. This act of civil disobedience is in solidarity with the people you have harmed with your vote/lack of action/harmful words.

I leave you with a protest song –

It isn’t nice to block the doorway, It isn’t nice to go to jail, There are nicer ways to do it, But the nice ways always fail.

It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,

You told us once, you told us twice, But if that is Freedom’s price, We don’t mind.

It isn’t nice to carry banners, Or to sit in on the floor, Or to shout our cry of Freedom, At the hotel and the store.

It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,

You told us once, you told us twice, But if that is Freedom’s price, We don’t mind.

We have tried negotiations, And the three-man picket line, Mr. Charlie didn’t see us, And he might as well be blind.

Now our new ways aren’t nice, When we deal with men of ice, But if that is Freedom’s price, We don’t mind.

How about those years of lynchings, And the shot in Evers’ back?

Did you say it wasn’t proper, Did you stand upon the track?

You were quiet just like mice,

Now you say we aren’t nice, And if that is Freedom’s price, We don’t mind.

It isn’t nice to block the doorway, It isn’t nice to go to jail, There are nicer ways to do it, But the nice ways always fail.

It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,

But thanks for your advice, Cause if that is Freedom’s price, We don’t mind.