“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As we honor the 92nd anniversary of the birth of civil rights hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we are reminded of his policy of nonviolent protest. The League’s mission is to promote public participation in government—nonviolently.
We know that sometimes the changes we seek require constant advocacy over time and even may take years to accomplish. However, we also know that nonviolent advocacy is more effective and long-lasting. League members talk with the elected officials who serve in our local, state and national governments. We testify at public hearings. We sometimes participate in peaceful demonstrations. And we write letters, social media posts, opinion articles and press releases to express our views.
The League always bases its advocacy on in-depth studies of the issues—on the facts, the evidence and member agreement on each study’s findings. We also make sure our advocacy conforms to our Principles. Violence and destructive acts often turn public opinion against the stated goals of protesters. But carefully researched persuasion can gradually achieve better government policies and a more inclusive, just and equitable society.
Protests have always played an important role in drawing attention to the need to change our laws and attitudes. Battles for civil rights and voting rights went on for years, with many marches and demonstrations. Disrupting normal life with a demonstration can attract media attention that helps the movement.
On the other hand, violence between protesters and the police or the destruction of property may turn attention away from the protesters’ real message.
Real change comes with legislative action and citizen engagement. Oregonians have powerful tools to enact change through voting and contacting our elected leaders.
How the LWV can help
The League of Women Voters is dedicated to promoting public involvement in politics. To that end, we are working hard to provide solid nonpartisan information to voters for the coming General Election. You soon will be able to find plenty of unbiased election information about local candidates and measures on our November 3, 2020 General Election webpage. We also encourage people to let their representatives know what they want; we provide contact information for all the Multnomah County Elected Officials here.
Where We Stand on the Ballot Measures
In addition to providing balanced information, the League of Women Voters often speaks out on issues. Our Board of Directors has voted to endorse some of the local ballot measures. Although the League never supports nor opposes any candidate or political party, we do take positions on issues we have studied. Using our advocacy positions and what we have learned and are learning through balanced studies of violence prevention, justice and police accountability, we are endorsing the proposed City Charter Amendment to authorize a new police oversight board. We have paid to publish a statement in favor of this measure in the Multnomah County Voters’ Pamphlet. Read our statement about the charter amendment here. You can also see all our LWV of Portland measure endorsements here.