Activism Guide – Spring 2021

Amnesty International is built on the idea that people coming together against injustice can be a game-changer! The sum of each of our actions creates a powerful force that has proven to be effective in igniting positive social change. Use this guide to take action this year, and check back frequently for updates and new actions!

  1. Share this guide with your group to become familiar with AIUSA’s key campaigns and programs, which all groups are asked to work on.
  2. Use the Key Activism Dates and Take Action sections for each human rights issue to help you build your action calendar.
  3. Let us know what you’re working on! We’ll make sure you have resources for each area and update you when new information or tools are available. If you need support in getting started with virtual activism, let us know.
  4. Get creative! The Activism Guide provides you with the basics, but we hope you’ll use it to put your stamp on our work. Let us know your plans and if you need any ideas or support.

View Resources for Amnesty Groups to support your activism during COVID-19.

Important Calendar Dates
  • June: Pride Month
  • June 30: Monthly Member Call – Celebrate Pride Month by Defending LGBTI rights
  • August 25: Monthly Member Call
  • Sept 26 – Oct 2: Banned Books Week
  • October 10: World Day Against the Death Penalty

Check out the AIUSA Events Calendar for opportunities in the coming months.

PRIDE 2021

End Gun Violence: Congress Must Fund Community-Based Gun Violence Prevention Organizations

Guns are killing more and more Americans every day.  In 2020 more Americans died from gun violence than in the past two decades.  Homicide is the third leading cause of death for children and teens of all races in the US and the leading cause of death for Black children and teens.  The legacy of gun violence in America is not one our youth should have to carry forward.

Senator Cory Booker and Representative Stephen Horsford introduced the Break the Cycle of Violence at (S. 2275 / H.R. 4118), which would provide funding for community-based violence prevention organizations and programs. These types of organizations and programs have reduced homicides by up to 40% in some major cities.  The effectiveness and success of these programs relies on relationship-building, trust and consistency.  Lack of sustained and adequate funding has resulted in broken trust, wasted resources and hopelessness as violence rates increase.

Amnesty International is in full support of the Break the Cycle of Violence Act and urge the 117th Congress to pass the bill immediately.  The funding of $5 billion dollars over 8 years will support the lifesaving programs ran by leaders in the communities most impacted by gun violence.

What you can do
  1. Take action by calling your Senators and Representative in Congress to pass the Break the Cycle of Violence Act.
  2. Sign and share the petition
  3. Tweet a message to your Senators
  • Donate to our Heroes organizations
  • New briefing on Community-based Organization’s work
  • Break the Cycle Act in one page

FREE PEOPLE FROM ICE DETENTION: No ONe should be locked up in danger

Now half a year in, the Biden administration needs urgent course correction according to our latest report, Needs Improvement. Immigration detention levels have ballooned to nearly 27,000, a 93 percent increase since early February. The overwhelming majority of communities affected are Black and Brown immigrants and asylum-seekers. Making matters worse, most of the people in detention are held in facilities run by for-profit prison companies, notorious for unsafe and unsanitary conditions, reports of assault and abuse, and negligent medical care. Even as many parts of the country are receiving protections against COVID-19, people in detention don’t have universal access to vaccines and are facing more outbreaks in detention.

The Biden administration is resorting to detention as a response to the hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers pushed back or stuck at the border due to Trump-era policies. This is a false equation. Allowing people into the country to pursue their right to seek protection doesn’t mean we need to fall back on mass detaining them. The solution should be community-based programs that welcome immigrants and asylum-seekers to live in safety and freedom in the U.S., with the support of sponsors and nonprofits to help them navigate the immigration process.

Amnesty’s advocacy and activism has shone a light on the egregious harms caused by unjust and inhumane immigration policies, helping many get released. But we’re not stopping there: we have the power to convince our country’s leaders and government officials to reset the immigration system for good and free people from detention.

What you can do
  1. Raise your voice to President Biden and DHS Secretary Mayorkas with our new activist toolkit and updated online action
  2. Call on Congress to pass the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act and Freedom for Families Act, and discuss these bills with your elected officials (let us know how your meetings went)

Ban the Scan: End Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology

Amnesty International has launched a global campaign called Ban the Scan, calling for a ban on police use of facial recognition technology (FRT). This technology uses existing cameras in combination with new software and commercial databases to track almost any individual by face, comparing footage to millions of images stored in government databases and scraped from social media accounts without consent.

Police use of FRT is a fundamental threat to our right to privacy, as it allows the law enforcement to conduct indiscriminate mass surveillance. It can also have a chilling effect and seriously deter peaceful protest, thereby undermining the right to peaceful assembly and the right to expression. Finally, it has a disproportionate impact on Black activists and other marginalized groups, given the extent to which Black and Brown communities are already over-policed and over-surveilled.

The Ban the Scan campaign launched on January 26th in New York City, calling on the New York City Council to ban NYPD’s use of this technology. Over the coming year the campaign will expand to cover different cities and regions worldwide, including New Delhi, the West Bank and Ulaanbaatar.

What you can do
  • Sign the petition calling on the Speaker of the New York City Council to ban police use of facial recognition technology

Pride 2021

Every year Amnesty International USA celebrates Pride with LGBTQI+ activists around the world– celebrating our pride and standing for our rights! This year as the world opens back up, let us show our PRIDE and build a better “normal” where LGBTI rights are fully protected, respected, and fulfilled.

Amnesty International USA is highlighting three focus cases during Pride season this year:

  • Passing the Global Heath, Rights and Empowerment (HER) Act to ensure global health and rights for LGBTI people globally and permanently end the Global Gag Rule.
  • Acquitting Melike Balkan and Özgür Gür, who have been prosecuted for celebrating LGBTI rights in Turkey.
  • Demanding justice for Vitalina Koval, a Ukrainian woman human rights defender and an LGBTI activist, who was attacked after speaking about women’s and LGBTI rights at a protest in 2018.
What you can do

Check out our Pride Activism Page for actions you can take, ideas for organizing, and resources to learn more about LGBTI rights. Take Action!