Stand Down

Message to VFP Members on Showing Up for Black Lives

George Floyd’s death on May 25th was not new to the long history of police brutality disproportionate to Black people and communities of color. The ability to record video and share it broadly on social media allowed the world to witness the cruelty and disregard for human life that plays out so frequently but often times goes undocumented. It was the final straw to break in a long series of police violence and hate crime against black lives.

As protests and riots spread to every state in the nation it has drawn activists out from physical-distancing due to health concerns to challenge white supremacy, inequality and police violence. Our members have been among them.

It has been incredible to see so many Veterans For Peace members take the streets to help demand a racially just society. White supremacy is a pillar of patriarchy, economic injustice and oppression that impacts us all.

Veterans for Peace stands in defense of Black lives.

These are perfect opportunities to learn from and follow organizations led by Black people and people of color and our Black VFP members so we are building strong relationships and meeting the needs of the most impacted communities.

I know so many members of VFP have incredible organizing experience and have been on the front lines of movements for generations. I know you are creative and have powerful ways that can be an asset. That wisdom and legacy has incredible value. We will have moments in these coming months to be out in front on specific facets of this revolution.

Now is a good time to be humble. Be helpful. Be heartful.

The most important way you can show up and be a good ally at this time is up to your POC organizers and VFP members in your local area. You should reach out before taking initiative in your community and establish a connection. Ask them, “How can I support you and what is the best way to meet your needs?”. Withhold from offering ideas or suggestions. It is not our place to lecture. It is not our place to make judgments. Be considerate to how they want you positioned, what you are wearing and what you do and say. Our actions can impact their success and their safety.

Be conscious of any privilege you might carry based on how others perceive you.

Listen to Black leadership and voices of color. Listen to the youth of the movement. People are in the streets because they are not being heard in other venues. The expression is critical for the world to receive their message. If you show up with an open heart you can prove it by having an open ear. Be silent so their voices can be loud.

At the national office we are speaking to leaders in the movement to be a resource and to support them. We will reveal ways that more members can engage in calls to action and support roles that will build on our mission of peace.

We have made a strong call for our military and National Guard to #StanddownForBlackLives
Since then we are receiving calls from service members looking for options, resources, advice and encouragement to deny orders to mobilize against their own communities. We are in the early stages of organizing peer support advocates and trying to build out our network of educators.

If you haven’t seen our previous statements you can see them here:

We also invite you to join Show Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Tuesday night for a conversation on how white people can show up for racial justice. SURJ works to bring more white people into multi-racial, anti-racist movements for justice. There are two ways to get involved in their work:

  1. Join SURJ’s event: White People’s Work to End Racism on Tuesday at 8:00 EST. You can register here. 
  2. Join SURJ to phone bank voters and ask more people to join the movement for racial justice on Thursday at 6:00 EST. Register here

We will be in touch soon with ways to plug into this ongoing work and please, let us know how we can support those of you who are in the streets.

Stay safe,

Garett Reppenhagen, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace


P.S.  In case you missed it:

  1. As Trump Threatens to Send Military Into Cities, Some GIs Refuse to Comply
  2. Monique Salhab, a veteran and a member of Veterans for Peace, tells us how militarized policing has changed the country and what it means for citizens and protesters.  Listen here

Contact Us

Veterans For Peace
1404 North Broadway Blvd.
St. Louis, Missouri 63102
(314) 725-6005

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