Stephen Rockwell

Civic Organizer
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I don't think any of us have any doubt that peaceful protests lead by BIPOC communities are treated differently.  We saw this in the uprising this summer. Can you imagine if there was a violent storming of the Capitol? There's just no way there would be such a light law enforcement, no way there would have been a small number of arrests, no way it wouldn't have been met with law enforcement violence, no way folks would have been casually walking in and out of the Capitol. I'm glad the media are using appropriate terms like insurrection, mob violence, and domestic terrorism, and accountability is now required.



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Yesterday, I said the election would be called.  If Philly didn't lose an hour counting votes because of a Trump lawsuit and Allegheny County would have counted votes yesterday we would have had a winner.  We will have a winner declared today and it will be Joe Biden.  The question is what happens next?  Most have been concerned about whether Trump would cede power in any type of normal way or whether he would foment violence and civil strife.  It was clear from his bonkers presser yesterday, that there is reason for concern.

We have seen lots of acts of violence from right wing Trump supporters over the last few months and years:

Let's be clear that past dangerous rhetoric from Trump has led his supporters into violence to the point of wanting to create an insurrection against a duly elected governor.  Trump will lie and steam and the good news is that most of the country has ignored his pleas to undermine democracy.  We need to stay vigilant, appeal to the better angels, and proceed with the norms in our democratic institutions about the peaceful transfer of power. 

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Biden is winning today after Wisconsin and Michigan were called yesterday. The nation has been holding its collective breath for some time now.  As we turn purple, and not just from holding our breath, we realize that this was no blowout election and the country is a lot more purple than we're willing to admit to ourselves. The Blue Wall will be won by less than half a million votes across 3 states and only about 3% of the popular vote.  69 million Americans voted for Donald Trump, a racist with fascist proclivities and a completely mishandled pandemic.  What if there hadn't been a pandemic?  More to come on this another day.

Pennsylvania - The votes that come in from Philadelphia today will put Biden over the top.  The Trump lead dwindled from 650k to 150k votes since election night and there's still at least 300k votes to  Philadelphia alone and maybe a couple hundred thousand throughout the state.  Biden wins with a very defensible 150k-200k vote margin.  This will give Biden 273 electoral votes.

Georgia - We're down to 18k votes in Georgia with still as many as 200k votes and still largely in blue areas.  Biden will win and just as importantly Sen. Purdue will slip under 50% in his contest vs. Jon Ossof.  Both GA Senate races will go to a runoff with the control of the Senate in balance.  Thank you Stacey Abrams.  May the winning vote for Biden be cast in John Lewis's congressional district.  This will give Biden 289 electoral votes.

Arizona - Fox News surprisingly called this first and the AP followed suit.  I'm still a little nervous, but think he gets it.  This would give Biden 300 electoral votes.

Nevada - Not sure what's going on here and why the long lead times between vote tally sharing...anyone have insight?  Let's assume a positive return.  This would give Biden 306 electoral votes, 2 more than Trump won in 2016. 

North Carolina - Biden still has a chance down by 75k votes with almost 300k votes outstanding.  Let's see.  

By the day closes, we will be able to say "President-elect Biden."  That's a big fucking deal.

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I think Biden wins, but it shouldn't have been close.  

Many of my friends of color have reached out with feelings of disappointment and dismay about the fact that yet again so many Americans are willing to look they other way when it comes to racism and xenophobia.  i have to agree. 

The fact that its close means that we're really beyond the pale as a country or that middle of the road Biden really wasn't the right candidate. I think its a little bit of both.

If almost half of our fellow citizens are at least tolerable of racism/white supremacy and in many cases actually supportive...we are in a really bad place as a nation.

If almost half of our fellow citizens are content with gross incompetence leading to tens of thousands of deaths in a pandemic...we are in a bad place  

And its also true that Biden was everyone's last choice in the primary and that centrist Dems pulled together.  Every time the Democrats run a centrist since 2000 we've lost.  Obama ran as a progressive even if he governed as a centrist.   People do want to vote for change and inspirational candidates.  That is not Biden and of course we know that.  He's a good guy, but a 78 year old white dude who's not all the inspirational is not our best choice. 

So much more work to do...

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Check out my friend, Gibran Rivera's heart take on the Pandemic.  

Dear Friends,

The pandemic and the last few weeks of the uprising for black lives leaves me with a wide range of emotions and ultimately wanting to be leaning into being part of the solution.   

If you've been looking for a community to share your thoughts and to get active on these vital issues, please consider joining the We the People activism social network.  

If you are already active and want to grow the movement or attendance at your next event, or share pictures, videos  and recaps of the actions you've lead and participated, please consider joining We The People.  

We are building a community of organizers and activists committed to building movements for justice.  Join Us!

Take Care, 



Stephen Rockwell (he/him/his)

Chief Organizer, Civic Direct

Our Activism Platform: We The People

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A number of well-meaning people are trying to square their rage with racist violence that continues unabated week after week in this country. Folks find themselves  conflicted by the property damage, and in some areas looting, occurring as a protest to the deaths of George Floyd and so many African Americans at the hand of police.  I'm one of them.  I have a tough time squaring peaceful protest and property damage.  And while I don't think its a tactic I would likely pursue, I seek to understand what's happening in the context of the well-justified anger and rage.  

First, there are opportunists that have been well-documented at a number of protests around the country.  This article documents a numbers of these incidents including one in Detroit where our friend Meeko Williams is seen in one of the videos in this article asking outsiders to stand down with police provocation ( (Hoping we see a report out from Metro-Detroit Political Action Network on what's been happening.) The mayor of Saint Paul noted that all or most of the arrests were folks from out of state.  There are a number of examples of peaceful protesters stopping or attempting to stop behaviors like looting.  

The truth is there are left wing anarchists and right wing white supremacists itching for a much broader fight.  I’ve been to a number of protests over the years (though none this week), and I try to keep my distance from the anarchists who show up.  I don’t understand their ideology and I’m not a big fan of their tactics, especially latching on to otherwise peaceful protests.  Movement building requires dealing with these kinds of tensions where allies or potential allies don't share all of your values or change making strategies.   

Life is most certainly a Higher Order Concern than Property

I wouldn’t discount the fact that there are a lot of folks just plain ole fed up with a lot of anger.  If you’ve lived under the conditions that I see in Philly your whole lives with little hope for change and you and your friends and family have seen or been subject to police violence and poverty, it would not take much to shift the hopelessness to rage.  Tamika Mallory's (Women's March co-founder) rage so well captured this postion: 

I know as a white guy, I can't fully put myself in the shoes of an African American, especially one who has been the subject to police violence and interrogation. Remember a decade ago that in cities like New York and Philadelphia, stop and frisk, was an acceptable policing technique.  Even if the end result was not an arrest or violence, black and brown men could have their person completely violated by the police without any cause.  In the 90s, it was the Crime Bill and get tough on crime measures like 3 strike and you are out policies that furthered mass incarceration.   Such policing policies are debated by white folks like me about their effectiveness and fairness with full knowledge that such policing techniques will never be used against us.  White privilege is an unacknowledged part of these discussion as it is just part of the construction of political and social life in the republic.  

More immediately to the issue at hand, if my son or friend was killed in the manner in what we saw this week, I might want to burn the whole thing down, especially if I knew there would be a next one.  The perniciousness and pervasiveness of the racism and dehumanization of my loved one would likely lead me to thinking the entire system needed to be overthrown, and if property damage happens in the process, that would seem like a small price to pay for a wide systemic change.  

And When Peaceful Protests are Rejected

And let's be clear.  White people have had problems with all kinds of peaceful protests from black folks throughout American history and most definitely since the Black Lives Matter movement began.  There's a group of white people, who don't ever want to be reminded that racism exists and that something needs to change.  Colin Kaepernick kneeling ignited a wildfire of commentary, costing him his job with the NFL.  He sacrificed his livelihood through simply kneeling during the national anthem to protest racist police violence.  But here's the thing.  What the fuck has changed in the last 5 years since that the kneeling protests started?  How many African Americans have died at the hands of police in the intervening time?  Nothing changed with a hugely visible protest of NFL players.  Nor in any other celebrities pleas for change.  Nor in peaceful protest after peaceful protest in the streets.  Nor in the prayers of churches and ministers. Nor in the halls of Congress as the Congressional Black Caucus and others have pleaded for changes.  Nor in the state and municipal halls of government.  Arguably with a notoriously racist President who sees good people among Nazis and white supremacists, racist violence has only worsened.  

Police Are Acting with Gratuitous and Unnecessary Violence Against Protesters, Most of Whom are Peaceful

The greatest headline was in Slate today, "Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide." ( We need more media like this.  The article show incident after incident of police firing rubber bullets at point blank range, gas canisters onto people sitting on their front porches, driving their cars through crowds, flashing white power symbols, etc. etc.  These are the incidents caught on camera.  If we can't expect our uniformed police to handle themselves professionally to keep the peace, why do we expect an impoverished young man from Minneapolis or Philadelphia to be able to handle their anger better (and yet most protesters absolutely do!).? 

The best responses from police officers and forces are when they in fact joined protesters in marching, taking a knee, and other forms or protest letting communities know that they are just as outraged at the behavior of their own.  When the police offer this response it almost certainly leads to better outcomes.  

The Truth is that Property Destruction Can Be Effective in Getting an Issue the Attention it Deserves

For those who say nothing has been accomplished by the destruction of property, that's simply not an accurate reading of history.  Jesus himself turned the tables of moneychangers outside the template in a fit of righteous rage.  They colonists held a Tea Party, destroying property as the foundational protest of the nation.  Enslaved Africans made attempt after attempt to free themselves through violent revolt.  The labor movement, the gay rights movements, the women's movement all had riot moments where the collective anger about injustice exploded.  Property was destroyed.  And a new attention was given to the underlying issues.  

Destruction of property is jarring, but after we all watched an innocent man killed this week, it is sideshow for anyone who cares about getting to justice.  We must understand a riot and property damage as Rev. Dr. King explained to us:

"Riots are the Language of the Unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? ... It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity. "

And I will say this.  Its been over 50 years since King said those words.  Not nearly enough has changed since.  

It has to be different this time.  It has to be.  Until the system changes and finally delivers on racial justice, there will be no peace...and nor should there be.  


This song by my friend and hero Rev. Sekou helps me contextualize the times we're in and realize that the fight for justice and freedom is on.  We all have a role to play.

This sentiment from Mark Zuckerberg is in part  why we are standing up a social network for progressives.  Zuck doesn’t believe in fact checking political leaders.  So misinformation spreads like wildfire and people spar with their “friends” on this misinformation.  The most vulnerable among us intellectually are preyed upon by folks like Trump and conservative media.  

Time for a new space.

Time for a new way of thinking about connection and movement building.

Time for spirited debate based on truth and science and principles.  

Join us.

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